This place has been nearby all my favorites and places I’ve been checking out, and I have wanted to see it for a while. Wine Friend 2 shared that she recently had a bottle that was awesome and she really wanted to check it out too.
The driveway itself is quite an experience – it’s a gorgeous setting on Leeds Manor Road, tucked into woods with a huge pond – but the road is narrow and I’m grateful we didn’t encounter that Jeep Wrangler we had to drive on the grass for in the blind curve. Big signs warn you – “Blind Curve, Beep horn!”
The tasting room space is beautiful – it’s a big expanse and they had a fire going. As I am wont to do, we got there early, a little after noon, so there were only a handful of other people there.
The tasting bar employee, Kris, was a riot. He gave me a little dish on another winery at which he worked, but he also ran a fun tasting. He had a lot to say about the wine and made it enjoyable. He had lots of tidbits to share about the wine, including their two growing areas, on the estate and another property in Rappahannock.
The tasting started with the 2016 Chardonnay. This was barrel fermented, and like most barrel fermented chardonnay was soft and had hints of buttery-ness to it. It was pleasant to sip, however. It had a little hint of crispness, but this isn’t the style of chardonnay I like.
The second wine was the 2016 Aerie White – a Vidal Blanc/Viognier blend. I was looking forward to this a lot. Sure enough, it was all done in stainless steel – and it was a wonderful crisp white. I would see it being amazing in summer for sure. It had that great mineral quality that I prefer in white wines. This was a keeper, and I ended up bringing a bottle home.
Third tasting the 2016 “Skinny Dipper” – a 100% Vidal Blanc with 4% residual sugar. I was certain that with that much residual sugar it would be too sweet for me, but it actually wasn’t at all. The Vidal Blanc grapes kept the crispness and acidity through the sugar. I could only do this in the summer, but a little taste was good.
Switching to reds, and the first one was a blend they called “Mistletoe.” Taster Kris said that they had two reds on the menu that they sold out of, so they put this out, he described it as a holiday in a bottle I think. It’s a young wine (and no vintage listed) and it’s meant to be drank now. With 50% Petit Verdot, I expected that characteristic to dominate the wine, but Chambourcin at 25% actually cut over it and dominated the flavor. Wine Friend 2 compared it to Beaujolais Nouveau, in that you want to drink it now. I found it fruity and smooth, and thought it made a nice sipping wine.
Up next, the 2016 Tannat. This was a good example of tannat in Virginia with strong earthy/mineral qualities. It’s definitely not a sipping wine but is made to pair with a good piece of red meat. It was young at 2016, and felt that way, but probably would also last in the bottle and soften.
The next wine was the 2017 “Red Light,” a blend of six grapes, with Syrah and Chambourcin coming in at 25% each. Norton was third at 19%. I haven’t written about Norton before, but all the Norton I’ve had I have hated. Norton came in strong in this wine, which had sweetness to it too. Kris said that he would pair it with spicy foods – and I could see that working for the wine. But with sweet and Norton dominating, this wine wasn’t one I liked.
The final taste was the “Soar IV” – their port style wine. It was fortified with brandy and had a lot of power in it. It was a good example of port, and would be amazing with chocolate, but I ended my port phase about ten years ago. Kris said of this one, “If you have a sinus infection, put this next to your nyquil and have two shots at bedtime, and your infection will be gone.” (he told me I could quote him on that).
Wine Friend 2 ended up taking home 2 Mistletoe and a rose. We both got T-shirts, because who doesn’t need a shirt that says “Drink Naked?”
I was pleased with this visit overall, and will definitely come back again. The wine was good, and I’m curious to see what else they produce since their two regular reds sold out. The setting really is stunning, and it would be a great place to spend a day inside or out. The atmosphere is cozy and pleasant and it would be a great spot to spend the afternoon. January through March they offer lasagna lunches with a glass of wine, which just sounds amazing.
Have you been? What did you think?