Since it was next door to our previous stop and we were there, dad and I decided to stop at Philip Carter winery next. Sure enough, the tailgating crusader from Maryland was parked right in front, but since they had been there a while, they’d had enough to drink, so the fight wouldn’t have been fair :).
The property and tasting room are gorgeous – all decorated for Christmas. The outside area was gorgeous, and would be great for tastings on a nice day – there was a pond and a great view of the vineyards with the mountains behind them. They are well-situated for a great time.
As our third tasting of the day, we knew we wouldn’t have time for much more. There was live music in the tasting room, and it was a little too loud for our taste, and we had to ask the pourer to repeat herself a good bit. Granted, I inherited my hearing loss from my dad, but the live music was way too loud in a smaller space.
The tasting began with their 2014 Chardonnay. The pourer explained that it was 80% estate and 20% grapes from elsewhere in Fauquier. It was very crisp and a solid chardonnay, pleasant for sipping and would be great with cheese, apple slices, or melon.
The 2017 Sabine Viognier was awesome. This is how Viognier should taste (in my humble opinion). Bright, crisp, dry, lots of citrus. It was 75% in stainless steel and 25% in oak, so I am shocked that I liked it, but it rocked. This can be served by itself to sip on a warm evening, or pair beautifully with something like fish or chicken. Definitely a best in show for the whites here.
The 2015 “Gov. Fauquier” – this was a 100% vidal blanc with 1% residual sugar. The tasting notes listed a lot of awards for it, and if you like sweet wines, this is all you. Despite the sweet, it had a crispness too – and the sweet was fruit sweet not sugary sweet. Would be great on a hot night with spicy food, or at the end of a party. After a half-glass, I’d be done, but that’s because I don’t do sweet wine. Wine Friend 2’s wife would likely love this wine because of the sweet and crisp coming together nicely in it.
The 2017 Rosewell. This rose was a decent rose. It was made in the blending style, which is not the type of rose I favor. The tasting notes mention that 10% was “Bleedings from various red grapes.” I was wishing that the wine was all bleedings, but it is what it is. It was a decent rose, not too sweet, and would be good with food. Definitely this one is a summer wine, and so I wasn’t feeling it in the tasting room this winter.
We switched to reds at last, and the first was the 2016 “Nomini Hall Cab Franc.” 90% Cab Franc with 10% Chambourcin. They listed three awards for it, and it was a very interesting variation on cab franc – probably because the strongest characteristics of cab franc were muted by the chambourcin. It had stronger fruit, especially cherry, with that faint hint of spice and pepper at the end that you expect. I did like this one.
Next was the 2017 “Oatlands.” This wine waas 70% Chambourcin and 30% Norton. I was shocked to hear the norton, especially since we ran into some norton the previous weekend at Naked Mountain. The pourer told us that she knew people had strong feelings about norton. I told her mine were pretty solidly negative. The chambourcin does a good job taming the norton in this wine, but you still get the distinctive “why on earth would you make wine with this grape?” flavor from it in the wine. I passed on this wine.
Final red on the menu: the 2015 “Cortoman.” This is a meritage-style blend with Cab Sauv, Merlot, and Cab Franc. This wine had gorgeous dark fruit, without being too dark and strong of a wine. This is a pleasant one to sip by itself or pair with red meat, and would have been solid on the thanksgiving table! When she offered a re-taste of anything, this was the one dad and I chose!
Now dessert wines. First up, the 2014 “Sweet Danielle.” This light pleasant wine brought to mind first and foremost banana, which I did not expect. While very sweet, it had a nice crispness under it, and it’s another wine I could have a half-glass of after dinner. It would be incredible with something like a creme brulee, bread pudding, or banana pudding.
Last up – the 2014 “1762” port style wine. This felt like port – the smell was chocolate, even though there was none in it, and it had a very classic port taste to it. I craved 90% dark chocolate right after sipping it, and a cigar. This is a fine Virginia port.
I liked this place, and will be back. The only constructive criticism I offer is that the stairs to go up to enter and then go down to the tasting room, and then do the same to exit, were inconvenient and confusing. I was able to let dad out at the tasting room ground level doors, which was good, but I’m surprised they didn’t have point of sale at the tasting bar. The checkout space had a backup, and it would have been easily avoided. It was also difficult to tip the pourer, who had done an excellent job. The other point is that the music was far too loud, and the musician was having trouble adjusting the iPad playing the percussion and backbone behind her acoustic guitar, and continuously turned it up. That made it hard to enjoy the background music and enjoy the wine and talk with the pourer.
Nonetheless, the tailgating terror was still there when we left, so we avoided an altercation in the tasting room, and enjoyed our wines. Have you been? What were your thoughts?
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