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Does Virginia Need a #varosé Day?

Date: Tue, Jan 22, 2013 Wine Tasting

I know this is a strange question to ask when it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit, but I think rosé wine in Virginia is under-appreciated. Virginia winemakers, for the most part, have done a great job following in the footsteps of their brethren in Provence and Bordeaux by producing rosés that are fruity and acidity without being syrupy or sugary.

Achieving that delicate balance between acidity and structure while making a refreshing wine that does not remind people of a wine cooler is a challenge. But, it is a challenge that dozen of Virginia winemakers have managed to meet, in a relatively short period of time.

2012 was a hot dry year in Virginia, which should produce beautiful rosés. I think to coincide with the release of the 2012 rosés, which usually happens sometime in May, we should have a #varosé day. A day where Virginia Wine fans can open new rosé from their favorite winery and tell the world how great it is?

What do you all think, and does anyone have a date in mind?

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Don't Forget: Thursday the UGCB Comes to DC!

Date: Sun, Jan 20, 2013 Wine Tasting

We've written about this before, but it is worth repeating because the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is coming to DC on Thursday!

Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Pearson's Wine & Spirits website. The reviews of the 2010 vintage from the tastings in Texas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have been overwhelmingly positive - confirming what I have known about the 2010 vintage all along.

If you love Bordeaux, you must attend this event!

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The Day Virginia ABC Killed My Dreams

Date: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 Wine Tasting

I got really excited after reading about this wine truck from th good people at SIMI Winery. I love the idea of starting a wine food truck. Essentially, I want a wine bar on wheels, serving different wines every day along with cheese and meat plates.

So, I reached out to the Virginia ABC to ask how that could be done. This is the answer I received:

I have been asked to respond to your inquiry about a “Wine Bar Food Truck.” Unfortunately no license would be issued for such a venture. Licenses are issued for the sale, service and consumption of alcoholic beverages at retail locations with a fixed address.

While I wasn't thrilled with the answer, I do sincerely appreciate the prompt and complete response from the ABC.

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2nd Annual 1K Wine Walk This Weekend!

Date: Tue, Jan 8, 2013 Wine Tasting

Judging from my Facebook feed a lot of you are starting to prep for the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. Well, what better way to get started then the Vintage Crystal 1k Wine Walk sponsored by the great people at the Washington Wine Academy.

This is an indoor walk through the Crystal City Shops with 20 stops to try different wines selected by the Washington Wine Academy. The walk is this Saturday and Sunday (January 12th and 13th) from 1:00 to 7:00 and it starts in the Crystal City Shops at 2200 Crystal Drive and finishes up on the 12th floor of 251 18th Street in Arlington.

Admission is $43.50, which includes 20 Tasting Tickets and a T-Shirt. Tickets are available for purchase at the Washington Wine Academy (Saturday is nearly sold out).

Image from the Washington Wine Academy Facebook Page, used with permission.

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Wine App of the Week: TruckToMe

Date: Mon, Jan 7, 2013 Wine Tasting

If you live in the DC area, and need more than wine to survive, the TruckToMe app is a must have. Available for the iPhone (iOS 6.1 required), this app is beautiful in its simplicity.

TruckToMe tracks the Twitter accounts of more than 100 food trucks in the DC area and maps their location throughout the day - including when they shutdown for the day.

So, at any given time you can tell which food trucks are open for business and how close to you. A beautiful, simple, app.

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The Bad Boy Comes to Screwtop Wine Bar

Date: Sat, Jan 5, 2013 Wine Tasting

One of the best wine bar's in the DC area, The Screwtop Wine Bar, launched a Bordeaux flight today and one of the wines featured is Jean-Luc Thunevin's Bad Boy!

Labeled by Robert Parker as the best wine Thunevin has ever produced it is one my favorite affordable right bank wines from the 2009 vintage.

If you get a chance, get over to Screwtop and check it out.

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Wine App of the Week: WinePoynt

Date: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 Wine Tasting

Editor's Note: The Wine App of the Week feature has been on hiatus for a while, but there are now more than 700 wine apps on the iTunes App Store and more than 400 wine-related apps on the Android store. Hopefully, we can help point out the good apps, and steer you away from the bad

WinePoynt uses artificial intelligence and localization features to help it's users select the best wine for them. The app itself is excellent and has received kudos from all over the web. However, starting in January it will get even better by incorporating social media features.

From their press release:

“Before this version, if a user wanted to see what their friends shared about a wine in WinePoynt, they would have to go to their Facebook page and now they never have to leave the application,” Chris Taylor, president of WinePoynt, said. “With this latest release, WinePoynt users can also see what others are saying about the wines they drink, not just the people they already know.”

Users can now thumb through widgets to explore what others rate and add to their lists. WinePoynt’s personalized wine experience extends the functionality into a community context. Now, if a user is looking at a wine that someone else rated 4 stars and wrote a note about, they can also see how well WinePoynt thinks they would enjoy the same wine. All of this user submitted information is updated in real time, allowing anyone who is engaged in the social area to see their wine ratings, and what others are saying about those particular wines.

WinePoynt rolls several apps into a single one. It has a built in wine locator, a wine selector and integration with your social media platforms. I allows you to find a wine at a local store or restaurant, see how other users have rated the wine, rate the wine yourself, and share that wine with your friends.

The rating and reviewing sections of the app are very intuitive and easy to use. The app experience is enjoyable and it is easy to share your reviews.

The location features of the app are somewhat limited in this area. There are national agreements in place with Target, Costco, Fridays, Carrabba's, Bonefish and more than three dozen other shops and restaurant chains. But, there are no local restaurants represented. That still leaves you with hundreds of choices on Virginia.

Overall, this is a great app, and if you are a restaurant in the Northern Virginia area I recommend reaching out to WinePoynt to find out how to get your wine list added to their app.

For more information the good people at WinePoynt have released a video showing how to use their app.

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Olivier Bernard succeeds Sylvie Cazes as President of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux!

Date: Fri, Dec 28, 2012 Wine Tasting

CellarBlog favorite, and owner of Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier Bernard has been tapped to replace Sylvia Cazes as President of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB).

Olivier is a great choice. Not only will he continue the work that Sylvie Cazes started, but I think he will also increase the social media presence of the UGCB - an area where they have been lacking. Domaine de Chevalier is very active on Twitter and does a good job of interacting with their fans.

The press release sent out by the UGCB:

Bordeaux, December 18, 2012 – The board of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux met on the 18th of December and thanked Sylvie Cazes warmly for her accomplishments during her four years as President of the organization.

Sylvie Cazes increased the number of tastings abroad with members of the UGCB and innovated by introducing such new markets as Brazil and India. She also focused her attention directly on consumers. Thanks to her impetus, the Week-end des Grands Crus now attracts some 1,800 wine enthusiasts from around the world to Bordeaux, and the number of events organized abroad in conjunction with wine importers and distributors has increased significantly. Today the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux offers their 134 members the opportunity to take part in more than 80 international events a year, attended by some 35,000 trade professionals and journalists as well as 11,000 consumers.

The members of the board unanimously elected Olivier Bernard to succeed Sylvie Cazes as president. This well-known figure from the Pessac-Léognan appellation, where he manages the family estate, Domaine de Chevalier, is also the Managing Director of the family firm Financière Bernard (Lucien Bernard, Millesima, Sobovi, Wine&Co, etc.). Said M. Bernard, "At a time when the success of the Bordeaux great growths calls for a strong involvement from their owners, I am honored and highly motivated to take on this new responsibility and devote a great deal of energy to it. I intend to work closely with the Union's employees on behalf of all our members. Our grands crus must work more closely with the Bordeaux négociants and envisage a stronger commitment from the region's top estates during UGCB missions."

The election of the UGC's new president illustrates the priority of member winegrowers to find the right balance between new constraints brought about by increased media interest in the grands crus, the wine trade, consumers, and respect for the cultural heritage and traditions of the great wines of Bordeaux.

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Chateau d'Yquem Will Not Release a 2012 Vintage, Other Sauternes Estates Disagree

Date: Thu, Dec 27, 2012 Wine Tasting

For the first time since 1992 vaunted Sauternes Estate, Château d'Yquem has decided not to release a 2012 vintage:

“On a ramassé au début des choses intéressantes, puis il y a eu ensuite beaucoup de pluie qui a fait déraper le millésime. Cela manquait d’ampleur, il n’y a jamais eu la bonne concentration”, a expliqué Pierre Lurton. Avant d’ajouter : “Une marque comme Yquem doit savoir ne pas faire un millésime. [...] Pour l’image d’un des plus grands vins blancs du monde, pour maintenir Yquem dans l’histoire, il était raisonnable de ne pas en faire” en 2012 – comme en 1952, en 1972 et en 1992, d’ailleurs… y aurait-il une malédiction des 20 ans?

This is a very unusual move. We have gotten accustomed to Bordeaux estates being able to produce quality vintages irrespective of the weather, but Sauternes estates are much more susceptible to poor weather than other part of Bordeaux.

While acknowledging that the 2012 vintage was a challenge other estates in the Barsac/Sauternes region disagree with the assessment. In a press release sent out by Lettres de Chateaux they state:

2012 will be remembered as a complicated year which often placed considerable strain on the nerves of growers in the region. Spring started warm and dry, and then ended with rain... Two months of summer without a drop of rain, botrytis that had trouble getting started, and very localized storms... Thesomewhat sluggish noble rot meant that the harvests required extreme patience. In many cases they did not start until October, and were interrupted by spells of rain. Luckily, the last days of the harvests saw an unexpected return of the sun.

The press release goes on to state:
By the end of the autumn, the wine’s characteristics are starting to emerge... The sweet wines of 2012 have a striking aromatic purity. The wines do not rely on power, impressing instead with finesse, delicacy, smoothness and a freshness that augurs well for the wines’ long-term balance, with a style that ismore ethereal than in recent years. And which should delight wine lovers…

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The Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux Returns to DC!

Date: Wed, Dec 26, 2012 Wine Tasting

This is incredible news! The Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) is returning to the DC area this January!

It has been over a decade since the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) has been in Washington DC. We are happy to announce that we will be hosting this one of a kind Grand Bordeaux Tasting.

From Bordeaux connoisseurs to wine lovers we have a very exclusive and exciting evening with over 100 of the top Grand Crus Chateaux of Bordeaux. This will be a rare opportunity to talk to the winemakers and owners of the top Grand Crus Chateaux, while being one of the first to taste the highly acclaimed 2010 vintage. The event date is Thursday, January 24, 2013 from 5-8pm and it will be held at the Willard Intercontinental Grand Ballroom

The various Chateau have visited DC for events, such as the annual Heart's Delight fundraiser, but they have not all been in town together for 10 years.

This event is almost entirely due to the tireless efforts of David Choi, Proprieter of Pearson's Wine & Spirits. Mr. Choi has spent years putting this together and now his effort has come to fruition.

More than 100 members of the UGCB will be pouring their 2010 vintage.

Remember, the tasting will take place at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel's Grand Ballroom on January 24th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

You can purchase tickets, including discounted valet passes, on the Pearon's Wine & Spirits website! I promise you, this will be one of the best wine events in DC this year!

Pearson's image from Hyperlocal Glover Park

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Joyeux Noel, Nollaig Shona Dhuit, Buone Feste Natalizie, Feliz Navidad & Merry Christmas!

Date: Tue, Dec 25, 2012 Wine Tasting

Like wine, Christmas is celebrated the world over. So, from all of us at CellarBlog we wish you a Joyeux Noel, Nollaig Shona Dhuit, Buone Feste Natalizie, Froehliche Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Natal, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun, Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Glædelig Jul, Shub Naya Baras, and Merry Christmas!

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Wine and Cheese Have a Really Long History

Date: Tue, Dec 18, 2012 Wine Tasting

Wine and cheese pairings are so commonplace that it almost seems instinctual to pair them together. Given their almost universal paring it should come as no surprise that they Have both been around for a very long time.

According to an article in this month's Nature it appears that people may have started making cheese as early as the the 6th Millennium BC:

Notably, the discovery of potsherds pierced with small holes appear at early Neolithic sites in temperate Europe in the sixth millennium BC and have been interpreted typologically as ‘cheese-strainers

You may recall that in an issue of National Geographic last year the first winery was discovered dating back to about 4000 BC:

To test whether the vat and jars in the Armenian cave had held wine, the team chemically analyzed pottery shards—which had been radiocarbon-dated to between 4100 B.C. and 4000 B.C.—for telltale residues.

The chemical tests revealed traces of malvidin, the plant pigment largely responsible for red wine's color.

Now, you may be wondering what people paired their cheese with for 2000 years, but remember that was just the first winery -- evidence of wine making has been found as far back as the fifth millennium BC (and scientists contine to look for older examples).

Either way, both wine and cheese making were at the forefront of civilization. They both herald moving from nomadic peoples to a civilized society. Still no evidence of the first wine & cheese party, but really can that be far behind?

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UGCB Invades the USA!

Date: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Wine Tasting

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is invading the USA and bringing the powerful 2010 vintage with them!

There are three official stops during the tour. They will be in San Francisco on January 18th, New York City on January 21st and Chicago January 23rd. There will also be some surprise stops during the tour.

The 2010 vintage has been widely praised for its power and balance. Look for events in your city, you will not be disappointed.

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The Best Virginia Wine to Mull?

Date: Mon, Dec 3, 2012 Wine Tasting

December in Virginia Wine Country means it is time for mulled wine. Pretty soon you will not be able to walk into a tasting room without enjoying the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and orange peels.

It seems that every winery has a favorite wine for mulling. Some, like Swedenburg, even sell bottles of pre-mulled wine. Just heat and serve.

A good mulling wine is one with lots of fruit and soft tannins. You don't want the mulling spices to overwhelm the wine. Similarly, you don't want a mulled wine so astringent that you cannot enjoy the spices.

We are hosting a holiday open house this weekend during which we'll be serving mulled wine as the drink of choice. So, I posed the question to Facebook: Which Virginia Wine is the bet for mulling.

There were two recommendations: Loudoun Valley Vineyards 2008 Dynasty and the Casanel Vineyards 2008 Merlot.

Given that these are both great wines, we had to have a taste off.

The Dynasty is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Touriga Nacional. It has great vanilla aromas, lots of red fruit and smooth tannins.

The Casanel 2008 Merlot has black cherry and currant flavors with tannins that have softened nicely with age.

Both wines are great options for mulled wine.

While you can create your own spice pack, I prefer to use pre-made spices, in this case from Williams Somoma. They recommend 2 tablespoons of spices per bottle, plus 1/3 cup of sugar. I simmered the two wines for 20 minutes in a saucepan and they were ready to go.

Both wines came out really well, it was a close call. But, to find out the winner you have to come to the open house.

Do you have a favorite Virginia Wine for mulling?

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