Virginia Crush Bus Wine Tasting Notes – Tarara Winery, Hiddencroft Vineyards, and Loudoun Valley Vineyards

On Friday I shared with you a little about the Loudoun County winery tour with the Virginia Crush Bus gang to celebrate the end of Virginia Wine Month. It was a pretty long post and there is still so much to share with you all!

As promised, today I am sharing my tasting notes from the tour. We visited three wineries and tasted 28 wines that day. Yes, 28! That is a LOT of wine! I’m pretty sure we could all use a glass…or bottle…or case…of wine what with Election Day and a hurricane behind us and the holidays fast approaching.
Soooo, we are just going to jump right on in here. Be sure to click on the links to visit each winery’s website to learn more about them. Just these three provide a glimpse of the varied character of Virginia wine and Virginia wineries.

Tarara Winery

1) Viognier 2011 – By picking the grapes early, Tarara’s presentation of Virginia’s signature grape preserves a fresh acidity of the younger grapes, making this wine similar in style to a Sauvignon Blanc. A nice zippy nose with hints of oak, you’ll taste bright grapefruit and fresh straw.

2) Petit Manseng 2011 – Tarara typically uses Petit Manseng in their white blends, rather than as a single varietal. In 2011, however, the conditions were just right for the creation of this wine. Deeper in color than the Viognier, you’ll find more complex flavors in the Petit Manseng. Lightly sweet, with oak and tropical fruit notes and a tiny hint of spice. We liked this one the best of the whites. I think because of how similar it is to a “traditional” Viognier sans the blossoms.

3) Charval 2010 – The grapes of this white blend grew in a very hot, very dry year here in Virginia. Conditions such as this allow for a greater concentration of sugars in the fruit, which then produce very flavorful wines. The predominant varietal in the Charval is the Chardonnay, which you will notice from the wine’s very crisp citrus notes that balance out the creamy oak. You’ll also notice the tropical fruits of the Petit Manseng, which provide a touch of sweetness to the wine.

4) Rose 2011 – No residual sugars in this Bordeaux grape blend rose! Clean, light, crisp. Beautiful strawberry nose along with grass, you’ll definitely taste the berries along with fresh herbs such as sage. I wrote down in my notes that this wine would be awesome with goat cheese! Yum!

5) Long Bomb Edition 4 2010 – Dry year, remember? This wine had an amazing garnet color, hinting at the fruit flavors that will hit your tongue. A combination of raspberries and blackberries, a tiny bit of vanilla, and on the back of your tongue a touch of fresh grass/herbs.

6) Long Bomb Edition 3 2009 – This was my favorite Tarara wine. Deep purple, lots of black cherry and spice. So fresh and full of fruit flavors, I could easily drink this wine on its own or with a nice plate of pasta with fresh tomato sauce.

7) Whitie’s D9 This was a bonus tasting for the group, as you will not find this port style wine, named for Tarara’s late owner and his Caterpillar D9 bulldozer, on the tasting list. Fortified with grape brandy, at 18% alcohol this wine does pack a punch with its sweet dried fruit flavors. A great wine for chocolate!

8) Late Harvest Petit Manseng 2010 – Take a dry, hot year and add to that a late harvest allowing the fruits already bursting with concentrated flavor to ripen into October and you have a very good combination with which to make a pleasant dessert wine. The 6% residual sugar of this Late Harvest Petit Manseng is all natural, nothing added. Very light bodied for a dessert wine with balanced acidity and some oak, it fills your mouth with a whisper of bubbliness. I think it wants to sparkle! lol

Hiddencroft Vineyards

10) Chambourcin Rose – As the winemaker, Clyde, poured this first wine for us, he told us we would taste strawberries and…watermelon jolly rancher! A very tart wine (that would the jolly rancher bit) this rose is not one bit sweet. Thanks to the Chambourcin it has a lot of red wine characteristics. It reminded me a lot of a dry plum wine.

11) Traminette (Dry) – Such a lovely fragrance! Pear and apple blossoms, which lent to a refreshingly crisp and light wine.

12) Traminette (Semi-Sweet) – Though the nose of this version of the traminette was not as prominent as the dry style, the pear and apple bouquet of the dry became the palate of the semi-sweet. With clean, grassy notes, the crisp flavors of pears and apple give it a nice acidity to balance on the just barely sweet wine.

13) Vidal Blanc 2010 – Remember how this was a hot, dry year? Yup, you can bet this one was full of lovely flavors. Lightly sweet with 1.5% residual sugars, you’ll taste lots of tropical fruits like pineapple that give that little bit of sweetness some complexity.

14) Cabernet Franc – Loved the beautiful nose on this one. A smooth red, it was deep and fruity with lots of pepper and tobacco.

15) Dutchman’s Creek Blend – Named after the creek that runs behind the beautiful barn, this Bordeaux style blended wine is predominantly Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Tannat. A bold red wine with lots of key Cab Franc and Cab Sauv characteristics in both the nose and palate.

16) Tannat – This varietal is often found in blended wines, mainly because this grape takes a lot of love to soften out its very bold tannic character. Hiddencroft ages this wine in the barrel for three years to give it time to mellow out. The result, a soft yet bold and dry wine with lots of smokey pepper and tobacco. Lovers of big, bold reds will enjoy this!

17) Cherry Wine – This fruit wine is made from cherry pie cherries! (That would be Montmorency cherry.) It smells like a jar of cherries sitting next to a lovely flower bouquet. Sweet and tart, but very clean with an herbal finish, it is a very pleasant and unique treat.

18) Grandma’s Love Potion – You got to love the name! This is a blueberry dessert wine like no other you may have tasted. It’s like smelling and eating a blueberry muffin or pie or compote. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves…even balsamic vinegar (don’t knock it, I use it on strawberries remember?). Not one bit syrupy, this wine is light bodied and lightly sweet. Clyde and his family like to make mulled wine with Grandma’s Love Potion for those chilly winter evenings!

Loudoun Valley Vineyards

19) Pinot Grigio – Not a varietal you see very often in Virginia, this is one of less than a handful I have come across. A very traditional Pinot Grigio, you’ll find the deliciously expected zingy citrus and a little bit of oaky vanilla . Crisp and delicious.

20) Viognier – Here, Virginia’s signature grape is done very French, very Old World style…but aged in stainless steel (yay!). So much flavor, but I tasted nothing our pourer described lol. Instead of melons, stone fruits, and flowers I got lots of fresh lemon and lime citrus and spice. The spice really stuck with me. We had time to relax a little before boarding the Crush Bus back to Fairfax so I ordered myself a glass of this wine. As the wine got warmer (I’m notoriously slow at eating and drinking…I like to savor lol), I did start to find stone fruit flavors and some honey come forward.

21) Traminette – Here’s where all the Viognier’s flowers went! Just kidding. Beautiful orange blossom nose on this one, the citrus is more tamed in this wine with tangerine and grapefruit. Definitely tasted the stone fruit flavors in this one. Their sweeter acidity round out this wine.

22) Vin de Pomme – Granny Smith, Gala, and Honey Crisp apples all come together to make this apple wine. Not overly sweet, it reminded me of a hard cider, but without the carbonation.

23) Merlot – Smooth and delicious! The oak is very prominent on the nose. On your tongue you’ll find a lovely but gentle tartness of currants and berries.

24) Pinot Noir – Nice, deep black cherry and blackberry flavors with this wine. Intense, yet soft at the same time.

25) Cabernet Franc Reserve – Just how I like my Cab Francs…with lots of cherry and currants and just a little bit of pepper. The low tannins in this wine make it an approachable red. It’s a very pretty ruby color, too!

26) Dynasty – This red blend is made from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Touriga Nacional (haven’t seen that grape in awhile!). You definitely taste and smell the Cab Franc in this wine with its pepper and cherry. The Merlot lends some nice berries and softness, while the Touriga rounds everything off with a dose of body.

27) Route 9 Red – Chambourcin! What a beautiful purple color this wine has. Almost as pretty as the scenic drive it is named for. This is one of those wines I could smell forever; fruity and earthy and a little sweet. This wine does have 1% residual sugar and reminded me of port, but unfortified. Think dried fruits like raisins and plums.

28) Legacy – Named in honor of the owners’ son, this 100% Touriga Nacional fortified wine is made in the Italian style of fortified wines (think Marsala), rather than the Portuguese port style most of us are familiar with. I found this wine quite interesting and very different. The full mouth feel with its astringency against the sweet richness of the wine, not to mention it smells like reduced balsamic vinegar and tobacco! All these rich, full flavors all just meld together into a unique and pleasant dessert wine.

Man, that’s a lot of wine! Now stay tuned! Sometime before Thanksgiving I have a lovely sauce recipe to share with you that was inspired by the lunch we had at Market Table Bistro.

Have a happy hump day!


6 responses to “Virginia Crush Bus Wine Tasting Notes – Tarara Winery, Hiddencroft Vineyards, and Loudoun Valley Vineyards

  1. Pingback: Savory Pumpkin Sauce and Lunch at the Market Table Bistro | corkandspoon

  2. Twenty eight wines in one day and you have great notes on each…I’m impressed.

    • Why thank-you, Karen 🙂 I always bring a notebook with me when I go winery hoping. It really helps at the end of the tasting and you go, “Which ones did I like again?” lol.

  3. I’m so amazed you can keep these all straight! I vote for a taste of Grandma’s Love Potion!

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