I recently accompanied Alison who writes and owns her own wine consulting company, Bon Vivant, to Tarara Winery. Along the way, we stopped in Leesburg, Virginia for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, Wine Kitchen was closed. We ate in the secret garden at Shoe's. It was a family friendly environment with bocce and cold beer.
After our brief meal we headed to Tarara Winery. The facility is astounding. We arrived and quickly were lost. Note, do not follow another car assuming they know where they are going. We turned around and found parking. As we entered the tasting room, we were immediately greeted by friendly staff. Our group was also provided with sparkling wine to start and taken to our guided tasting area.
The story of Tarara begins 25 years ago when Whitie and Margaret Hubert launched their dream - a winery showcasing the best of Virginia wine. The estate consists of 475 acres. Their main vineyards are Nevaeh, Tranquility (located in Purcellville), and Honah Lee (located in Orange). Side note, we all know Nevaeh is heaven backwards, right? Apparently, it's now one of the most popular baby names.
Tarara under Jordan Harris' direction follows the belief that the land and wine should speak for itself. They do not use fining agents and many of the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts.
We enjoyed five flights of twenty-one wines that included wine from Boneyard and Killer Cluster. This is a pro-tip from me to you, a guided tasting of this size requires spitting and avoiding palate fatigue. It's not an easy job, but someone has to do it.
The first flight focused on wine from Nevaeh that featured Chardonnay. All of the wines used oak not to cover or mask the wine, but to add value. Oak when used judiciously adds depth and personality to Chardonnay. My favorite was the 1997 Chardonnay. I love to see how a Chardonnay evolves and develops a more funky flavor.
The second flight focused on Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is very common in Virginia wineries, but finding it well is a different story. Every vintage told a different story. The 2012 had mint and floral notes. The 2010 experienced a very hot and dry season. The 2010 is HUGE, big, and wanting to be drank with a steak. It had an amazing velvety texture. The 2007 had more restrained wine making practices and led to a balanced wine. The 1997 was incredibly delicate and showed some blackberry.
The third flight contained one of my favorite wines the Nevaeh Red 2010 . It was spicy with some dark berry notes. The Tranquility Red 2010 showed great complexity with a lengthy finish. The CasaNoVA 2010 can easily change people's minds who still believe Merlot is bad. This is an example, of Merlot done well with the silky palate that you want. The Meritage 2007 had a long finish with dark fruit and smoky elements. We finished with a Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 that again was interesting to see how the wine evolved.
The fourth flight contained wines from Boneyard. Boneyard offers grapes sourced from Monticello AVA. Jordan is experimenting with orange or amber wines by using Rkatsiteli, a varietal usually found in Georgia, and leaving the wine for an extended maceration with skin contact. I'm excited to see how he continues to play with this wine and make it uniquely Virginian.
The final flight contained wine from Killer Cluster that is sourced from Columbia Valley AVA. Two of my favorite Rhone varietals were included - Marsanne and Roussanne. The Marsanne was my favorite. It is incredibly aromatic with nutty elements and a fuller body.
After we finished the guided tasting, we proceeded to the private tasting area for dinner and more wine. This was the time to begin to actually consume the wine.
After we finished eating, the group went to the outdoor concert. It was a laser light show! The show was fantastic with an amazing turn out. I have already made plans to go back.