Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

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Natural Wine Tasting

I recently learned of a group in the DC area, Pineapple DC, designed to connect industry and lovers of food in a fun and frank environment around wine, food and spirits. After learning more about the group, I signed up for one of their upcoming events, #Pineforwine.

At this second version of #Pineforwine, the conversation was focused on natural wines. Remy Samuels who is a manager at Cordial Wine & Spirits located in Union Market led the discussion. Remy studied French and Italian in undergrad and traveled abroad. She began to wonder what career would truly make sense for her. After visiting a winery, she knew what she wanted to do. She's insanely knowledgeable about natural wine. Natural wine has been a supposed trend for wine geeks for quite, but it's not quite entirely clear what it means. There are no legal definitions of what makes a natural wine.

As Remy explained and from what I have read and heard from others, true natural wine is allowing the wine to really tell the story where it comes from. Wine should be part history and culture and exhibit a time and place. After a brief introduction, we sampled three of the several natural wines that Cordial carries.

Kloof Street Chenin Blanc (retails at Cordial $19.99) - This wine is created by a husband and wife team. The wife is originally from California and the couple met in France. Their wines are sustainable and biodynamic. The wine was really accessible and lighter in body than I anticipated. I found it a fun sipping wine with tropical fruit notes.

Red Tail Ridge Miscreant Finger Lakes 2015 (retails at Cordial $27.99) - We have another rockstar husband and wife duo running the show here. Nancy serves as winemaker and Mike as winegrower. The wine is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Gewurztraminer. The wine is considered orange or amber as it is fermented on the skins giving it a more golden hue. The wine is unfiltered meaning no animal products were used. This wine grew on me considerably as I enjoyed it. I do love my orange wines, but fragrant varietals can over power me. As I sipped the wine evolved and the rose petal and floral elements became less pronounced and I was able to detect more nutty and savory elements. I think I would have enjoyed it further with the right food pairing.

Domaine De Clovallon Pinot Noir Pays d'Oc 2015 (retails at Cordial $22.99) - This is our first mother and daughter team in the mix! They were founded in 1989 in the south of France. They are in it to win it with their natural wines and only farm biodynamically. The wine has what you would expect from a tasty natural wine. It was funky to nose with some slight effervescence. It was juicy with some dark fruit notes that came through. 

I am still learning more about natural wine and enjoying the many opportunities to taste wine and meet others. It's a journey, but it's definitely a tasty journey.

Any recommendations on natural wines or female winemakers or winery owners? List your comments below! 

Young Winos of DC at Dino's

The Young Winos of DC next event will be at Dino's on Thursday, February 5th at 6:00pm.  Jessica Hagadorn, founder, Young Winos of DC has organized another great event that will prove to be fun and educational.  The event will focus on orange and unusual red wines.  There will be cheese and charcuterie served.  It's the perfect event for someone who wants to learn more about this exciting trend in wine with a great group of people.  Hurry fast as tickets may sell out quickly.

Visiting Tarara Winery

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.

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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.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

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.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

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.

Champagne Tasting

Bell Wine & Spirits’ annual Grand Champagne tasting is Wednesday, December 11th 5:00pm - 8:00pm. They will be pouring 30+ Champagnes and sparkling wines, with highly rated Krug, Ruinart, Dom Perignon and more!

Tickets are available here for $25.  Is that too much?  Want a discount?  Well, maybe I can help you out.  Use the promo code justthebottle and get your ticket for $10.

If you end up buying any of the wines tasted - not only will they be on sale, but you’ll get your money back from your ticket.