You know those weekends where it seems like there’s no end of fun things to get into? That was this past one.
By Saturday morning at 11:00 I’m down in Sperryville, VA, at Rappahannock Central, which has fast become one of my favorite weekend destinations. There, at the Farm to Fork Market, owner Terri Diley has teamed up with author Sheila Lamb for a Saint-Patrick’s-Day-friendly book signing — Sheila’s novel, Once a Goddess, is a historical fantasy about Saint Brigid of Ireland.
While Sheila (wo)mans her book table, I spend the morning browsing Copper Fox Antiques – an activity that, seriously, never gets old. I manage to escape with no more than a set of duck-head-handled fireplace tools (hey, they’re practical) and a hand-carved wooden duck to sit above them on the mantle (thematic consistency is important in home decor!). After that, I take a stroll across the parking lot to Wasmund’s Distillery to pick up two bottles of their delicious single malt, apple-and-cherry wood smoked whiskey. I have a chance to talk to the owner, Rick Wasmund, while I’m there, and I’m excited to say that I should have a pretty cool interview with him posted here within the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
After that, it’s back over to Farm to Fork, where I spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon lounging on the porch, chatting up the local artists who work with the River District Arts collective next door, and watching both locals and tourists arrive. I also spend some time drooling over the locally raised meat that Terri has in stock. What particularly fascinates me is the fresh rabbit that’s just come in. Rabbit! While I’ve eaten rabbit before, I’ve never actually tried to cook it, and now that it’s in front of me, of course I have to buy some. I also pick up some fresh pork chops for tonight’s dinner, a package of fresh slab bacon, and a carton of fresh eggs. I tell you what — it’s getting harder and harder to buy anything from a regular grocery store.
Sunday is for wine tasting. The main plan is to be at my perennial favorite, Little Washington Winery, by 3:00 in the afternoon. Andrew, their consultant sommelier, is supposed to be on hand for an extended club tasting that will feature new wines from around the world that winery owners Donna and Carl are considering for their “Dirt Road” collection. But there’s plenty of time for visiting other wineries before then, and so after a hearty breakfast of fresh bacon and eggs, it’s off to Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn to sample their just-released 2009 Rockawalkin’. I dearly loved their 2008 and was crushed when they sold out of it (that’s the problem with small-production wineries — they sell out of their best wines too quickly); fortunately, I still have a couple of bottles of that vintage left in the cellar. In any case, though, the 2009 proves to be everything I could have hoped for — a rich, robust Cabernet Sauvignon, smooth on the palette with a nice, long (but not too tannic) finish. I’m also very impressed with their newly released Seyval Blanc, aged not in steel (as one would typically expect for this grape) but in French Oak. It’s got a fascinating texture and flavor, more like that of a light Chardonnay than a Seyval. All in all, well worth the trip.
From Aspen Dale, it’s only a short jaunt to one of Virginia’s newest wineries, Capitol Vineyards. This is my first time visiting Capitol; I tried to stop by a few weeks earlier, but they were closed for the winter. I’ve been eager to visit them, though, having heard some pretty good buzz about their wine. I have the pleasure of meeting co-owner Lauren Shrem in the tasting room, which is located in a very old, historic building that was once home to the first African-American owned post office in Virginia. In fact, as she informs me, the entire area we’re in was once a haven for freed slaves. It’s beautiful, quiet and serene, a lovely property nestled into a small hollow (oh, sorry, this is Virginia — a small holler). And the wine — well, let’s just say that I left with four bottles, including their ’09 and ’10 Meritage (the ’09 is much smoother than the ’10, but they’re both very good), their ’09 Merlot (this one is for near-future drinking, not cellaring), and their ’09 Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Traminette, also, is quite distinctive. The grape is normally very perfumy on the nose, especially when produced as a single varietal, but this one seems to have more fruit than flower. I leave as their newest fan.
From that happy experience it’s on to Little Washington. Andrew’s late getting there from DC, but when he does arrive it’s with a cooler full of wine, more than 20 bottles in all, so it’s easy to forgive him. A tasting of this size is definitely one that calls for a “swish and spit” approach rather than swallowing — there would be very few tasters left upright at the end otherwise. The majority of what Andrew brings are whites, but there are three reds in the batch, including a youngish-tasting Norton from Missouri’s famous Stone Hill Winery that I think has real potential as well as an excellent Cabernet Franc from Virginia’s own Breaux Vineyards, which ends up being my favorite out of the entire lineup. Others I was particularly impressed by included:
- Detour Organic Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon
- Vina Collado Macebeo (that’s a hard “c” — Macabeo is my new favorite word to say), Campo de Borja, Spain
- Jean Pla ‘La Souris Blance’ Grenache Blanc, Vin de Pays des Costes Catalanes, France (I’ve never met a Grenache I didn’t like)
- Delea ‘Marengo’ Bianco, Tocino, Switzerland (the first wine I’ve ever tried from Switzerland)
- Fabrini Merlot Rose, Marches, Italy
- Kaltern Schiava, Aldo Adige, Italy
- Tedeschi ‘Maui Splash’ Pineapple Passionfruit Wine, Maui, Hawaii
All of which are available for under $30 per bottle; most of them for less than $20.
The tasting itself wraps up at around 6:00, but the day’s not over yet — I’m heading home to cook my very first rabbit. Stay tuned for that post, coming soon.