|Winemaker Carl was informative |
Enter the Wine Bootcamp at Little Washington Vineyards. Held by winemaker Carl in one of the rooms next to the tasting room, the Wine Bootcamp was informative, relaxed, and fun. In 2 hours we learned about the process of taking grapes from planting to harvest to fermentation to pressing, aging, racking, filtration and bottling. During the talk we had a chance to taste several wines from around the world that complemented the information Carl imparted. Here's where this winery differs from most of the others I've been to in Virginia: Instead of a focus on their own wines, we were introduced to wines from Chile, France, Italy, Uruguay, plus one from the U.S. -- a wine from Idaho. Yes, Idaho!
|My personal fave -- Sawtooth Skyline|
Red from Idaho.
Since we were there in summer, rosés were a topic of discussion and one of the wines we tasted. Carl quickly quashed the naysayers, explaining that rosé's reputation for being cloyingly sweet is inaccurate and likely a leftover from his generation's exposure to such sweet rosés as Mateus and Lancer's. We all had a good chuckle as we recalled what we thought was the height of sophistication in our late teens/early 20's.
About halfway through our class, we were ushered onto the deck with sandwiches that were carefully paired with a crisp sauvignon blanc while the staff changed our place settings for part two of the class -- chocolate pairings.
|Sandwich break on the deck. This photo doesn't |
do the pretty view justice.
|Chocolate pairing setup.|
Carl imparted a healthy dose of practical information for dining out:
- DON'T bother smelling a cork at the restaurant -- none of them smells good.
- DO swirl the glass before tasting and accepting the wine you've ordered if it came with a natural cork; "corked" wine can destroy the wine with bacteria and smells like a wet paper bag. Swirl it, give it a few seconds, sip. Do it again. (Note that there's no risk of a corked wine with screw topped and synthetic corks.)
And for buying wines:
- The ultra cheap wines (a certain "Chuck," for example) are high in arsenic and to be avoided.
- 2007 had a dry spring, which was good for Virginia wines. Conversely, spring 2016 was wet, so it's not likely to be a good year.
- Virginia's Viogniers are best when they come from areas south of I-64. The weather is typically too cold north of 64 to sustain a successful harvest and a good wine.
Little Washington has a number of award-winning wines they can be proud of, including George, its signature Meritage blend. George has been named the #1 red in Virginia and is a "frequent ringer of the $100 Bordeaux guess in blind tastings."
What a terrific afternoon. Little Washington offers several of these classes -- I think I might try Around the World in 80 Minutes, The World of Malbecs, or Virginia Versus the World next. Thanks, Carl!