Thursday, August 30, 2012

World Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2012: Cabernet Sauvignon in Virginia - Dinner at Breaux Vineyards with Jennifer Breaux Blosser, Virginia, US

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Jennifer Breaux Blosser and Breaux Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Today (August 30) is World Cabernet Sauvignon Day. I recently had a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon at a dinner in the tank room of Breaux Vineyards with Jennifer Breaux Blosser in Virginia, US. Not a place that immediately comes to mind when you think of Cabernet Sauvignon, but Virginia is increasingly producing premium wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon.

This evening was part of TasteCamp 2012. TasteCamp was created in 2009 by Lenn Thompson, of The New York Cork Report. Its goal is to get journalists and bloggers together in a specific region to taste as much wine as possible, and speak to as many winemakers from that region over the course of a weekend. In 2012, TasteCamp was held in Northern Virginia.

This posting is also part of a series of postings on TasteCamp 2012. I have already issued the following postings:

TasteCamp 2012 in Virginia, USA – A Tour d’Horizont  

Boxwood Winery in Virginia: Lunch with Wine Makers Rachel Martin and Adam McTaggert in the Chai between the Tanks – TasteCamp 2012 East Kick-Off, USA

North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

Walking Tranquility Vineyard and Tasting 8 Chains North Wines with Ben Renshaw, Virginia, USA

Tasting the “German” Otium Wines with Gerhard Bauer and Ben Renshaw at Otium Cellars, Virginia, USA

More postings will follow over the next couple of months on schiller-wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon Day

The Cabernet Sauvignon Day is organized by Rick Bakas, social media director of St.Supery in Napa Valley. The first Cabernet Sauvignon Day was celebrated 3 years ago.

It’s believed that Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux – Armand d’Armailhacq, of Chateau d’Armailhac (now owned by Mouton Rothschild) and his neighbour Baron Hector de Brane of Chateau Mouton were important figures in establishing Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1850s as the Médoc’s primary grape. Chateaux Mouton, d’Armailhac and Brane Cantenac were the first to have actively grown the variety.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller at the Dinner with Kirsten, aka Wine Woogie, from Cellarblog

From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's most widely recognized red wine grape varieties and grown in nearly every major wine producing country. For most of the 20th century, it was the world's most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.

Wine Producer Virginia

Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with nearly 200 wineries and 2,500 acres of vineyards. Over the past 50 years, Virginia wines have experienced a tremendous development - to elegant and balanced, mostly European vinifera-based wines. Recently, Donald Trump bought a Virginia winery and AOL founder Steve Case is in the process of buying one.

Pictures: Jennifer Breaux Blosser at the Reception

As far as white wines are concerned, the European vinifera grapes Chardonnay and Viognier are the leading varieties today. Increasingly they are made “naked” or with little oak only, with the objective of retaining natural acidity and freshness. It appears Viognier is on its way to becoming Virginia’s official “signature grape”. 

For French-American hybrid varieties, Seyval Blanc is still popular, but resembles now the fresh and crisp wines from France’s South West. Vidal has become the backbone of the artificially frozen ice wine (cryoextraction), which I am not a great fan of.

The first ice wine was reportedly produced in Germany in 1794. Today, ice wines are highly prized wines that are made not only in Germany, but also in Austria and Canada as well as other countries, including the United States. Canada has experienced an amazing ice wine boom in the past decades. See about German and Canadian ice wine here. In the context of ice wine, some wine regions, including Virginia, are pushing cryoextraction. This is an approach, which kind of simulates the frost in the vineyard in the wine cellar. It was developed by the French. Instead of waiting for mother nature to produce frosty temperatures in the vineyard, the winemaker subjects the grapes to frosty temperatures in the cellar and presses them while frozen.

Pictures: Jennifer Breaux Blosser, her new Spanish Winemaker David Pagan Castaño, her Husband and General Manager Chris Blosser and Christian G.E. Schiller at the Reception

As far as red wines are concerned, there was a shift in top Virginia reds from straight varietal wines to blends. And blends have gone from being dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with a significant amount of Petit Verdot. There is an increasing focus on neutral oak and clean, vibrant fruit, mirroring the evolution of Virginia white wines.

Tannat, Uruguay’ signature grape from the South West of France, is showing up in more Virginia wines, usually as a blend. The only red French American hybrid which has performed consistently well in Virginia is Chambourcin, which, with its bright cherry aromas and flavors, crisp acidity and low tannin, resembles the Gamay grape of Beaujolais.

Finally, Claude Thibault, a native from France, has now been producing premium sparkling wines in Virginia. While respectable sparkling wines have been made in Virginia in the past, sparkling wines have been taken to a new level in Virginia by Claude Thibault. His NV Thibault-Janisson Brut, made from 100 percent Chardonnay, which President Obama offered his guests at his first state dinner, is as close as you can get to Champagne outside of France.

Breaux Vineyards

Breaux Vineyards is owned by Paul Breaux, who made his money with a real estate company specializing in sales and property management on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and is managed by Jennifer Breaux Blosser, Paul’s daughter, and her husband Christopher M. Blosser.

What began as a small hobby in the carriage house of the original 1750's Log Cabin on the far side of the property, the winery has grown into what the Washington Post describes as "Loudoun County's most impressive wine undertaking." Featuring the finest of European winemaking equipment, Breaux Vineyards is often credited with standard for winemaking facilities in Virginia.

Today, the 404 acre estate has over 100 acres planted in 18 different grape varieties. Breaux Vineyards produces 10.000 to 12.000 cases per year. 90% of it is sold on the premises. Paul Breaux purchased this land in 1994 with only three acres of grapes, and in April 1997 produced his first vintage and opened to the public. By the following year, they were already producing 3,500+ cases of wine.

Breaux Vineyards is one of the few VA wineries that is represented overseas, with a fairly healthy export market in the U.K. In fact, last year Breaux Vineyards was even awarded three medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

I visited Breaux Vineyards last year, see:

Touring Virginia Wineries - Fabbioli Cellars, 8 Chains North and Breaux Vineyards - with Virginia Wine Expert Allan Liska

Visiting Jennifer Breaux Blosser and Breaux Vineyards in Virginia, USA


As we pulled up to Breaux Vineyards, we were greeted by Jennifer Breaux Blosser, her husband Chris Blosser and her new Spanish winemaker David Pagan Castaño.

Hors d’ouevres

Seared Scallops on Lavosh with Fennel Salad and Orange Glaze
Roasted Pear and Caramelized Onion Tartlets
Compressed Melon with Feta and Sherry Gastrique.

The Wines

2010 Breaux Sauvignon Blanc
2010 Breaux Viognier
2010 Breaux Jen’s Jambalaya
2002 Breaux Reserve Merlot

Dinner in the Tank Room

We were then moved into the tank room for dinner.

Pictures: Dinner in the Tank Room

Many of my fellow bloggers have already provided a summary of the feast that followed. I am taking the liberty here of reprinting the excellent comments of Antony Marocco of Virginia Pour House.

Picture: At #Winechat at Capital Grille in Washington DC with Fellow Wine Bloggers and Virginia Wine Producers, USA - Antony Marocco is the fourth person from the left, standing in the corner behind me

Pictures: Chef Patrick Dinh

Local and Organic Greens - First Course

Crumbled Goat Cheese with Walnuts and Balseto Vinaigrette
2011 Breaux Rosé

“The first course was now ready: a light and sensual Crumbled Goat Cheese with Walnuts and Balseto Vinaigrette. Of course, what better to serve the opener with a newly released glass of 2011 Breaux Rosé! This ‘Old World Spanish Style’ Rosé offered up a gentle strawberry nose, caressing the palate with much of the same strawberry qualities but adding light oak to the mix, and finishing with a buttery finish that was very light in acidity for such a young release. A very good Rosé, and for $19, well worth the purchase."

Spiced Angus Beef Medallions - Main Course

2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

"The main course was absolutely AMAZING! Savory Spiced Angus Beef Medallions with Bacon Fig Sauce scented with Chocolate, Gorgonzola Rosotto Studded with Currants and Almonds; a concoction that I could NEVER have dreamt in a million years. This dish pleased my taste buds with a completely uncomparable flavor. Chef Patrick absolutely NAILED this dish and took it to a whole new level by pairing it with the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. There couldn’t have been a better match made in heaven. The Cabernet Franc was peppery on the nose, and added some light spice and notes of white pepper throughout, carrying a lengthy finish with notes of light mocha. The Cabernet Sauvignon had a higher alcohol aroma with oak and spice from start to finish and floral flavors nudging upward on the palate, finishing with slightly higher tannins than the Cabernet Franc. My favorite of the two however, was the Cabernet Franc, and in my opinion, was a better pairing that the Cabernet Sauvignon with the main course. By pairing with the Rosotto with the Cabernet Franc actually enhanced the spice in the meat and enhanced the mocha notes that I detected on the finish of the wine."

Variety of Cheese

Morbier, Valdeon Blue, Mahon, Quince, and Hazelnut-Onion Marmalade

2001 Nebbiolo
2002 Nebbiolo
2005 Nebbiolo
2007 Nebbiolo (Barrel Sample)

"The next course was a Variety of Cheeses including Morbier, Valdeon Blue, Mahon, Quince, and Hazelnut-Onion Marmalade. The cheese course was paired with a vertical tasting of the Nebbiolos. The vertical consisted of the 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2007 Nebbiolo, of which my favorites were the 2002 and the 2007. Being that it is still in the barrel, this 2007 favorite exhibited some dry blackberry notes on the nose and palate, mixed with a little licorice and finishing with a jammy tart burst as expected with its youthful qualities. I actually paired the Valdeon Blue and a piece of the tostada, which brought the fruit forward qualities down to an acceptable level, and really excited me for this 2007 release! The 2001 Nebbiolo was potent on the nose with oak and a highly alcoholic aroma, soothing out with black clove and tobacco on the palate, with high tannin structure, leather, and licorice notes smoothing out the finish. The 2005 Nebbiolo exhibited cotton and super light notes of spice and pepper on the nose. The palate had an almost Djarum Clove cigarette taste bearing a very full bodied structure, and finishing with dark cherry flavors. Saving my favorite for last, the 2002 Nebbiolo, wafted aromas of black cherry and spice. It has very well balanced tannin structure, with huge notes of licorice on the palate, that finishes with an almost velvety fashion. LOVE IT! Paired with the Morbier cheese? Euphoria! Perfection! Ok, I ran out of adjectives, though it was pretty epic I will say that."

White Chocolate-Apricot Cake - Dessert

2010 “Chére Marie” or Vidal Blanc
2006 Soleil

"The final course of the evening consisted of a White Chocolate-Apricot Cake with Lychee Sabayon, paired with 2010 “Chére Marie” or Vidal Blanc, and the 2006 Soleil. The Vidal Blanc gave aromas of tropical fruit, and carried flavors of candied fruits, finishing relatively clean for a wine with 2% residual sugar. The 2006 Soleil was a rock star wine especially paired with the dessert offering. It is made of 100% late harvest Vidal, Viognier, Semillion, and Sauvignon Blanc and gave a punch of peaches in the nose and palate. The finish was a bit syrupy but with the cake it was the perfect compliment.”

schiller-wine: Related Posting

North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

TasteCamp 2012 in Virginia, USA – A Tour d’Horizont

The Wines of Veramar, Virginia, US

The 2010 DrinkLocalWine Conference in Virginia, US

Thomas Jefferson, 3. President of the United States, Visited Hochheim, Germany on April 10,1978

Norton and Other Wines of Chrysalis Vineyards in Virginia

Fine Virginia Wines from Corcoran Vineyards

As Close as You Can Get to (French) Champagne at the US East Coast – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar

Touring Virginia Wineries - Fabbioli Cellars, 8 Chains North and Breaux Vineyards - with Virginia Wine Expert Allan Liska

Visiting Jennifer Breaux Blosser and Breaux Vineyards in Virginia, USA

Visiting Wine Maker Doug Fabbioli and his Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, USA

An Afternoon with Jordan Harris, Winemaker of Tarara, Virginia, USA

Tasting the “German” Otium Wines with Gerhard Bauer and Ben Renshaw at Otium Cellars, Virginia, USA

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