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Monday, March 31, 2014

Corcoran Brewing Re-opens in Purcellville


This weekend Corcoran Brewing Company reopened at their new Purcellville brewery, after outgrowing their Waterford barn next to the family's winery: Corcoran Vineyards. The brewery had been idle for the past four months constructing and moving to the new location, yet all that has changed is the volumes of beer - the selection is the same and the increased capacity means inventories will remain more constant. Although looking at the picture, Saturday may have depleted quite a bit of inventory since brewer Kevin Bills mentioned it was their biggest sales day ever. Whereas the standard lineup is intact, a new beer added to the menu is the John Champe, an English style barley wine coming in at 9.7% abv. Despite the high alcohol, the beer is quite smooth with a nice malt-hop balance. Also, the brewery continues the tradition of including detailed information in the tasting sheets such as style, ABV (Alcohol by Volume), IBU (International Bittering Units - hops), and SRM (Standard Reference Method for color). In the future expect food trucks, an outdoor seating area, and perhaps some local live music. And as always, theCompass Winery, Brewery, and Distillery Locator app can guide you to Corcoran's Brewing Company and the other area wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Cheers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Much Belated Return to Willowcroft Farm Winery

This weekend I realized that it had been almost eight years since I last visited Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, located just southwest of Leesburg in Loudoun County Virginia. Don't know why the long hiatus, but Sunday night we used theCompass mobile application to navigate to the winery.  Good timing, since the winery is celebrating it's 30th anniversary in 2014 - one of the oldest in the Commonwealth. Once a space opened at the tasting bar, our tasting room rep, Lydia, guided us through the winery's portfolio and history.  (We also found a couple books in the tasting room that describe the history of the properties on Mt. Gilead.)

All the wines we tasted were harvested directly from the estate, except for the Petit Manseng which is sourced further southwest in the Shenandoah Valley.  We sampled most of their wines, and in general, I was quite impressed. Almost all possessed the characteristics you would expect from each grape.  The estate grown Albarino was my favorite white (floral with nice acidity), followed by the Harmony and Cabernet Blanc. The former is an semi-dry blend of Petit Manseng, Vidal Blanc and Traminette (great acidity to balance the sugar); whereas the later is a lightly pressed Cabernet Franc that tastes of the lighter side of cherries. Moving on the reds, the Petit Verdot was medium bodied with mellow tannins; the Chambourcin was also medium bodied with a spicy tail, and the Merlot was full bodied - very smooth and tasty.

I plan on returning very soon, particularly when the medal winning Cabernet Franc and Apple wine are released to the public. Lydia almost talked me into the Wine Club, and I think I can be persuaded on my next visit. Since the strength of their portfolio encompasses the breadth of the wine selection, I think I can be assured that every two months I'll receive a wine I enjoy. Cheers.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Taste of Science at Doukenie Winery

The first Saturday of every month Doukenie Winery (Hillsboro, VA) hosts a very informative and interesting event: A Taste of Science at Doukenie Winery. Led by geologist Leanne Wiberg, the program starts with a tour and wine tasting in the depths of the facility followed by a vineyard tour of the winery's experimental vineyard. After a year of urging I finally found a free Saturday to participate. The tour costs $18.00 for general public, but free for  Heritage Club members, and starts with an overview of the winery's Greek Heritage: Doukenie=Dutchess.  Once in the basement we then learned about winemaker Sébastien Marquet and his Burgundian background followed by a tasting of eight wines. Most of these wines were made from estate grapes with the others sourced from a vineyard near Fredericksburg. And the wines were quite pleasant, with the Riesling, Pinot Grigio, "Le Vin Rouge", and Cabernet Franc selected as the group's favorite. In fact, the Pinot Grigio, was the nicest I can remember tasting in quite some time. After the tasting we learn about the winery's use of oak and the source of their French oak barrels.

Finally it was time for the vineyard tour and Leanne led us to the experimental vineyard where Marquet grafts various grape vines on another varying set of rootstock. Leanne described to the group the history of phylloxera and reason for rootstock and interpreted the different combinations of rootstock to grape vines.She then showed us geological maps of the area and described how Short Hill and the plateau to Leesburg were created. Then on to sunshine, rain runoff, soil, you name it; pretty interesting stuff - even in the cold weather. 

After the program I realized there was plenty to appreciate about Doukenie; the obvious being that they provide a geologist to host this program. The others is the dedication to quality - having an experimental vineyard - and even Marquet selecting the specific trees for the cooperage. And this reflects in their wines - as a whole they are much nicer than my last visit many years ago - and their are a few standouts that I'd like to partake on a daily basis.  Cheers to that.