Friday, June 24, 2011

Tasting Like a Girl

Sometimes it's not where you go, but just that you're getting away.

A friend was in need of a road trip and sent me a list of options (National Zoo, Natural History Museum, river, Southern MD for crabs, and on and on), telling me to choose our destination.

I chose wineries and dinner in Charlottesville and we set off shortly after mid-day with ham biscuits and cookies in the cooler.

The bitch of it was that we hit a nearly one hour back-up twenty minutes outside of C-ville. So we sat, munched  and chatted while waiting for the traffic to merge and move.

The delay changed our plans and we began our odyssey at King Family Vineyards, a stunning location from the moment we pulled in.

Bellying up to the tasting bar, we agreed to taste whatever they were pouring; sadly, that did not include the Cab Franc or Petite Verdot, two of my favorite grapes.

I liked the Crose' Rose' done in the Provence style, and the 2009 Meritage done in a Bordeaux style,  but surprisingly, my/our favorite was the Loreley, a 2009 dessert wine.

Not to gush, but this "straw wine" (rather than an ice wine), a blend of Viognier and Petit Manseng, had to be one of the most delicately beautiful wines I've ever tasted.

Before I could self-edit, I described it as, "Tasting like a girl," and both our pourer and my companion agreed enthusiastically that that was a perfect description.

Tasting of  tangerine, peach and gingerbread, it had the most beautiful aroma and a creamy mouth feel, but none of the excessive sugar you'd expect.

We were so impressed with it that we got two glasses of it and went outside to find a shaded table and enjoy it at our leisure.

King Family has a beautiful piece of property at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and we watched horses on the polo field as we sipped (they  have weekly polo matches there on Sunday) and chatted.

A glass apiece was not sufficient, however, and we got two bottles so we could each have access to this creamy delight at home.

From there we backtracked across C-ville to Keswick Vineyards to see what they had to offer.

Their Italian grape Verdejo impressed us greatly with its drinkability and grassy notes. It was the best kind of summer wine.

The 2009 Petite Verdot had a big nose smelling of violets and with good tannins. I could see why it had won a Silver at the Virginia Governor's Cup.

But once again, we were blown away by their dessert offering, the 2009 Nektar, a dessert wine of 100% Viognier.

Neither of us are particularly inclined to dessert wines, but this high alcohol (14%) and high sugar (10%) beauty tasted like liquid apricots. Two more bottles were purchased, along with some Verdejo,

In spite of ourselves, we had become dessert wine fiends for a day and we had no idea what that was about.

While our charming pourer was having us taste Chocolate/Norton sauce over cookies (divine, really, but then I've always been a fan of the Norton grape), it occurred to me that he could be of assistance in our dinner plans.

We'd planned to return to C-ville for dinner, but I began to think that we were actually closer to Gordonsville. Correct, he confirmed. That settled it.

So it was that we went to the charming French bistro Pomme for dinner, a place I hadn't been in over  five years, despite having had a superb meal there last time.

We were given the front window seat and our young server Ben was eager to be of assistance.

I asked for a glass of Ma Couleur Cotes de Provence Rose after teasing him about the few Virginia wines on the list. My friend settled on a Cotes de Rhone.

Young Ben told us the specials and there was no resisting the fish terrine, made with monkfish, sole, shrimp, scallops and red and yellow peppers with a basil aioli. I am a complete sucker for a seafood terrine.

And it was delightful, creamy ad tasting of the sea with big chunks of peppers and a house-made mayonnaise drizzled over the whole slice.

With some crusty bread, it made for a delicacy of a first course.

Ben kept trying to move us along and we kept taking our time, assuring him that we had no place to be, which seemed to perplex him.

We ordered the Hugl Gruner Veltliner to give him something to do and he ended up abdicating this responsibility to someone else. Apparently locating Austrian wine was beyond him.

House salads followed next, elevated by the soft butter lettuces and the chopped beets. They were so perfectly dressed that it led to a discussion of the scourge of overdressed restaurant salads.

The two of us negotiated about entrees, finally settling on the classic fillet de sole St. Germain (lightly breaded sole with Meuniere butter) and one of the evening's specials, fillet Mignon with lobster.

We shared these two dishes, admiring the perfection of the sole and wishing the fillet had been a tad more rare. The lobster meat was sweet and plentiful.

Eventually we stopped eating to save room for dessert, although they were out of two of their best.

The manager stopped by to pour us more wine and I commented to him on the absence of a good Virginia dessert wine on their list.

As it turned out, they were only temporarily out of the Loreley and would soon have it back on the dessert wine listing. Their stock grew hugely in our eyes when we heard this.

Despite the holes in the dessert menu, we made do with a special, Edelweiss cake (white chocolate and raspberry cake), and the perennial standby, chocolate lava cake.

The Edelweiss was the star, impressing my friend (who had visited Austria and come back desolate about dessert here) and  even me, the white chocolate hater.

My friend had a coffee since he had to drive back, but being the considerate and thoughtful friend that he is, he chose a route to please me.

Instead of the obvious I-64, we came back on a secondary road, Route 33, winding our way rhrough countryside and small towns.

With daylight lasting so long, we had wonderful views of heat lightening and hills as we tore around curves and over rickety bridges (he has a fast car and a lead foot).

And he's a good and long-time friend. Did I tell him that I had a a fun day? I did, because I had.

Could I also have imagined spending that day doing the exact same thing with another? I could.

Sometimes people need to get away and the "with whom" has multiple options.

Sometimes just getting away is enough.

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