Thursday, August 4, 2011

Breaux Vineyards, Loudoun County, VA #DCsWineCountry

As the bus turned up the lane we saw that we were in lush farm county.  At the end of the lane, up a slight incline was Breaux Vineyards, framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, with a foreground of grapevines... acres and acres of manicured grapevines.  There in the cul-de-sac waiting to welcome us: a videographer, a vase of flowers, a table holding chilled wine and Breaux Vineyard's chic Director of Marketing & Hospitality, Jennifer Breaux Blosser.

It was 100+ degrees outside and as the Virginia Wine TV crew got their shots and sound bytes, the chilled Breaux Sauvignon Blanc`10 called to us. How refreshing; a crisp, slightly tart, well chilled light wine in triple digit weather.  Perfect. What a great welcome.  If I weren't such a wine geek, I could have felt like a rockstar getting off the tour bus.  It was a delightful welcome. Standing shyly behind the table of wine was Breaux's Winemaker, David Pagan Castaño - seriously, I felt like I had walked onto a movie set filming "Young, Glamorous and Running a Vineyard".

After brief introductions, Chris Blosser, General Manager and Jennifer's husband, took us on a hayride to look at the Vineyard. It was late afternoon and the sun was low in the sky. We gamely climbed up to our straw bale seats and had a guided tour of some of the vineyard.  It was beautiful.  Chris answered all of our questions and was a great host.  (and I figured out what to do with an empty wine glass on a hayride!)

As we rode past the acres of Nebbiolo planted on the hillside, Malbec and Cabernet Franc grapes neatly trimmed along the flat, Chris told us the story of Breaux Vineyards.  Truly a family affair, it was started in 1980 by his father in-law E. Paul Breaux, Jr., Now, the next generation is at the harvest.  Jennifer and Chris have taken up the day to day running of the Vineyard. (He sweetly calls it a "Mom & Pop Operation"), and you can see touches of the family in everything. From the Nebbiolo on the slope in the background (The vineyard is growing Nebbiolo because Mr. Breaux had a conversation with a man in Italy and decided, "Why not grow Nebbiolo in Virginia?") to the three sisters on the labels of some of their wine. It is a family operation, they love their grapes, they love each other, and if you notice the Crawfish on the glasses in these pictures and on the labels of some of their wine, they love their Cajun roots. (more about that in the tasting notes)

We finished our hayride and Chris took us to join Jennifer and David in Breaux's tasting room. It is an inviting place that showcases their wines and awards, but our treat was waiting in the barrel room. We walked through the Tank Room, festooned with two of the classic colors of Mardi Gras.  Originally chosen for Mardi Gras in 1872, purple represents justice and gold represents power. The Cajun roots of the Breaux Family run deep, and their wine is a testament to that.
The Barrel Room was waiting for us.  I'll get straight to the tasting.  I'll link retail bottles to a proper review (title is link) and I will leave barrel samples here.

#1.  Breaux Vineyards Viognier `10 $24.00 #DCsWineCountry

#2.  `07 Nebbiolo barrel sample. WOW, what a mouthful of wine. This wine exists because Mr Breaux had drinks with an Italian man (who spoke no English), and though, "we could grow this", and look, they did! I have a bottle of the `06, and I will do a proper review with food in the future.  I can't wait to try it head to head.  New World Virginia Nebbiolo and Italian Nebbiolo.

#3.  Breaux Vineyards Meritage `07 $28.00 #DCsWineCountry

#4.  Breaux Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve `07
I just wanted to smell this wine.  Ohhh the smell.  It was raspberry, and a hint of blackberry,and deep, deep dark fruit smells, slightly sweet, and so ripe that it is bursting. Of course, as I sipped it, I loved it.  And when Jennifer told me that it was 16% ETOH, I just said "duh, guess who is forgetting to dump in the 'swirl, sip, spit/dump' world of wine tasting". I drank it all, and I am not ashamed!  (I also can't find it on their website as for sale, so the review stays with the Vineyard blog)

#5.  Breaux Vineyards Cabernet Franc`10 Barrel Sample
This is a young wine. I smelled the vanilla from my first sniff, and then of course, I kept on sniffing. I tried to imagine what the concentration would smell like in a year or so. I had only been to two Vineyards so far, but I was sure of one fact: Virginia makes some good Cabernet Franc.

#6.  Breaux Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon `10 Barrel Sample
We ended the tasting with a taste of their latest Cabernet Sauvignon. The flavors of a generation yet to come. It was fresh, with a tight tannic taste. (how's that for ill-iteration?) This wine will age gracefully, I want to come back in a few years and taste those tannins then. All wordplay aside, David Pagan Castaño is a winemaker to watch.  This wine gives a promise of good things to come.  I'm looking forward to it!
I am very excited about Breaux being popular in London.  I can't wait until I am home this Fall and we can have a "Virginia Wine Night" in Knightsbridge! Their Viognier can handle a chicken curry, I am sure, and I want to test that theory with a Marks & Spencer Chiken Tikka Masala and a well chilled bottle of Breaux Viognier.

As we left Breaux Vineyards, Jennifer and Chris walked us to our bus.  The were gracious hosts, and I just want to thank them for sharing their wine and stories with us. Wine is about good times, friendship, and often good food.  A visit to Breaux makes you feel as if you have made a friend, and a bottle of their wine will waft a little bit of magic every time you pop the cork.  

From the Blue Ridge Mountains of 
Loudoun County Virginia,
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Here is a link to all of my photos from the visit

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