Sunday, May 13, 2007

The stone stoop is warm - a wine review

My sister flew in from Nevada to be with my mother today. She and I, with my brother Albert and friend Lynda, drove with my mother to Tarara Vineyards just outside of Leesburg, Virginia, to hold a different kind of celebration of Mother's Day ... well, at least not the quotidian brunch.

Tarara: the name of the winery follows a tortuous linguistic path.

Owner Whitey Huber and his wife toured the property in 1985, when the 475 acres were a soybean farm. Part of the land lies in a flood plain.

And it was flooded that day. Well - a flood, the BIG flood, Noah's Ark, Mt. Ararat. Spell the last backwards, and you have it - Tarara!

Wine 'docent' Bill guided us through a tasting of 5 reserve wines.

  • Chardonnay 2005
  • Merlot Reserve 2003
  • Cabernet Franc Reserve 2003
  • Cabernet Reserve 2003
  • Meritage 2003
The winery uses a combination of French, Hungarian, and American oak, each reused only 4 to 5 times. French oak, Bill told us, imbues the wine with a honeyed aroma. The Meritage uses only French oak. By the way, the reserve wines are fermented and aged in the oak, whereas a mre common procedure is to ferment in stainless steel.

Here's Mom after enjoying her Merlot.
The Chardonnay had a refreshing citrusy bite following the expected malo-lactic creaminess. Carol, an avowed ABC-er (anything but chardonnay), was surprised that she liked Tarara's chardonnay.

The Merlot at 15.2% abv, was highly extracted with flavors of dark cherry and sweet red bell pepper flavor - Mom's favorite.

Carol liked the Cabernet Franc - spicy and full-bodied. Bill told us that Cab Franc has become the specialty of many Virginia wineries. The Cabernet Sauvignon had a wonderful glycerin body (or as that is more whimsically described, legs on the glass).

I preferred the Meritage, a Bordeaux grape blend: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet France. It had an earthiness and slight green olive aroma.

When we first walked into the tasting room, adjacent to the winery's fermentation cellar, we noticed the strong aroma of fementation, almost like pungent yet sweet cardamom. This was a consistent flavor characteristic across the board.

Later that evening
The stone stoop in front of our family house feels warm - under our 'seats' - as the sun is setting. Is it the Tarara wine we're drinking? Or is it the lasagna Lynda cooked? Or is it one of those special moments when life is good?

See my post on Virginia's ingenious political solution to assist in-state wineries.

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