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Bits and Bobs

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Small things. Not enough to write an entire piece on one topic. A rambling about wine and tomatoes.

Maybe I’ll use this as a means of getting into writing again. I seemed to be losing the knack of sitting down and writing for hours. But, it’s a beginning, so here goes.

It’s Virginia Wine Month. Which coincides with the leaf peeping we always chase across the two states. VA and MD. The Appalachians host scores of wineries north and south of us.

We recently headed down to do our semi-annual visit to Linden. For a preview of the crush and a comparative tasting.

The red grapes were still on the vines when we were there, but early this past week they all were quickly harvested before Ian could dump rain to ruin them.

Here at home, I pulled the last of the Brandywines off my one remaining tomato plant.

Hopefully they will fully ripen in the window. Leaving them on the vines with three days of rain would make them split and rot.

My makeshift ripening station in the south facing corner of the family room.

This summer the Brandywine plant in a pot off the back deck gave me the most tomatoes.

It was a frustrating summer, where the temperatures soared in July and the plants dropped their blossoms. The recovery time in August and September didn’t make up for the losses. I won’t be having much tomato sauce in the freezer for this winter.

Hopping back to wine. We recently did a comparison between two of our favorite local wines.

RdV and Linden. Ten years old. Both heavily Merlot. Both absolutely stunning. The more we delve into the differences in styles, and in the ability to age, we come to this conclusion. Good Virginia wines age very well. They don’t have the fruit forward punch of California wines, or the austere depth of Bordeaux. They have a balance which allows them to age gracefully.

Both of these wines have years to go before they fade. They both were bright, no browning edges. The RdV was a tad richer in the finish.

We kept one or two bottles of our favorite wines for many years. Just crossing our fingers that we would open them before it was too late.

This was a real treat. On a lovely evening in late August we opened our last remaining 20th Century VA wine, a 1999 Linden Hardscrabble.

Amazing. So soft, yet no off tastes or odors. It took about 30 minutes to open up. It is 23 years old, and would last at least 5 or more years. No fading of color yet. Yes, we can make awesome wine on the East Coast.

Available at a fraction of the price of Bordeaux.

On our last visit, when talking to Jim Law, the owner of Linden, he told us about the Italian varietals he has planted to see how they do. The temperatures are steadily creeping higher and the future in Virginia may be to try varieties from warmer climates. Adapting to the environment.

This roundabout way to bring me back to tomatoes.

This Brandywine was not planted in full sun. Not like the plants up at my community plot, which did poorly in the heat this summer.

This one plant gave me 30 tomatoes, even with the loss of some blossoms in July. I need to find plants that can handle the heat. And change how I plant them. You know, I need to adapt.

Happy VA Wine Month! Go visit a winery. Raise a glass to our local growers who battle the weather to make us great wines.

Masters of Wine … And Food

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This is an extremely creative, interesting collection of people for a panel. Making for an entertaining evening. Sharing their thoughts and interacting with the guests at RdV on Sunday night. The after dinner discussion about the VA wines and where they want to go was worth the price of admission.

The panel in the caves at RdV

From left to right:
Rutger de Vink, RdV Vineyards, Delaplane, VA
Luca Paschina, Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, VA
Jim Law, Linden Vineyards, Linden, VA
Andrew Myers Sommelier, CityZen, Washington D.C.
Eric Ziebold Chef, CityZen, Washington, D.C.

The panel convened in the cave after the dinner, a Picnic-Style Reception by Chef Eric Ziebold, CityZen.

The Menu:

Assorted Fall Canapés served with Linden Vineyards Vidal Riesling
Canapés included such highlights as “pork and beans” made with assorted green beans and bacon, a veal terrine, sliced prosciutto and saucisson, an heirloom tomato salad, and seafood salad.

The first station on the terrace was:
Grilled Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Flank
Late Summer Squash Couscous
2009 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous, Virginia

The second station outside:
Grilled Chesapeake Bay Rockfish
Hominy, Corn, Lobster Emulsion
1997 Linden, Fiery Run Red, Virginia
1998 Barbourville, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Virginia

The third station, inside the winery:
Marinated Beef Tri-Tip
Chanterelle Mushrooms, Marble Potatoes, Bone Marrow Vinaigrette
1996 Diamond Creek, Red Rock Terrace, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (from the chef’s cellar)

The last station:
Grilled Duck Breast
Roasted Figs, Fennel, Cornbread Croûtons,
Black Pepper-Foie Gras Emulsion
2009 Mount Veeder, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

The dining areas were situated around the first level of the winery and stations were spread out enough that you could always find very little traffic other than the immediate crush when they first opened the event. There were 60 people in attendance, ambassadors who have purchased packages of RdV to join, and a group that we found by talking to them that had been invited through MacArthur Beverages.

main dining area for the dinner at RdV

Let’s just say that by the end of the evening, the ranks of ambassadors grew as evidenced by the number of boxes being carried out of the winery.

2009 RdV Rendezvous

After the panel, dessert was served with coffee. At that point, we were so saturated with wine, food, and conversation that I completely forgot to record the particulars of the decadence on the plate. I will have to wait until Carol Joynt publishes her Washingtonian piece. At least her blog gave some pictures of fish on the grill out in the rain. I got the link finally and saw that the dessert was made with ginger shortbread, chocolate ganache, and marshmallows torched making a very sophisticated s’more.

Highlights for us included the opportunity to taste the 1998 Barboursville, as we still have two bottles in our cellar. Luca brought magnums to the event. This wine got so much better as it had the chance to breathe. At first, it was still closed in and more austere than the Linden 1997 Fiery Run. For us, the Linden and the Diamond Creek were our favorites, as we prefer mature wines. The Rendezvous and Mt Veeder, both 2009 vintages were way too young to drink. Of the 2009s, the Rendezvous was more approachable, but still not something we want to open yet. It needs to get that bottle age first.

Benefit of living here. Evenings like this in the Virginia mountain foothills.