Showing posts with label Just Travel Talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Just Travel Talk. Show all posts

Orange County, Virginia Wine, Wings & Wheels

Just a quick post regarding the Orange County, Virginia Wine-Wings-Wheels two-day event that will be held on October 22 & 23. Beautiful country and well worth the trip if you're looking for something to do that weekend. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Enjoy Life, Drink Wine!

October is Virginia Wine Month

Now that I'm active again I wanted to mention that October is Virginia Wine Month. It's an annual promotion that highlights the many vineyards in our state as well as restaurants and retail stores that sell and promote those wines. There are almost 200 wineries and 22 wine trails in the Commonwealth of Virginia to explore. I plan on visiting several of those wineries and posting about them in the coming weeks. We've actually got some really good wines being made in Virginia and hopefully I can bring some of those to your attention. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Try Virginia Wines!

Qupe' and The Ashby Inn - Third, Fourth & Fifth Courses

As promised my review of the Qupe' Wine Dinner at The Ashby Inn, Paris, Virginia, continues. The third course of the night was a bite sized pasta filled with macadamia nut butter in a butternut squash broth with ginger and marigold. A very rich dish and the macadamia nut butter was an unusual, but tasty, filling. Not a real big portion but more a tapas style of portion. This course was accompanied by two releases of the "Bien Nacido Hillside Estate" Roussanne, the 2003 and the 2008.

Qupe' Roussanne 2003
The 2003 Roussanne, compared side-by-side to the 2008, did not have the same vibrant nose nor was its color as deep as the 2008. I picked up hints of citrus on the nose but wasn't able to pick up much of anything else. Smelled very thin if you can image that. On the palate I noted hints of citrus and maybe a little honeysuckle. Not a bad wine by any means just much more subtle than the 08. As I like more of an "In Your Face" type of white wine, this one received 3 corkscrews due to its subtleness. Don't know if you can still find this but the 2007 goes for $40 per bottle if that gives you an idea of how pricey it is.

Qupe' Roussanne 2008

The 2008 Roussanne was my favorite of the two. Bright yellow in color, the bouquet was big and bold with scents of mango, peach and other tropical fruit aromas. On the palate this wine did not disappoint. Loads of flavor, lushness and a finish that was borderline perfect! I liked the way this wine kind of clings to the palate. This would have received 5 corkscrews but only received four due to an average bottle price of around $30. Highly recommend for any special occasion or when you just want to splurge on a nice bottle of wine.

The fourth course was a sliced duck breast in cherry jus with assorted grains and oregano. Now I love a rare piece of meat and it is so easy to overcook a duck breast that I understand the need to serve it on the rare side. However, I'm afraid this course of duck breast was too rare. Still very tasty but when my plate came out the blood from the duck breast had run all over the plate and made for a less than desirable presentation. I would have thought that the chef or server would have taken the time to clean up the plate before presenting it, but unfortunately it wasn't so. This was the only course of the five that I didn't love the presentation. This course was served with the 2008 Qupe' "Sawyer-Linquist Vineyard" Grenache.

Qupe' Grenache 2008

The 2008 Sawyer-Linquist Grenache was brought to the table and served with the aforementioned duck breast. Now in full disclosure I have to admit that I hardly ever, and I mean ever, drink Grenache. I much prefer a Pinot Noir or something more full bodied than most Grenache. That being said I'll continue with my review. Once the Grenache was poured I noted that it was a light ruby red and not as full bodied looking as I like in a red wine. On the nose I picked up blackberry and raspberry tones with a little spice, maybe pepper? As I swirled the first mouthful I tasted more of a strawberry tone mixed with just a slight touch of oak. The finish was slightly tannin. I gave this one 3 corkscrews as it just didn't have the full bodied flavor that I like, to be totally honest. If you like a red that is a little less full bodied, this might be the wine for you. As it retails for about $35/bottle I probably won't be drinking it anytime in the near future.

The fifth, and final, course was a slow cooked lamb shank with melted eggplant, a cardamom yogurt with black olive puree.First off another disclosure. I hate black olives and any hint of black olives! There, I said it. The lamb shank, on its own, was nicely prepared and melted in the mouth. Melted eggplant I didn't really get and didn't think it added very much to the dish. Anything that came in contact with the black olives I automatically took a pass on. Did I mention that I really don't like black olives? This course was presented well, I can say that. The final two glasses of Qupe' were the "Bien Nacida Hillside Estate" Syrah vintages 2001 and 2006.

Qupe' Bien Nacida Hillside Estate Syrah 2001

The 2001 Syrah arrived at our table and exhibited a dark, ruby red color. After swirling I picked up hints of raspberry and chocolate on the nose. On the palate very little to note other than a little bitterness and a little more tannin than I prefer. Hate to say it but it seemed a little plain and pedestrian to me. I gave it 2 corkscrews because it wasn't terrible it just wasn't memorable. Saw this one on sale on one of the internet wine sites for $26/bottle. Overpriced.

Qupe' Bien Nacida Hillside Estate Syrah 2006

The 2006 Syrah was a little better than the 01. This one had a nice, fruit forward nose with a little hint of allspice. On the palate a somewhat one dimensional wine with mostly blueberry and a hint of oak noted. Not much to say about the finish. This one gets 2 corkscrews as well. This one retails from $30-40/bottle. Overpriced!

The evening was topped off with some "mignardises" which are basically some tiny one-bites masquerading as desserts. One was a little macaroon type of chocolate deal that wasn't too bad while the other was a coffee infused marshmallow type of thing that didn't do a whole lot for me. None the less it was a nice evening in a quaint setting with some great friends who just happen to also be our neighbors. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

Qupe' and The Ashby Inn - First and Second Courses

After a long lay off from the old wine site here, I'm coming back with a vengeance. Last night #1 and I had the opportunity to attend a wine dinner at The Ashby Inn in beautiful Paris,Virginia. Now we've never stayed at this lovely little B & B but friends of ours have and just rave about it, and the setting and grounds are exquisite. This wine dinner featured the wines of the Qupe' vineyard located in California's Central Coast. To be honest with you I wasn't familiar with this vineyard and their wines but I'm glad I've discovered them. They are definitely not in the under $10 category but more of a special occasion wine with the majority of them in the $17 - $55 range and topping out at $100 for one of their Syrah's. If you're ever in the Washington, D.C. area it is well worth the trip west, about 40 miles or so, to have a meal in this quaint inn and experience the peacefulness of the surrounding countryside. Now more about the dinner and the wines that accompanied each course:

Bien Nacido Cu
vee Viognier-Chardonnay

This 2009 vintage Viognier-Chardonnay mix was served with a variety of different finger food items that included a unique prosciutto wrapped pretzel stick with a spicy type mustard inside. Very different and tasty. This wine had a very nice nose with lots of floral and fruit picked up. Reminded me of a fruit orchard at harvest time. No oak picked up on the nose at all although I'm told this is aged in old oak barrels. A 50/50 mix of chardonnay and viognier the acidity was nicely balanced on the palate. This wine could easily be enjoyed by itself but was a great accompaniment to the first course. I gave this wine four corkscrews due to its excellent nose and burst of flavor on the tongue. This retails for around $20 so not a wine I would probably drink on a daily basis or even weekly basis.


The 2010 version of the Qupe Marsanne was served with a delightful dish that consisted of chilled shrimp very lightly poached, that had sorrel and saffron onion petals along with crispy heads. What are crispy heads you ask? They are actually the head of the shrimp fried to a crispiness that turns them into something akin to a potato chip. Now I've eaten and prepared a lot of shrimp over the years but the heads always ended up in the garbage can. I hesitated momentarily as I decided whether this was meant to be eaten or just a garnishment. Having learned that it was meant to be eaten, I dug in. To my surprise it was actually quite tasty. So much so that I ate the second one on my plate and the two on my neighbor's plate as she passed on trying them. A nice dish all the way around. The Marsanne exhibited notes of citrus, hazelnut, butter and a little peach on the nose. On the palate I picked up more of the peach that I had picked up on the nose as well as a little more nuttiness. A good pairing with the shrimp dish although not my favorite of the night. Not that it was bad just not quite as tasty as the Viognier-Chardonnay that we'd had with the first course. This also retails in the $20 per bottle range so another one that I wouldn't drink on a regular basis. I really need to open a wine shop so I can start buying at wholesale!
Stay tuned for the rest of my review of this five course wine dinner in the coming days.
Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


My second visit to a local wine store ended up with my car stopping in front of Kybecca on the Table , also in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is the kind of wine store I'd like to open some day! Lots of affordable wines, a good sized artisan cheese selection and a lot of other items that you might want to pick up. They've also got a great web site and two locations in the Fredericksburg area. Very friendly and helpful staff made this shopping trip very enjoyable. I picked up a bottle of the 2006 Leese-Fitch Chardonnay based strictly on the unique corking system. You unfurl the plastic which leaves you with a nice plastic cork that easily fits back in the bottle. Since it was only $10/bottle I took a chance and purchased this one. Somewhat dry this Chardonnay, although from California, is made more in the "french style" which is, how does she say it, a good thing! Nice balanced fruit on the palate with an excellent soft finish. Did I mention it's a little dry? This one comes from the Don Sebastiani & Sons megaconglomerate, but I highly recommend it if you like the french styling of chardonnay. I gave it 4 Corkscrews and will purchase more in the future. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine & Check out Kybecca!


Day Two in Washington, D.C. and the weather is great. You never know how it is going to be in mid-Summer as the heat and humidity can be stifling. A morning filled with a meeting led to a rendezvous with #1 back at our hotel and then a short walk to a french bistro for lunch. We chose Bistro D'Oc across from the infamous Ford's Theater and had an acceptable lunch but nothing to write home about, or post about on a blog. Selections were mediocre and their wine was uninspired and overpriced. Our dinner choice, however, was much different. We made reservations at D.C. Coast and were promptly seated when we arrived. A great vibe at this restaurant and good food/wine to match. We had the Caesar Salad w/anchovies, the Pan Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the Double Cut Pork Chop and finished it off with a delightful souffle'. All of our selections were delicious+. Of course we had to drink something with this and both ordered the 2006 Dynamite Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. A very light, buttery wine with nice acidity and apple and grass noted on the palate. Very refreshing finish and so tasty we each had a couple of glasses. Check out this restaurant when you're in D.C., and try the Dynamite Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, as I don't think you'll be disappointed in either. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Business called me back to D.C. and another stay at the Grand Hyatt. If you missed my last trip where I stayed there you can read about it here. This time I got the room I reserved and all was well. Fortunately #1 was able to come with me on this trip which made it much more enjoyable. We landed at Reagan National around 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday and promptly arrived at the Grand Hyatt by 2:00 p.m. A great thing about this hotel is that I've always been able to check-in early, even though the "official" check-in time is 3:00 p.m. I've even seen people checking in at 9:00 a.m.! After we got settled we headed off to the Old Ebbitt Grill , a Washington institution that brims with history and ambiance. We went on the light side when ordering, I had a single crab cake special, which was almost 100% crab meat, and #1 ordered a Caesar salad, a cheese sampler plate that we shared, and a dozen sumptuous oysters that we also shared. All Oysters and Shrimp Cocktails are half-priced after 3:00 p.m., f.y.i.
After this great lunch we headed back to our king-sized bed for a luxury that comes round once every 4 to 5 years or so. An afternoon nap! Nothing like turning on the air conditioner full blast, getting the room nice and dark, and snoozing for a few hours. Nirvana! After our siesta we did a quick search of available, area restaurants and made a reservation at Indebleu . We made our reservation through which I highly recommend for major city reservations. It is fast, easy and costs nothing. They've also got a lot of good information about the different restaurants and reviews from users and others. Indebleu ended up being an excellent choice! #1 ordered the Seared Foie Gras while I had a special called Crispy Sea Bass. Both were delicious and the Foie Gras was so good that we ordered a second serving. We accompanied all of this Asian-fusion styled food with a delicious bottle of a red, French Pinot Noir, whose name, unfortunately, I didn't save. It was offered by the glass but we talked the waiter into letting us buy a whole bottle at a 4-glass price. We still came out ahead and it was really good wine. Day 2 in my next post. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine in D.C.!


Late March and I had the good fortune to travel to Arizona with the family for Spring Break and a three-day conference. I'll be posting a couple of wine reviews from that trip but wanted to go ahead and share some of the photos I had the opportunity to take. Today's photos are from Sedona, Arizona and the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

Camera Nikon D80, f/4.8. 1/400s, VR 18-55 lens at 30mm
ISO 140

Camera Nikon D80, f/5.3, 1/500s, VR 18-55 lens at 38mm
ISO 140

Camera Nikon D80, f/5.6, 1/500s, VR 18-55 lens at 52mm, ISO 200

Camera Nikon D80, f/5.3, 1/125s, VR 18-55 lens at 38mm, ISO 100

Nikon D80, f/5.6, 1/80s, VR 18-55 lens at 55mm, ISO 100