Posted by: runningwinegirl | March 22, 2010

A Saturday spent with friends, good food and six vintages of Merlot

I will never forget the first time I visited Breaux Vineyards. It was the start of my second year in Virginia and I was still in that state of mind that good wines only come from Europe and California. I laugh thinking back to that time. I had just started working as a wine consultant and I was dating my now ex-fiancé. We had decided to visit based on the vineyard being dog friendly and Baxter could come with us. I fell in love with its beauty and couldn’t wait to come back. Almost two years later, I finally made it back to Breaux only this time I had over a year of working in wine behind me and a palate that went from liking only sweet and white wine to wanting reds.

Saturday was a gorgeous summer day and a perfect day to be outside sipping wine. Breaux Vineyards was holding its annual vertical Merlot tasting and there’s nothing like tasting one varietal from different years. Vertical tastings are not something I have ever experienced before. I’ve always read about different vintages but had no idea what the value was when tasting the same wine from different years.  I was so excited to meet up with fellow wine bloggers, @vawinetime, @drinkwhatulike and @myvinespot, who are also friends. We all connected with Jennifer Breaux Blosser via Twitter and the first time I met her was at the vertical Cabernet tasting back in January.

The evening started with Jen welcoming us to the winery followed by the introduction of winemaker Dave Collins. We were greeted with a glass of the Equation Merlot which was a smooth, fruity merlot. The winemaker began the night with an overview of the Merlot grape and I’ll admit, I love learning the history of each varietal. The first pairing consisted of barrel samples of the 08 and 07 vintages to go with beef tenderloin and roasted red potatoes. Both Merlots were delicious but the 2007 was singing in my mouth the moment I sipped it with some of the meat. No doubt this was a perfect pairing. It was interesting to learn that the 07 was aged two and a half years in New American oak barrels while the 2008 has been in New French oak barrels for a year and a half. On the nose the 08 was earthy with hints of dark fruit. The 07 had hints of vanilla and dark fruit on the nose. On the palate there was no question the 08 needed more time but it’s going to be a delicious wine when it’s ready to drink. The 07 was just delicious. I tasted dark fruit, plum, vanilla and the finish was solid and smooth. Next up were the 06 and 05 Merlot served with Tiger Shrimp, Andouille sausage and black beans and rice. The 06 Merlot is yummy and ready to drink now. Put it with the sausage and the spiciness with the dark fruit balanced each other out perfectly. I also tasted floral notes along with a touch of vanilla. This is medium bodied and the finish is long and smooth. The 05 was earthy and paired with the black beans dark fruit came out on my palate. The evening winded down with the 04 Merlot and 02 Reserve Merlot served with chicken braised in capers and herbs with sweet potato puree. The 04 was smooth and easy to drink. I got elements of raisins, dark fruit and a hint of vanilla. The 02 Reserve Merlot was in a class of its own. This was velvety, smooth, with lots of dark fruit. Outstanding is what comes to mind still and I recommend grabbing a bottle of this before it is gone! My favorites in ranking order were the 02, 07, 08, 06, 05 and 04.

The night ended with a treat when we were lead into a back room to taste a barrel sample of the 2008 Malbec. I’m a girl who loves her Malbecs and I continue to be impressed with those coming out of Virginia. The nose on this was bubble gum but on the palate it was a different story. I loved the structure, medium body and dark fruit. The finish was smooth and while it still has time left in the barrel before it’s bottled, I will be eagerly awaiting its release. Breaux is the first vineyard I visited in Virginia almost two years ago and its set the bar high for Virginia wines. This tasting was an awesome opportunity to gain a better understanding of how each year can differ when it comes to grapes and the wine. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, get there. The views are gorgeous; the staff is friendly and packed with knowledge on the wines. The food served is always delicious and there’s nothing like the patio outside.

I’d love to hear others stories on similar events and if they have a particular vintage that still stands out.

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