Posted by: runningwinegirl | May 5, 2010

Breaux’s Last Vertical for the Season

The second to last weekend of April was a busy one in Virginia. The Drink Local conference was taking place as was the Reston Great Grapes Wine festival. Breaux Vineyards also hosted its last vertical tasting for the year. Having been to the Cabernet and Merlot I was so excited when I was invited to the Nebbiolo vertical. I know this grape well when it comes to Italy but not Virginia and I was in for a treat!

We were greeted with the 03 Nebbiolo and this was a delightful wine to sip while waiting for things to get started. Jen Breaux Blosser told me it was a great way to wake up the palate with the acidity and she was right! Dave Collins, the winemaker, greeted us all and provided some background on the Piedmont region of Italy as well as the Nebbiolo grape. One thing we could be sure of when tasting this wine was high acidity, high tannins and high alcohol. Breaux first released this wine in 1999, the first commercial offering was in 2000 and the first “real” offering of this wine was in 2001. On average the Nebbiolo is in the barrels for 3 – 3.5 years.

The tasting began with barrel samples of the 2008 and 2007 vintages. It was amazing to see the color difference. If you didn’t know what was in the glass the 08 looked older than the 07. Both were delicious but again, the 07 stood out loud and clear. Not only was the color gorgeous but it was yummy. This wine was fruit forward, smooth and it still has a year in the barrel to get even better. The 2008 was tasty but so young. It will be delicious down the road. I tasted dark fruit on the 07 and on the 08 I tasted strawberry and cherry. Dave described the 07 Nebbiolo as “almost unNebbiolo like” and once all the wines were poured it was easy to see why. These wines were served with stewed New Zealand lamb and fingerling potatoes and wow was the 07 tasty when paired with a piece of lamb. Actually both went well with the lamb but I actually preferred the 08 with the potatoes.

The second course, paired with the 06 and 05 Nebbiolo, consisted of grilled beef tenderloin, a favorite for me, served over white cheddar basil grits that were super rich. The 06 was a barrel sample and we were all surprised at the color of the 05. It was so light! I was sitting next to club members who let me know the 05 was one they’d had and enjoyed. I knew the moment I smelled it I’d like it too. It had a delightful nose. I was surprised when sipping it to find it had great structure and some intensity to it with the dark fruit. From the color I expected it to be light and fruity but it was the opposite. This was fuller, with great balance of acidity and tannins. The 06 was tasty as well. On my palate, I tasted strawberries and it went nicely with the grits.

I knew we were in for a treat with the 01 and 02 vintages. Paired with those wines was pan seared duck breast over white bean ragout and French beans with tarragon garlic infused oil. All of this was delicious. I still smile and get hungry thinking about it. The duck was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth right along with the beans. I loved both wines with the meat. However, it was interesting to taste them side by side. I tasted the 02 first and then moved onto the 01 which tasted sweet to me. I ate some food and tasted the 01 on its own and it was completely different.  I loved both vintages. Both had the perfect balance of acidity, dark fruit and structure. I tasted black cherries when sipping the 02 followed by an intense and smooth finish. The 01 was darker than the 02 and when tasting after the 02 had a lot of vanilla on the palate. However, when eating some meat and sipping it alone, there was only a hint of vanilla followed by dark fruit, great structure and a long, lingering finish. No doubt I can understand the benefits of laying this wine down. My favorites in order were the 01, 02, 07, 05, 08.and 06.

It was a wonderful tasting and I was in for a surprise afterwards. While everyone else went off to taste the 08 Nebbiolo Late Harvest, I was invited by winemaker Dave Collins to the barrel room where I sampled the 07 Cabernet Franc. It’s no secret that 2007 was a truly great year here in Virginia and get ready for this wine. It’s awesome to know that not all the wineries in Virginia are sold out of the 07 vintage. Many, in fact, are about to bottle it. This Cab Franc is intense, full, smooth and delicious. On the nose I got essence of prunes but on the palate I tasted dark fruit including plum with a smooth finish. It was different and I can’t wait for this to be bottled.

It was another super fun day at Breaux filled with delicious wines, great conversation and gorgeous outdoor views. I can’t wait for the May 15th Dog Days event.

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