Thursday, February 9, 2012

Virtual Wine Tasting

One day last week Jennings stopped at Paradise Springs Winery to talk to Rob Cox, their charming and knowledgeable winemaker, about growing Petit Verdot grapes at Poplar Grove.  I tagged along because it was the perfect opportunity to complete our assignment for the Wilson-Kelsey Design Virtual Wine Tasting.  Plus, Parker was buying.

The winery is normally packed with happy wine drinkers, and in warmer months, picnickers on the lawn outside.  However, it is probably a good sign for the economy that the winery looked like this at one o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon.

Wild grapes once grew throughout the Mediterranean, and cultivars of vitis vinifera, now form the basis for the majority of wines produced around the world.  In about 160 BC, Cato (no not that Cato, the other one) decreed that the winemaking notes of conquered nations would be translated into Latin, and wrote The Agri Cultura, the first survey of Roman viticulture.  Interestingly, it is also the oldest surviving work of prose in Latin.

It is also why anything having anything to do with wine is peppered with Latin.

2,270 years later, Jennings and I chose the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 13 months in 1-4 year old French oak barrels.  If the picture looks slightly blurry, it's probably because this was our second bottle.  Usus magister est optimus.  Practice makes perfect.

Color notes:  Garnets, rubies, rare orchids, and a luxury SUV I saw last week.


I asked Jennings what the wine sounded like, and he picked this song right away, "You know," he said, "Mozart, that song from Out of Africa."  Then, as if on cue, it played over the sound system.  In vino veritas.

Tasting Notes:  Young, friendly, Summer, an unstructured garden, polished, moss, walnuts, pepper, cassis, raspberry, complete...

Oscar de la Renta

William Hodgins

Tiffany & Co.

William Hodgins

William Hodgins

Warm, leather, cedar...

Photographed by Gordon Beall


We really enjoyed this wine- full-bodied with a great tannin structure and a big mouth feel.  We discovered later that it won a silver medal at the Atlantic Seabord Wine Competition. 

The United States is the 4th largest wine-producing country in the world.  Virginia has been cultivating grapes since 1607, and is now the 5th largest viniferous grape growing state in the U.S.  We'll talk more about wine in later posts, both because we drink a lot of it, and because Jennings will be starting a vineyard at Poplar Grove this spring.  Planting grape vines is extremely labor-intensive, and we are looking forward to lots of pictures of the process.  Stay tuned for that...

Thanks again to John Kelsey at Wilson-Kelsey Design for inviting us to participate.  John, we apologize for the delay!  Canis studia domestici devoravit (The dog ate our homework.)


  1. Nina.. a cabernet sauvignon that brings to mind Mozart and Out of Africa has to be top notch. I like the way Jennings thinks...:) With all these photos...I am in serious CS wine envy at the moment. My favourite red....Penfolds Grange...sounds like it might have some serious competition!

    Thanks for the virtual tour!!

    Jeanne xx

  2. Hi Jeanne, Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. And thank you SO MUCH for the amazing post card. You are brilliant. It is exactly what I had in mind. How did you know? Love it. It is hard to describe how thrilling it is to open the mail box expecting only bills and adverts and to find that instead. Yay!

  3. Nina,

    What a delight! I never would have associated Mozart with a Cabernet. Then I listened to Jennings selection and immediately understood... Mr. Hodgins and Cabernet - definitely. His work is so sophisticated, elegant and complex. I, too, am now having a Cabernet moment. There's a bottle of Silver Oak in the basement whose days are numbered...

    At least Winston drink all the wine...

    Jeanne, hope you can find the time to give this a go, too.
    Lots of fun!!!


  4. We grow grapes here in Missouri, but not for wine. We grow concord, catawba, and niagara for jam or just eating off the vine. They have been incredibly easy. Best of luck with your grapes for wine. I am sure they must have different requirements.


  5. lovely post!! I'm drinking a wonderful French "blend" at the moment, so this post is picture perfect;) One of my favorite wine descriptions, because really- aren't they just the funniest sometimes?!- was one that said that the wine had a hint of "pencil lead":)

    cheers to you both!

  6. Great post. Most of the gardeners are now finding out how to expand grape in their backyard because of the diverse variety of thrill they've have been taught about increasing grapevines.

  7. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving the kind comment about my kitchen table art.
    I know you are an artist yourself and your work is FABULOUS! Which takes me to I love roaming around and looking thru your blog on rainy days and I cant find the "archive" section on your blog. I can't find archives by topics but not just "achives".
    LOVE your blog

  8. oops, I meant to say I can find archives by topics, but not archives.

  9. Hi Kathy, love your blog and your art! I put in an archive gadget just for you :) I had one, but then took it out because I wondered if anyone ever used it. LOLOL. Obviously so! Thanks very much for the feedback, it really helps. Have a great weekend!

  10. Hi Joan, I bet John would be thrilled if you would do a virtual tasting. It is so much fun to see how people describe wine in pictures. One really funny book for tasting descriptions is "A Good Year." The movie with Russell Crowe is good, but descriptions of the wine in the book are hilarious.


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