A Rose By Any Other Name

The Trump Winery Lineup
The Trump Winery Lineup

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

~ Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

2008 SP (Sparkling) Blanc de Blanc
2008 SP (Sparkling) Blanc de Blanc

A little over years ago, I was invited to participate in #VAWineChat with Drink What YOU Like’s Frank Morgan and Trump Winery’s winemaker Jonathan Wheeler. The two sparkling wines, the 2008 SP (Sparkling) Blanc de Blanc and 2008 SP (Sparkling) Rosé were both fantastic and the name on the bottle went mostly unnoticed.

2008 SP (Sparkling) Rosé
2008 SP (Sparkling) Rosé

Fast forward to 2015. I was asked again to participate in #VAWineChat, tasting four wines from Trump Winery. I immediately said yes, because I remembered how good the wines were two years ago. However, this time around, just the mention of the name Trump in social media outlets has caused extreme reactions on both ends of the spectrum. I was on the receiving end of some divisive, presumptuous tweets and I found myself in Facebook discussions having to defend my choice to taste the wines. I wanted to say, “It’s wine, for goodness sake!” Some assumed that because I tasted these wines and enjoyed them, I must be sending a message about politics. I was not. From what I have observed and read, some are buying the wines because they love the name or boycotting the wines because they hate the name, without having tried the wines. Has the name Trump trumped what’s inside the bottle? I hope not, because the wines, the livelihood of the winery employees, and the impact on local and Virginia wine tourism and economics are what matter most.

2008 SP (Sparkling) Rosé and Blanc de Blanc
2008 SP (Sparkling) Rosé and Blanc de Blanc

Award-winning Trump Winery (formerly Kluge Vineyard and Estate until 2011), was planted in 1999 and is Virginia’s largest estate winery at 1300 acres with 195 acres planted.  In 2013, Wine Enthusiast awarded the 2007 SP (Sparkling) Reserve a score of 91 points, which is the highest rating ever received by a Virginia wine. The president of the winery is Eric Trump, who was named a Wine Enthusiast Rising Star in 2013, and is also a key fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through The Eric Trump Foundation. The general manager is Kerry Woolard, herself a star in the Virginia wine industry by her own right. Winemaker Jonathan Wheeler has worked for the winery since 2006 and brought with him winemaking experience from Sonoma and Monterey, California; Marlborough, New Zealand; and the Finger Lakes, New York. An estate winery would be nothing without a vineyard supervisor like Rafael Sánchez, who has been with the winery since 2004, and brought with him experience from Salinas Valley, San Joaquin Valley, and Paso Robles, California.

Our Tasting Packet
Our Tasting Packet

On Thursday, December 10, 2015, a few of us gathered online via Ustream and Twitter, while some met at Trump Winery for this most recent #VAWineChat. We were hosted by winemaker Jonathan Wheeler and Drink What YOU Like’s Frank Morgan. The winery sent those of us who tasted remotely a box of four sample wines along with a beautiful folder of technical sheets and even a tasting mat. This was by far one of the most organized tastings in which I’ve ever participated. I loved that Jonathan led the discussion while Eric Trump jumped into the conversation on Twitter. Frank, of course, was the consummate facilitator. As expected, the wines were very good. Below are my tasting notes.

2009 SP (Sparkling) Blanc de Blanc
2009 SP (Sparkling) Blanc de Blanc

2009 Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Monticello, $24.00
This sparkling wine from Central Virginia near Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a rich, creamy expression of 100% first-press chardonnay from Trump Winery’s best grapes. It’s weighty and textured in the mouth, with flavors of yeast rolls, tree fruits, citrus, and loads of juicy acidity. You would be hard pressed to find a vintage sparkling wine at this price that is so well made and delicious.

2009 SP Sparkling Rosé
2009 SP Sparkling Rosé

2009 Sparkling Rosé, Monticello, $28.00
Brut Rosé is always a favorite for me and this is no exception. Although only 8% pinot noir (92% chardonnay), the pinot noir characteristics shine. The wine is a pale salmon color and even the frothy mousse reflects some of the color. Bright, red berry fruits dominate the nose and palate. The mouthfeel is creamy and the acid is as lively as the bubbles. This is an amazing value for vintage brut rosé.

2014 Chardonnay
2014 Chardonnay

2014 Chardonnay, Monticello, $16.00
I’m not quite an ABC (All But Chardonnay) gal, but I have become particular about still chardonnay. Thankfully, this chardonnay is my style: stainless steel fermentation, no malolactic fermentation, a bit of sur lie treatment, and 90% stainless steel, 10% oak aging. This wine is almost clear in the glass with yellow edges. It’s fruit forward, yet round, with bright citrus and tree fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of spice, and lively acidity. What a steal at $16.00.

2014 Meritage
2014 Meritage

2014 Meritage, Monticello, $20.00
This pre-release sample is very young, but should come together with more time in the bottle or some decanting, should you decide to open it sooner rather than later. It’s a Bordeaux-style blend (40% merlot, 35% cabernet franc, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 3% malbec, 2% petit verdot) that exhibits a softer side of red with its 13% ABV. It’s medium ruby in color with medium body and fine tannins. The nose and palate are delighted by flavors and aromas of blackcurrant, black cherry, bitter chocolate, and coffee, with a warm, spicy, tart cherry finish. This is a whole lot of wine for $20.00.

No matter which side of politics you find yourself, these wines are worth trying and tasting. The Trump Winery story is one of crafting high-quality wines from locally grown grapes and supporting the local economy. Make your decision whether to buy or not buy based on how the wine tastes, not the name. That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Cheers to the wines and the people that make them!
Beth

Lamoreaux Landing and #ChardonnayDay!

Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars

One of the wineries I visited on both of my trips to the Finger Lakes in November 2012 and April 2013 was Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars. During my first trip, I attended their Harvest Celebration Winemakers’ Dinner and on the return trip, I visited the tasting room.

Bubbles Reception at the Harvest Celebration Winemakers' Dinner
2006 Blanc de Blanc at the Harvest Celebration Winemakers’ Dinner

Lamoreaux Landing has received much recognition in the press, such as being named Wine & Spirits Winery of the Year in 2010 and 2012, and has appeared in Wine & Spirits‘ Top 100 Wineries in the World twice in the past three years, most recently in winter 2012. In the August 2011 issue of Wine & Spirits, Lamoreaux Landing received seven 90+ ratings across four vintages and a best buy designation for their 2009 Dry Riesling. In 2008, New York magazine wrote, Lamoreaux Landing is made upstate near the Finger Lakes, and the cooler climate makes for a fresher, crisper, more elegant Chardonnay than what you’d typically get from California. The winery also graced the cover of Wine Spectator’s May 2006 issue.

2007 Blanc de Blanc welcome!
2007 Blanc de Blanc welcome!

My visit to the tasting room was nothing short of magnificent. The staff welcomed me with a glass of their 2007 Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc. You can never, ever go wrong with bubbles as a welcome.

Wines paired with chocolate!
Wines paired with chocolate!

The staff also treated me to one of their chocolate and wine flights. I chose the flight that paired local chocolates with their 2011 Grüner Veltliner ($19.99, which I purchased), 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling, 2009 Merlot Block 137, and 2010 76 West (a red meritage blend comprised of 52% Cab Franc, 24% Merlot, 24% Cab Sauvignon). First bubbles, then chocolate and wine? I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Local chocolates
Local chocolates

Since May 23, 2013 is #ChardonnayDay, I thought it would be the perfect pairing with my post about Lamoreaux Landing. Below are my reviews of two of their Chardonnay offerings.

2008 Chardonnay
2008 Chardonnay

2008 Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay (purchased at the winery for $12.99 less industry discount)
88 points, Wine & Spirits, and Best Chardonnay from the 2011 NY Wine and Food Classic
I love this barrel-fermented Chardonnay. It has a creamy mouthfeel with oak aromas and flavors like butterscotch, toffee, and vanilla combined with aromas and flavors of apple, citrus, melon, and pear. Even after five years in the bottle, it retains that distinctive cool-climate, Finger Lakes acidity to which I am highly addicted. And it’s only $12.99? Get outta here!

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Finger Lakes
Total Acidity: 9.4 g/L
pH: 3.33
Alcohol by Volume: 12
Fermentation: 67% Oak Barrels
Production Level: 3400 cases

2007 Blanc de Blanc
2007 Blanc de Blanc

2007 Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc ($24.99 at the winery, media sample provided by Lamoreaux Landing)

Made méthode champenoise, this Chardonnay was harvested and fermented initially in 2007, bottled in 2008, fermented a second time in the bottle, then aged three years en tirage on yeast lees. It’s a delicious, food-friendly sparkling wine, with aromas of bread and yeast, a creamy mouthfeel, complex flavors of citrus, tree fruits, and toast, and mouthwatering Finger Lakes’ acidity.

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Finger Lakes
Total Acidity: 9.2 g/L
pH: 2.97
Alcohol by Volume: 12.6
Fermentation: Stainless Steel and En Tirage
Production Level: LOT #1- 52 Cases

View of Seneca Lake from Lamoreaux Landing
View of Seneca Lake from Lamoreaux Landing

Lamoreaux Landing is one of my favorite wineries and I can’t wait to return. If you’re planning a trip to the area, let me know and I’ll assist and/or refer you to one of the best tasting experiences in the Finger Lakes. And, don’t forget! On Saturday, May 25 from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., Finger Lakes Wine Month concludes with Finger Lakes Wine Hour, The World’s LARGEST Finger Lakes Wine Virtual Tasting via Facebook and Twitter! I hope you will join me for this comprehensive tasting of Finger Lakes’ wines.