Posts Tagged ‘King Family Vineyards’

Claude Thibaut

June 9th, from 6pm to 8pm at The Frenchman’s Corner, 129 E. Davis Street, Culpeper.  An opportunity to meet Virginia wine-maker (by way of Champagne…yes, I mean France) Claude Thibaut of Thibaut-Janisson Winery.  As you may already know, Claude is a renowned Master of Champagne, and as good fate has it, he has made his home in Central Virginia.  So tell your friends and get your wine-loving selves there!

The Winemaker Wednesday series of complimentary tastings, which I cooked up with Jeffery Mitchell, owner of the wine & cheese shop portion of The Frenchman’s Corner, is a great casual way to meet the winemaker.  Let’s face it, they aren’t hanging out in their tasting rooms…well very much anyway.  And in the case of Claude, who doesn’t have a tasting room, this is a perfect opportunity to meet him and find out what goes into the making of his Sparkling wines.

The wine menu for the evening, paired with fine French cheeses, will be the Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay,

Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay

and Claude’s newest releases, Brut Rosé and Virginia Fizz.  I wrote about Virginia Fizz in my article about Claude in the Spring issue of the Virginia Wine Gazette.  But, don’t rely entirely on what I have to say, show up on June 9th and taste for yourself.   Did I tell you that the TJ Blanc de Chardonnay was served at the Obama’s first State Dinner last November?!   (oh, we just don’t tire of this story!)  Well, it was, and Claude did not have to crash it. (Don’t get me started on the two Bozos who did crash.)   The wine-powers-that-be in the State Department have chosen Claude’s Sparklings on a few occasions, when he was working for California wineries.  But since they were not his own label….the Obama State Dinner makes it that much more special!

Here is the upcoming star-studded schedule of Winemaker Wednesdays! 


A nod of thanks to the winemakers who have participated thus far:  Bree Ann Moore for Unicorn Winery, Gabriele Rausse for Gabriele Rausse Wines, Al Kellert for Gray Ghost Winery.  And a big kudos to Jeffery Mitchell for making this commitment to promote Virginia wines and their winemakers!

See you there!



“No government could survive without champagne. In the throat of our diplomatic people [it] is like oil in the wheels of an engine.”

Joseph Dargent quote


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For a long time I’ve been a summertime white Lillet fanatic.  Over ice and sitting on my deck.  It’s quite an old fashioned apéritif.  This was confirmed by my friend Frantz who informed me that it was also a favorite of his Grandmother’s…pffft…so, I guess that just makes me timeless.  In an effort to modernize my apéritif  habits, I’ve lately been sipping Virginia Vidal Blanc, but not just as an apéritif.

At one of my dinner parties, I served Old House Vineyards 2009 Vidal Blanc with a grilled curry shrimp, as an appetizer.  I even had Damien Blanchon, Old Field’s winemaker, grilling the shrimp for me.  The slight sweetness of the Vidal Blanc and spicy curry was a good combination, but of course, I have my critique.  And that is that I should have simmered the shrimp in the curry sauce, vs. marinating it and then grilling.  For the simple reason that it didn’t have enough spice.  I use Patak’s Curry Paste, which I buy at Cost Plus World Market.  It is really a simmering sauce and now I understand that is how the spice and heat develop, when I’ve previously used it.  So, next time I will let the curry paste simmer (add a bit of water) for 20 minutes and then put in the shrimp for 5 minutes to cook.  I bet it will then have the spice that I’m looking for.

The apéritif that evening was the Janisson et Fils ‘Bleu’ Champagne.  It was a gift from my friend, Pamela Margaux of Margaux & Company.  This champagne is divine.  Brilliantly fresh with subtle fruit and flower characteristics.  50% Pinot Noir, and 50% Chardonnay.

The main course was a Grilled Marinated Flank Steak and a Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs.  The marinade I used has become my favorite,  and makes an inexpensive cut like london broil or flank steak sing.  This was paired with King Family Vineyard’s 2007 Petit Verdot (sold out, you’ll have to wait for the 2008).  The rich, dark fruit of the PV paired beautifully with the steak.  The marinade makes a difference, and you will understand when you click through below, to the recipe.  Of course, one bottle wasn’t enough, so we also opened a bottle of Old House’s Bacchanalia, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Tannat, for the cheese course.


Dessert….one of my famous cakes!  A Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries, paired with a Prosecco. 

Frantz Ventre opening the Prosecco!

And then we finished off with Old House’s Chambourcin Port…..ahhh, a perfect evening!

Recipes are compliments of Epicurious.com:

Marinated Grilled London Broil/Flank Steak

Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries

I am forever apologizing for the quality of my photos….so, why should now be any different!!  My other dinner guests:  Katy Bradley & Damien Blanchon, Jenn & Benoit Pineau were not done  justice by my very  blurry pics.  Never mind….I’ll get the hang of it someday!

Let me know how you like the recipes…and enjoy!



“I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens.”
Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of U.S.)

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This posting is a tad later than I intended, so by now you know that the 2010 Governor’s Cup went to King Family Vineyard’s 2007 Meritage.  It could not have happened to a more deserving winery and winemaker!   Matthieu Finot, Winemaker, ascended the stage last Friday evening at the Virginia Wine Expo in Richmond, to accept the Cup along with David King.  Here is Matthieu’s notes on this wine:

A blend of 56% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Malbec. The wine has been aged in French oak for 18 months. There are dark fruits, especially black cherry and raisin, on the nose with a hint of toast. Full mouth of black cherry, smoke and clove. Perfect structure with firm, balanced tannins. The finish is smooth and lingering. A wine that will make you discover something new and enjoy more with every sip! Double Gold Medal Monticello Cup 2009, Gold Medal Governor’s Cup 2010. Drink now through 2015. 615 cases produced.  Retails for $25.95.

While cruising through the Grand Tasting on Friday evening, I tasted, nibbled and chatted.  It was fun being on the other side of the tasting table.  The following wines (listed alphabetically by winery) stood out for me because they expressed the classic expression of the varietals, and all showed balance and flawless structure.  I urge you to click through to the wineries’ websites for further notes and pricing.   There were many food stations, and I was not able to sample from them all,  so my notes are just on those that I did.

Barboursville Vineyards – Winemaker: Luca Paschina

2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Jefferson Vineyards  – Winemaker: Andy Reagan

2006 & 2007 Meritage

Keswick Vineyards – Winemaker: Stephen Barnard

2009 Les Vents d’Anges Viognier

King Family Vineyards – Winemaker: Matthieu Finot

2008 Viognier

2007 Meritage

Pollak Vineyards – Winemaker: Jake Busching

 2007 Cabernet Franc – unfined & unfiltered

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Sweely Estate Winery – Winemaker: Frantz Venture

2007 Cabernet Franc

Tarara Winery – Winemaker: Jordan Harris

2007 Cabernet Franc

2007 Meritage

Since I was driving back to Madison from Richmond that evening, I am sure that I missed some other outstanding wines…but, better to be safe than sorry!

Food highlights…..

Chef Melissa Close of Palladio at Barboursville Vineyards – Melt-in-your-mouth Brisket  served over Polenta, with Barboursville 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve .  Chef Melissa has been nominated, once again, in the 2010 James Beard Awards.   If you have not eaten at Palladio, drop whatever you are doing now, call and make a reservation.  The food is divine, the service impeccable and wine list exemplary.

Gearharts Chocolates – I had the Pistachio Toffee Orange with the Pollak 2007 Cab Sauvignon…if I wasn’t typing this right now, I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven! 

Lollipop Lamb Chops in a blueberry reduction, compliments of The Bull & Bear, Chef Michael L. Hall – OMIGOD these were so yummy.   I had some of Pollak’s Cab Sauvignon still in my glass…perfection.

Cassoulet by Millie’s of Richmond – one of my favorite winter comfort foods and it paired perfectly with the Sweely Estate 2007 Cab Franc.

It was a wonderful evening and had just enough attendees so that it was possible to taste and chat without too much elbowing. 

Here are some photos.



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One of my favorite things to do in January, February and even March, is to visit winemakers in their respective cellars.  This is the best time to taste the various varietals before they are blended.  It’s also fun because I love tasting…duh, of course, but most of all it is inspiring to listen to a winemaker talk about his/her works of art, as it were.  Metaphorically speaking, the cellar is a winemaker’s studio, and the tasting room is the gallery.  Plus it’s also a fairly slow time for winemakers, as they are simply nurturing their wines through the process until it is time to bottle. 

Matthieu Finot

Recently, I visited with Matthieu Finot, winemaker at King Family Vineyards, located in Crozet.  I have known Matthieu socially for almost two years.  When I worked with a French production crew at a local winery, many of the French winemakers and vineyard managers in the area,  gathered for dinners & BBQs.  Of course, these  gatherings included lots of wine.  So I was looking forward to finally visiting Matthieu in his cellar….and this is how it went.  We started with tasting the 2009s, which are now aging in barrels.  Now, one isn’t going to expect the wines to express all that they have, at this juncture in the winemaking process…but, even in their infantile stage, a wine may express some fruit characteristics and structure.  But wine has a mind of its own, and throughout the process, even when it has lived in the bottle for some time, it will or may, change.   Matthieu’s wines were speaking volumes of what theirbright future holds; in some, the fruit more expressive than others, which is to be expected.  Most importantly no blemishes, and lots of youthful enthusiasm.  We tasted two Viogniers, two Chardonnays, three Cabernet Francs, three Merlots, two Petit Verdot…to start with.   Matthieu has already determined pretty much, which varietals in which barrels will be the primary varietal in a blend, and which barrels will be used in supporting roles in a blend. 

We then moved on to taste the 2008 Port, aging in a whiskey barrel!!!  Wow…I love Port, and usually prefer Tawny, but this Ruby was elegant and not too jammy (which is usually why I don’t prefer Ruby) and still displayed some dry notes…very pleasing to me.  We tasted the 2009 Port…also showing promise, but Matthieu said that it is still behaving as a teenager…you know, like this one day and changing the next. But it too will mature in time and lose its teen pimples.  We’re in the home stretch now, moving on to the white dessert wines.  Matthieu’s Late Harvest is a blend of Viognier and Petit Manseng blended in.  He makes it in the Vins de Paille style, translation is straw wine, because the grapes are traditionally dried on beds of straw to concentrate the flavors and sugar content.  Nowadays, many winemakers use racks on which to dry the grapes, which delivers the same results. I’m kind of fascinated by this process.  The grapes dry in a barn and then they are pressed. All done at a warm temperature.  Splendid results.  The Petit Manseng assures that the right amount of acidity will be maintained…you don’t want cough syrup at the end.  If you want to apply gender to wine, this Late Harvest is clearly female with complexity, balance and structure, and still maintains freshness. Oh yes, and as Matthieu pointed out ripe peach, honeysuckle, floral….yum!

Barrel Room at King Family Vineyards

The 2008s, blended and continuing to age in French Oak, will meet their bottles within the next 4-5 months.  And it will be worth the wait.  I tasted the 2008 Merlot and the Meritage, a blend of 15% Merlot; 15% Cabernet  Franc; 25% Petit Verdot and 8% Malbec; and the single varietal Petit Verdot – they will be available sometime around July.  Matthieu ages his reds for 18 months and uses about 45% new French oak.   Dinner menus and pairings are already cooking up in my little grey cells!

Originally from Crozes Hermitage in the Rhone Valley,  like many French winemakers, Matthieu’s occupation is in his blood and heritage.  He comes from a family of viticulturists and wine lovers.  In fact, Matthieu is helping his brother with a new winery near Grenoble “Domaine Finot”. They are making wine with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and old forgotten local varietals.  If your French is up to snuff,  check out the website at www.domaine-finot.com.

Fairly Hot Off the Press!!!!  King Family garnered a Gold Medal in the 2010 Governors Cup for the 2007 Meritage, and Silvers for the 2008 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Merlot.  Rock on, Matthieu!!



“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”

 Aristophanes  (The greatest representative of ancient Greek comedy, 450-385 BC) 

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