Posted on March 25, 2015
A few weeks ago when we were pouring at Mondovino 2015, a trade event sponsored by our distributor, Kysela Pere et Fils, LTD, our station was next to that of Buty Winery, (pronounced “beauty”) which hails from the Walla Wally Valley AVA in Washington State.
Nina Buty is the proprietor and brand ambassador, and a force of nature — charming, delightful, with boundless energy and the perfect spokesperson promoting her brand. She does a stellar job of it, gracefully explaining what makes her wines unique, expounding on the virtues of the vineyards’ unique terroir and that of the vineyards from which she sources fruit. Her innovative vineyard-designated blends are uplifting and serene; the depth of flavor transcendent. The wines live up to the billing: impressive and lithe, with power that purrs: stealthy, self-assured and satisfying. Truly impressive stuff. “Small” by Washington standards, they produce about 3,500 cases each year.
Fruit is sourced from other Washington AVAs, too — Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley, which are, along with Walla Walla Valley, sub-AVAs of the Columbia Valley AVA. Her 10-acre estate vineyard, called Rockgarden, is densely planted with clones of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, mourvèdre, marsanne and roussanne.
A recent addition to their product line is what they call “Beast,” described thusly:
BEAST is the rare alter ego of Buty. Everyone who dates or marries a ‘Buty’ naturally contends with this counterpart nickname. BEAST allows us spontaneity and exploration, and most releases are one of a kind. Every year we release the BEAST at Halloween, and some years we unleash an April Fool’s BEAST.
With BEAST we present new varietals, new vineyards, or showcase an intriguing wine outside of the Buty portfolio. Historic BEASTs include: Rosé of the Stones, Minnick Hills Vineyard Cinsault, an edgy stainless Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay, Cailloux Vineyard Cabernet of the Stones and Conner Lee Vineyard Malbec. These BEASTs are only available through the winery.
It’s an interesting theme, this play between the notion of beauty vis à vis the Beast; that which is refined (presumably) up against that which is base or primitive or ugly; the untamed, the opposite of refinement.
What then is beauty? The Greeks included it among the ultimate values with goodness, truth and justice; medieval philosophers treated it the same way. To look at things objectively and declare them beautiful, one relies on devices like proportion, the golden mean, order, harmony and symmetry; or in wine-speak, “balanced,” something that delights the senses.
By the 18th century, philosophers Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant tried to distinguish “beauty” from the “sublime.” While earlier theories posited that beauty was the result of proportion, utility, or perfection, Burke believed that both beauty and the sublime were perceived emotionally — subjectively. Edmund Burke explained the sublime in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). The sublime prompted feelings of awe or terror (being out of mind), beauty is comprehensible to the mind because it evokes familiar experiences and promotes pleasurable feelings.
Kant, In his Critique of Judgment (1790), describes how a viewer projects beauty onto natural objects and how such experiences of beauty create universal feelings of satisfaction and delight. He also states that beautiful objects need no underlying concept or purpose. Kant’s theories justify the creation and admiration of beautiful art objects for their own sake, and the embrace of this notion helped pave the way for Romanticism, the movement in art, literature, and music that emphasized emotion over scientific rationalism.
So over time the idea of beauty progressed from something inherent in the object, to the subjective notion of it in that tired phrase,”beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” So “Beast” — the wild, the untamed, the sublime — isn’t really a counterpart to “Beauty,” they are both beautiful, in their way, since that which is uncultivated or uncivilized can be beautiful, too. Interestingly, when making his film La Belle et la Bête (1946), Jean Cocteau instructed the cameraman and lighting technicians to present the prince once freed of his beastly visage in a saccharine way, so that the viewer would have a visceral reaction and prefer the Beast to him. A famous story recounts that when viewing La Belle et la Bête, upon seeing the transformation of the beast into the prince, that legendary beauty Greta Garbo is said to have yelled at the screen, “Give me back my beast!”
And The Beast.
All is not so beautiful on the West Coast, as a different sort of beast extends its pernicious reach into Oregon and Washington: drought.
Washington State is second to California in wine production, with much of it concentrated in the eastern part of the state, which is semi-arid and depends on irrigation for agricultural production. The western half is the wet, rainy part one associates with the Pacific Northwest, but this year is different, because of our increasingly uncertain climate. On 13 March 2015, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency across three regions because of record low snow pack levels ahead of spring runoff.
This is dire because without the snow pack, there is little water supply in the eastern half of the state, which is semi-arid, the ordinarily cool and wet western half notwithstanding. Writing for Reuters, Rory Carroll notes, “With snow pack statewide averaging 27 percent of normal, 34 of the state’s 62 watersheds are expected to receive less than 75 percent of their normal water supplies.” (“Washington state governor declares drought emergency” 13 March 2015).
The areas affected are the Olympic Peninsula, the east side of the central Cascade Mountains (which includes Yakima and Wenatchee), and the Walla Walla region. The winter has been unusually warm, causing most precipitation to fall as rain, leaving just a fraction of normal snow pack. Washington is not (yet) experiencing hydrological drought on a large scale; the U.S. Drought Monitor records hydrological drought (which is presently at a moderate level), but in this instance, Washington has a “snow pack drought.” In ordinary years, the snow pack melts slowly through the warmer months, feeding rivers, but this year the snow pack statewide averages 27 percent of normal. The following week Oregon Governor Kate Brown joined in and made a drought emergency declaration. Statewide, Oregon snow pack levels are between 6 and 38 percent of normal.
Meanwhile, further south in California (where its been reported that as of 24 March 2015, the snow pack is a shocking 9 percent of normal), an Op-Ed by Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, that appeared in The Los Angeles Times pulled no punches: “California has about one year of water stored. Will you ration now?” When first published, the copy editor used the phrase “one year of water left,” which wasn’t entirely accurate; the author was referring to water stored in impoundment systems, not groundwater; but groundwater resources are still under duress, so they modified the headline. He wrote:
As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
It seems like the entire state is in denial, unable to contemplate the unthinkable. All that relentless sunshine has a price, and this is a devastating reminder that California is desert. Climate scientists have come to realize that the 20th century, with its abundant moisture, was an anomaly. And let’s not forget the sad state of the Colorado River watershed, the source of much of Southern California’s water, is similarly, catastrophically stressed (see “The Other Big Drought Story You Need to Pay Attention To” (Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 18 March 2015). How bad could it get, really? Perhaps São Paulo bad. The situation in this Brazilian metropolis of 20 million hasn’t gotten much play in the United States press, but São Paulo has essentially run out of water. It’s projected to be completely dry in about two months (“São Paulo, South America’s Largest City, Will Run Out of Water by June” (Stacey Leasca, Ryot, 15 March 2015).
Meanwhile, halfway around the globe, Taiwan officials are imposing rationing to preserve what’s left of the water in Shihmen Dam in Yaoyuan, which supplies water to the northern parts of the island, affecting some three million people. The dam has only 47 days of water left, absent additional rain (as of 20 March 2015). Taiwan has had its lowest rainfall in 70 years. See “Taps turned off as Taiwan battles worst drought in decade” (The Straits Times, 20 March 2015). There are numerous other examples of water shortages worldwide — in Russia, Australia, India, and elsewhere. Just in time for “World Water Day” on 21 March 2015 the United Nations weighed in with a report that in just 15 years, there will be worldwide water shortages, leaving humanity with just 60 percent of the water it needs. This represents a shortfall that could affect 2.9 billion people in 48 countries. The report notes that overpopulation and economic policies promoting growth over sustainability are to blame; it proposes solutions, but they are so aspirational it seems they will remain just that. For example, here’s one: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources. In fairness, though, these policy goals are for the entire world and must be nebulous by necessity.
There certainly isn’t an easy solution to this most vexing of dilemmas. Doing something about overpopulation is a political non-starter, since no one likes to be told that they can’t have babies, even though there is no denying that human population is exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet. That’s seen as the stuff of Communist China or a frightening dystopian future, so no one is going to go there. This leaves us with admonitions to use less water and to use what we have wisely. So like the good people of California, we have one last resort: praying for rain.
Posted on March 18, 2015
Last weekend we joined our friends Milt and Sandy McPherson, owners of Hunting Creek Vineyards for the unveiling of a portrait they commissioned of Wyatt Ramsey, the artist whose drawing appears on Hunting Creek’s labels. Wyatt studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design and is currently studying at the Fine Art Painting department of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Readers of these pages will know that the McPherson’s are dear, dear friends — we’ve traveled with them to Portugal (A Visit to Portugal), Italy (An Italian Idyll)and England (There Will Always Be An England); this fall we’re staying stateside for a different adventure and planning a road trip to Kentucky. They’ve greatly enriched our lives and have introduced us to many amazing and special people.
That afternoon, though, we had a group of six gentlemen stop through the tasting room after visiting Hunting Creek Vineyards. It was officially a bachelor party; the guys came from Washington, DC and were staying at the lake house of one of their parents over at Lake Gaston. We’ve had bridal parties, but this was our first bachelor party — who knew? They were all delightful and we enjoyed chatting with them and showing them the house.
The unveiling took place during a cocktail party with heavy Scottish-themed hors d’oeuvres. Lots of salmon canapés, white fish, Scotch eggs, and of course oysters (Sandy comes from Virginia’s Eastern Shore and oysters are almost always on the menu). The chef was Miles Perkins, who prepared our Valentine’s Day feast last month (A Valentine’s Day Feast). One other guest arrived in a kilt, and Milt was resplendent in his.
Posted on March 11, 2015
Enjoy a decadent repast at Annefield, featuring ingredients sourced from local producers and paired with our new releases
Saturday, 30 May 2015, 6:00 pm
Jameson & Read Wine Club Members: $120/person
All Others: $195/person
Caromont Farm Chèvre Stuffed Peppadews with Candied Almonds
Smoked North Carolina Bluefish Mousse with Preserved Lemon Relish
Great Oak Farm Chorizo and White Bean Hummus
Shaved Edwards Family Farm “Surryano” Ham with Manchego Cheese
Roasted Fingerlings and Morcilla
Rappahannock Virginia Oysters three ways: Bacon, Classic Mignonette, Sweet & Spicy Cucumber
Annefield Vineyards Vermentino 2014
Melrose Bison Farm Buffalo Tartare with Arugula Salad and House Baked Crostini
Annefield Vineyards Red 2012
Cucumber Citrus Granita
Braised Auburnlea Farms Chicken Thigh with Parsnip, Chickpea and Mint
Annefield Vineyards Vidal Blanc 2014
Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Mushrooms from Sharondale Mushroom Farms and
Hudson Heritage Farm Beef Bone Marrow and Potato Puree
Annefield Vineyards Chardonnay 2014
Hudson Heritage Farms Albondigas with Parsnip Puree and Romesco Sauce
Annefield Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2013
Duo of Bread Pudding with Annefield Vineyards Red Wine and Potts Chocolate Special Chocolate Sauce and
Annefield Vineyards White 2014
Caromont Farm — Esmont, Virginia
Caromont Farm is located 23 miles south of Charlottesville, Virginia, in the heart of Virginia’s Piedmont region. They produce both fresh and aged cheeses using milk from Gail Hobbs-Page’s herd of Alpines, Saanens, and La Mancha goats. Caromont’s cow’s milk cheeses are produced from milk sourced from Nathan Vergins’ herd of grass fed Jerseys at Silky Cow Farm in nearby North Garden, Virginia. All cheeses are made “on farm” and are hand ladled, tended daily, and follow a seasonal path. At Caromont, they strive to create cheeses of “place” using quality milk from animals raised on the principles of natural husbandry and grass-based management. Gail, Daniel, and everyone at Caromont Farm, holds a strong belief that great cheese comes only from great milk.
Great Oak Farm — Virgilina, Virginia
Great Oak Farm is a Woman-owned business in Halifax County, Virginia. Specializing in fresh garden produce, free range chickens & eggs, and pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free hogs and meat goats. Great Oak Farm raises healthy and happy Boer meat goats and heritage breed hogs called a Guinea hog. They also raise Tamworth, Gloucestershire/Duroc cross hogs. All of their animals are pasture raised.
S. Wallace Edwards & Sons — Surry, Virginia
In the time-honored style of the Native Americans, settlers and farmers before them, S. Wallace Edwards & Sons processes each ham by hand as it goes through the stages of curing. The very finest hams are selected and hand-rubbed with salt. They remain in the curing room under controlled temperatures until the desired amount of salt has been absorbed. Excess salt is removed by washing and the hams are then pepper-coated and ready for hanging in the smokehouse. Many days of cool “hickory” smoke are required to give these hams their rich mahogany color. They are then allowed to hang undisturbed for “aging” until they develop that real Virginia flavor.
Melrose Bison Farm — Gladys, Virginia
Bison meat is a wonderful food. It is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol and higher in protein and iron than beef, pork or chicken. It has a flavor that is sweeter and richer than beef. Bison meat is incredibly satisfying because it is very nutritionally dense. The bison at Melrose Bison Farm are raised as close to the way Mother Nature intended as possible. They forage on native grasses and hay. They are never given any type of growth hormones, steroids, stimulants, antibiotics or animal products.
Hudson Heritage Farms — Elmo, Virginia
Hudson Heritage Farms, LLC produces natural pasture raised meat products. All of their meats are processed at a USDA Inspected facility and packaged ready for consumers. Their livestock is raised on their farm located in Southside Virginia in the small community of Elmo. They treat their animals with care and respect, and allow them to roam freely in their pastures. Their animals are not given steroids or growth hormones. The farm strives to provide their customers with an all natural, chemical free meat product.
Auburnlea Farms — Gladys, Virginia
All of the pigs and cattle at Auburnlea Farms are always on pasture, from birth to finishing, and are moved to fresh grazing frequently enough to provide plenty of quality grasses for them to forage. They are treated humanely, and are given plenty of sunshine, fresh water, ample grazing, and quality hay which is produced right here on the farm. The pigs are supplemented with Non-Gmo grains and raw milk to produce a quality meat in taste and texture. They also raise chickens and turkeys on pasture, moving them daily to fresh grasses. They have available shelter, water, sunshine, fresh non-GMO & non-soy feed, and protection from predators.
Sharondale Mushroom Farm — Charlottesville, Virginia
The growers at Sharondale Mushroom Farm believe that food should be fresh, nutrient-dense, and be consumed locally. Their commitment to high-quality food is reflected in their growing practices. They use no harmful herbicides, pesticides, or man-made fertilizers. Their farm provides the highest quality gourmet and medicinal mushrooms for the health of the land and community. They also believe everyone can grow their own mushrooms, and will help and empower you to do it.
Potts Chocolate — Meherrin, Virginia
Potts Chocolate takes special care in every step of creating one-of-a-kind chocolate confections. Their extra care demands that they distill their own vanilla extracts, find the perfect beekeepers to supply honey, work with their coffee roasters and pay that extra attention to detail all wonderful foods require.
Our Chef is Paul Anctil, Jr. Paul’s passion for great food and wine began at an early age while living in North Africa and Italy as the son of a Marine. Before moving to Virginia, Paul was Executive Chef and Owner of CUVÉE, a wine and tapas bar in Ormond Beach, Florida. Since relocating to Virginia to help with his family’s winery, he has operated Epicurean Underground, a pop-up supper club and is now Chef de Cuisine at the Drug Store Grill in Brookneal.
Posted on February 25, 2015
What are we up to this year? We’ve reined in the number of events we participate in this year so we can concentrate on growing and promoting the best wine in Southern Virginia. This past Monday we were in Winchester, Virginia for Modovino 2015, Kysela Pere et Fils, LYD.’s annual showcase of selected wines from their enormous portfolio. It takes place on two succeeding Mondays, so if you represent a restaurant or wine shop and have a relationship with Kysela, there is still time to participate.
On the way we stopped in Winchester for lunch at the Union Jack Pub on the downtown mall. We had forgotten that they carry our wine, and we spotted it behind the bar. A reassuring sight, yes?
We stopped there for lunch and had traditional British grub — fish and chips (the first fried food we’ve had in a very long time), which ruined our appetite, not realizing the glorious spread Kysela had waiting. We know now for next time!
This is what we are up to in 2015.
Mondovino is the annual trade-only event sponsored by our distributor, Kysela Pere et Fils, LTD at their warehouse in Winchester, Virginia. If you are a restauranteur or retailer interested in trying our wine and sampling a large selection of Kysela’s portfolio, this event is for you. Trade only — contact Kysela for details.
Saturday, April 11 – Clarksville Lake Country Wine Festival
This is Clarksville’s ninth annual “Lake Country Wine Festival” in beautiful Clarksville on the Lake. From the Chamber’s website:
This year’s event will host Virginia wineries, artisan vendors, wine accessories & great pairings from cigars, chocolates & gourmet Virginia peanuts. Great food provided by Cooper’s Landing Inn & The Lamplighter Restaurant. Entertaining us with live music is the duo Jeff Bailey and Brian Parks. This event is such a great opportunity to see friends and meet many new ones. Relax on historic lawns in downtown and taste nearly 100 varieties of fine Virginia wines and speak with those who have made these vintages possible.
Saturday, May 30 – Spring Bacchanalia at Annefield
Our annual wine pairing dinner at Annefield. Details to follow shortly. Click here to see what we did last year.
Saturday, October 3 – Celebration of the Vine at Annefield
Orr annual harvest celebration, which is free to wine club members and their guests — the number of complementary tickets depends on membership level — see our website for details on wine clubs, and see scenes from last year’s party here.
Posted on February 18, 2015
We hosted a dinner for twelve on Valentine’s Day. We love holding these things because it provides an opportunity to luxuriate in the present with good friends, food, wine, and enough silver to intimidate even the collector. It’s fun.
We brought in a local chef, Miles Perkins, who was formerly the Chef de Cuisine at Molasses Grill in Halifax before he branched out on his own. He specializes in dinners like this, with a decided artistic flair and boundless creativity.
When everyone arrived we started with a few nibbles — mercifully we had stored in the freezer an old favorite, Pâté de Campagne which we presented with cornichons and a trio of mustards, and a new one, Chicken Faux Gras based on a recipe by master chef Michel Richard (should we be confessing this?) Served with freshly baked French bread, both were dispatched in short order.
Everybody likes a story, so we started with a gift we received from a fellow blogger friend, Danielle Irwin of Naggiar Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills of California. Danielle and I have exchanged notes and comments online over the last year or so. We’ve never met, and her informative and entertaining blog is imbedded in the Naggiar website, and because of the way it is structured we are unable to reciprocate the “likes” she bestows on us weekly, so we sent her two bottles of wine as a “thank you” just before Christmas (a Viognier and Cabernet Franc), and she reciprocated with a pair of bottles, so with the first course (and with a heartfelt toast to Danielle) we opened the meal with the Naggiar Vineyards Viognier 2013.
A bit about Naggiar and its winemaker: Nagger Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills American Viticultural Area, which has many small, family owned boutique wineries (sound familiar?). Wine has been grown there since the California Gold Rush. There are more than 100 wineries thought the region nestled in the foothills, with vineyards located between 1,500 to 3,000 feet, an elevation that enjoys a four-season climate. The shallow, austere mountainside soils create moderate stress on the vines, producing low to moderate yields and high quality.
Their winemaker is Danielle’s husband, Derek Irwin, who describes the northern end of the Sierra Foothills as an “untapped gold mine.” The Irwin’s have their own label, Irwin Family Vineyards, producing wines made using Spanish varietals grown in their vineyard in Nevada County. An article in the Nevada County Union by Rod Byers, “Winemaker puts roots in Sierra Foothill ‘untapped soil” (30 April 2013), notes “Rather than making ripe and jammy fruit bombs, Irwin prefers more nuanced wines that are slightly higher in acidity and lower in alcohol, with full body and solid structure.” It sounds like he would be perfectly at home in Virginia.
Anyway, it was a great start. The wines were a mixed bunch, and were selected on a whim: our Annefield Vineyards Viognier 2013 followed the Naggiar, then our Annefield Vineyards Rosé 2011, a Portuguese red wine to accompany the Portuguese dish (sorry — we failed to make a note of the producer), Hunting Creek Vineyards Indulgence 2012, and a Champagne with dessert. We pulled out the absinthe fountain, but no need to usher out anyone because everyone had more than enough wine, and quickly bid adieu. We sent everyone home with a small box of chocolates to enjoy the next day. Thank you, Miles, and thank you one and all for a memorable evening.
Chilled Oyster with Ginger Pork Consommé and Winter Shoots
Baked Oyster with Scrambled Farm Eggs, Bacon, Fines Herbs
Scallop with Blood Orange, Vanilla Infused Potato and Black Pepper
Handmade Beet Tagliatelle with Pesto, Pecorino Romano and Mussels
Surf and Turf: Portugal Pork and Clam with Squid Ink, Date, Olive and Chorizo
Lamb with Capers, Raisin, Mustard, Pistachios, Roasted Onions, Cherries, Carrot, Yoghurt and Sumac
Chocolate-dipped Strawberries, Passion Fruit Sorbet, Grape Gelato, Blackberry Gelato and Shortbread Cookie
Posted on February 11, 2015
In the depths of winter our thoughts turn invariably to spring. And there is so much to do in the vineyards to get ready for the growing season — trellis repair, pruning, spreading lime, all going on simultaneously. With so much promise and so much to do before the buds begin to swell, with budbreak the work truly begins in earnest. For some reason we’re feeling good about this year — hopeful.
Winter is a great time to plan — so we are beginning to conceive our annual Spring Bacchanalia, an exclusive and decadent wine-pairing dinner at Annefield. Family obligations prevent us from doing it earlier in the month, so this year it will take place on Saturday, May 30, at 6 pm.
Seating is extremely limited, so needless to say, reservations are essential. But — we aren’t ready to take them yet, so please drop us a line at email@example.com if you are interested. Just the name and the prospective number in your party is all that we need. We are starting a list, and those on it will receive advance notice when we open reservations. Jameson and Read wine club members enjoy a special price, just like last year. Wine Club members: $120/person, and Non-members: $195/person. We will announce the details when it becomes available.
If you are traveling from outside of the area and need accommodations for the weekend, we suggest booking a room at The Berry Hill Resort in South Boston. Here’s a suggestion — make a pampered, culinary weekend of it — arrive on Friday, book a massage at the Blackberry Spa at the resort, then have a leisurely dinner at your choice of two very special places. Choose between Bistro 1888 in downtown South Boston, and Molasses Grill in Halifax. Last year Chef Margaret Moorefield, co-owner of Bistro 1888 , was named one of the top chefs in the country. The accolades come from Best Chefs America, an annual publication showcasing the best chefs in the nation. Moorefield says out of all her awards, this one tops them all, because she was nominated by other culinary professionals. “That means the most to me, because other chefs, they know what it takes.”
Both restaurants are a touch over five miles from Berry Hill -- a very easy and pleasant ride. Or if you choose to stay in, dine at Berry Hill’s Mansion Dining Room, which has made great strides under new management. The next morning after a little sightseeing or relaxing by Berry Hill’s indoor pool, join us on Saturday evening for drinks and a memorable dinner. Other accommodation options are here.
We’ll post another announcement when we are closer to the date. Until then, Happy Spring!