Chrysalis Vineyards was the third winery on my “10 Virginia Wineries I hope to Visit in 2015” list I have been to this year. We had our April VA Wine and Book Club meeting there and discussed “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. (See my book review of “The Alchemist” at playingjokers.com) The wines were delicious and different from other VA wineries and vineyards I have tasted at over the past years. (No Chardonnay or Cab Savs on the menu… more Albariño and Norton wines) The location was peaceful, creating a nice environment for our club meeting.
Over the past few weeks, I have been taking a Business of Wine class through George Mason University. This class has brought me to a new level of respect and understanding of the wine industry. In addition, the last class we learned more about tastings, pairings, and pulling out the different aromas and flavors in wines. With that in mind, I went into this tasting at Chrysalis Vineyards differently than others – I tried to first smell the wine and think about what I smelt, then tasted the wines and wrote down the most prominent flavors I pulled out – after I did this I then read the wine descriptions and compared my tastes to what they told me I should taste… it was a different and fun way to experience the tasting!
For the tasting, they had two options:
- Estate Tasting ($7) – 7-9 wines, primarily whites, sweet and one red (plus a couple of extra reds for comparison offered by our taster)
- Reserve Tasting ($10) – 12-13 wines, including a variety of reds (this is the one we did as a group)
Some notes on the wines tasted I most enjoyed:
- There were two different Albariño wines that would pair nicely with a shellfish or similar seafood. I preferred the 2nd of the two tasted, the 2013 Albariño, because it was slightly sweeter and smoother.
- I enjoyed the 2013 Viognier we sampled at the winery more than their 2012. I had the 2012 the night before and pulled out a strong sense of green pepper and some vanilla. The 2013 from the tasting we did had less of a pepper influence, more vanilla, and didn’t have as big of a bite on the tongue.
- The 2013 Mariposa was a light and refreshing rose. I smelled strawberries, and I tasted these strawberries in the wine. There was also a floral taste on the tongue, and a slightly dry finish.
- 2013 Sarah’s Patio White was one of my favorites of the day. This one smelled sweet like honeysuckle, and had a sweet, honey taste. It was great chilled (very cold) and would be a nice light summer drink. The price is also not a bank-breaker at only $14.
- 2013 Sarah’s Patio Red was a group favorite. It had a tart cherry taste, served chilled. Made with 100% Norton grapes, this is the bottle we brought to each have a glass of while we hung out on property following the tasting. They did a great job transforming this Norton into a sweet, light, fruity wine.
- The 2013 Norton Schitz and Giggels was my other favorite for the day so I bought a bottle of this for $17 to take home as well. It was an earthy, tart Norton. Would be good with red meat (a steak like a ribeye). It tasted more like a classic Norton to me… I enjoyed this.
- For the other reds tasted, including their other Norton wines, Rubiana and Petit Verdot, I kept pulling a cherry taste from the wines. This was a major note on my tongue today. Many of the reds also had a tart bite to them. They all somewhat started blending for me in taste…
Our guide to the tasting was really great. (I believe his name was Jan) He was so informative on the wines and Chrysalis Vineyards itself. The tasting was nearly an hour long and well-worth it. He made it more of an experience as he introduced us to the wines, the property, the VIP club and more. For example, on property a grave was uncovered along the patio of the house. This grave belonged to Sarah of which Sarah’s Patio White and Red were named in honor of. In addition, he went through recommended food pairings for each wine and some of the history behind the varietals in Virginia… If you can, I would highly recommend getting a tasting with him!
Some things learned about Chrysalis: the property is 412 acres, with 71 acres of grapes planted – 40 of which are dedicated to the Norton. They have a new tasting room opening in the next month they are excited about. Interested in learning more about the Norton grape and Chrysalis Vineyards? I recommend the book A Wild Vine by Todd Kliman. In this book, he interviews Jennie McCloud (owner of Chrysalis) and uncovers the history of this truly American grape: the Norton. (One of my personal favorite wine varietals!)
Overall, the winery was a nice day-trip for our book club. The outdoor tasting was nice and group size limited so we could enjoy the tasting experience and ask questions. On arrival, they assigned us a time to head out to the tasting tent which allowed us to better coordinate our group and kept everyone on the same page. We brought our own picnic and a dog, which was another plus the winery was dog-friendly! One downer was the bathrooms were porta-johns that were not the cleanest and tight on the inside when we went. The property, however, is nice and had picnic tables spaced out for groups. Bring a camera for some nice pictures under the trees.
So glad I finally made it to the winery known for their Nortons… Be sure to share your thoughts from your trip to Chrysalis Vineyards!