Tuesday, August 09, 2005

King Family Vineyards

We left Kluge, and followed the winding Monticello wine trail over to King Family Vineyards. (photo courtesy King Family website.)The winery was located under a stunning backdrop of hilly vistas, and a huge green field, encircled by rows of planted vines. They seemed to be setting up for a large wedding as we walked towards the tasting room. Moments later, we found out that their summer weekends are usually filled with weddings and other events.

“But we also make great wines!” quipped Ellen King, one of the owners, who was on her way outside. We chatted for a few moments, and discovered that King is also the home of Michael Schaps, crafter of one of my favourite wines at Cowboy Syd's.

Dave and I shook hands with Ellen, and turned to the tasting room. (photo courtesy King Family website.) It was large, lots of wood and stone providing a sort of rustic ambiance. A large, wrought-iron chandelier hung from the ceiling, and the cavernous fireplace had an area for sitting, surely a welcome diversion during a wintry spell.

Ursula, a young oenophile and horticulturist from Hungary, led us through the tasting. We began with the King Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2004. The nose had delicate hints of vanilla and pear. This was a smooth, French-style chardonnay, with a touch of crisp fall fruit on the palate, that meandered slowly into a lingering, enjoyable finish. Can I just say how proud I am of that tasting-note? Alas, my note-taking skills do downward quickly from here on out.

Next was the King Family Vineyards Roseland 2003, a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. A fruity and easy drinking example of what I think of as ‘summer patio wine’.

Michael Shaps Viognier 2004: The nose is almost explosively citrusy, much like a sauvignon blanc. Once on the palate, it became a bit more muted, tamely touched by peach, still somewhat crisp with the citrus. Would be good crab-pickin’ wine.

King Family Vineyards Crose 2004: A low-alcohol blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged for six months in oak. This is rose-coloured water, and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way. We brought home a few bottles that are waiting for summer’s dog days.

Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc 2004: This has a soft cherry character that was easy to sip.

King Family Vineyards Meritage 2003: Blend of 70% merlot, 27% Cab Franc and 3% Petite Verdot, aged in French and American oak for 16 months. This was more than approachable now, and would be a great wine for grilled meats.

King Family Vineyards Loereley Late Harvest Viognier 2004: I am not a huge fan of dessert wines, but this was a pleasing exception. Lots of sweet pear in a rich explosion on the palate, that was creamy without being too rich.

King has a very nice array of wines that will keep me coming back for more. There were two wines we didn’t taste that day, the Michael Shaps Merlot 2002 (which I’ve tasted previously at Cowboy Syd’s), and the King Family Vineyards Late Harvest Cabernet Franc 2004 (which is only tasted on Saturday’s). We’ll definately make sure to come by on a Saturday for that, and on Sunday, for their weekly polo games.


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