Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sunday in the Vines

Sunday was blessed with a spectacular spring day--bright sun, a cloudless sky, and scents of flowers wafting past on a light breeze. I decided to make a date with the vines and one of my favourite vineyars, Chrysalis--a mere 45 miles from downtown Washington.

The perfect day for a sip of wine on the patio at Chrysalis

I grabbed my friend Matt, who has been begging to visit a winery for a few months, and off we went to see Ms. Jenni McCloud and her estate. The day could not have been more perfect--a cool breeze, great company, and of course, the tantalizing wines from Chrysalis. Jenni tasted us on her entire line of wines: Viognier, Chardonnay, the new 2004 Verdejo, Sara's Patio White and Red, the Estate bottled Norton, and the intense Locksley Reserve Norton.

Jenni McCloud pours wine at the tasting bar

Everytime I taste the wines from Chrysalis, I am amazed by their sheer delicacy and complexity. My personal favourites are the 2002 Viognier, which bursts with fresh tropical fruit notes and the perfume of a bouquet of flowers. No wonder Viognier from Virginia competes with the best from Condrieu in France's Rhone Valley.

I also am becoming particularly fond of both the Estate bottled Norton and the Locksley Reserve Norton. Both are produce from the Norton grape, which is native to Virginia, but almost completely disappeared during prohibition. Jenni McCloud is trying her hand at bringing this amazing grape back to the forefront, and with the largest planting of the grape anywhere in the world, I would say she's doing quite well. The Chrysalis Norton bursts with notes of leather and earth followed by plum and cherry. A few months back, Jenni presented me with a blind tasting during one of my many visits to taste unique wine collected during my travels. After a whif, I immediately thought I had a Chateau Mouton Rothschild in my glass. To my surprise, this was no First Growth Bordeaux, but a bottle of the Locksley Reserve Norton!

This gives a new meaning to the term "chicken butt"


A visit to Chrysalis is not complete without a visit to the chicken coop. Jenni's pride and joy are her flock of Buff Orpington Chickens, who lay organic eggs which she sells in the winery. You have not tasted eggs until you have tried a dozen of Jenni's Farm Fresh Eggies!

Jenni holds one of the 'girls'

Chrysalis Vineyards can be reached via www.chrysaliswine.com or 540-687-8222

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