Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Uncorked: Atlantic Seaboard Wine Tasting

Last week, politicians took a break from debt ceilings and budget planning. Democrats and Republicans alike crossed the aisle to clink glasses to celebrate the winning entries from the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association Eighth Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition. Sponsored by the U.S. Congressional Wine Caucus, the ASWA held a winning wine-tasting reception and awards presentation last Wednesday, November 28 in the Longworth House Office Building.

Competition-winning wineries, winery representatives and their members of Congress were invited to attend and take part in the awarding of the Best of Show Jefferson Loving Cup and Best of Category framed certificates. Also in attendance were members of the American Wine Society and the International Federation of Wine Brotherhoods.

The reception included award-winning wines from all over the Eastern seaboard accompanied by the requisite cheese and fruit and finger sandwiches. I started by tasting a thick and fruity 2011 Diamond from Candia Vineyards in Candia, NH, and then moved onto a more robust 2010 Cabernet Franc from Elk Run Vineyards in Mt. Airy, MD.

I stopped tasting long enough to meet Rep. Howard Coble, from North Carolina’s Sixth District, and Rep. Walter Jones, from North Carolina’s Third District, both early members of the Congressional Wine Caucus.

Rep. Howard Coble and Rep. Walter Jones from North Carolina
Both men enjoyed the wines while reveling in the fact that North Carolina now has 100 wineries. As stated by Rep. Rick  Larsen from Washington's Second District, also in attendance, the Congressional Wine Caucus gives members the ability to taste wines and brag about how good their state’s wineries are!

Throughout the night, awards were presented to the winning wineries. Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-01) and Dan Lungren (CA-03), Co-Chairmen of the Wine Caucus, along with Rep. Tom Reed (NY-29), presented Frederick and Maryclaire Frank from Chateau Frank Vineyards in Hammondsport, NY, with the Gold Medal and Best of Show for its 2006 Blanc de Noirs.

I can see why – the Blanc de Noirs was bubbly and delicious. 

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, from Virginia's Sixth District, presented Stephen Heyns, Chief Wine-Maker at Cross-Keys Vineyards in Mt. Crawford, VA, with the Gold Medal for its 2010 Petit Verdot. 
Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Cross-Keys winemaker, Stephen Heyns
As the awards continued, I re-commenced wine tasting, enjoying a really surprising 2011 Savignon Blanc from Veritas Winery in Afton, VA. The wine, which won a Gold Medal and Best of Class, was incredibly fragrant with lemon and lime undertones, and less dry than most Savignon Blancs which makes it a winner in my book.

I also tasted a Silver Medal 2011 Norton from Paradise Springs Winery. I usually prefer whites to reds but I would definitely bring this Norton to my dinner table. Though I may be a little biased because I grew up in Northern Virginia, and Paradise Springs Winery, located in Clifton, VA, was the first winery in Fairfax County. As described by Drew Wiles, who started the winery with his brother, Kirk, and his mother, Jane, the Norton has a jammy taste that’s almost similar to a Concord grape juice. Yum!

Representatives from the Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, VA
Towards the end of the tasting, Congressional Wine Caucus Co-Chairs Thompson and Lungren congratulated all the winners on the outstanding wine and, being on the Hill, provided a plug for the economy, reminding everyone that the wine business is an environmentally preferred way to create jobs.

It was a great night of mingling and wine tasting, where politicians put their issues aside and focused on more important things, like a delicious Bordeaux Blend. According to Rep. Jones, if politicians could be as congenial during the day as they are during the wine tasting event, then they would get a lot more done!

More information:

The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association is one of the oldest wine organizations located on the East Coast. Established in 1973 as the Vinifera Wine Growers Association, it was an early supporter of planting world-class Vinifera wine grapes, the production of quality commercial wines, and the building of a wine industry along the Eastern seaboard. Today, the ASWA is a national and international wine trade association that works with state and national legislatures to resolve issues that challenge the U.S. wine industry.

The Congressional Wine Caucus was founded in 1999 by Congressmen and winegrape growers Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and George Radanovich (R-Fresno) to protect the interests of the vibrant wine industry from grape to glass. Today, the Caucus brings together more than 200 Members of Congress representing all 50 states, and is chaired by Congressman Thompson and Congressman Lungren (R-Gold River).

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