James River Cellars Winery
11008 Washington Highway
Sunday 11:00am-5:00pmCALL TO CONFIRM:
OWNERS/WINEMAKERS: Mitzi and James Batterson
LOCATION DESCRIPTION: Located along I-95 in the Central Virginia region, the surrounding area feels very commercial and industrial. This winery is a nice getaway spot set in the middle of the hubub.
TASTING ROOM DESCRIPTION: The day I visited they were in the middle of constructing an expanded tasting room alongside the modest house in which they conduct business now. Thank goodness because the current tasting bar is teensie weensie – if you want a tasting, prepare to stand elbow to elbow with your neighbors.
DATE/WEATHER/TIME IN: 3/9/2017 | 67⸰ | 4:45pm
MY RIDE ALONG (My side-kick for this visit): Mike R. likes to make wine. Mike R. doesn’t actually drink wine. What is wrong with this picture, Mike R.? Fortunately, he wants to learn, so he was my ride along for James River Cellars.
TASTING FEES: $8 for 12-14 wines, or $10 if you want to keep the glass.
POURER: Alexis was so knowledgeable, personable, and clearly loves the winery. I loved Alexis!
THE TASTING: First of all, the tasting sheet was not much help, and of course, Mike is the new guy to the hobby and the ensuing confusion at the tasting bar did not help. But let’s press on, shall we?
|The following represents a 1-5 scale with What the fuck? being the worst and Oh, hell yes! being the best.
The W-I-N-O tasting scale (the M is silent because who cares about the Ms?)
|[W] – What the fuck?
If I won’t drink it, it’s fucking bad because I’ll drink anything.
|[I] – I’ll pass.
Not good, but not dumped. That would be wasteful.
|[M] – Meh.
|[N] – Now we’re getting somewhere!
This is a goodie. I may have bought it, or it might not be worth the money, or I’ve already spent too much.
|[O] – Oh, hell yes!
I probably bought this one.
Here we go, the James River Cellar Winery wines – please remember, these are just my opinions …
The Hungarian oak in this one makes it really interesting. It’s not pungent like some oaked wines. The flavor is hard to explain because Viogniers vary so widely, then throw in the oak and I’m stumped. I guess you’ll have to visit the winery and let me know what you think.
|Rating [N] Price $22|
It’s Chardonnay. It’s whatever.
|Rating [M] Price $18|
This was the first vine on the property. Is it just one vine? Because there is only a total of one acre of vines to satisfy the “winery” classification, most of their grapes come from elsewhere. Anyway, here’s a rough pronunciation: Geh-vertz-truh-meaner. This Gewürzt’ smells like pineapple but there’s not much happening on my tongue.
|Rating [M] Price $20|
|Vidal Blanc – 2015
It smells like Sauvignon Blanc, so that’s interesting to me because Vidal Blanc is traditionally more fruity. Can I just mention it is day 3 working on this review because it’s just really boring me. I shall press on, though, because I am loyal to you, my adoring fans.
|Rating [N] Price $17|
|Vidal Blanc – 2014
Smells like grapefruit and pineapple and tastes like spicy citrus. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my son and his girlfriend are fighting and I have to go make sure they did not just break my front door.
|Rating [N] Price $17|
Try to keep up … so, this mislabled wine actually contains Rad Red, and the wine labeled Rad Red is actually Hanover Red in the bottle. So I THINK the Hanover Red … no, wait … the Rad Red is a bordeaux-style wine with a Hanover Red label. Fuck me!
|Rating [M] Price $15|
Does anyone know a good locksmith that can fix my front door? There isn’t a lot of pepper in this one – the wine, not the door lock – but there is good fruit. I love black pepper in my Franc but this one is not bad.
|Rating [N] Price $20|
My favorite varietal. Usually. What the flip kind of plastic-smell hell did I just put my nose into? There is confusion. This one is blended with 20% Chambourcin and it’s just a weird competition in my mouth. Pinot Noir and Chambourcin blended are like an awkwardly matched married couple where one is lovely, calm, and polite, and the other is obese, mouthy, and abrasive leaving you to wonder how in the fuck these two ever ended up together!
|Rating [I] Price $20|
|Monitor v. CSS
Um… tastes like … um… I won’t dump it, but I keep going back and forth, back and forth – do I like it, do I not? So, I stopped to chat with Kathi from Vint Hill Winery (a must visit) who happened to be tasting at the same time, and when I returned to my sample it was suddenly fruity and good-ish. I am having rating confusion. Even their tasting sheet doesn’t have a nose/palette opinion (see the sheet below). So, please go check it out at the winery and come back and leave me a comment on what YOU think.
|Rating [??] Price $24|
So, to recap, the Rad Red label has Hanover Red in the bottle, and vice versa. At this point, I was so fucking confused by this entire experience that I simply gave up.
|Rating [M] Price $15|
Okay, HOLD THE PHONE! You know something, every once in awhile the uphill struggle levels out and life is good again. I’m relieved to know that my opinions were not being tainted by all the previous “meh” and confusion. I love a blush wine and this is a goodie; however, STILL not without a touch of puzzlement regarding the amount of residual sugar – I guessed 3%, the pourer said 4.5%, but my notes say 2.5%. I was hoping the tasting sheet would bail me out, but hell no. Anyway, no matter, it’s the right amount, whatever that amount is. I took this one home with me.
|Rating [O] Price $15|
Looks like Chambourcin. Tastes like Chambourcin. Must be Chambourcin.
|Rating [M] Price $16|
This wine is Muscat dominant – the ability to identify grapes and their flavors without looking at the tasting notes makes wine tasting fun and interesting. Okay, whatever, I’m buzzed. It’s sweet and it’s good, and hopefully that’s all you need to know. Go get some.
|Rating [N] Price $17|
Do you love cinnamon rolls? Because this one is infused with cinnamon and reminds me of fresh cinnamon rolls. Yasss!
|Rating [N] Price $15|
SUMMARY: Alexis is the winner of the day – she rinsed me with wine. Not me, my glass, she rinsed my glass with wine. She added a lot of positives to what might have otherwise been a very boring experience. The tasting room was not overly impressive, but I’m going to stay open minded about the future of this winery because of their current expansion project. It was a lot of work deciding whether the wines were good or not, but I have to say most were decent and I recommend you give them a try. This experience was fraught with confusion, but we survived and even managed to love one of the offerings enough to buy a bottle. If you are able to visit James River Cellars Winery, please share a photo or two of that new tasting room, and let me know your thoughts about the Reserve Chardonnay and Monitor v. CSS wines.
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