About two weeks ago, I was invited out with other food and drink industry types to come for a special wine tasting at the Angus Barn. It was the second event in a tour promoting Virginian wares to their neighbor to the south: us. The first was a Virginian wine and food event at Fullsteam the previous afternoon, but I was unable to make both events in two days. When in doubt, choose the complimentary tasting!
The Angus Barn is one of the most popular restaurants in the area for the steakhouse crowd and the established Triangle politicos. This event was hosted by Barbara Ensrud, a well-known wine writer for her website Be Wine Wise and her long, acclaimed career in the field.
Barbara getting the event off to a good start.
It was a cozy setup with mostly winemakers and winery owners doing the pours. They were stationed in a small room at the back of the empty restaurant.
I slowly made my way through the group, starting with the enthusiastic owner of Democracy Vineyards, Jim. They were one of the youngest wineries at the tasting, opening up about three years ago. Most of the wineries represented had been around for about 10 years, but some had much longer histories than that, bordering on 30 years or more of winemaking. I spent a good amount of time talking with the lovely women of Foggy Ridge Cider, watching the charismatic wine pourer for Barboursville with fascination, and telling the wine pourer from Chateau Morrisette how much I loved their blushing dog rosé a few years back. Turns out all of Chateau Morrisette’s wines bear the image of the family’s black dogs.
A few of the wines stood out for my palette, which of course, may bear no resemblance to yours and tends to prefer blends for easy drinking. Chateau Morrisette had the perfect one for that, the Black Dog semi-dry red table wine. It’s on the left in the previous picture and is exceptionally smooth with strong chocolate, raspberry, and cherry notes. Smells sweet but tastes dry, and it is a cabernet franc and petit verdot blend.
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Wild Turkey Loft at the Angus Barn
The Cosmopolitan is my favorite drink, for its high level of alcohol that comes with cranberry and citrus splashes to help it go down. There are many varieties of the drink, mainly tweaks on the amount of cranberry used and types of citrus juice, vodka, and orange liqueur involved. The Wild Turkey Loft opts for Stoli, Cointreau, a splash of cranberry, and a lemon twist.
You can tell from the color of the drink how little cranberry was added, which was great, in my opinion. Cosmos shouldn’t be fruity drinks; they should be martinis with a couple flavorful visitors. I’m a fan of Stoli, so I liked the vodka’s flavor, and Cointreau is by far the best option for orange liqueur. However, I much prefer lime to lemon for the tangy citrus element, so this cosmo didn’t quite do it for me in that department.
Still, it was pretty fabulous, so I was happy with it in more ways than one.
The TLC Martini
Wild Turkey Lounge at the Angus Barn
$8.25 (I think)
The Wild Turkey Lounge is the upstairs bar at the Angus Barn. It used to be the cigar lounge, but I imagine it’s actually doing much better business without the cigar smoking. It’s definitely got that barn feeling, and with a huge array of wild turkey figurines, it’s plenty full of whimsy. I liked the atmosphere of the place and their comfy, leather chairs and many appealing nooks and crannies, even if the other standard barn decorations can be trite.
But on to my drink! I tried their TLC martini, a new name for a standard cocktail offering of vodka, Chambord, Grand Marnier, and cranberry juice. It was a good drink—a vodka with some personality might have made it more intriguing. The raspberry came through most strongly, making me think I’d want more Cointreau to counter it, but I’m not sure that’d have been the best fix. The cranberry wasn’t strong, which is good, but the drink just didn’t stand out in general. Great ingredients, lack of imagination.