It's springtime in the old town of Winchester, to which we've driven through the lush green in the heart of Virginia Wine Country, just north of that constellation on the map whose stars are formed by some of the Commonwealth's brightest wineries: Delaplane, RdV, Linden, Glen Manor. We've come looking for One Block West, the unassuming restaurant tucked away on South Indian Alley, (unsurprisingly) one block west of the main street that traverses the historic town.
A wine list that spans the globe but is grounded in Chef Ed Matthew's lifelong Virginia home is paired with a menu whose color and vibrancy reflects the beautiful countryside from which it comes. Taken together with the historic George Washington Hotel down the street, and we've found a delightful Saturday evening waypoint but ninety minutes from Washington, DC, perfectly suited to the type of weekend Virginia wine excursion that we so often advocate.
2013 Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc (Monticello, Virginia)
The Red Wine Cheese Plate on the appetizer menu suggested Virginia's (we suspect delightful) Linden Claret as a wine pairing, but we're suckers for mono-varietal Cabernet Franc, and had not previously tasted the Michael Shaps. The nose was of raspberry jam, a little (though less than expected) pepper, and roasted hazelnut. Much more fruit-forward than much of Virginia's other Cabernet Franc, we'd forgive you if you mistook this one for an Oregonian Pinot Noir. There's lovely red fruit throughout the palate, and a little spicy jerky that develops in the nose after a moment and a swish in the glass.
Doesn't everyone pair their food to the wine they've chosen? The wine pairing winners from tonight's menu were the Grilled Lamb Chops (served with red wine risotto, wilted greens, and maple-roasted sweet potato), as well as the Grilled Moulard Duck (served with polenta, pea shoots, and red wine syrup). Grilled Bison Skirt Steak seemed a credible runner up, but not the one we chose. Meghan forayed into the (decidedly not classic Cab Franc pairing) of Pan-Seared Sea Scallops and Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts with Pork Belly appetizer.
We consider all to have been a great success.
Rural Northern Virginia (as opposed to eight lane highway Northern Virginia) is a beautiful part of the world dotted by curious English countryside inspiration, delightful small production wineries, and culinary treasures. Downtown Winchester's combination of such a treasure in One Block West so close to a place to lay your head for the evening makes this a leading choice for a getaway in wine country. Go taste for yourself before the chef wanders off on a new adventure!