Joe Brock

North Carolina Wines for Your 2017 Holiday Table

North Carolina Wines for Your 2017 Holiday Table

The holidays are here! It’s a time for celebration with family and friends which often means good food and good drink. With a growing industry and higher quality of wines, it is time to consider adding North Carolina wine to your holiday table. But where do you start?  What should you pair with classic holiday foods?  We’re back this year with some updated suggestions!

Off Dry Pear Mead from Starrlight Mead in Pittsboro

Winter Salad with Pears – Pears and spicy greens are perfect this time of year.  Add some blue cheese and a tangy vinaigrette and you have magic!  To further that magic, pair the salad (pun intended) with the Off Dry Pear Mead from Starrlight Mead in Pittsboro.  This mead is made with diluting the honey with fruit juice rather than water.  The palate begins with pear moves to honey and finishes with more pear.

Ham – Ham is a classic main course for any holiday. While Riesling is a classic pairing with any ham, we’re recommending two excellent muscadine wines this year.

  • The first is the Riverton Estate from Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram.  This dry Carlos wine is tart yet fruity.  It tastes very much like a Riesling with great acidity!
  • The second is Carlos in the Buff from Dennis Vineyards in Albemarle.  Also, Carlos this wine was made with no skin contact.  It’s also only lightly sweet also with great acidity and less of the foxy quality often found with muscadine.

Turkey – Roast turkey is versatile. You can pair with a white wine or a lighter red wine.

  • For the white wine, we recommend the 2015 Grüner Veltliner from Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville.  This wine is always stellar.  It has notes of citrus, apple. and peach.  This would match well with turkey and cranberry sauce.
  • For the red wine, we recommend the 2015 Chambourcin from Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery in Elkin.  This Chambourcin is lightly oaked with flavors of dark cherry and warm spice.   This would also pair well with turkey and cranberry sauce or turkey and gravy.

Provencia from Hanover Park Vineyard in Yadkinville

Duck – Ah, duck! It is poultry that has the umph of a steak! Classically you would pair duck with a Pinot Noir. But, if you can’t find Pinot Noir, Chambourcin is a great substitute!  We recommend the 2014 Provencia from Hanover Park Vineyard in Yadkinville.  This Chambourcin is a step above.  It was so special that it got a special name!  It’s smooth and bold with no hybrid bite.

Reserve Syrah from Junius Lindsay Vineyard in Welcome

Lamb – Lamb is one meat where you either love it or hate it. We happen to love it. A classic pairing with lamb is a wine from the Rhône Valley of France.  We recommend the 2013 Reserve Syrah from Junius Lindsay Vineyard in Welcome.  With warm oak and smooth cherry, this wine is easy drinking with light black pepper notes.

Roast Beef – Roast beef is another holiday classic. Of course, this calls for a hearty red wine!

  • The first recommendation is the 2013 Tannat from Shelton Vineyards in Dobson.  This is a big, bold red.  Yet it’s also smooth and balanced.  It’s perfect for beef or any red meat!
  • The second recommendation is the 2012 Estate Reserve Selection Merlot from Jones von Drehle in Thurmond.  Aged in French oak for forty months, this wine has soft tannins with cherry and cocoa.  It also pairs well with duck confit.

South Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay from RayLen Vineyards in Mocksville

Seafood Lasagna, Roast Chicken or Roasted Vegetables – Any of these dishes make for a great additions to your holiday table.  For pairing with all of these, we recommend the 2015 South Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay from RayLen Vineyards in Mocksville.  Sourced from a vineyard near the South Mountains in Burke County, this wine is barrel fermented.  This wine is oaky and buttery yet retains good fruit.

Barbera from Brandon Hills Vineyard in Yadkinville

Any Tomato Based Dish – Having a dish with tomato sauce and maybe a little spice?  We recommend the 2010 Barbera from Brandon Hills Vineyard in Yadkinville.  This wine is earthy yet with good cherry flavors.  It’s very smoothed and well balanced.

Finish Line Dessert Wine from Childress Vineyards in Lexington

Chocolate Desserts – Decadent chocolate desserts call for port-style wines. They are perfect with rich chocolate or just by themselves on a cold night. We recommend the 2012 Finish Line from Childress Vineyards in Lexington. This fortified wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has strong notes of coffee and cocoa which pair perfectly with chocolate!

These are our recommendations for 2017.  We’d love to hear your recommendations, so leave us a comment!

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Napa and Sonoma Are Open for Business

Napa and Sonoma Are Open for Business

We recently returned from the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference held in Santa Rosa, CA.  Santa Rosa is located in Sonoma County.  Parts of Santa Rosa were directly impacted by the October, 2017 Wildfires.  Yes, we saw fire damage.  We heard stories from panelist who were directly impacted by the wildfires.  Yes, there is recovery in progress.  However, taken as a whole, the wine industry survived pretty much in tack.

Napa and Sonoma are open for business.  Most vineyards saw little to no damage.  So, if you’re able, go visit.  Help revive the tourist economy on which these areas depend.

Below are some images we took during our trip.  They show a beautiful region that’s still extremely picturesque.  We have a new found respect for this region and its wines.  We look forward to enjoying the wines we purchased and visiting again in the future!

Vineyards along US 101 Near Healdsburg in Sonoma County

Beautiful fall colors in a vineyard near Healdsburg in Sonoma County

Vineyards near Geyserville in Sonoma County

Another vineyard near Geyserville in Sonoma County

Red foliage on vines near Healdsburg and Alexander Valley in Sonoma County

Vineyard near Calistoga in Napa County

Vineyard on the approach to PlumpJack Winery near Oakville in Napa County

Vineyard near Windsor in Sonoma County

Head trained vines in the Alexander Valley near Healdsburg in Sonoma County

Front gate at Miner Family Wines near Oakville in Napa County

Vines with grapes still hanging near Calistoga in Napa County

Hill Family Estate tasting room in downtown Yountville in Napa County

Stewart Cellars Tasting Lodge in Downtown Yountville in Napa County

PlumpJack Winery Tasting Room near Oakville in Napa County

Vineyard on a beautiful November day in Napa County

Vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa County

Charred Trees look down on an untouched vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa County

Napa Town Center in Downtown Napa

Beautiful Mountains heading over Atlas Peak in Napa County

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
#WBC17 Wine Dinner at Thomas George Estates

#WBC17 Wine Dinner at Thomas George Estates

On Friday night of the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference, we decided to take part in a wine dinner excursion at Thomas George Estates in Healdsburg.  Thomas George is located in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County.  They were founded in 2008 and focus on small production vineyard designated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We loaded on our bus and headed out.  After a twenty plus minute drive in the darkness which included a wrong turn by the driver and a trip across a one lane bridge over the Russian River, we made it up the hill to Thomas George Estates.  As we arrive the tasting room was on one side and the wine cave was on the other.  Dinner was being served in the wine cave.

Cave Entrance at Thomas George Estates

Reception

Immediately upon entering the wine cave, we were greeted with glasses of the 2014 Brut Blanc de Blancs, Starr Ridge Vineyard, Cooper Block.  The grapes for this wine were sourced from the Russian River Valley AVA.  Starr Ridge Vineyard is located a few miles to the east of the winery.  To accompany the sparkling wine, we were served house-made cured meats from the Black Pig Meat Company.  The Black Pig is meat company owned by the evening’s chef, Duskie Estes.  Duskie is co-owner of Zazu Kitchen + Farm with John Stewart.  Duskie has also appeared as a judge on Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network.  In addition to the meats, there were roasted vegetables, spreads, and crostini.

Table is set for dinner inside the Cave at Thomas George Estates

First Course

After reception, we took our seats at the long table.  The first course was a roasted Brussel sprouts salad.  The salad included bacon from the Black Pig, Asian pears, Marcona Almonds, aged sherry vinegar, and  Capriago from Bohemian Creamy.  The paired wine was the 2015 Chardonnay from Sons & Daughters Vineyard.  This vineyard is located at the border of the Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill AVAs.  This unoaked wine was aged sur lie with no malolactic fermentation.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts Salad

Entrée

The featured wine for the entrée course was the 2014 Pinot Noir from Baker Ridge Vineyard.  This vineyard is on the winery site.  Duck is, of course, a perfect pairing with Pinot Noir.  This Star Anise Liberty Duck also included Cracklin’ Pork Belly with black rice, estate grown pomegranate and watercress.  This was perfectly paired!

Cracklin’ Pork Belly & Star Anise Liberty Duck

Dessert

We were allowed some time to finish our Pinot Noir after dinner before dessert was presented.  Dessert was a Quince and Apple Tartin with Bourbon Gelato.  The 2012 Late Harvest Viognier from the Baby Block of Baker Ridge Vineyard was the wine of choice.  The grapes for this wine are always hand harvested by the staff at Thomas George estates.  This block is closest to the driveway leading to the winery.  It was a beautiful wine!

Backyard Quince & Apple Tartin with Bourbon Gelato

 

Following dinner, Chef Duskie Estes came out to introduce herself and talk about her meal.  She’s quite the accomplished chef including appearances on Iron Chef and a 2001 James Beard Award.

We made a few purchases and loaded the bus to head back to the hotel.  If you’re ever in the Russian River Valley, be sure to go check out the Zazu Kitchen and Thomas George Estates!

Cheers!

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards – Lodi, CA

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards – Lodi, CA

We visited Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards during the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, CA.  Fellow bloggers recommended it and since we’re big fans for Rhône Valley style wines we had to go.  We thoroughly enjoyed everything we tasted.  For more on that trip go here:  Lodi Adventures after 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference.

Since we were returning to California for the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference, we decided to allow for some time in Lodi again.  We emailed Sue Tipton, the owner of Acquiesce, to see if she would be willing to let us come in for a tasting.  Acquiesce is normally closed on Wednesdays, but Sue graciously agreed.

Arrival

We arrived just before 11am.  Before going in we took a look around the vineyards closest to the road.  Below are some of the pictures we took.  Sue grows only Rhône Valley white varietals and Grenache for making rosé.  This is because Sue only makes white wines and a rosé.  She ripped out Zinfandel, Lodi’s signature grape, to plant these Rhône Valley grapes!  Also, Sue is small production.  She opens for the year in March and is usually sold out of the previous year’s vintage by early to mid-November.  Sue is now closed for the season and will reopen in March, 2018.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tasting

After checking out the vineyard and snapping pictures, we headed inside.  Sue was already behind the bar waiting for us to arrive.  We exchanged greetings.  Then Sue proceeded with the tasting.  Here are out notes:

  • 2016 Grenache Blanc – This wine had notes of green apple, apricot, and lime on the nose.  On the palate, it had a crisp, minerally undertone with good apricot fruit.  The finish was slightly minerally too.  Sue paired this with a thyme cracker which provided perfect balance with the wine.
  • 2016 Belle Blanc – A blend of 45% Grenache Blanc, 45% Roussanne, and 10% Viognier, light pear showed on the nose.  Mildly ripe pear with some light mineral notes showed on the palate.  Sue paired this wine with a manchego with a violet flower confit.  This brought out the mineral notes in the wine along with a lightly floral undertone.
  • 2016 Roussanne – A nose of honey and pineapple lead to a palate also of honey and pear.
  • 2016 Viognier – This wine presented a floral peach note on the nose.  Peach and apricot predominated on the palate along with a slight mineral undertone.  Its pairing was a Moroccan spiced cracker with a mango chutney.
  • 2016 Grenache Rosé – Picked at 22.5 Brix and whole cluster pressed, this showed light strawberry on the nose.  Watermelon and lime showed on the palate.

Winery

After we finished the tasting, Sue took us out to the winery.  A fairly new building, it was filled with several tanks of various sizes.  But unlike most wineries, there were no barrels.  Sue’s wines are only done is stainless steel.  She had a few more things for us to taste.

  • 2017 Picpoul Blanc – We tasted this straight from the tank.  While not the finished product, this will be a great wine.  It was highly acidic with notes of pineapple and pear.
  • 2017 Bourboulenc – Sue said we were some of the first folks in the country to taste an American grown Bourboulenc.  Again, this wine will be great.  It had notes of pear with some light pineapple in the background.  Sue has the only known planting of this grape in the US.
  • 2017 Clairette Blanche – A floral nose along with notes of pear showed on the nose.  There was more pear on the palate along with some herbal notes.  Again, it was an interesting wine.

We look forward to tasting these wines again in their finished state.

We headed back to the tasting room and selected wines for shipping home to us.  We thanked Sue for taking the time to host us, and we know we’ll be back to see her.  If you’re ever in Lodi, you should do the same!

Cheers!

 

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Cypress Bend Vineyards

Cypress Bend Vineyards

We recently had to a chance to visit Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram, NC.  Cypress Bend is located near the Lumber River in Scotland County and opened in 2005.  Dan and Tina Smith are the owners.  The area is known as Riverton Farm and has been in the family since the early 1800s.  They have been featured on North Carolina Weekend and Flavor NC Presents From the Vineyard in North Carolina. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
NC Wine Month 2017 Kickoff Photos

NC Wine Month 2017 Kickoff Photos

On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, the first ever North Carolina Wine and Grape Month kickoff event was held at The Pavilion at Childress Vineyards in Lexington.  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper was on hand to sign the official Wine and Grape Month proclamation designating September as North Carolina Wine and Grape Month.  Below are some photos from that day.  We hope this event becomes an annual celebration of North Carolina Wine! Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in NC Wine Month, Wine, 0 comments
Celebrating NC Wine & Grape Month 2017

Celebrating NC Wine & Grape Month 2017

September is North Carolina Wine and Grape month! It was proclaimed by Gov. Cooper to celebrate the wine and grape industry’s contributions to our state. With a $1.7 Billion economic impact, 525 grape growers and  more than 180 wineries, this industry is vital to our state. It deserves to be celebrated! Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in NC Wine Month, Wine, 1 comment
Judging at 2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

Judging at 2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

We spent the weekend of August 18th-20th at the Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture and Enology at Surry Community College in Dobson, NC for the North Carolina State Fair Wine Competition.  This was our first time ever judging a wine competition.  We were honored to have been chosen to be part of the panel of judges which included media, bloggers, educators, and Certified American Wine Society Wine Judges. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments