Matt Kemberling

Starting off NC Wine Month in Western North Carolina

Starting off NC Wine Month in Western North Carolina

To start off our NC Wine Month celebrations, we decided to make a trip out to vineyards in far western North Carolina.  How far west?  Well, at one of the vineyards, you can see Tennessee and Georgia as well as North Carolina.  That’s right, we made a trip out to the wineries out in Murphy, Andrews, and a surprise visit to Robbinsville. 

Making our way to Murphy, NC

The Vineyard at Nottley River Vineyards
The Vineyard at Nottely River Vineyards

From our home base in Mooresville, our first stop at Nottley River Vineyards in Murphy, NC was about 4 hours away.  We took off early, made a quick stop for lunch, and made it to Nottley River Vineyards not too long after they opened.  There was already a good crowd there when we drove in, so we made our way to the tasting bar.  After the formal tasting, Steve took us out to the crush pad and gave us a sneak peek of the 2016 releases (which was a stellar year).  Most of these will be ready in Spring 2019, so we’ll be making a return visit for sure.

Our Visit in Andrews, NC

The FernCrest Tasting Room

Next up was FernCrest Winery in Andrews, NC.  This was our first visit to FernCrest and we had a great time.  Co-owner Jan Olson guided us through our tasting.  They have a small vineyard of their own, but also buy fruit from across the state and elsewhere.  One interesting fact is that each of their wines are named after a different fern, and each label has a drawing of that fern.  The white wines we tasted had a great acidity and will be perfect with some early fall foods.

Calaboose Cellars

Calaboose Cellars is just a few blocks away from FernCrest.  This winery is officially the state’s smallest self-contained winery, measuring in at about 300 square feet for the whole operation.  They focus on producing small batch wines that are very well crafted and fruit forward. Judy conducted our tasting and we were happy to see all the new wines on the list.

Mead in the Mountains

The Tasting Room at Wehrloom Honey

After we finished up, we decided to head back to our hotel.  On the way, we made a last minute decision to head to new-to-us meadery, Wehrloom Honey in Robbinsville, NC.  This unexpected stop turned out to be a great visit.  Wehrloom is an active farm with hundreds of beehives.  Honey from these hives is used to make their meads along with the other honey products they offer in their shop.  We went through a quick tasting at their tasting bar and went on a walking tour of the farm.  If you stop by, be sure to take a quick hike up the hill and see massive land tortoise that’s in with the goats and chickens. He’s a lively thing.

Read on for tasting notes of the wines at each of the locations we visited.  If you find yourself out in far Western North Carolina, we highly recommend a visit to each of these wineries.

Our Tasting Notes

Nottley River Valley Vineyards

Standard Tasting

2014 Seyval Blanc – This wine went through partial malolactic fermentation.  It had a mellow nose of stone fruits.  The palate was rich in minerals with a flinty finish.

2015 Chardonnay – This Chardonnay is Chablis style meaning all stainless steel and no oak.  Green apple, fresh acids and a nice overall fruit profile were present on this wine.

Dry Rose – A blend of Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Watermelon and red fruits came through on the nose.  Nice acids, mild strawberry and a rounder profile were present on the palate.

2015 War Woman Red – This blend of both Cabernets had an herbaceous nose.  The flavors were light with strong acids and slightly twiggy tannins.

2015 Chardonell – This off-dry wine was filled with big yellow apples, nice acids and a mildly sweet profile.

2015 Riesling – This semi-sweet Riesling had a floral nose mixed with apricots and wet stones.  Overall fruit forward and well rounded.

Pre-Release Tastings

2016 Oaked Chardonnel – Aged in Hungarian oak, this wine had a very nice oak presence.  Grapey acids came through on the palate with excellent fruit character.

2016 Chardonnay – Aged in Hungarian and American oak, toasty vanilla clearly came through on the aroma.  No malolactic fermentation means this wine has great green apple notes with crisp acids.

2016 Cabernet Franc – This wine had a classic cabernet franc nose with light pepper gracing the aroma.  Green and White peper came through on the finish and were supported by a bright cherry profile.

2017 Seyval Blanc – This bubbly wine was nice and effervescent.  The nose was slightly slightly foxy with wile grape flavors balanced by a nice acidity.

FernCrest Winery

Royal White (Vidal Blanc) – This wine had a nice floral nose with subtle white fruits.  The flavors were nice and acidic with an overall pleasing profile.

Southern Lady White (Chardonnel) – The nose was of lemon cream.  The flavors were bright with citrus lemon and very zesty.

Mountain Holly Red (Bordeaux Blend) – The nose was of tomato jam and figs.  Red fruits came through on the palate with gentle tannins.

Mountainwood Red (Cynthiana) – The color on this wine was incredibly dark. Baking spices and dark fruits came through on the nose.  Big acids came through on the palate with a smooth overall profile.

Fiddlehead Red – This slightly sweet red blend had a great fruit forward profile.

Black Lady – This dessert wine of blackberry and blueberry was nicely balanced.  It was only mildly sweet with a great fruity profile.

Calaboose Cellars

2017 Seyval Blanc – Pleasing apricot and mild fruits came through on this mildly sweet white wine.

2017 Norton – This was dark and inky. Having gone through malolactic fermentation, it imparted a jammy flavor with a slightly acidic profile. Not yet released.

2017 Chambourcin – This wine had a classic Chambourcin profile with light baking spices.  Being off-dry, it highlighted the red fruit flavors with an overall smooth profile.

Sparkling Niagara – The grapey nose was unmistakably Niagara grapes.  The flavors were not too sweet with a nice fruity balance.

2017 Catawba – Fresh acids and a great grapey profile made this wine very easy to drink.

Revinoors Red – This wine made from the Sunbelt grape is brightly colored with an overall foxy profile.

Wehrloom

Dry County Dry – This mead was very herbaceous with a nice and mellow overall profile.

Home Sweet Home – This mead was made from sourwood honey. It had a nice nose, slightly sour, with a fantastic honey profile.

Black “Bear”ry – This mildly fruity mead was less sweet than the sourwood, but still had a great herbaceous profile .

Pretty in Peach – With a name that implies sweetness, this mead was surprisingly tart with clean peach flavors and a nice overall profile.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Library Tasting at Junius Lindsay Vineyard

Library Tasting at Junius Lindsay Vineyard

By now the fact we like to share our experiences with older vintages of NC Wine should come as no surprise to anyone. Whenever a winery is advertising a special library tasting or a vertical event, we try our hardest to attend. Most recently we had an opportunity to attend a special library tasting at Junius Lindsay Vineyards. Owner Michael Zimmerman has decided to share some of his library collection of past vintages. When we saw the announcement that his first library tasting would be his Triomphe blend, we jumped on the chance to reserve our spots.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Looking Back at 2017

Looking Back at 2017

2017 has been another great year for NC Wine. As we look back at the year, we reflect on some of the highlights of the year as well as what we’re looking forward to in 2018.

Looking Back

If we go back three harvests to the 2015 vintage, our notes promised it would be a season for the record books. Fast forward two years and you find that several wineries already released their 2015 vintages. White wines of this vintage are selling out, but in general are fresh and crisp with brilliant fruit. 2015 reds are still drinking young but show great potential. Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
9 Things I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference

9 Things I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference

So it’s been just over a month since we were out in California for the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference. Once again we had a great time and learned much about being better bloggers and how we can better understand our place in the wine industry. Here’s a list of 9 things I learned while at this year’s conference.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 2 – Red Wines

#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 2 – Red Wines

The live blogging for day 2 will be starting in just a few minutes.  Like we did yesterday, we’ll be posting about the wines that are poured at our table.  Check in soon for more details.

1000 Stories 2015 Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel – This is the flagship wine for the winery. Bourbon and vanilla come through predominantly on the nose. The finish is smokey and charred with a healthy dose of spice on the mid-palate. This particular batch is number 35. Each batch will be different from batch to batch.

Paradise Ridge 2015 Pinot Noir – Cherry and vanilla on the nose are light and airy. The flavors are cherry and a nice oak. Ample fruit is present throughout. This Pinot Noir is slightly lower in alcohol at just over 13%. A very nice sample.

Gracianna 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir – This vintage is the third Pinot Noir made by the winery. The nose is light with subtle cherry, leather and vanilla. There is a very nice spice that comes through on finish. Overall a very nice example of Pinot Noir.

Missouri Wine pouring the Stone Hill Winery 2015 Norton – One of the 135 wineries in the state, this wine is incredibly dark. Aged in a combination of American, French, and Hungarian oak. Blueberries and baking spices come through on the nose. Fresh and fruity flavors come through on the front and mid-palate. The finish is tannic and broad sweeping.

Theopolis Vineyards 2015 Petite Sirah – This vineyard specializes in Petite Sirah and the 2015 doesn’t disappoint. The nose is fresh and bursting with dark berries and a nice vanilla. Big red fruits and berries come through on the flavors. The tannins are bold and grippy right now, but with more time it will transform into a supple profile.

Donelan Wines 2013 Cuvée Moriah – This wine is a Grenache based wine with a splash of Syrah added in. This ode to chateauneuf is lighter in color than some of the previous wines, but it doesn’t lack in flavor. It starts with a nice dried fruit with secondary characteristics of dried herbs and an earthy mid-palate. The finish has a nice tannin balance. Definitely a wine with character.

The Hilt Wines 2015 Pinot Noir – The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard that is just 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Coffee and cocoa come through on the nose. Ample red fruit flavors and a juicy mid-palate make this a mouthwatering wine that is easy drinking and approachable. And for the price point of $45, it is definitely enjoyable.

Wagner Family of Wine 2015 Conundrum Red – This wine is Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The color is dark and the nose is straightforward with vanilla and dried fruit. Dark fruits and vanilla come through as the predominant flavors. Mild tannins come through and have a slightly fruit-sweet finish.

Cliff Lede Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – This Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the first we have had during this live blogging session. The nose is slightly floral (violets) with a mild cooling effect. The flavors are big and tannins bold. Cedar cigar box and a dark charred fruit finish are very present on this wine. Overall a very well balanced wine.

Planeta Wines La Segreta Nero D’Avola – This wine of Sicily is fruit forward and juicy. Aged completely in stainless steel, this wine is very fresh. It would be very food friendly and is quite approachable. Bottle price roughly $15.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 1 – Whites & Rosés

#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 1 – Whites & Rosés

Live blogging is set to being here soon.  We’ll be using this page to document the different wines we taste throughout the event.  Check back frequently!

Antica 2015 Block A26 – This Chardonnay is only available in the winery. It is nicely oaked with ripe apples on the nose. The finish is toasty with a nice vibrant profile.

Hanna 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – The nose is zippy and citrusy. The flavors are very nice with a touch of green apple, a hint of grassy mid-palate. The winemaker has learned the nuances of this grape and tamed the wild nature into something that sings in the glass.

Leto Cellars 2014 Chardonnay – The nose is more pronounced and is moving into a more mature profile. The fruit was picked at the peak of freshness to get the best taste. Minimal interaction after picking helped to express the varietal characteristics in the wine. The flavors are broad sweeping and pleasing. A great family story to accompany a great wine.

Acumen Wine 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – 80% stainless steel and 20% new oak fermentation give this a slightly tropical banana nose. The flavors are mellow. Pears and grapefruit come through toward the end and into the finish.

William Hill Estate 2015 Chardonnay – Vanilla and butter come through big time on the nose. They have one of the most iconic views in the Napa Valley. It is buttery in flavor and has a nice balance of oak and fruit. The flavors are very soft and supple and has a really nice character. An excellent value for the $17 price point.

Dancing Coyote Wines 2016 Grüner Veltliner – A refreshing break from Chardonnay, this wine is fresh and crisp. The flavors are of fresh melon and creamed lemon. The acidity is fresh and leaves the mouth with a clean finish. Additional flavors of white peach with a slightly herbaceous note also come through.

Anaba Wines 2015 Turbine White – This Rhône style white is mostly Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne (with a dash of other common Rhône whites). The nose is flinty and slightly smoky. The flavors are vibrant and vivid. Tangerine and citrus come through on the mid-palate and the finish is nice minerally. This is another great refreshing break. Delicious!

Paradise Ridge 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – This limited production Sauvignon Blanc is 100% stainless steel. The wine itself is crisp and bright. There’s nice citrus and a light mineral flavor. The mid-palate is mildly tropical with a nice acid balance. It’s easy going and very enjoyable. Despite a loss of their winery and tasting room buildings, the vines were spared in the recent fires. Luckily they had a good supply off-site in a bonded facility that is still available for sale. Definitely one to check out.

Breathless Wines Blanc de Noirs – 99% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Meunier make this quite interesting. The nose is bretty and yeasty. The flavors are a bit heavy on the biscuit with a dark subtle undertone. Fruit flavors come through as well, leaning toward strawberry and a hint of kumquat.

Vanderpump 2016 Rosé – This Cotes de Provence may seem a little out of place here in Santa Rosa, but good wine knows no bounds. The flavors are a classic Provence rosé. A nice way to finish out the live blogging round for the day.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
A Spotlight on Vermentino of the Swan Creek AVA

A Spotlight on Vermentino of the Swan Creek AVA

Our final feature in our series of lesser known grapes is a spotlight on Vermentino. As with our other spotlight features, you can find some great examples right here in North Carolina in the Swan Creek AVA.  We go into some detail about the grape itself and review six vintages from two North Carolina wineries.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

Continuing with our series of bringing lesser known grapes into the spotlight, we take a deeper look at Petit Manseng. This small cluster and small berry grape make a very interesting wine that most people have never heard of. This grape has great potential here in North Carolina and there are already a few vineyards who have jumped on the Petit Manseng bandwagon. One of which is Jones von Drehle Vineyards & Winery in the Yadkin Valley.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking — May 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — May 2017

May has 31 days. And with that many days, there are plenty of opportunities to drink some great North Carolina Wine. We did just that. The weather also was quite amazing, so we ended up taking a few weekends and visiting some wineries we haven’t been able to get to in a while. Also, toward the end of the month, we celebrated a milestone birthday in the only way we know how, with wine!

Check out our featured NC Wines on our Instagram feed and be sure to leave us your feedback!

Is the Instagram feed not loading in your newsreader? Try loading this page in your browser to see the pictures.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
A Spotlight on Roussanne and Petite Sirah

A Spotlight on Roussanne and Petite Sirah

Let’s take a minute to talk about two lesser known wine grapes, one red and one white. If you easily get fatigued from Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, these will be two varietals you need to try. The grapes in the spotlight are Roussanne and Petite Sirah. Both grapes are capable of producing a robust wine that can offer a welcome alternative to the more popular choices.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 1 comment