Cork Talk with Piccione Vineyards

Cork Talk with Piccione Vineyards

Our third episode of Cork Talk brings us to Piccione Vineyards. We chat with Bill and Hailey about why Bill decided to start a vineyard here in North Carolina, how he caught the wine bug, and how Hailey has made her way through the industry and joined the Piccione team.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 6 comments
Hanover Park Vineyard

Hanover Park Vineyard

Episode two finds us sitting down with Michael and Amy Helton of Hanover Park Vineyard. Michael and Amy truly are pioneers in the North Carolina wine industry having planted the first vineyard in Yadkin County. We talk about things they’ve learned over the years and how it influences their wines.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
Jones von Drehle

Jones von Drehle

Join us for our first episode! We sit down with Diana & Chuck from Jones von Drehle Vineyards. Diana and Chuck discuss how they discovered a prime vineyard location in Thurmond, North Carolina. Learn how they work hard to socialize their brand and expand into restaurants and wine stores across the state. We talk about wine club events, driving more than 1 million miles in the pursuit of wine, and the future holds for Jones von Drehle and North Carolina Wine.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 2 comments
Festivus 2018 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

Festivus 2018 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

Today, December 23, 2018, is the celebration of Festivus.  Created in 1966 by Daniel O’Keefe and popularized during an episode of the hit TV show, Seinfeld, Festivus is celebrated with Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances.  So, in that spirit, we’re back for the second year to air a few wine grievances.  This is our one post a year that’s not entirely positive.  Many of these grievances are the same as last year, but there are a few new ones and some updates.  So, sit back.  Pour a glass and read on!

These are in no particular order:

  • Wines that you can taste but you can’t buy.  Why do you allow someone to taste a wine if it’s not for sale to the general public?  Of course that’s the wine we want to buy, but we can’t commit to another wine club.  Just don’t offer it unless someone does join your wine club.

  • Lack of hashtags in posts on social media about wines, wineries, vineyards.  You see we’re big proponents of hashtags as a way to brand.  So, all you #NCWine folks out there, USE THE DANG HASHTAG!  And don’t put an ‘S’ on it!  Be consistent with most other wine regions!  The ‘S’ is not necessary!

  • Poor tasting glasses.  We’ll admit it.  We’re glass snobs.  Please no glasses with the “lip” around the rim.  These just don’t show wines well.  Upgrade the glass and the experience!

  • Untrained tasting room staff.  There’s nothing worse than tasting room staff who know nothing about the wines they are pouring.  We understand that getting good help can be difficult, but a poor experience affects your brand.
  • Too many wines on the list.  We see this all the time.  Wines lists with 10, 15 or even 20 wines.  We feel this is just too many to be able to focus on quality unless you have a large production staff.  So, scale it back.  You don’t need a new wine for every season.
  • “Fruited” wines.  Why do we need pomegranate, green apple, cranberry, cherry, pineapple and umpteen other fruits added to our perfectly fruity grape wines?  Wine grapes produce wines with an abundance of fruit flavors. Let the grapes speak for themselves.
  • Wineries who aren’t forthcoming in where the grapes for their wine are sourced.  We like to know what we’re tasting and where it was sourced.  If you’re not using local fruit, admit it.  Don’t try to hide it.

  • Perfume, cologne, or other powerful scents in the tasting room.  Nothing spoils a wine tasting more than someone who’s bathed in perfume or cologne.  A majority of the what you taste in a wine is from what you smell.  If you can’t smell the wine, it’s likely not going to taste very good.

  • Children in tasting rooms.  This is probably our #1 grievance if we had to rank them.  Children can’t drink.  Don’t bring them with you to a winery.  Wining is an adult thing and many of us wish to adult in peace and quiet.

  • Parties of 6 or more in tasting rooms who have not called ahead.  This is annoying for tasting room staff and other customers.  If you’re in a group, be courteous!  Call ahead!

  • People who think cider is more akin to beer.  Repeat after us!  Cider is NOT brewed!  It’s fermented!  Thus, it is like wine!  Just because you often see is on tap doesn’t mean it’s beer.  Wine can be served on tap too.  We’d like to see more of that by the way!

  • Farm to fork restaurants who don’t have local wine on their lists.  This is probably #2 on our grievance list right after the kids at wineries.  Don’t call yourself a farm to fork locavore restaurant if you don’t have local wine on this list.  There’s just no excuse!

So, that’s our list for this year.  And keeping with this theme, leave us your comments of what’s your grievances are.  Just avoid personal attacks.

Cheers and Happy Festivus for the rest of us!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 1 comment
Cork Talk Kicks Off

Cork Talk Kicks Off

We’re excited to announce that we’re starting a podcast!  We’re calling it Cork Talk.  We’ll be meeting with important people in the wine industry starting with our home state of North Carolina.  

We’ll be meeting with vineyard owners, wine makers, fellow bloggers, and other important people in the industry.  This is our introductory episode where we kick off our idea and get you ready for what’s to come. 

Sound interesting?  Here are a few things you can do to help:

  1. Subscribe – Go to your favorite podcast app and click the subscribe button.  You’ll get instant notifications when we post a new episode.
  2. Give us your Feedback – Go to our show page and leave us a comment or let us know who you want to hear. 
  3. Rate and Review – Wherever you listen to podcasts, leave us a rating and review.  Leaving a review goes a long way for helping others discover Cork Talk. 
  4. Share – If you like what you hear, please share with a friend and help them subscribe.   
Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, 1 comment
North Carolina Wines for Your 2018 Holiday Table

North Carolina Wines for Your 2018 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!

Biltmore Estate 2015 Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs

Appetizers – Start your holiday meal with an array of appetizers.  What pairs best with appetizers?  Sparkling wine!  Sparkling wine is a versatile wine choice that pairs with just about anything.  We suggest the 2015 Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs from Biltmore Estate Winery in Asheville.  It’s a beautiful wine full of tropical notes with a yeasty undertone.

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks 2016 Muscat Blanc

Winter Salad with Oranges – Oranges and spicy greens are perfect this time of year.  Add some feta cheese, walnuts and a tangy vinaigrette and you have magic!  To further that magic, pair the salad with the 2016 Muscat Blanc from McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks in Thurmond.  Made in the Alsatian style this wine is dry with notes of citrus and honeysuckle.

Ham – Ham is a classic main course for any holiday. We love ham studded with cloves and topped with pineapple and brown sugar.  We have two recommendations.

  • The first is the 2015 Viognier from Junius Lindsay Vineyard in Welcome.  White peach, tropical fruits and a clean, crisp finish pair beautifully with ham.
  • The second is Christina’s Magnolia Estate from Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram.  This dry Magnolia wine has a grassy undertone with nice citrus notes.

Overmountain Vineyards King’s Mountain Rosé

Turkey – Roast turkey is versatile. You can pair with a white wine or a lighter red wine, but rosé is the classic pairing.  This is especially true if you have your turkey with cranberry sauce.  We recommend the 2017 King’s Mountain Rosé from Overmountain Vineyards in Tyron.  This wine is bright and crisp with notes of strawberry, watermelon, and lime.

Dover Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc

Duck – Ah, duck! It is poultry that has the umph of a steak! Classically you would pair duck with a Pinot Noir. This year we’re going with the 2015 Cabernet Franc from Dover Vineyards in Concord.  Spicy and peppery, pair this wine with duck breast seasoned with salt and pepper with an onion marmalade.

Roast Beef – Roast beef is another holiday classic. Of course, this calls for a hearty red wine!  We have two best in show winners for you!

  • The first recommendation is the 2015 Double Barrel from Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg.  A blend of Petit Verdot and Tannat, this wine definitely meets the qualifications of a hearty red.  It wine was Best in Show at the 2018 NC Fine Wines Competition.
  • The second recommendation is the 2013 Steel & Stone from Jones von Drehle in Thurmond.  This is a blend of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s lush and rich with notes of fig, blueberry, and blackberry and was 2018’s Bunch Grape Wine Best in Show at the NC State Fair.

Laurel Gray Vineyards Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

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 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Laurel Gray Vineyards in Hamptonville.  This wine is oaky and buttery yet retains good fruit.

Piccione Vineyards 2014 Sangiovese

Any Tomato Based Dish – Are you having a dish with tomato sauce and maybe a little spice?  We recommend the 2014 Sangiovese from Piccione Vineyards in Ronda.  This wine has notes of oak, caramel, vanilla, and bright red cherry with balanced acidity.

Lazy Elm Vineyard and Winery 2013 Selfish Port

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 2013 Selfish from Lazy Elm Vineyard and Winery in Mocksville. This fortified wine is made from Cabernet Franc.  It’s rich and decadent and pairs perfectly with chocolate!

Parker Binns 2017 Petit Manseng Dessert Wine

Pumpkin, Apple, or Pecan Pie – Fruit or nut pies pair wonderfully with white dessert wines.  We recommend the 2017 Late Harvest Petit Manseng from Parker-Binns Vineyard in Mill Spring.  This wine is warm and rich with notes of pear.  At 18.5% alcohol, a little bit is all you need.

These are our recommendations for 2018.  We’d love to hear your recommendations, so leave us a comment!

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 1 comment
Mulled Wine and Cider

Mulled Wine and Cider

Mulled Wine and Cider are always favorites in the cooler months of the year.  We often serve Mulled Wine during the holidays or on days with wintry weather.  We have gone through several iterations of recipes.  Most have been made just using red wine as a base with bit of bourbon.  A year or so ago, we found a recipe that incorporated wine, cider, bourbon and tawny port.  We have played with it a bit and would like to share it with you.

If you are looking for a warm mulled drink that is just slightly sweet, give this recipe a try.  If you would like a sweeter version, you could always add honey or brown sugar to taste.

Start with spices.  You will need cardamom, whole cloves, star anise, whole black peppercorns, whole allspice, cinnamon sticks, and a whole nutmeg.

Crack the cardamom pods.  Toast the cracked cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice berries in a skillet for just a few minutes.  Two – three minutes is all you need.  Stir constantly to prevent burning. The smell will be divine!

Next, make your cheesecloth bundle with sliced ginger, orange peel, and your toasted spices.  Secure with butcher’s twine.

In your slow cooker, pour in your liquid ingredients including the juice of half an orange.  Stir.

Add your cheesecloth bundle, cinnamon sticks, and sprig of rosemary.  Heat on low for two hours.  Then remove cheesecloth and sprig of rosemary.  Grate fresh nutmeg.  Stir.  Heat on low another two hours.  Remove cinnamon sticks and turn setting to warm.  Serve warm.

Here is the full recipe:

INGREDIENTS

3 Whole Star Anise

5 Whole Green Cardamom Pods, Cracked

1 Teaspoon Whole Cloves

1 Teaspoon Whole Allspice Berries

½ Teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

1 Teaspoon Grated Orange Peel

1.5” Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Sliced Thinly

2 cups Apple Cider

1 bottle Dry Red Wine

1 cup Tawny Port

¼ cup Bourbon

Juice of ½ an Orange

6” Sprig of Rosemary

3 Cinnamon Sticks

Freshly Grated Nutmeg

4 Quart Slow Cooker

Cheesecloth

Butcher’s Twine

METHOD

  1. Heat small non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Once the skillet is hot, add Star Anise, Cardamon, Cloves, Allspice, and Black Peppercorns.
  3. Toast for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. Place toasted spices in cheesecloth along with Grated Orange Peel and Ginger.
  5. Secure with Butcher’s Twine.
  6. Pour wine, cider, port, and bourbon into slow cooker.
  7. Add cheesecloth bundle, rosemary sprig, and cinnamon sticks.
  8. Stir.
  9. Set slow cooker to low.
  10. Heat for 2 hours.
  11. Remove rosemary and cheesecloth bundle.
  12. Grate a dash or two of fresh nutmeg.
  13. Stir.
  14. Continue to heat on low for another hour or two. 
  15. Remove cinnamon sticks.
  16.  Set slow cooker to Warm until ready to serve.
  17. Serve warm.
Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 1 comment
#NCWine Bloggers Visit the Tryon Foothills

#NCWine Bloggers Visit the Tryon Foothills

We had the opportunity to close out North Carolina Wine and Grape Month 2018 with some of our fellow wine bloggers on a tour of three wineries/vineyards in the Tryon Foothills of Polk County.  Our transportation was graciously provided by Ryan and Terri Watts of the Van In Black.  The Van in Black is THE way to tour wine country.  We highly recommend Ryan.  He is the ultimate professional and takes great care of his guests.

Now on the the main event, wine tasting with fellow bloggers.  Rather than a normal wordy blog, we’re going to let the photos do more of the talking.  Some photos were provided by Ryan Watts.  Ryan also runs Ryan Watts Photography.  We appreciate the use of these photos.  

Our first stop was Overmountain Vineyards where we had the pleasure of a tasting and tour with Sofia Lilly.  Sofia is the one of the winemakers at Overmountain along with her father Frank.  Frank stopped by to visit with us as well.  Sofia also manages the vineyard and the social media presence for Overmountain.  In addition to delicious wine, we also had delicious food from Olive Catering Company.

Our next stop took us to Mountain Brook Vineyards for a tasting with owners Jonathan and Vickie Redgrave and winemaker Liz Pickett.  Mountain Brook has just completed extensive expansions to its grounds.  

We ended the day with Sunday Funday at Parker-Binns Vineyard.  Kelly Binns was holding down the fort as owners, Bob Binns and Karen Parker-Binns, were on a well-deserved vacation.  In addition to the great wines, we enjoyed wood-fired pizza.  And since we were in a for hire vehicle with a designated driver, we did enjoy some Parker-Binns Rosé on the way back home. 

Thanks to the Wine Mouths, Winery Escapades, and HD Carolina for joining us on this tour.  We look forward to our next adventure with our fellow bloggers!

We forgot a take a shot before Winery Escapades left us.  Ryan, Terri (HD Carolina), Us (NC Wine Guys), Jessica and Jessica (The Wine Mouths)

Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
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
Summer 2018 Visit to Blenheim Vineyards

Summer 2018 Visit to Blenheim Vineyards

Our group with Kirsty Harmon at Blenheim Vineyards

We recently had the pleasure of traveling to Charlottesville, VA.  We met up with fellow bloggers, wine tourists, and oenophiles, Brian and Dax Yost.  Brian and Dax are known for Wine Tourist Magazine.  Brian also writes The Virginia Grape wine blog.  Both are big advocates for East Coast wines.

Brian was able to arrange some tours for us.  We started with a visit to Blenheim Vineyards.  We had the pleasure of meeting Blenheim’s winemaker and General Operations Manager, Kirsty Harmon.  Kirsty is a respected Virginia winemaker.  She describes her wine style as fruit forward and approachable.

Blenheim does have a famous owner.  Singer Dave Matthews who has ties the Charlottesville area owns Blenheim.  Dave and Kirsty have an agreement.  She sticks to the wine and he sticks to the music.  Dave does provide artwork for some of Blenheim’s wine labels.  Otherwise, Kirsty has pretty much free reign to create the wine she wants.

Blenheim is unique in that all of its wines come in bottles with screw caps rather than the traditional corks.  Some folks turn their noses up to screw cap wine, but it has a much lower failure rate than traditional corks.

A view of Blenheim’s Vineyards from the back deck

Blenheim is a 30 acre estate with 17.5 acres under vine.  They produce around 8,000 cases of wine a year.

Kirsty picks her grapes for acidity rather than sugar.  This is typically between 21 and 22 Brix.  She also makes picking decisions by tasting the grapes.

No wine is overly oaked.  Ten months or so is about all a particular wine might spend in oak.  Kirsty uses a combination of French, American, and Hungarian barrels.

Grapes are harvested by hand.  They’re also sorted by hand.  A sorting table is used to find the best berries for wine making.  The 3 ton bladder press is used to press the juice from the grapes.  Kirsty using punch downs during fermentation.  The winery sits just below the tasting room.  Glass enclosures allow for a bird’s eye view of the activity of the winery.

 

Tanks in the Winery at Blenheim Vineyards

Kirsty let us taste a number of wines from the 2016 and 2017 harvests.  Stand outs were the 2017 Albariño and 2016 Painted White.

The Albariño was whole cluster pressed, fermented and then filtered. It had notes of peach and pear.  The nose was soft and floral.

The Painted White whose label features a painting by Dave Matthews is a blend of 59% Sauvignon Blanc, 31% Viognier, and 10% Chardonnay.  It spent 10 months in predominately French oak.  It had notes of peach and honey with just a touch of oak.  The finish was crisp and clean.

We highly recommend a trip to Blenheim anytime you’re in the Charlottesville area.  They’re always one our of favorite stops.

Thanks to Kirsty for taking the time to show us around and taste some great wines!  We look forward to visiting again soon!

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