Wine, Wineries and Vineyards

Great Wines No Myth

Great Wines No Myth

This episode takes us to Trinity, North Carolina where we recorded with Leslie Zimmerman and Christie Otranto of Zimmerman Vineyards! The vineyard and tasting room sit on a portion of the 140 acre homestead that Leslie purchased back in the late 1980s.

Over the years, there have been many things to overcome. Leslie has focused on her three passions: her love of teaching, her family, and the vineyard. All three come together at the vineyard in surprising ways.

You can definitely see it through her unique partnerships with local businesses, restaurants, artists, and musicians. All events at the vineyard create a great experience for visitors highlighting all that the local area has to offer. Leslie recognizes that what she does with wine is the same as what visual artists do in their medium and what musicians do in theirs.

Wine Class with the Wine Mouths is back! This time Jesse and Jessica explore the array of bottle sizes and alternative packaging. For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths. The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris. You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh.

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review. It really helps spread the word. Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.

Did you know we have a Patreon page that offers Patron Only content, early access to episode, blooper reels, and more? Head to patreon.com/CorkTalk to learn more and sign up!

Leslie’s Thoughts

Through the years, I have recognized the connection between this business and the arts.  Doing what I do in the world of wine is the same as what visual artists do in their medium and what musicians do in theirs.  We all create something new and unique.  Not only do I recognize this common thread between these mediums but honor it by hosting a string of top-shelf local songwriters to share their work and a bottle of wine with customers and fans.  It’s a perfect blend really!

Leslie Zimmerman, Zimmerman Vineyards
Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Acquiesce Winery – Two Wines for Thought

Acquiesce Winery – Two Wines for Thought

We do not often post about wines from outside of North Carolina, but occasionally we do make an exception. We were contacted by Sue Tipton, the owner and winemaker of Acquiesce Winery in Lodi, California. She asked us if we would like to sample two of her favorite wines accompanied by two exceptional food pairings. We figured it has been a while since our last visit, so why not take up the offer. The wines in this package were the 2018 Bourboulenc and the 2018 Clairette Blanche. Read on for more about Acquiesce Winery and our thoughts on the wine and food pairings.  

Acquiesce

We first heard of Acquiesce Winery when we attended the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference (now called the Wine Media Conference). At the conference, people highly recommended we make it a point to stop at Acquiesce Winery before we left Lodi. On the last day of the conference, we packed up our things, typed Acquiesce Winery in Google Maps and drove out for our visit. We were so happy we did.  

Acquiesce Winery is unique among Lodi wineries. When you think of Lodi, you typically think of Zinfandel or other reds. However, Sue Tipton draws her inspiration from elsewhere. She initially fell in love with the white wines of French Rhone, and her wine offerings reflect just that. Instead of Zins and Cabs, you will find Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Viognier, and a rose made from Grenache (the lone red grape grown just for rose). 

When we visited Acquiesce Winery for the first time, we were hooked. We are huge fans of Rhone style wines and Sue does an excellent job of bringing a taste of the Rhone to Lodi. The wines that Sue sent are two varietals that are very uncommon to most wine drinkers. The Bourboulenc and the Clairette Blanche are most found in the Southern Rhone however the combined acreage is right around 10,000 acres.  


2018 Bourboulenc

Bourboulenc Vines at Acquiesce Winery

Acquiesce is the first winery in the US to release a single varietal wine. The aromas were perfumed and fragrant highlighting apricots and delicate white flowers. Flavors were lively with candied apricots up front. The mid-palate moved to a rich mineral complexity with tangerine peel and citrus oils coming through. It finished on a long drawn out note. Sue recommended we pair this wine with the tuna pate. When we did, the bright citrus of the wine cut through the richness of the pate. Paired together, the pate elongated the palate and accentuated the flavors even more. Overall an excellent pairing.  


2018 Clairette Blanche 

Clairette Blanche Vines at Acquiesce Winery

Another rarity in the wine world, this single varietal wine is like the Bourboulenc yet uniquely different. The nose was still perfumed but it was not as floral. Grapefruit and lemongrass came through with hints of white peach. The flavors were much leaner, relying on bigger mineral presence with good acidity. White peaches did come through in the flavors with a refreshing finish that was slightly herbal. Sue recommended we pair this wine with the Spanish anchovy olives. The meaty olives were a great foil to the bright wine. The little salty bites accented the fruits in the wine and left you wanting another sip.  


Whenever we are in the region, we will always put Acquiesce Winery on our schedule. The wines are fantastic, and Sue is great at telling her story and creating a wonderful experience. Cheers! 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
A Haw River Hot Spot

A Haw River Hot Spot

In this episode, we interview Max Lloyd of Grove Winery in Gibsonville, NC. Max originally started a vineyard up in Virginia back in 1995. His family has been growing gapes and making wine for generations, so he was more than happy to carry on the tradition.

Max wanted to expand his vineyards, but there were several factors in selecting his site. Eventually he landed on the primary vineyard site at Grove Winery and planted his first grapes in 2002.

This location is nicely situated in the Haw River AVA, tucked along side a bend in the Haw River. Situated a bit further east than most of the other vineyard locations, the Haw River sees a longer growing season and allows for different conditions that other AVAs in the state.

Grove Winery offers something for everyone with a range of wines to suit all palates. Max feels that his vineyard sites showcase east coast wines. His Malbec and Nebbiolo are two wines that stand out, but the others also highlight the best of the Haw River.

Wine Class with the Wine Mouths is back! This time Jesse and Jessica explore the depths of white wine and tells us why we should or shouldn’t oak our wines. For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths. The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris. You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh.

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review. It really helps spread the word. Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.

Did you know we have a Patreon page that offers Patron Only content, early access to episode, blooper reels, and more? Head to patreon.com/CorkTalk to learn more and sign up!

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Giving Back to the Community

Giving Back to the Community

In this episode, we’re featuring Shelton Vineyards! Mandy Houser, Chip Shelton, and Ethan Brown join us in our second virtual recording episode.

Mandy and Chip take us back to the early beginnings of Shelton Vineyards, all the way back to 1999. Brothers Charlie and Ed Shelton came up with the idea of getting back to their roots in Dobson, NC. After talking with consultants, the brothers were sure that they could successfully plant a vineyard and make some quality wines.

Shelton Vineyards has certainly made an impact on the wine industry in the state. They were the driving force behind starting the Yadkin Valley AVA, the first in North Carolina as well as the Viticulture and Enology program at Surry Community College.

With 10 grape varietals planted and over 20 wines, Shelton Vineyards has something for every taste. Even though they’ve grown over the years, they are still family run and everyone who works there is treated as part of the family.

Wine Class with the Wine Mouths is back. This time Jesse and Jessica dive in to the ever popular Rose wines. For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths. The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris. You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh.

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review. It really helps spread the word. Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.

Did you know we have a Patreon page that offers Patron Only content, early access to episode, blooper reels, and more? Head to patreon.com/CorkTalk to learn more and sign up!

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Give it a Try: Dover Vineyards

Give it a Try: Dover Vineyards

This episode features Elizabeth Anne Dover of Dover Vineyards! We took a slightly different approach to recording this episode as we’re still observing social distancing. Elizabeth Anne talks to us about her 7 acres of grapes and 6 acres of produce.

Since starting her endeavor in 2009, she has put the passion of farming and producing outstanding wine at the forefront of what she does. As a modern millennial, she enjoys taking something and creating something completely different. That interest is what fuels her creativity in the winery and keep her moving forward.

Over the years, she’s learned to chill out real fast. There’s no way to control every aspect of farming, so she works hard to control what she can and roll with everything else that out of her control.

Wine Class with the Wine Mouths is back again. Jesse and Jessica talk about the nuances of making red wine and tell us their go-to red wine. For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths. The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris. You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh.

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review. It really helps spread the word. Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night – NC Wine Month 2020 Edition

Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night – NC Wine Month 2020 Edition

We hosted our first ever Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night on April 4, 2020 to celebrate our local wine industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  

The pandemic is still affecting all of our daily lives and the livelihood of the local wine industry.  In addition, May is now North Carolina Wine Month.  It was previously in September.  So, to celebrate we’re hosting a second Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night.

So, join us on Saturday, May 2, 2020 for this special North Carolina Wine Month edition of Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night, we’re celebrating our local wine industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic and celebrating all that we love about North Carolina Wine.

So how can you particpate?

  1. Select a bottle of North Carolina Wine, Mead, or Cider.
  2. Open it on the evening of May 2, 2020.
  3. Take a picture and post on social media.
  4. Share why you chose that bottle, who you shared it with, and more.
  5. Tag the winery, vineyard, meadery, or cidery and tag us too @NCWineGuys.
  6. And use #NCWineNight and #NCWineMonth on your posts!  

Also, look for another livestream on our Facebook page on the evening of May 2nd.

If you need to purchase wines, mead, or cider, head to our COVID 19 database to find out how.  Many businesses are offering discounts and/or free shipping.

Stay safe during this challenging time!

Cheers!

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 1 comment
Learning from Nature: Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery

Learning from Nature: Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery

This episode features Pat and Clyde Colwell of Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery! Pat and Clyde both ended up in North Carolina for work. When they met they soon started looking for land for a vineyard. Clyde had a lifelong desire to have his own vineyard and Pat was all in as long as they could farm it organically and sustainably.

Organic and sustainable have been two driving forces behind everything Carolina Heritage stands for. Pat has taken to thinking like nature in order to come up with solutions to common vineyard issues.

With 12 acres of grapes, organic farming would seem to be a daunting task. But being a student of nature, Pat decided early on to plant native and hybrid grapes that would be better suited for our climate.

Starting the vineyard and winery was an exercise intended to help them grow as individuals and become a part of nature. Being lifelong learners, they have adapted well and adjusted to what nature throws at them.

Wine Class with the Wine Mouths is back again. This time, Jesse and Jessica talk about the many different American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) of North Carolina. For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths. The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris. You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh.

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review. It really helps spread the word. Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.

Did you know we have a Patreon page that offers Patron Only content, early access to episode, blooper reels, and more? Head to patreon.com/CorkTalk to learn more and sign up!

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night

Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night

We’re stealing a great idea from our friend, Frank Morgan, in Virginia.  Frank, of the Drink What You Like wine blog, is organizing an Open that Bottle of Virginia Wine Night on March 28, 2020.  This is a take on the annual Open that Bottle Night first organized in 2000 by two Wall Street Journal columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher.  The goal of Open that Bottle Night is finally drink that bottle you’ve been saving.  

In addition to supporting Virginia on March 28th, we want to support North Carolina too!  So, join us on Saturday, April 4, 2020!  With this special Open that Bottle of North Carolina Wine Night, we’re celebrating our local wine industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

So how can you particpate?

  1. Select a bottle of North Carolina Wine, Mead or Cider.
  2. Open it on the evening of April 4, 2020.
  3. Take a picture and post on social media.
  4. Share why you chose that bottle, who you shared it with, and more.
  5. Tag the winery, vineyard, meadery, or cidery and tag us too @NCWineGuys.
  6. And use #NCWineNight on your posts!  

If you need to purchase wines, mead, or cider, head to our COVID 19 database to find out how.  Many businesses are offering discounts and/or free shipping.

Stay safe during this challenging time!

Cheers!

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
Following in the Footsteps of the Rhone

Following in the Footsteps of the Rhone

This episode features Michael Zimmerman of Junius Lindsay Vineyards!  We talk with Michael about why he’s growing grapes and how he first conceived of the idea.  As he tells it, he has a love for old world wines which came from his time in the Foreign Service.  He was fortunate enough to make several visits to France and tour around the wine regions of the country. His heart landed in the Rhone region and he still looks to them for inspiration.

After his time in the Foreign Service, he came back to his family farmland.  With a little influence from other vineyards in the area, he decided to bring life back to the farm and plant grapes.  He’s expanded his vineyard since the original 2 acres of Viognier, but he is still firmly rooted in Rhone traditions and only grows those varietals.

Michael recognizes there are two people in the winemaking business, the winemaker and the wine grower.  Michael focuses on growing the best possible fruit so that the wines reflect the vineyard.  In the best years the wines really shine and make it all worth while.  After all, Michael is following in the footsteps of great Rhone winemakers which is a great sense of pride.

Wine Class with the Wine Mouths is back.  Jesse and Jessica tell us about how we can get the most out of our tastings with a simple 5-step method.  For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths.  The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris.  You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review.  It really helps spread the word.  Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.   

Did you know we have a Patreon page that offers Patron Only content, early access to episode, blooper reels, and more? Head to patreon.com/CorkTalk to learn more and sign up! 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
Wine & Cider: Family Style

Wine & Cider: Family Style

This episode features Sean and Patricia McRitchie of McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks! This family business has deep roots in the wine industry on the west coast. After settling in North Carolina, Sean and Patricia decided to continue their tradition and immediately became an integral part of the North Carolina wine industry.

Sean and Patricia talk about how they integrate family into everything they do. From having their children name certain blends to training their son Asher to be a future winemaker, family is in everything they do.

Plan a visit to taste through their still and sparkling wines as well as their “First in Cider” cider blends made from heirloom apple varietals.

This episode also features our first “Wine Class with the Wine Mouths” segment. Join us as we chat with Jesse and Jessica to talk through an intro to common winemaking terms.

If you like this episode, please leave us a rating and review. It really helps spread the word. Subscribing and sharing with a friend is another great way to support Cork Talk.

We also have a Patreon page that offers Patron Only content, early access to episode, blooper reels, and more! Head to patreon.com/CorkTalk to learn more and sign up.

For more information about the Wine Mouths, head to https://www.winemouths.com/ or find them on Facebook and Instagram @Winemouths. The Wine Mouths theme was written and performed by Joshua Morris. You can find him at twitter.com/joshtimejosh.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Festivus 2019 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

Festivus 2019 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

Today, December 23, 2019, 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 third 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!
  • Too many hashtags or using hashtags that don’t apply.  You don’t need 14 million hashtags on your post especially if they’re hashtags no one else uses.  And just because you’re drinking wine in a given region, that doesn’t make it a regional wine.  So, don’t post about the Apothic Red you’re drinking in Charlotte and call it #NCWine.  Wine is about a sense of place.  Apothic Red’s place is not in your wine glass.

  • 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.

  • Wine slushies.  Seriously, why is this a thing?  Ok, maybe in the summer then it’s 95 degrees and 10,000% humidity, but wine is already extra calories, do you really need all that extra sugar?
  • 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.  It’s sad that this is still an issue.  This is 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, 0 comments
A Special Place Where Dreams Come True

A Special Place Where Dreams Come True

This episode features the team from Elkin Creek Vineyard in Elkin, North Carolina!  We met up with Louis and Carrie Jeroslow and Jennifer and Nick White one evening.  In our discussion we listened as the two couples told us how they first discovered Elkin Creek Vineyard.  

It started at Jennifer and Nick’s wedding and a dream was soon formed.  It wasn’t long after that the stars aligned and that dream became reality.  The two couples left their day jobs in Las Vegas to pursue a shared dream.  Together they’ve shaped the vineyard into a retreat that is secluded but not isolated, a place where you can spend time reconnecting with what really matters.  

We hope you enjoy this episode.  If you like what you hear, please leave us a rating or review and share with a friend.  If you’re looking for other ways to contribute, you should check out our Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/corktalk  

In our next season we’ll be adding exclusive content to Patreon with several levels of perks.  Please take a look and if you can help support our mission we greatly appreciate your contributions.  

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
Mead Making Starrs

Mead Making Starrs

This episode features Ben and Becky Starr of Starrlight Mead in Pittsboro, NC! Ben and Becky caught the mead making bug after falling in love with it at a Renaissance faire. For the past 8 years, Ben and Becky have been building up their business and refining their mead making skills.

They like meads with big bold flavors and surprising flavor combinations. Visit the brand new Mead Hall and you’ll find the expected off-dry traditional and semi-sweet to flavors more exotic like a Kickin’ Cranberry Orange (perfect for the holiday table and Ben’s favorite) and other fruit and herb infused meads.

If you liked this episode, please leave us a rating and review.  If you really liked this episode, please share it with a friend.  You can find all episodes of Cork Talk on our show page: NC Wine Guys Present: Cork Talk! 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Meads, Podcast, Wine, 0 comments

Davesté Vineyards Rkatsiteli Vertical Tasting

Davesté Vineyards’ Tasting Room

We recently held a vertical tasting of Rkatsiteli from Davesté Vineyards in Troutman, NC.  We first reviewed Davesté’s Rkatsiteli several years ago (Previous Review).  Davesté produces the only known single variety Rkatsiteli in North Carolina.  It’s become their signature wine.

Davesté opened in September, 2007.  The grapes were first planted in 2005.  Owners Dave and Ester DeFehr, whose combined first names are the inspiration for the Davesté’s name, first began plans for the vineyard and winery in 2003.  Land was purchased in 2004.  Today, in addition to Rkatsiteli, Davesté grows Traminette and Chambourcin.  Most other fruit is sourced locally within North Carolina with some coming from Virginia and California.  

Rkatsiteli grapes nearly ready for harvest at Davesté Vineyards

Rkatsiteli is thought of have originated in the country of Georgia and is believed to be one of oldest vinifera varieties.  It’s typically known for producing high acid wines.  It’s gaining popularity in the Finger Lakes region of New York and in Virginia.  

We inquired how Rkatsiteli does here in North Carolina.  Winemaker Leslie Johnson tells us, “In the vineyard, Rkatsiteli is pretty easy to manage. It likes to grow straight up instead of sprawling like a hybrid. The main disease we fight every year is downy mildew for this varietal. We like to harvest these grapes a bit earlier than others to help retain the acidity.”  

She added, “In the past, all of our Rkatsiteli has been fermented and aged in stainless steel. With our increased yields in 2019, we currently have some Rkatsiteli aging in French oak barrels to try something new.”  We can’t wait to taste a barrel aged Rkasiteli!

We tasted the 2015 – 2018 vintages of Rkatsiteli from Davesté.  Here are our notes and information about each wine.

2015

  • 100% Rkatsiteli
  • 12.5% Alcohol
  • Bronze Medal Winner at the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition
  • Nose:  Pear, lemon rind, and honey
  • Palate:  Bruised pear, preserved lemon rind, pithy
  • Finish:  Medium

2016

  • 100% Rkatsiteli
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • Nose:  Faint pear and light honey; Delicate and refined
  • Palate:  Fresh pear and zesty lemon
  • Finish:  Medium+
  • Favorite overall

2017

  • 100% Rkatsiteli
  • 12.8% Alcohol
  • Double Gold Medal Winner at the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition and Silver Medal Winner at NC State Fair
  • Nose:  Floral, minerally, and honeysuckle
  • Palate: Minerally with notes of lemon
  • Finish:  Short and tart

2018

  • 100% Rkatsiteli
  • 12.8% Alcohol
  • Silver Medal Winner at the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition and Double Gold Medal Winner at NC State Fair
  • Nose:  Perfumy, pronounced honeysuckle, sweet pear
  • Palate:  Rose petals, lemon, lime, fresh and vibrant
  • Finish:  Medium+

Davesté suggests pairing their Rkatsiteli with pad Thai, shrimp scampi, or chèvre.  We had spinach pie, roasted vegetables with a lemon tahini sauce and various cheeses.  Rkatsiteli should do well with most vegetables and seafood.

If you’ve ever in the Troutman / Lake Norman area, stop by and visit Davesté.  Their beautiful grounds are the perfect place to relax.  In addition to wine, Davesté produces beer and has many live music events throughout the year, but be sure to pick up a bottle of Rkatsiteli while you’re there!

Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
Wright Wine Sanctuary

Wright Wine Sanctuary

In this episode we sit down with John Wright of Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg, NC.  Growing grapes on the coast may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Currituck and the Outer Banks, but Sanctuary Vineyards is proving that you can grow European style grapes and make some top quality wine.

John talks about how this really is a labor of love.  He is constantly pouring time and energy back into the vines.  He treats each vine with careful attention and it clearly shows in the final product.  John really enjoys experimenting and is enjoys listening to the environment to learn what really grows well and produces the best wine possible.  

We hope you enjoy this episode.  If you like what you’re hearing, be sure to leave us a rating and review!  

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments

Jones von Drehle Petit Manseng Revisited

We have been big fans of Petit Manseng since the first time we tasted it at Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery some years ago.  This small grape can produce a full bodied high alcohol wine.  It’s often called the red drinker’s white wine.

We did a Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina in July, 2017.  In that post, we had tasted through the 2013, 2014, and 2015 vintages of Petit Manseng from Jones von Drehle in addition to giving a bit of information about Petit Manseng itself.  This time around, we were fortunate enough to add the 2012 vintage, the first vintage, and the 2016 vintage to the mix, so we tasted 2012 – 2016.  And we should note, all bottles were purchased for this tasting.

We decided to change things up this time.  We did this tasting blind.  We also added a wine from the Southwest of France to the mix.  This wine was a 2011 iLori Les Jonquilles from Domaine Brana.  Made from fruit grown in the Irouleguy appellation, it is a blend of Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, and Petit Corbu.  Bottles were covered in foil by one of us.  The other randomly assigned a number.  Friends arrived and the tasting began.

We used a chalk board to record feedback on the wines.  We discussed the nose, palate, and finish.  We tried to guess the year or whether the wine was the French one.  We didn’t do so well on the guesses of the vintages, but the last wine was clearly different than the others.  This was a big clue that it was not solely Petit Manseng.  Interestingly enough, that wine was by far the least favorite of the group.  Our impressions of it did improve when we paired it with a savory tomato cobbler.

Our group thought wine 1 was young with notes of apricot, citrus, and pineapple.  We guessed it might be the 2016 vintage.  It turned out to be the 2013.  It seems this wine might have a few years to go.

Wine 2 had more notes of pineapple and apricot.  We found banana and an herbaceous note along with a hint of minerality.  We incorrectly guessed this to be the 2014.  It was in fact the 2012.  This wine is still showing beautifully.

Wine 3 had a subtle nose.  The palate gave us mandarin orange and pineapple.  We found the finish was hot.  We thought, for that reason, it might be the 2015 which clocked in at 15.6% alcohol.  It was in fact the 2016.  

We missed numbering wine 4 on the chalk board.  This one was different than the others.  There was lots of stewed stone fruit notes.  Think peaches or nectarines.  Someone got a crème brûlée note on the finish.  A few thought this might be the French wine, but we weren’t so sure.  It turned out to be the 2014.

Wine 5 presented a yeasty note with pear and green apple.  It was silky and soft.  We thought it might be the 2012.  It turned out to be the 2015.  We were surprised by this.  We didn’t feel it was hot at all which is surprising given that 15.6% alcohol.  This one was a definite favorite.

We finally made it to the last wine, #6.  This one was clearly different.  It was green and seemed old.  The finish was astringent.  We were pretty sure this was indeed the French wine.  And we were right.  This was the least favorite of the group.

Once we finished tasting through all the wines, we did the reveals and then enjoyed some food and a bit more of our favorites.

We look forward to exploring more Petit Manseng in the future!  

To learn more about Jones von Drehle, check out our first episode of Cork Talk where we sat down with Chuck and Diana Jones.

Cheers!

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
All You Mead is Love

All You Mead is Love

In this episode, we sit down with Diane Currier of Honeygirl Meadery in Durham, NC!  Diane was turned on to mead making in her early days as a home brewer.  She talks about her surreal experience of walking through a fireweed meadow and then hours later tasting a mead made from that specific type of honey. 

Listen to her tell her story about how she got started, where she finds inspiration, and how she continually makes a connection back to the ever essential honey bee.   Enjoy!  

If you liked this episode, please leave us a rating or a review.  Every bit helps spread the podcast to new listeners. 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Meads, Podcast, 0 comments
NC Wine Goes Urban

NC Wine Goes Urban

This conversation takes us to plēb Urban Winery in Asheville, NC to celebrate their 1st anniversary party!  Learn about what it means to truly be an urban winery and make wine more accessible to the masses.  From featuring grapes that grow well, to being more sustainable, plēb is certainly breaking into the Asheville scene and embracing #NCWine.  

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
From the Board Room & Classroom to the Farm

From the Board Room & Classroom to the Farm

This episode features Chuck and Jamey Johnson of Shadow Springs Vineyard and Windsor Run Cellars.  We discuss how the they traded in the 8 to 5 corporate job for something they’re more passionate about.  Having two wineries that are just over a half mile apart provides many conveniences but also several challenges.  They view the wineries as being alter egos of each other.  Windsor Run Cellars is a bit more adventurous and likes to experiment with fun flavors and innovative beverages.  Shadow Springs Vineyard walks on the more serious side but they still know how to have fun as well.

One thing that comes across in this conversation is how passionate Chuck and Jamey are about the wine industry here in North Carolina.  When they were first getting started, the industry helped them to get their winery up and running.  Now that they’ve been in the business for almost 15 years, they’re looking for ways to “give back” to the industry to help others along the same path.  In many ways they’re still pioneers in the industry, but they’ve definitely left their mark and are looking for ways to contribute more.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
Wine, Sangria, and S’mores!

Wine, Sangria, and S’mores!

Bonus Episode!  Banner Elk Winery & Villa is a mainstay of the High Country of North Carolina.  No matter the season, this winery is always a popular destination.  The wines are delicious, the sangrias are a hit in the summer, and who doesn’t love s’mores.  Escape the heat and head to the mountains for a visit!

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do

Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do

Laurel Gray Vineyards is located in the Swan Creek AVA, part of the Yadkin Vally in North Carolina.  Listen to the story of Kim and Benny Myers about how they transform Benny’s family farm into a vineyard.  Years of hard work have gone into building the vineyard and winery, and they certainly have a loyal following.  

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 2 comments
From Shine, to Milk, to Wine

From Shine, to Milk, to Wine

We sit with Charles and Ann Edwards of Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyards on a warm spring evening.  Listen as they tell us how a family farm transitioned from moonshine to dairy, and is now producing excellent wines. We recorded this episode outside because there’s nothing better than relaxing under the shade trees when you visit. 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 0 comments
Cork Talk with Raffaldini Vineyards

Cork Talk with Raffaldini Vineyards

This episode we chat with Jay Raffaldini from Raffaldini Vineyards. We discuss how Jay discovered his property and has put a lot of effort into bringing a bit of Chianti to North Carolina. Jay wants his visitors to relax and enjoy what he calls the exhale moment because as he says, “Life is meant to be slow.”

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Podcast, Wine, 5 comments
Sensoria Food and Wine Festival 2019

Sensoria Food and Wine Festival 2019

We recently were invited to attend the Sensoria Food and Wine Festival.  This festival was a one day event to conclude “Sensoria:  A Celebration of Literature and the Arts” at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.  The food and wine festival was presented by the Piedmont Culinary Guild with sponsorships from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s #GotToBeNC Program and Springer Mountain Farms.

The day featured classes ranging from Riedel glass seminars to turning wine into vinegar to blind tastings just to name a few.  Another part of the event was a food and wine pairing.  Food from Charlotte area chefs was paired with North Carolina wine!

Here is a slideshow of photos from the event.  We appreciate the complimentary tickets for this event!

This event was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
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
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.

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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
McRitchie 2017 Pétillant Naturel Wines

McRitchie 2017 Pétillant Naturel Wines

We recently hosted a wine tasting with friends.  Late last year McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks released two Pétillant Naturel wines for the first time.  We had heard of Pét Nats, as they’re sometimes called, but we had never tasted one before.  Curious and big fans of McRitchie, we purchased a bottle of each and decided to share them with friends.

When we purchased these wines, we were advised to store them upright and serve them very well chilled.  We were also advised to be very careful when opening these wines and to have something to catch any wine that might come rushing out.

We reached out to McRitchie for more technical information about the wines.  The Petit Manseng was harvested at 26° Brix on September 7, 2017.  The Petit Verdot was harvested at 21° Brix on September 27, 2017.  In both cases, the grapes were whole cluster pressed, settled and racked with no filtration or added carbon dioxide.  Both were bottled with residual sugar.  The Petit Verdot had skin contact but there was no barrel aging.  Both wines are off dry to dry with high acidity.  The Petit Manseng is a bit higher in acidity at 8 grams/Liter vs 7.8 grams/Liter for the Petit Verdot.  Thirty-three cases of the Petit Manseng were produced.  While forty-five cases of the Petit Verdot were produced.  The Petit Manseng was bottled on September 30, 2017.  The Petit Verdot was a little later on October 10, 2017. Both wines were released on November 18, 2017.  We’ll cover tasting notes later in this post.

So, just how are Pét Nats made?  These wines are naturally sparkling.  The wine is bottled before the primary fermentation has finished.  Unlike méthode champenoise, no additional yeasts or sugars are added.  Since fermentation is still on-going, carbon dioxide is produced by the sugars that remain. This method is referred to as méthode ancestrale or ancient method.  It produces a more simple sparkling wine that isn’t filtered.  Thus the wine is usually cloudy.  Pét Nats are also usually bottled with a cap rather than a cork.

Pét Nats are believed to have originated in southern France.  Monks in the early 16th Century near Limoux are thought to be first producers of these type wines.  (Source – Vine Pair)

Not having tasted these wines before, we also reached out to Patricia McRitchie for suggestions on pairings.  She suggested pairing the Petit Manseng with salty or creamy foods.  For the Petit Verdot, she suggested anything that you might pair with a Nouveau or Sparkling Rosé such as charcuterie, turkey, dishes with a little heat, or foods with a some creaminess or nuttiness.  We settled on creamy artichoke dip and brie with the Petit Manseng and spicy cured sausage with the Petit Verdot.

Now for our tasting notes, we really did enjoy both of these and have since purchased replacement bottles to enjoy them again.  Both were funky and interesting and a delight to drink.

2017 Petit Manseng Pétillant Naturel

The nose was yeasty but was unmistakably Petit Manseng.  The palate was also yeasty along with tangy.  There was a light pineapple and grapefruit undertone.

The character was wild.  It paired nicely with the creamy artichoke dip, but with brie, it was a match made in heaven!  This wine tasted better with food than without.

The wine was definitely cloudy as you can see from the picture.  The color reminded us of pineapple juice.

Sean McRitchie provided his tasting notes too.  Sean says the flavor profile is honey and acid.  It reminds him of Mountain Dew.  The texture is rich with fun bubbles.  The acid balance contributes to a general rich fruit dimension.

2017 Petit Verdot Pétillant Naturel

This wine’s nose was light strawberry.  It was dry and sour.  Some said it reminded them of a sour beer. The palate was funky and gave more strawberry flavors.

It paired nicely with the cured sausage, but it was even better without food.

This wine was also cloudy.  The color was pink but nearly red.  There was much more sediment with this one than the Petit Manseng.

Sean McRitchie says this wine has a flavor profile of sour candy and bright cherry.  It’s foamy with high acid.  There is some yeast grit as the lees are stirred.  This is a fun wine that is good with an intense cheese.

We look forward to opening our second bottles of these wines.  McRitchie still has a few bottles left, so if you’re interested, you should hurry to the tasting room and pick them up.  They sell for $25 each.  Hopefully there will be new vintages coming out later this year from the 2018 harvest!

Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
Sensoria Food and Wine Festival 2018

Sensoria Food and Wine Festival 2018

We recently were invited to attend the Sensoria Food and Wine Festival.  This festival was a one day event to conclude “Sensoria:  A Celebration of Literature and the Arts” at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.  The food and wine festival was presented by the Piedmont Culinary Guild with sponsorships from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s #GotToBeNC Program and Springer Mountain Farms.

The day featured classes ranging from Riedel glass seminars to turning wine into vinegar to blind tastings just to name a few.  Another part of the event was a food and wine pairing.  Food from Charlotte area chefs was paired with North Carolina wine!

Below are photos from the event.  We hope this event is held again next year!  We also appreciate the complimentary tickets for this event!

From Wine to Vinegar Class – We learned about the science behind how vinegar is made.  We also got to taste a variety of wines and vinegars made by the instructor.  The fennel vinegar and carrot wine were very interesting!

Wine Line Up / A Blind Tasting – We blind tasted Chardonnays and Cabernet Franc.  This lineup included the Jones von Drehle‘s Steel Chardonnay and Dover Vineyards‘ Cabernet Franc!

The highlight of the festival was food and wine pairing featuring Charlotte area chefs and North Carolina wines!  Photos below show all over the beautiful and tasty creations!

Our first pairing turned out to be the winner of the votes for best pairing.  It featured Chef Greg Collier of the The Yolk in Rock Hill, SC paired with Biltmore Estate.  Chef Greg’s cornbread toast, smoked trout and apple salad, meyer lemon hollandaise, and charred strawberry espelette spice was paired with Biltmore’s 2015 North Carolina Blanc de Blancs Brut Sparkling.

Next up was Chef Chris Coleman of Stoke.  His smoked and fried chicken wing with spicy peach and jalapeño chow-chow was paired with Laurel Gray Vineyards‘ 2015 Viognier!

Duck pâté en croûte from Chef David Quintana of dot dot dot was our next bite.  This was paired with Shelton Vineyards‘ 2016 Reisling.

Chef Justin Solomon from Foxcroft Wine Company paired cured salmon with celeriac remoulade, fennel chutney and duqqa with Shelton Vineyards‘ 2016 Bin 17 Unoaked Chardonnay.

Surry Cellars‘ debut Albariño was paired with beef heart carpaccio, apricot mustard, pickled green strawberries, beet and petite greens from Chef Matthew Krenz of The Asbury.

Chef Joe Kindred of Kindred was next on our list.  His pasta with green garlic, spring greens and lamb was paired with the 2016 Rosé from Dover Vineyards.

Jones von Drehle‘s 2014 Cabernet Franc was our first red.  It was paired with rabbit-mushroom bolognese, grits and green garlic from Chef Clark Barlowe of Heirloom.

Chef Bruce Moffett of Stagioni was next up with his prosecro-battered crab-stuffed squash blossom, ramp aioli and red pepper agro-dolce paired with Piccione Vineyards‘ 2014 red blend, L’Ottimo.

Fahrenheit Chef Dave Feimster paired his kalua pork and pickled cabbage slider with RayLen Vineyards‘ 2016 Category 5 red blend.

RayLen was up again with their 2016 Petit Verdot paired with a cherry-smoked chicken thigh croquette with green chili mole, spring asparagus, and aji amarillo from Chef Blake Hartwick of Bonterra Dining and Wine Room.

Last but not least was Childress Vineyards‘ 2012 Finish Line Cabernet Sauvignon port-style wine paired with dark chocolate crémeux, coffee crunch, hibiscus and port gelée from Chef Ashley Boyd of 300 East!

This event was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
Raffaldini Vineyards Tour

Raffaldini Vineyards Tour

Prior to the first ever #NCWine Bloggers Summit, Thomas Salley of Raffaldini Vineyards offered to host a behind the scenes tour and tasting for bloggers who were attending the event.  We graciously accepted Thomas’ offer.  This led to additional tastings that day in the Swan Creek AVA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Raffaldini tour began on a cold Sunday morning at Raffaldini’s winery.  There was a bit of snow on the ground from the night before.  The mountains of the Blue Ridge were covered in snow.

Thomas walked us through some of the history of the estate.

  • The site was an abandoned farm and was one of around 60 sites looked at by the Raffaldini family during their search for vineyard land.
  • The data collected from scouting the land was used in the case for the creation of the Swan Creek AVA.
  • The estate includes 120 acres with about 36 currently under vine.
  • Over 30 different varieties have been planted over the year.
  • The current estate grapes are Vermentino, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Petit Verdot and Nero D’Avola.

Small Drying Room

Large Drying Room

Racks used for Drying Fruit

It was appropriate that our tour began outside of the Fruttaio Grande.  Raffaldini’s is known for the Appassimento process for drying fruit to concentrate flavors.  This leads to more complex and structured wines.

The racks used for drying were self made and each holds about 5 pounds of grapes.  The grapes are laid in a single layer.  The room is pre-heated to 85 Degrees with about 20% humidity.  Four to five days of drying removes about 30% of water from the fruit.  In a typical year, around half of the harvest is dried.  Raffaldini is one of the largest winery dryer of fruit in the US.

Large Tanks Inside the Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raffaldini also uses a sorting table to sort the fruit harvested.  This helps remove green berry and other undesirable items.

Production at Raffaldini is around 6500 cases per year.

Large Oak Fermenter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raffaldini is one of the first wineries in the state to us a large oak fermenter.  Currently grapes/juice spend about 30 days in the fermenter before moving to a barrel.  Eventually this will change as barrels are phased out for the more cost effective oak fermenter.

Large Barrel Room

Smaller Barrel Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of this information, it was time to taste wine!  The first sample was the base wine for Raffaldini’s upcoming sparkling wine, Auguri (Cheers/Best Wishes in Italian).  This wine will be made in the traditional method, but it will use encapsulated yeast yeast during the second fermentation.  This means the traditional riddling method will not be required.  This wine is set to be released in August, 2018.

We then moved to the barrel room. We first visiting the larger room and then moved to a second room to finish our tastings.  We sampled 2017 Sagrantino with a bit of Nero D’Avola which had big gripping tannins.  Next was a co-fermented 2017 Petit Verdot and Montepulciano which was inky and dark as well as tannic.  Finally, we tasting a 2017 appassimento Petit Verdot.  It was stunning already!  Dark fig, cocoa and tart blueberry were the flavors.

Bottling Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ended the winery portion of the visit with a look at the bottling line.  Then we moved to the villa.  We made a quick visit out to the edge of the vineyard for a discussion of growing degree days and soil types.  Growing degree days is a measure that predicts when fruit will be ripe.  Raffaldini practices leaf pulling after bloom to provide as much sunlight for the grapes as possible.  This is common throughout bunch grape growers in the state.  Finally, we took a look at rocks in the vineyard.  The soil consists of schist mica and granite with a loam topsoil.  This is ideal for grape growing.

We concluded our visit with a private lunch and a tasting of current releases in the upstairs of the villa.  We want to thank Thomas and the whole Raffaldini team for hosting our group and providing this in depth tour and tasting.  It was much appreciated!

Be sure to go visit Raffaldini and see for yourself!

Cheers!

 

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Top Pick Winery, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, Wineries and Vineyards, 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
Takeaways from First #NCWine Bloggers Summit

Takeaways from First #NCWine Bloggers Summit

Networking at Lunch during the First #NCWine Bloggers Summit

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, we held the first ever #NCWine Bloggers Summit at Hanover Park Vineyard.  Around 30 folks attended.  This included bloggers, winery owners / representatives and wine industry folks.  It was a great day of discussion, networking and excitement.

In reflecting back on the summit, we have a few takeaways what we would like to share.  Here they are:

  1. We should haven’t have waited until 2018 to hold this event for the first time. – Many wineries know bloggers exist, but often they don’t completely understand how we can help.  We as bloggers had not had a chance to collaborate and make connections in person.  This event was invaluable for this.
  2. We should hold the next summit on a Monday. – While most bloggers have day jobs and work on Mondays, we would have better participation from wineries if we did not hold the summit on the weekend.  Look for next year’s date soon so folks can plan.
  3. Sunday Wine Tours for bloggers need to be a staple of the event. Thomas Salley at Raffaldini Vineyards offered to host a tour for bloggers following the summit.  This spiraled into an whole afternoon of visits in the Swan Creek AVA.  We want to thank Thomas for this idea and for his hospitality.  We also want to thank Hailey Klepcyk at Piccione Vineyards for hosting us for a tasting.  We ended the day with a joint tasting at Laurel Gray Vineyards hosted by Benny and Kim Myers.  We would like to thank Benny and Kim along with Chuck and Jamey Johnson of Shadow Springs Vineyard and Windsor Run Cellars and Charles King of Dobbins Creek Vineyards for sharing their wines with us!
  4. We need other bloggers to present content. – We did a lot of talking this year.  Next year, we would like to break that up and have other bloggers present content.  Look for a call for content a few months before the next summit.
  5. A panel discussion would be a great way to break up the day. – A panel could provide unique opportunities for conservation and the sharing of ideas.  This could include wineries, bloggers and industry insiders.
  6. Wineries should utilize bloggers more.  We are influencers with followers who can impact a winery’s business. – Wineries can engage bloggers to help to tell their stories and to assist with sharing events on social media.  Many bloggers are also open to volunteer opportunities to learn more about wine.  Also, bloggers are open to attending events and/or receiving story ideas.  Just reach out!  Finally, wineries can share our content to their followers as long as it is consistent with their brand.  If it isn’t, please tell us.
  7. We should make a larger effort to invite bloggers from other states. – After the summit posts got shared through social media and several folks commented how that want to be included in the next event.  This will be a great way to expand North Carolina Wine‘s reach.
  8. We need a few sponsors for next year’s event. – To control costs for attendees and/or allow for new options, funding from sponsors would be helpful.
  9. We need an official press release about the event. – A press release could be used by local media to inform their consumers of the event.  It would also be a great way to get press for any sponsors for next year.

We want to thank our fellow bloggers who participated:

Wines available for Sharing!

Finally, we would like to thank the wineries and wine industry folks who participated:

Notes from the event can be found here.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the date of next year’s summit and thanks for your support of #NCWine!

Cheers!

 

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 4 comments
McRitchie Winery – Ring of Fire Vertical Tasting

McRitchie Winery – Ring of Fire Vertical Tasting

Ah!  McRitchie Winery‘s Ring of Fire, a highly regarded red blend in the North Carolina wine world.  Some have called it North Carolina’s Octogon.  Octogon is the highly acclaimed red blend from Virgina’s Barboursville Vineyards.  We’re certainly not going to disagree with that assessment.

Ring of Fire is consistently a great wine.  And, that name, an homage to the classic song by Johnny Cash, makes for a memorable wine too.  Although, the wine itself doesn’t burn, burn, burn.  Well, perhaps, it does burn a memory.  A memory of the first North Carolina wine that captured my attention near the time of the first vintage which was in 2006.  It’s since become a favorite of Matt’s too.  So, when we heard that Sean and Patricia McRitchie were planning a vertical tasting as part of their winery’s 10th Anniversary, we just couldn’t miss it!

Table Setting at Ring of Fire Vertical Tasting

The tasting was limited to about 25 or so people.  We were seated at tables throughout the tasting room.  The tables were beautifully set.  The first wines poured were the 2013, 2012, and 2011.  Before we began tasting, Sean and Patricia welcomed us.

Sean and Patricia McRitchie Welcoming Guests

Sean and Patricia thanked us for attending.  Patricia apologized for not having their first two vintages, the 2006 and 2007, of Ring of Fire.  They never imagined the success of it and didn’t consider keeping a few cases for an event such as this until a few years into making it.  Patricia mentioned how proud she was of Sean and his winemaking.  Sean talked about the “unique opportunity to taste from one label, from one winery, and from one winemaker.”  He told us to expect subtle differences in each vintage.  Patricia mentioned that Ring of Fire was the first North Carolina Wine offered by the glass at the storied Grove Park Inn in Asheville and the Umstead Resort in Cary.  Sean said he keeps varietals separate until just before bottling.  Then he blends them with the goal of making “consistent serious red table wine in a Bordeaux style.”

Tasting Note Sheet at Ring of Fire Vertical

Now, it was time to taste!  We began with the 2013 and worked our way backwards.  The first round allowed us to taste the 2013, 2012, and 2011.  Each was served in a different glass.  Later, we were served the 2010, 2009, and 2008.

To continue the similarities with Octogon from Barboursville, Ring of Fire is also predominately Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a bit of Petit Verdot.  Only two vintages differ. The 2012 is Merlot, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot.  The 2011 is Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot.

In addition to the wine, food was served.  Some items were intended to pair with the wine.  Other items were there to prove a point that some food and wine pairings just don’t work.  The first plate consisted of apricots topped with blue cheese, a pecan, and rosemary along with a skewer of tortellini tossed in pesto with artichoke, mozzarella, and basil.  The second plate consisted of meatballs made with Ring of Fire, BBQ sandwiches with a mustard sauce and a more traditional sauce along with a few shrimp. Our favorites were the apricots and the BBQ.

Here are our tasting notes:

  • 2013 – The nose was woody with nice cherry aromas.  The palate presented rich cherry and oak with smooth tannins.  This wine is still very young.
  • 2012 – An earthy yet softly floral nose led to a lush palate of cherry and oak.  We preferred this one over the 2013.
  • 2011 – A floral nose with notes of plum and dried herbs made way to a tannic palate of dark fruits, cedar, and vanilla. The tannins of this vintage surprised us.
  • 2010 – Very old world in style, the nose had notes of spice with dark cherry.  The palate gave us dried berries with soft tannins.  This was our favorite of the lineup.
  • 2009 – Spice and oak on the nose along with cherry and vanilla on the palate, this vintage really showed the Merlot.  There was also good acid.  The boldness of this vintage surprised us.
  • 2008 – Sean hinted that one vintage was different.  When we got to the 2008, we knew it was this one.  The nose was floral and woody with a hint of sawdust.  The palate was wild with dark fruits.  There was something off.  We suspected brettanomoyces.

Sean and Patricia Recap the Event

Following our tasting, Sean and Patricia spoke once more.  Sean mentioned that blending is a way to deal with the difficult North Carolina weather.  It allows you to control the winemaking a bit and make adjustments as necessary.  His winemaking style is that of experiences.  He thinks of what will pair with the wine.  The desire with Ring of Fire is pair it with a steak from a Chicago steakhouse.  Given that, Ring of Fire has more acid than a red blend from Napa making it better accompaniment with food.

Sean also provided his tasting notes.  Here are some highlights:

  • 2013 – This vintage is fresh with the most straight forward fruit.  It will age very well.
  • 2012 – Sean’s second favorite of the group, this vintage has notes of clay and earth.  It reminds him of a terra cotta pot.
  • 2011 – He found this vintage to have aggressive spice with notes of fresh flower.  Complex and young with good berry and tannins, he feels this wine will be better in three or more years.
  • 2010 – Sean’s number one standout features red fruits and light earth.  Other descriptors are wet clay and stone.  The tannins are balanced.  This is very old world like.
  • 2009 – Patricia’s favorite features bright fruits with tighter acid and tannins.  It’s still excellent.
  • 2008 – This wine still looks young with dark berry color.  Cherry and anise are on the nose, but the wine is faulted.  Brettanomyces is indeed the issue, but we had several folks who loved it.  After this vintage, Sean purchased an ozone machine to clean barrels in the winery to prevent brett in future vintages.

Sean then finished with a few more remarks.  He gave a preview of the 2014 Ring of Fire which has been bottled and will be released soon.  He says, “I like that a lot.”  It meets the Chicago steakhouse criteria.  Sean purchases fruit by taste rather than brix.  He added that he was pleased with the consistency of the each vintage of Ring of Fire and notes, “I feel like I passed.”  He’s pleasantly surprised how well he liked the lineup.  We agree!

Sean also mentioned that Patricia makes him keep a library of wines.  We thank her for that.  They also mentioned that reserve sit-down tastings of library wines might be offered soon!  Sign us up!

We thoroughly enjoyed this experience.  We thank Sean and Patricia for all they do for North Carolina Wine and Cider and look forward to the next vertical tasting!  Go visit them and see for yourself!

 

Posted by Joe Brock 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
Festivus 2017 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

Festivus 2017 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

Today, December 23, 2017, 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 here to air a few wine grievances.  We’re looking to make this our one post a year that’s not entirely positive.  So, sit back.  Pour a glass and read on!

These are in no particular order:

  • 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!
  • Untrained tasting room staff.  There’s nothing worse than a 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 only drink dry wine.  You’re missing out on some really great sweeter wines.
  • People who only drink sweet wine.  Again, most of the wine world is not sweet.  You’re missing out on a lot more than those who only drink dry wine.

  • People who only drink Chardonnay or Cabernet or Merlot.  Give us a break!  We’ll try pretty much anything.  We’re all into to food and wine pairings.  Chardonnay with steak isn’t exactly the best match.  A big, bold Cab with sea bass probably doesn’t work so well either.  So, keep an open mind and try something different!
  • People who constantly bash muscadine wine.  We get it.  Muscadine wine is different.  There’s a distinctive foxy quality in a lot of muscadine.  We’re not big fans of red muscadine, but we won’t turn up our noses at it.  You shouldn’t either.  Find some that are well made.  Maybe one that isn’t so sweet and try it.  You might be surprised!
  • People who think all US wine comes from California.  Yes, California is responsible for 85% of the wine produced in the US, but if you’re only drinking Napa Cab, you truly are missing out!

  • 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!
  • People who think mead is more akin to beer.  Mead is honey WINE!  It’s fermented.  It’s typically bottled in WINE bottles.  If you’re drinking mead, you’re drinking WINE!
  • People who think all cider is sweet.  Cider can go the range from super sweet to super dry.  Again, don’t be afraid to try even if you don’t think you’ll like!
  • People who think all mead is sweet.  Just because mead is made from honey doesn’t mead that it’s all sweet.  Yes, it will almost always have a flavor of honey, but that’s different than sweet.

  • 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!
  • 2017 wines that are already out for sale.  Harvest just happened a few months ago.  There are a few exceptions to this, but as a general rule, wine needs time to age, even white wines.  Don’t rush it out!
  • Shiny black labels on a wine bottle.  They look great, but they’re very difficult when it comes to taking a picture of the bottle.  There are too many glares and reflections.  Matte is the way to go!

So, that’s our list for this year.  Here’s hoping next years list is shorter!  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, 6 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.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
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.

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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, 1 comment
#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