Wine

North Carolina Wines for Your 2018 Holiday Table

North Carolina Wines for Your 2018 Holiday Table

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

Biltmore Estate 2015 Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs

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

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks 2016 Muscat Blanc

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

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

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

Overmountain Vineyards King’s Mountain Rosé

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

Dover Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc

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

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

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

Laurel Gray Vineyards Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Seafood Lasagna, Roast Chicken or Roasted Vegetables – Any of these dishes make for a great additions to your holiday table.  For pairing with all of these, we recommend the 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Laurel Gray Vineyards in Hamptonville.  This wine is oaky and buttery yet retains good fruit.

Piccione Vineyards 2014 Sangiovese

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

Lazy Elm Vineyard and Winery 2013 Selfish Port

Chocolate Desserts – Decadent chocolate desserts call for port-style wines. They are perfect with rich chocolate or just by themselves on a cold night. We recommend the 2013 Selfish from Lazy Elm Vineyard and Winery in Mocksville. This fortified wine is made from Cabernet Franc.  It’s rich and decadent and pairs perfectly with chocolate!

Parker Binns 2017 Petit Manseng Dessert Wine

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

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

Happy Holidays!

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

Mulled Wine and Cider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the full recipe:

INGREDIENTS

3 Whole Star Anise

5 Whole Green Cardamom Pods, Cracked

1 Teaspoon Whole Cloves

1 Teaspoon Whole Allspice Berries

½ Teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

1 Teaspoon Grated Orange Peel

1.5” Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Sliced Thinly

2 cups Apple Cider

1 bottle Dry Red Wine

1 cup Tawny Port

¼ cup Bourbon

Juice of ½ an Orange

6” Sprig of Rosemary

3 Cinnamon Sticks

Freshly Grated Nutmeg

4 Quart Slow Cooker

Cheesecloth

Butcher’s Twine

METHOD

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

#NCWine Bloggers Visit the Tryon Foothills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
Starting off NC Wine Month in Western North Carolina

Starting off NC Wine Month in Western North Carolina

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

Making our way to Murphy, NC

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

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

Our Visit in Andrews, NC

The FernCrest Tasting Room

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

Calaboose Cellars

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

Mead in the Mountains

The Tasting Room at Wehrloom Honey

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

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

Our Tasting Notes

Nottley River Valley Vineyards

Standard Tasting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Release Tastings

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

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

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

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

FernCrest Winery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calaboose Cellars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wehrloom

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

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

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

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

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
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
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