June, 2017 – Visit to Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards

We continue a look back at our mid-June wine visit to the Hendersonville / Asheville area.  Our second stop was Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards.

Saint Paul Mountain is located in Hendersonville.  Luckily for us, it’s also near our first stop of the day, Burntshirt Vineyards.  This made for a quick trip.

As we drove by the old family barn, the future home of Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders, we saw a bustle of activity and hoped to be able to get a tour of the progress.  We parked at Saint Paul Mountain just as Barbara, the tasting room manager, was about to leave.  Luckily for us, she stopped when she saw us.  We chatted for a bit and then started walking over to the barn.

 

Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders

Appalachian Ridge is a new cider bar that will be opening soon.  Not only will it have artisan hard ciders, it will also have some artisan spirits including their take on Calvados, an Apple Brandy.  We toured the main bar area upstairs.  Then we went downstairs to see some private rooms that have been created from old stables.  Finally, we headed back outside to the new deck.  The large deck contains a full covered bar and has a beautiful view of the orchard.

Hundreds of newly planted apple tree from Normandy

The orchard itself is undergoing a bit of transformation with the addition of hundreds of apple trees from Normandy.  Like vinifera grape vines, these European apple trees are grafted onto American rootstock to allow them to thrive in the North Carolina soil.

The restoration of the barn and the changes since our last visit are amazing.  Keep your eyes out for the Grand Opening announcement.  You won’t want to miss it!

 

Tasting with Fran

We finally reached the tasting room and took a seat.  We were glad to find our favorite band teacher / wine taster working that day.  We met Fran a couple of years ago at the North Carolina Winegrowers Association Conference.  Fran has a bubbly personality and quick wit that will keep you in stitches.  She lead us through a full tasting.  Below are some of our notes.

White Wines and Dry Cider

  • 2015 Chardonnay – This stainless steel aged Chardonnay presented crisp and clean with notes of apple and pineapple.
  • 2015 Barrel Aged Chardonnay – This Chardonnay spent 10 months in French oak.  It had a buttered apple nose with notes of apple, pear, and light oak on the palate.
  • 2015 Vidal Blanc – This wine had a nice acidity with notes of orange and lemon along with tart green apple.
  • 2015 Laurel Hill – This is also a Vidal Blanc, but it has just a touch (2%) of residual sugar.  The nose showed pure orange peel.  The palate gave Meyer lemon and key lime.
  • 2016 Centennial Farm Heritage – This dry Riesling had a classic Riesling nose with a hint of petrol, commonly found with Riesling.  The palate presented big grapefruit.  Nicely tart, this was our favorite white.
  • 2016 Lower Vineyard – Another Riesling but this one had just a touch of residual sugar (1.5%).  The nose was floral with lots of citrus.  The flavors of sweet peach and honeysuckle predominated.
  • 2015 Rosarie – This slightly effervescent rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon had notes of strawberry and a hint of caramel.
  • Wallace #1 Artisan Hard Cider – The original hard cider produced by Saint Paul Mountain is made from seven different varieties of apple with strong apple flavors from nose to palate.

Red Wines

  • 2015 Queen – A Cabernet Franc which spent 6 months in oak, presented cherry and vanilla on the nose with cherry flavors carrying through to the palate.
  • 2014 Chestnut East Reserve – A red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah, leather and oak showed on the nose.  The palate had flavors of cherry, plum, and caramel.  This was our favorite wine overall.
  • Jasper – Another red blend but this one has Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  Notes of plum, vanilla, and cherry showed on the nose.  The cherry and vanilla carried over the palate with a smooth finish.
  • 2013 Petit Verdot – This was another favorite of the reds.  With a caramel nose and smooth dark plum on the palate, it kept us wanting more.

Dessert Wines

  • Chestnut Gap Cottage – Our first dessert wine and made from 100% blackberries.  It showed those blackberries from nose to palate.  The pairing with dark chocolate just intensified the blackberry flavor.
  • Home Place – This is another 100% blackberry wine, but unlike the previous one, this one has been back-sweetened.  The blackberry was more pronounced on the nose than the Chestnut Gap Cottage and obviously the palate was more sweet.
  • Vin Chocolate Du Barrista – This was our favorite dessert wine.  The wine begins with a Merlot base that is infused with coffee, white chocolate, and vanilla.  Coffee predominates on the nose.  The palate is a playful dance between coffee and cherry.

Visit with Alan

Following our tasting with Fran, we took a minute to visit with Alan Ward.  He is the owner and visionary of both Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards and Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders.   We discussed a variety of wine, cider and spirit topics.  Alan has a great vision for growing his business and the North Carolina Wine, Cider, and Spirits industry.  Those industries are fortunate to have someone like Alan!

Vineyards outside Saint Paul Mountain’s Tasting Room

We said our goodbyes and headed to the see Fran once more to purchase some wine to take back with us.  This concluded our day in Hendersonville, and we headed for Asheville.  Stay tuned next week for the final blog on this trip!

Posted by Joe Brock

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