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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Wine and Cupcakes – City Beverage tasting notes

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We had a great evening in the tasting room at City Beverage in Winston-Salem. Spencer from CityBev was pouring, and I was passing cupcakes – the lively crowd had plenty of opinions on what the best wine and cupcake pairings were. This is what we served:

2010 Bourgeois Cuvee Stephi Chardonnay  paired with blueberry cake and cream cheese icing

A custom project made in partnership with Thierry Rodriguez in Veyran, Languedoc. The domaine is comprised exclusively of older Chardonnay vines (20+ yrs old). Cuvee Stephi practices sustainable farming.

A: Green and citrus aromas, including lemon on the nose, with a hint of spice.

P: Medium-bodied, tropical and citrus flavors, and a clean, refreshing finish.

Unoaked – Aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks with 3 months on its lees.

retail price $13.99

This pairing juxtaposes the citrus flavors in the wine with blueberry and balances the acidity with cream cheese.

Picture compliments of Meg Cline

2010 Valdesil Montenovo Godello paired with vanilla bean cake & strawberry balsamic icing

100% Godello – one of the oldest grapes on the Iberian Peninsula

Valedorros, Spain

C: Extremely pale like ginger ale.

A: apple, pear, honey, citrus,

P: green apple, grape juice, and a tart finish that lingers with caramel-honey notes.

Some heat early on and lots of acidity.

13% abv

Stainless steel fermented – this wine should be consumed within 18mos of bottling.

Retail Price $9.99

The chilled Godello reminds me of one of the crisper viogniers – so we paired the   vanilla bean to mimic oak while complimenting the acidity with the strawberry balsamic icing.

2010 Big Fire Rose paired with a saffron cake with cardamom icing

R. Stuart & Co – Oregon

Umpqua appellation

blend of 80% syrah and 20% pinot gris

Sustainable farming

Harvested exactly a year ago,

Aged for 1 month in 7yo french oak barrels so you get very little of the oak in the wine

11.5% abv

559 cases produced

.5% RS

Pescatarian friendly due to filtering techniques.

Retail Price: $15.99

The winemaker calls this his “big fruit bowl” – but I get a wine that just blends seamlessly with some spice, thus the saffron and cardamom, a typical indian spice pairing. I’d love to put this wine with Thai food as well.

2009 Dante Pinot Noir paired with roasted garlic cake with smoked gouda icing

From Michael Pozzan Winery

90% California, 10% Carneros

100% Pinot Noir

Aged 6 months

C: brilliant garnet

A: romas of sour cherry, dried orange peel, a hint of clove over a back drop of earthy leather.

P: rich and supple, spice and finishes with a balanced touch of cocoa and coffee.

Cases Produced:5000

Enjoy until 2012 – I recommend this wine as a drink now. Particularly at the price of $13.99

I usually pair a bacon cupcake with pinot – I highly recommend it. After all, everything is better with bacon. However, Camino is a vegetarian bakery… so, we got creative with some of the spices and flavors you find in bacon appetizers. Roasted garlic and smoked gouda are perfect compliments to the smokiness you find in a pinot noir.

2009 Periano Estate Merlot paired with a dark chocolate cake with currant icing

Lodi, CA

Peirano Estate Vineyards’ Merlot is produced from 6 different clones, or sub-varieties, of Merlot grown on the estate, including two rare French clones (#181 and #314), as well as the very rare Italian clone #9. Peirano Estate was the first commercial winery to grow and produce wine from these rare Merlot clones.

Aged for 12 months in all French oak barrels, of which less than 20% was new oak.

A: rich ripe cherries, blackberries with vanilla

P: cherry, plum, cocoa and cinnamon

I’m also fond of “The Others”, Immortal Zin and “The Unknown” – these wines are great every day drinkers.

Retail: $11.99

The chocolate and berry hints in the wine are enhanced by chocolate base, while the tannin and cinnamon are complimented by the currant.

2008 Domaine Janasse Cotes du Rhone  paired with chocolate spice cake with cinnamon icing (vegan)

This winery and vineyard covers 122 acres of vineyards distributed among different appellations : Châteauneuf du Pâpe, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Village, Vin de Pays de la Principauté d’Orange and Vin de table.

Grape variety : 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 15% Carignan, 5% Cinsault – stem removal : 80% – maceration : 12 to 15 days – elevage : 6 to 9 months in vat

Tasting :

P: strawberry, black cherry , a tinge of minerality and spices

60 000 to 80 000 bottles per year.

GSM, or Cotes du Rhone blends love spice. So we put a chocolate spice with some cinnamon for this wine. GSM also does well with harvest fruit dishes, and is a great thanksgiving complement.

As every year, the 3rd Thursday of November is the release date for the 2010 vintage of Primeur Côtes du Rhône. You may be familiiar with Beaujolais Nouveaux releases, this is similar – and the wines of this region are great for holiday meals.

I hope you enjoy the tasting notes, and if you are in Winston-Salem, head to City Beverage to get some of these wines. This event could not have been successful without the help of Paul Jones, location scout and operations guy extraordinaire. You should follow him on twitter. and the folks at Camino Bakery were extremely friendly – and they do vegetarian in a creative way. Thank you for everything!

Attendees, what were your favorites? If you like what you saw here, join us for the next #WineandCupcakes tasting! And we’ll be heading back to City Beverage for an all new event in February. Hope to see you there!

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Only in North Carolina – Wine and Cupcakes – Barnhill’s

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Wine and Cupcakes has another Pairing Adventure in Winston-Salem on November 2, 2011.

wine tasting at Barnhill's

Only in North Carolina!

Join us at Barnhills at 6pm for a unique wine experience. We will be pairing 6 beautifully crafted North Carolina dry wines with 6 perfectly paired gourmet mini-cupcakes and pastries provided by Camino Bakery. We will also have a Gluten Free cupcake option available, provided by Maxie B’s in Greensboro. Please be sure to select that ticket if you want gluten free. Quantities are limited.

Discussion will focus on some of the best ways to pair wine and food. All wines will be available for bottle purchase following the tasting.

The wines include:

Owl’s Eye Chardonnay
West Bend Viognier
Divine Llama Chardonel
Round Peak Les Trois Chiens
Grove Merlot
Sanders Ridge Big Woods

What will we pair with what? You’ll have to be there to find out! We’ve got mini-whoopie pies from Maxie B’s in Greensboro, and mini-pastries from Camino Bakery. Some fruit, some nuts, and as always, some chocolate.

Think savory, spicy and not your grandma’s cupcakes…. but you can look at Wine and Cupcakes, Cleveland to see what we did there! The Gluten-free option will provide two specially paired cupcakes – one for the reds, and one for the whites.

Tickets are on sale now for $30 in advance, and $35 at the door. Gluten free tickets are only available in advance. Seating is limited to 30 people, so buy early to avoid missing out on this fun evening.

Register for Only in North Carolina at Barnhills in Winston Salem, NC  on Constant Contact

Regional Wine Week – A Limerick and Top 5

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Its been a fun week highlighting regional wineries, wine and winemakers from a few of my favorite places.  We successfully launched Wine and Cupcakes here in Cleveland, and we are taking our pairing experience  on the road to Winston-Salem, NC next week. Plenty of tastings coming up, and they will be on the  calendar as they are confirmed.

I’ve been asked by several folks for my Top 5 regional wines.

Without further ado, in NO particular order.

Miss WineOH Top 5 Regional Wines

From Ohio:

2007 Markko Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay ($27)

2008 Kinkead Ridge Cabernet Franc

From Virginia:

2005 Breaux Vineyards Nebbiolo

2007 Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble Red ($42)

From North Carolina:

2008 Grove Winery Norton ($16.99)

There are about 5 more on my list of wines I’d go back to again and again…

2007 Benmarl Winery Baco Noir from New York

2009 Ferrante Winery Signature Series (GRV) Cabernet Franc ($15.99) from Ohio

Winery at Blackstar Farms Dry Cherry ($10) from Michigan

2009 Keswick Vineyards Verdejo from Virginia

2008 Hermes Vineyard Aglianico ($11.99) from Ohio

There are plenty of incredible wines out there. Discover what may be just around the corner! Tell me your favorites – I love finding new wines.

And in honor of the end of Regional Wine Week:  31 words about Drinking Local – because I’ve tasted from 31 states.

There once was a girl who drank whiskey.

In bourbon or beer she saw beauty

Then she found local wine,

And called it divine,

Its dry, she declared; not just fruity.

No more poetry… I promise!

Regional Wine Week: I heart Virginia Wine

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Drinking local started for me while living in the heart of Virginia wine country, though at the time, I didn’t know I was. I was recently single, working way too many hours as an HR manager for The Home Depot, and my days off were Tuesdays or Thursdays. I needed something to do that didn’t involve thinking about work. So when I overheard someone talking about great hiking trails, I started asking questions, and the set out on a few day hikes. Exercise in the beautiful hills of the Shenandoahs was just what the doctor ordered.

Low and behold, I discovered there were wineries on the way to and from my hikes. I’d grown up with wine, having had many a holiday meal with my family where wines of varying degrees of “excellence” were poured (remember Blue Nun?) But even having lived in California for 6 years, I wasn’t much of a wine drinker… until I walked into Gray Ghost Winery, just outside of Warrenton,Virginia.

Grey Ghost wine labelGray Ghost Vineyards is just off Hwy 211 from Warrenton, heading to Amissville. They are well known and loved in Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties, and do holiday events and a volunteer harvest program that draw enthusiastic wine drinkers from miles away. This is not your mom and pop winery however, as they have been producing award winning wines since the mid 90’s, as recognized by some of the most prestigious international competitions in the country.

I have spent many an afternoon in the upstairs loft of the tasting room at Gray Ghost, nestled in with a bottle of their Cabernet Franc ($24). The Adieu ($24 for 375ml), a lovely late harvest vidal blanc, graces my holiday tables every year that it is produced. That is… if I haven’t sipped through the bottle as I am preparing my meals. 🙂 Their Reserve Chardonnay ($25) is one of my go-to wines when I want to show off what Virginia is really capable of in the wine world.

Gray Ghost consistently produces incredible wines. And the owners, Al and Cheryl Kellert, and their staff have always made me, and any guests I’ve ever brought to the winery, feel welcome. Wine tastings are $3 for their current 11 wine offering, and the logo glasses are $6. This winery is easy to get to if you are on the Northern Virginia to Charlottesville route of US Rt. 29. I highly recommend stopping in for a tasting and tour.

In the years I lived in Warrenton, I probably visited about 90 wineries of the almost 200 currently operating. I’d love to talk about each and every one, but I’ll include 2 more here that have shown to be outstanding for their own unique reasons.

front entrance to breauxBreaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Virginia (that’s purcy-ville, if you stop for directions) is one of the most customer service oriented wineries I’ve encountered. They take great pride in their wines, and equivalent pride in their customers. It’s as if Jen Breaux-Blosser and her husband Chris Blosser strive to bring each of their customers into the family. They were awarded “Virginia’s Favorite Winery” for the 4th consecutive year recently and its obvious why folks love this place. Jen has set a standard for winery activity on social media, engaging with a customer base that spreads nationally and internationally – for good reason.

Breaux has a reputation for making some truly beautiful wines. Their Nebbiolo ($38) is one I covet regularly, and their Viognier ($24) tends to improve on an already existing deliciousness with each vintage. The Merlots are some of the finest I’ve tasted anywhere, especially if you can get your hands on the older vintages. The 2002 was a dream. Their 2004 is available for $26. The Equation X – on the lower end for $15 is a great sipping wine, and their Cellar Club will spoil you senseless with their offerings. If you want great events, a beautiful venue in the Virginia countryside, and outstanding customer service. This is your winery.

There are so many wonderful winemakers out there on the Virginia wine trails. People who are passionate about what they do in the Commonwealth and are very willing to share that passion. I hesitate to pull one of these winemakers out as standing above the rest. They all bring a unique perspective, incredible experience, and passion for wine to the industry in Virginia. Some of my favorites, in no particular order are Luca Paschina at Barboursville, Andy Reagan at Jefferson Vineyards, Kristy Harmon at Blenheim Vineyards, and Lori Corcoran at Corcoran Vineyards.

One of the most approachable winemakers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet is Stephen Barnard at Keswick Vineyards just outside of Charlottesville. Keswick is on the beautiful Edgewood Estate, in an area where “estate” still means big old house on lots of land. Once inside the tasting room, the staff is quick to greet you and pour their beautiful wines. Stephen will occasionally emerge from the depths of the winery or the vineyard to answer questions or chat with guests. He’s easy to spot, as his South African accent stands out as much as his love of winemaking. The wines of Keswick, under his guidance, are creative, minimalist and beautifully crafted.

Keswick usually sells out of their wines faster than most wine lovers would like. This is another one of those Virginia wineries where you greatly benefit from joining their Wine Club.

Some of my favorites include the Verdejo and the Petit Verdot (simply divine!) – both of which are sold out right now. Still available is the 2010 Viognier ($22.95) – a prime example of why Viognier has been declared the state varietal.

Keswick also has a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon that defies my usual opinion of Virginia Cab Sauv. Its bold, complex and fruity, and the tannins will mellow beautifully as it ages.

No discussion of Keswick Vineyard would be complete without mentioning Kat Schornburg, Stephen’s wife. She is light and laughter in the tasting room and manages the social media efforts at the winery – among other things! Regular tastings are $5, and select tastings $8. Its worth a trip to the Charlottesville area wine trails to stop at Keswick, and then continue to any of the other wineries in the area.

I have a deep appreciation for Virginia Wine, and the personalities within it. There is beauty to be found there. If you are looking for more information on Virginia wineries, I suggest reading Swirl Sip Snark, and VirginiaWineTime. They are friends with similar palates and love of the Virginia wine industry… and they write about VA wineries all the time!

I’ll be posting profiles of my Virginia winery experiences as they fit into the events of MissWineOH.

Wine and Cupcakes – a pairing adventure

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Here are the tasting notes and pairings for the wines from Wine and Cupcakes at Market Avenue Wine Bar in Cleveland from Octover 13, 2011. Many thanks to Market Avenue, Joy and Nicholas for their help and great service, and A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont for the awesome cupcakes. Thanks for letting me get really creative! Retail prices listed are prices for purchase at Market Avenue. Stop in for a glass, and take home a bottle.

2010 Golem Riesling with a lemon cake and strawberry balsamic vinegar icing.

Australian – Clare Valley

.1% RSV

12% alcohol

Harvested March 6

Fermented in All stainless steel, so there’s no oak at all.

C: Pale yellow

A: Peach and Lime

P: Bright fresh fruit with juicy lime and lemon rind flavors as well as ripe tropical fruits

350 cases

retail price $17

This pairing accentuates the citrus flavors in the wine, while the strawberry balsamic provides a sweet tart that balances out the residual sugar. If there was more RS, you’d want to go sweeter with your flavor.

2010 Louis Laurant Vouvray paired with almond cake and roquefort icing

100% chenin blanc

France – Loire Valley

The villages of Vouvray and Montlouis are the largest appellations in the region and make only white wines from Chenin blanc.

C: Light yellow straw color.

Medium bodied.

A: Aromas of apples and pears.

Well balanced acidity.

Retail Price $12

Chenin blanc’s typical notes of stone fruit complement the nuttiness of the almond and pairs with the creaminess of the cheese in the icing.

2009 The Velvet Devil Merlot paired with cherry chocolate and salted caramel icing

Washington – Columbia Valley

90.6% Merlot, 9.4% Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol:13.5%

Fermented in stainless steel, French oak aged.

C; Bright violet-red color extends to primary aromatics revealing

A: Milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil

P: chocolate covered cherries and suggestions of smoke and cedar.

Release Date: September 2010

Retail Price $13

The chocolate and berry hints in the wine are enhanced by the cherry chocolate base, while the tannin is balanced by the salted caramel.

2009 Bella Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir paired with white and maple bacon icing

Meiomi owner and winemaker, Joseph Wagner follows a long family tradition of farming and making wine that spans well over 100 years.  His Grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, the namesake for the Belle Glos Pinot Noirs, was co-founder of Caymus Vineyards along with her husband, Charlie and son, Chuck, in 1972.

For this vintage, 47% sourced from Sonoma County grapes; 34% from Santa Barbara County and 19% from Monterey County.

9 months in French oak barrels – 60 percent new

C: Bright, deep garnet color.

A: Aromas of blackberries and cedar. A greatly layered palette abundant in flavor and texture.

P: Palate flavors of bright cherry, cola, dried leaves undertoned with vanilla and oak.

Release date: November 2010

Retail Price: $18

Nothing pairs better with a pinot noir than bacon. Add some sweetness with the maple and you have a perfect blend of flavors to pair with the oaky vanilla in the flavor of the wine.

 2005 Norman The Vocation paired with dark chocolate and cinnamon icing

50% Syrah 40% Grenache 10% Mourvedre

Appellation: Paso Robles

Alcohol: 15.0%

RS: .20%
Barrel Aging: 16 months in 50% new French oak
Cases Produced:525

Enjoy now or cellar age until 2016

A: aromas of ripe cherry, perfume and strawberry with nuances of cocoa and nutmug.

Medium-bodied

The cocoa and nutmeg blend seamlessly with the dark chocolate and savory cinnamon.

Retail: $23

Join us for the next Wine and Cupcakes experience in January, or one of our other events to be on sale soon. Check the Calendar of Events for details.

Wine and Cupcakes: Winston-Salem, NC

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Wine and Cupcakes is coming to Winston-Salem on October 27, 2011.

CityBev wine tasting

Join us at City Beverage at 7pm for a unique wine experience. We will be pairing 6 wines with 6 perfectly paired gourmet mini-cupcakes provided by Camino Bakery. Discussion will focus on some of the best ways to pair wine and food. Explore the French, Italian, Oregon, and California selections. All wines will be available for bottle purchase following the tasting.

Wines include:

Bourgeois Cuvee Stephi Chardonnay 

Valdesil Montenovo Godello 

Big Fire Rose

Dante Pinot Noir

Periano Estate Merlot 

Domaine Janasse Cote du Rhone 

What cupcakes will we pair with them? You’ll have to be there to find out! Think savory, spicy and not your grandma’s cupcakes…. but you can look at Wine and Cupcakes, Cleveland to see what we did there!

Tickets are on sale now for $30 in advance, and $35 at the door. Seating is limited to 30 people, so buy early to avoid missing out on this fun evening.

Register for Wine and Cupcakes at City Beverage, Winston Salem in Winston Salem, NC  on Eventbrite

Carolina Wining

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North Carolina has three distinct geographical areas. The mountains, the Piedmont and the beach. Each of those areas are distinctive in their grape production. Primarily vinifera in the mountains, a blend of vinifera and french-american hybrids in the Piedmont, and native grapes along the coast. Let it not be said that North Carolina is not a hospitable state – they can provide any wine drinker with the right wines, in the perfect settings.

The Beach

Entrance to Duplin Wine Cellars

Massive Production, with southern hospitality

The wines you will find along the coast of North Carolina will primarily be from the native grapes of muscadine, catawba and scuppernong. The most popular (and largest winery in the state) is Duplin Winery, just off I-40 in Rose Hill, heading toward Wilmington. Bottle prices on their wines are mostly less than $10 per bottle, and the winery is an extremely popular local destination. They have over 1800 acres in 4 states under vine, and a multitude of growing partners to keep up with the demand of the winery. Duplin is distributed in 10 states, and can ship to any state that permits direct shipping. You can pick up a bottle of their wine at Professor Market in Tremont, as well as several local supermarkets in the Cleveland area.

This winery has been doing what it does since the 1970’s as a family run business, and they produce 1.5 million gallons, or 650,000 cases a year. Many of their wines sell out on an annual basis. These types of wines are not really my thing, but its obvious that they are doing something right for this wine style. 1.5 million gallons a year can’t be wrong. If you want to see an incredible wine production facility, its worth a stop in Rose Hill. They have a restaurant for a mid-day meal, and tasting and tours are free.

The Piedmont

Arial view of Grove Vineyards.

Vineyard along the Haw River

I consider the Piedmont wine area to be east of I-77, and west of I-95. Others have a slightly different definition, but this is my website, so it’s my definition. Wineries in the Piedmont typically produce vinfera, french-hybrid wines and fruit wines.You will also find a cidery or two in the area. The Piedmont encompasses the Haw River Valley AVA and a sizable chunk of the Yadkin Valley AVA. You can get a little bit of everything in the Piedmont, including the beautiful cities of Raleigh, Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

One of the most notable wineries south of the Yadkin area is Grove Vineyard and Winery just north of Greensboro on Highway 29. The folks there are always pleasant and very enthusiastic about their winemaking. Grove opened in 2004, and produces about 3000 cases of wine a year. They are great supporters of area canoeing and biking events because of the winery’s proximity to trails and the Haw River. Their primary wines are vinifera grapes of Cabernet, Cab Franc, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Chardonnay and Tempranillo. They also do well with their popular Traminette and an incredible Norton, grown from vines on a winery owned southwestern Virginia property. I am (perhaps overly) fond of their 2006 Merlot, the Nebbiolo, 2009 is currently available, and their Norton.

Grove also produces popular fruit and sweet wines that typically sell out before most folks even realize they were released. This is an award winning winery with easy access from the interstates and highways, and definitely worth the trip. Grove wines are widely available in stores throughout North Carolina, with prices in the $12-20 range, reserves a bit higher, but definitely worth it. Tasting fees run $5 for 6 wines, and you keep the glass.

The Mountains

Round Peak Vineyards

Round Peak has 12.5 acres of grapes

The mountain areas of North Carolina are west of I-77. Most of these wineries are small production, boutique wineries that specialize in vinifera. The further west you go into the mountains, you may encounter wineries that are importing juice from world sources. However, there are many wineries in the Yadkin Valley AVA that are growing their own grapes, and most wineries south of Charlotte are also in the vineyard business.

One of my favorites in this area is Round Peak Vineyards, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Mt. Airy. They embrace the outdoor lifestyle, with so many beautiful trails nearby; the spirit of cooperation in the wine community in Yadkin Valley; and they make some creative and delicious wines.

Les Trois Chiens, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot is one my favorites in their lineup at $19, and their Cab Franc is definitely a must try at $16. They also bottle a line under the Skull Camp label – these wines are their sweeter vinifera varietals, all with a residual sugar above 1% and they are very popular. The Barbera and Petit Manseng blend in “Flirtation”, selling for $13, has 1% RSV, and is a great representation of what can be done with Petit Manseng in North Carolina. Sean McRitchie is their winemaker, owner of McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks, and he brings incredible experience to winemaking in the Yadkin Valley. New winery owner Ken Gulaian has completed the Surry Community College Viticulture program, so I can’t wait to see his signature in the Round Peak wines. They do their tastings by flights, 6 wines for $6. The beautiful tasting room and surrounding countryside make this a complete NC wine country package.

You can find more information on North Carolina wineries, get a wine map, and plan a visit. There are over 100 wineries throughout the state. A good one isn’t too far off your path.

If you’ve visited North Carolina wine country, what’s YOUR favorite winery? These are only a few of mine… there are some real hidden gems.

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