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Category Archives: North Carolina

Sipping Sweetness – Dessert Style

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Sipping Sweetness – Dessert Style

I am a sucker for a good dessert wine during the holiday season. I’ve been known to open up a late harvest wine while preparing a holiday season meal or party appetizers. While these wines can – and should – be enjoyed any time of the year – they are particularly endearing during this season. Late harvest wine, Icewine, Port and Sherry are all included in this category. While true port and sherry is particular to specific regions of the world – this is a great opportunity to explore varieties from the “Other 46”.

Chocolate Lab from Barrel Oak Winery

courtesy of Vinoshipper

Chocolate Lab, Barrel Oak Winery, Delaplane, VA – $31

Chocolate Lab is my recommendation for anyone who would like to experience something in the “chocolate wine” catagory, but isn’t enthused with the idea of merlot blended with chocolate syrup. This is a totally unique port style wine infused with essences drawn from cocoa beans added to the wine during secondary fermentation. Its not terribly sweet at 5% RS, and its been aged in recovered American oak whiskey barrels. I’ve paired with berry tarts. This is one of a kind and delicious.

Gray Ghost Winery - dessert wine

Adieu, Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Amissville, VA – $23-25

This one is produced only in exceptional years, so its not always available, but when it is – wow – a special wine!  With an RS of 11.5%  – although it really doesn’t taste like its that high, it makes for a perfect after dinner sipper. Rich peach, honey, Muscat and apricot aromas compliment a light cheese platter or your holiday pumpkin pie.

Ferrante Cab Franc Ice Wine

Cabernet Franc Ice Wine, Ferrante Winery, Harpersfield Township, OH – $34.99

One of the sweetest ice wines I’ve tried recently is the Ferrante Cab Franc Ice Wine. This one is from select estate grown grapes frozen on the vine. Aromas and flavors of sweet raspberry and cherry. 17% Residual Sugar. While it is definitely a sweet one, the cab franc flavor from Ferrante’s wonderful estate grapes is obvious, and a red dessert wine is still a unique experience at most parties. I pair this one with savory tarts, mince meat pies or créme brule. This is a red wine, but please chill it down for the best experience.

Seven port wine - King Family VineyardsSeven, 2009, Port Wine from Merlot grapes, King Family Vineyards, Crozet, VA $29.95

At the American Wine Bloggers Conference, we encountered some folks in the atrium pouring a Virginia post style wine that I’d never seen. Named for the 7th chukker in polo ~ like the 19th hole in golf, its made in the traditional Porto style with an American twist. This port wine is made with 100% Merlot and is fortified with brandy. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for 2 years and bottled as a 500mL – slightly larger than most of these. 3% residual sugar. 18% alcohol.  If you are a port fan, this wine will tickle your fancy.

Hanover Park Winery Port HanoverPort Hanover, Chambourcin port style wine, Hanover Park Vineyards, Yadkinville, NC – $17

As a fan of the Chambourcin grape, I was really impressed with this port when I first experienced it. It is a beautiful example of all of the characteristics of the Chambourcin, a grape showing some serious success in North Carolina  – and showcased in a port style. An easy port wine to pair with an asiago cheese ball or dessert pieces from Lilly’s Chocolates, like the Cinnabunny.

The Virginia and North Carolina wines are available to be shipped to Ohio, and while Ferrante is only available in Ohio, the winery’s location close to Lake Erie, and many other wineries make for a great day trip. I have not seen the ice wine in retail stores in Cleveland, but it may be available if your wine shop carries Ferrante wines.

Do you have a favorite dessert, icewine (eiswein), or domestic port? Share them in the comments!

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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!

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

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.

Regional Wine Week

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Or… the Crazy Things Bloggers do to win prizes. 

Regional Wine Week is the brainchild of the DrinkLocalWine folks, Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post and Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. Two writers I read regularly, and I highly recommend them. The idea here is to focus, for one week, on spotlighting wine that is from US states other than California, Washington or Oregon… ie. “the Other 47”.

The folks at Drink Local Wine wanted Drink Local advocates to start Regional Wine Week by writing  a 47 word essay. Here’s my attempt.

Started with Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio
Tried the good, the bad
the bad can be really bad,
but the good; that can be amazing.
Not good “for an east coast wine”
Its good, from the East Coast.
Award winners, RP 90+, good QPR from the Other 47.

Yadkin Valley, NC

A view into the Yadkin Valley, NC Wine Country

I don’t think I’m winning any fabulous prizes, but I can’t ever pass up an opportunity to talk about drinking the wine that is grown where you live. Its not just #locavour any more – eating local, but #locapour – drink local. You never know what you might find!

I have posts scheduled every day this week on some of our Other 47 adventures. Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina will be featured of course, as well as Michigan and New York. Sunday’s round up will be my Top 5 Other 47 wines. Stay tuned!

Yadkin Valley Wine Tour

Announcing the first Yadkin Valley wine tour this season.
April 23-25, 2010
Blowing Rock, NC
Stay at the romantic Blowing Rock Victorian Inn for two nights.
Upon your arrival Friday you will be greeted with a wine and cheese reception hosted by Christopher Wine and Cheese Shop. Saturday morning will have a full breakfast at the B & B and then a 3-5 mile guided hike in the nearby Linville Gorge Wilderness. Trail snacks, water and box lunches will be provided. We will then transport you to two wineries for tastings. Saturday evening will include a catered wine dinner, and Sunday after your breakfast at the inn, we will visit two more wineries.
All meals, wine tastings, lodging and local transportation are included in the price.
This location provides one bed (queen or king) per room.
Price per person: $569 (based on double occupancy)
Single rate is an additional $155 charge.
4 rooms are available. (8 reservations)
To reserve your spot, a 50% reservation is required per person, with the balance due 21 days before the tour.
Please contact Tammy Colson at tammy@southernwinetrails.net
Or call 540.226.7628 to make your reservations or for questions.
Credit cards accepted via paypal.
If you email please include any dietary accommodations, and your level of hiking ability. The hike will be designed based on the general abilities of the group. Guide can accommodate any level of hiker.
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