Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Wine Tasting

Today was a beautiful day.  April and I spent the morning on some small repair jobs around her family farm and when we finished early I thought, we should pay a visit to Grove Winery.  We don't get out their way much so it was a real treat. Grove wines are more of a European style and stand out in a great way among the more traditional California styles.

I am so glad we stopped in. John was a great host as always.  I really get a sense of the wines from his descriptions even before tasting them.  We were treated to some new releases not even labeled yet.  The 2010 Cab Franc is awesome and I can't wait for it to be available for sale next year.  We were also treated to the new 2011 Tempranillo.  This one will be limited due to a dismal 2012 Temprnillo harvest.

If you are looking for a fresh take on Merlot, Grove has it.  They do an outstanding job bringing out the fruitiness of this grape balanced with just enough oak.  Hard to pick a favorite but at the top of the list is their Nebbiolo.  I love a full bodied wine and this Italian grape works well for them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Is your wine tasting being diluted?

Water is not your friend when it comes to wine tastings.  I still remember the time at one of my favorite wineries in North Georgia, Wolf Mountain, when the attendant refused to allow me to rinse my glass with water. I almost felt scolded but he taught me a valuable lesson.  After we finished the whites he poured a few drops of the next wine, a red, for us to  rinse with.  This was some years ago and the practice does not seem to have caught on, at least not here in North Carolina.  Maybe it has to do with the perceived lose of revenue or just plain not knowing better.  I was glad when I saw this article today from another blogger on the topic with the same opinion as I.  You can check it out here:

Water is rarely added at all during the production process, why would you want to add it during a tasting?  Tasting samples are so small that a few drops of water can have huge impact on the flavor profile of any wine far more so that a bit of white wine in the glass.

I suggest you either rinse with a red or don't rinse at all and try to remove as much of the previous white wine as possible.  I will sometimes run a napkin in the glass if I have one handy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grove Winery World of Flavor Dinner

What a night.  My wife April and I just had one of the best nights out we have had in a while.  It started off with a wonderful surprise from RedWineDiva with tickets to the World of Flavors Dinner at Grove Winery.  Grove Winery is located in Gibsonville, NC and this was their first of what I hope to be annual dinner pairing some of their wines with foods from different wine regions. 

The night was kicked off with a melody of music from all the different wine regions being showcased by Gary Brunotte.  While Gary is an accomplished jazz pianist he brought his accordion and transported us to each of the wine regions with traditional and not so traditional music.  Some of the diners were even moved to dance.

Award winning Chef Mitchell Nicks of Muse Catering started us off with a Trip to France where he paired Grove's unoaked Chardonnay with a Neufchatel Cheese, Tomatoes and Crisp Prosciutto stuffed artichoke heat. This French Chablis-style of Chardonnay with its clean finish complicated the delicate flavors of the artichoke hearts.   Then it was off to Spain with a Catalan Tomato Bread that was paired with the Tempranillo.  I especially loved the white anchovy.  This estate grown grape is the primary grape in Spanish Rioja wines and I am a big fan.  Grove does a great job of capturing the traditional Spanish style of this grape. Love it. We took home three bottles after dinner.

There were three main courses from Germany, Italy and North Carolina.  The Grove Traminette, a German style of grape was paired with a German style braised pork shoulder atop a bed of German Sauerkraut.  We were very surprised by the strong floral nose and honeysuckle notes of this wine and it paired nicely with the tender white pork and kraut.  The Italian style Sangiovese known best for the Italian Chianti was a perfect match for a very traditional Tortellini Bolognese adding the perfect touch of smokiness to the dish.   Finally we came back to North Carolina with a wonderfully slow braised boneless short rib that was braised and paired with the Grove’s Norton.  A native American grape, Norton held up well to the richness of the short ribs with its slight tartness and big fruit flavors. 

Thank you John and Max for a great time.  I highly recommend Grove Winery for some of the best wines North Carolina has to offer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall is in the air

Last night's temps were in the mid 50's giving way to my deep desire to fire up the charcoal grill.  The meat: fresh ground chicken mixed with local ground beef and lamb. Mix in a bit of homemade chili spice rub and the result was some of the juices flavorful burgers I have ever made.  It felt good to be standing over a fire tending to flare ups and inhaling the aroma of flamed grilled burgers.  Add to that a local Merlot from Chatham Hill Winery from Morrisville and it does not get much better.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beer on the Darker Side

Old Town Brown Ale
From the words of the maker, Natty Green's Brewing Co, this beer is a traditional, English-style, full-bodied with sweet, toasted malt aroma with a hint of baker's chocolate.  This beer bodes well after a savory meal as a dessert.  It pulls in a BA Score of 84. I believe it deserves a higher score. I got the notes of chocolate and loved the smooth body.

New Belgium 1554
New Belgium is one of my favorite brewers with their Fat Tire and Ranger IPA and now their 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.  It gets an BA score of 87.

The DogFather Imperial Stout
As you can see the head on this pour is very thick.  The rise of the smoky aroma hits you first.  I was pleased with the smooth silky start and finish with notes of chocolate and coffee.  It is slightly sweet but with a light bitterness to counter balance the sweetness.  Rate Beer gives it a overall rating of 98 with high marks for taste and aroma. It gets a BA score of 86.

Wee Heavy-er Scotch Style Ale

From the French Broad Brewing Co., I found it to be very smooth and drinkable. Light to medium body.  I was very pleased and will diffidently buy more.  BA gives it an 80.  RB gives it a 79 overall.  I need to try a few more to see if agree with these ratings.. 

to be continued....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

April's birthday dinner / Second Empires's chef table

Friends-Sprites-Great Food

Dinner at Second Empire in Raleigh - The Chef's Table

First Course:
Sauteed NC Black Grouper (bean/roasted cauliflower ragout, swiss chard, spaghetti squash, mango salsa, roasted apple & horseradish sauce)

Second Course:
Berkshire Farms Pork Belly & Pan Roasted New Bedford Scallop (creamy butternut squash risotto, braised Napa cabbage, spicy haricot verts, rutabaga puree, big boss bad penny brown ale reduction)

The Palate Cleanser:

Third Course: 
Grilled Austrian Lamb Rack (yukon gold potatoes and artichoke hash, creamy celery root, asparagus, ratatouille, spinach, carry jus,)

Fourth Course:
Empire Chocolate Souffle 
Behind the scenes:

Chef Daniel Schurr
Friends Bob and Marie looking over the kitchen staff