Leather and Lace – Highflyer Centerline

This wine was a media sample from Somerston Wine Company

Highflyer wines, the creation of Craig Becker, winemaker, winery consultant and one of the principals at Somerston Wine Company, has a really nice offering of quality wines.  Highflyer is one of three brands offered by Somerston Wine Company.  Their other offerings include Somerston and Priest Ranch.  Each brand is very different and very distinct allowing Somerston Wine Company to cater to a range of customers and palates.

The wine I received was the Highflyer 2008 Centerline, a proprietary red blend consisting of 81% Syrah, 12% Petite Sirah, 3% Zinfandel, and 4% Tempranillio.  As you would expect from a Syrah, the wine had a touch of pepper and spice but it also had hints of leather and vanilla.  It brought to mind curling up in a comfortable leather armchair with a good book.  The name “Centerline”, like the image on the bottle, represents the balance of art and science and provides insight into the winemaker’s desire to create a well-balanced wine, sometimes known as the centerline.  Having achieved their goal, this wine is undeniably balanced and pleasing to all the senses.

 Variety:  Red Blend               Alcohol:  14.8%               Price:  $20.00

Distribution of this wine is limited.  If you have trouble finding it in your area, visit their website to place an order; or better yet, join their wine club and then wait with anticipation for your next shipment.

Wine Virgin – Highflyer Grenache Blanc

This wine was a media sample from Somerston Wine Company

I love trying new things .  Your first only happens one time, whether it’s your first love, the first time to visit somewhere new or the first time to taste a new wine .  That’s what this was for me – a first.  I had never even heard of Grenache Blanc!  (Admittedly, I’ve lived a sheltered life!!!)

This Highflyer 2010 Grenache Blanc has refreshing Granny Smith Apple and spice on the front of the palate but finishes nicely with notes of caramel and Crème Brûlée.   With a limited production in 2010 of only 28 barrels, this wine was aged 90% in stainless and 10% in used French oak for six months.

Highflyer is part of the Somerston Wine Company where three distinct wine brands are produced under the watchful eye of winemaker, Craig Becker.  With a limited distribution of this Grenache Blanc, you will be lucky to find it in your local wine store so I would recommend hitting the website.

Variety:   Grenache Blanc          Alcohol: 14.5%          Price:  $20.00

Side Note:  Grenache Blanc is a white grape related to the red Grenache grape.  It got its start in Spain and plays a role in wine production in both Rioja and Navarre.  Cuttings from Grenache Blanc were taken from Spain to France where it is the fourth most widely planted white grape in France and is considered one of the Rhone Rangers.  Grenache Blanc made its way to California in 1992 when Tablas Creek imported several Rhone grapevine cuttings.  It is typically used to blend with other white grapes to balance out the wines

All That Jazz – Morning Fog

This wine was a media sample from Wine Twits

So many things in life pair really well with wine – a good book, good friends, good food, and good music.  One of my favorite styles of music to listen to while sipping wine is jazz.  The soulful saxophone or horn makes all the hassles of the day just disappear and the spirit takes on a renewed fervor with each sip of wine.  One of my favorite musical artists is  Kenny G and this particular song goes really well with anything, especially this 2010 Morning Fog Chardonnay from Wente Vineyards.

This year marks Wente Vineyard’s (named 2011 Winery of the year by Wine Enthusiast) 100th anniversary with Chardonnay, the top-selling varietal in the country.  Wente is the oldest winery in the US that has been continuously family owned for five (5) generations.  All of their fruit is estate grown.  A majority of the Chardonnay grown in California is from the Wente family Chardonnay clone, making them an integral part of the wine culture in the US, especially among Chardonnay drinkers.

2010 Morning Fog Chardonnay by Wente Vineyards was one of the wines I received a few weeks ago for the virtual wine tasting sponsored by Wine Twits.  Close your eyes as you taste this delectable Chardonnay and you can almost feel the morning fog from San Francisco Bay wrapping its arms around you.  Combine that with a little bit of Kenny G and you drift into another world.  This wine was fermented in both oak barrels and in stainless creating a balanced wine that is smooth on the palate with just a (slight) touch of cinnamon and the most refreshing finish, lingering just long enough on the palate to create a desire for another sip.

Varietal: Chardonnay       Alcohol: 13.5%       Price: $12.99

I recommend pairing this wine with Heirloom Tomato Salad: 

Side Note: A few years ago, Wente paired with Food Network to create a new wine, entwine. Entwine is the coming together of extraordinary things to include one of America’s oldest wineries and one of our most trusted names in food. Entwine is available in Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio and is a great wine for the price point.




All About Greek Wine – GAI’A

This was a media sample from New Wines of Greece

Nostalgia –  [no-stal-juh] noun: a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

I’ve been trying to come up with the right way to describe the taste of this Rosé, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it brought to mind until I was at a fund-raiser last night.  When it was time for dessert, we had two choices banana pudding or strawberry cobbler.  Immediately nostalgic thoughts of my Grandmother making homemade cobbler in her quaint little kitchen came to mind.  I loved her cobblers – strawberry, blackberry and peach – so naturally I chose the cobbler.  The first bite brought back the flavors of this 14-18h Rosé in full force.  That’s what the wine reminded me of, Grandma’s cobbler.  With a hint of tart strawberries, this wine has a crisp finish, not too long on the finish and very refreshing.

Varietal: Rosé, GAI’A Wines of Koutsi, Nemea       Alcohol: 13.1%       Price: $15

I know Rosé wines have been around forever, but I just developed an affinity for them last summer.  There is nothing better than a good dry Rosé well chilled to take the edge off a hot, humid, summer day.  When the wines of Greece arrived at my office, I was thrilled to see a Rosé included in the samples.  As I knew I was traveling out of town the next day, the evening of the webinar, I chose to only open three of the six wines and save the other three for tasting and reviewing at a later date.  I am really glad this is one I held back.

There is a revolution in the Greek Wine Industry and their wines are garnering attention all over the world.  Bloggers and columnists alike are writing about the breath-taking scenery of Greece as well as these wonderful wines.  We can’t all travel to Greece to taste wine, but you can go to your local wine store and check out what is on the shelf.  The price is reasonable and the quality is top-notch.

(Special note: I apologize for the picture.  I recently upgraded to a new cell phone and they were not able to transfer my pictures from the old phone. 😦 so all I was able to get was a picture of the label off the info sheet that came with the shipment.)

Tastings Wine Shop – America Dreaming

Tastings Wine Shop in Lexington, North Carolina opened in 2009 when five friends decided to go in together and bring the wine lifestyle to this quaint little town.  One of the partners took on the responsibility of running the shop on a day-to-day basis.  They catered to their regulars and started building up a name and a reputation for the wine shop.  Then the partner running the shop suffered some health issues that made it extremely difficult to run the store.  Heartbroken, the partners put their heads together trying to decide whether to sell the shop or to simply close it.  They decided to close – quietly and with no fanfare.  But as fate would have it, things never go as planned.  In step Chris and Kristin Briggs – visiting family over the Christmas holidays, 2011 and they heard thru the “grape-vine” that the store was closing.  They decided to pay the wine shop a visit and have a talk with the owners about buying them out. 

As the store was set to close by January 1, a lot of wheels had to be put in motion quick – an ABC license, financing, replenishing inventory that had been depleted for the closing – and remember, Chris and Kristin didn’t even live in North Carolina yet!!!  But obviously this was meant to be…..

Chris jumped through all the hoops the NC ABC Board threw in front of him in just 3 DAYS!   Just in time to keep the current ABC license for Tastings from running out, just in time to keep the store from closing and just in time to go visit with Kristin’s family in Pennsylvania as planned for the New Year.

Not only were the original owners of Tastings gracious enough to keep the store running for 3 full months while Chris and Kristin went back to New York to sell their apartment and officially move to NC, they started ordering inventory and restocking the store so that Chris had a turn-key operation when he was ready on April 1, 2012 to take over.

Now for the learning curve!  Chris had a background in robotics and special effects while Kristin had a background in event planning (you see where this is going, right?!?!)  They had both been avid wine and beer hobbyists but had never studied wine and had never worked retail.  (Can you imagine the conversations that went on in their car while they drove to Pennsylvania?)  It was decided that Chris would handle the day-to-day operations of the store and Kristin would do event planning and handle the social media.

Chris reads everything he can find about wine from regions to styles to trends so that he can talk with his customers and answer their questions.  Each day late in the afternoon, he tries to open something new and different for him so that he can taste and make the right kind of recommendations; he shares this new wine with customers coming in as well and offers them free tastings of the day’s selection.  Chris feels that learning about wine and being able to share that knowledge is almost as pleasurable as the wine itself.

Tastings is not a wine bar, but they do sell wine by the glass as an added benefit to their customers.  They also sell premium craft beer and allow the customer to mix and match the beer as they choose.

Although you will find a few local NC wines at Tastings, the selection is very limited.  Chris’s philosophy on this is that the local wineries are so close that he recommends customers go visit the wineries for a full tasting of their wines and truly experience what the winery has to offer and to accommodate this, he keeps plenty of wine trail maps on hand to give his customers.

Chris is now “Enjoying a job where people come in because they want to be there.”  The customers come in happy and it’s contagious so Chris is happy as well.

Feel free to visit Tastings at 312 E Center Street in Lexington, NC anytime and check out their website for a listing of events and happenings at www.tastingswine.com.

Cheers to Chris & Kristin for living the American Dream!!!


Shades of Grey – Wine Pairings

Have you ever had a wine make you moan?
I love pairing wine with the books I am reading.  There is something about picking up a good book that makes me crave a good wine as well, but this is the first time I have ever thought about what wine actually goes with the book.  There are so many great descriptives in Shades of Grey  that describe the wines we all love (used in a different context of course), it would be a shame let them go unnoticed.
Pinot Noir:  Though unpredictable at times, the best Pinot Noirs are seductively enchanting in their intense aromatics, complex flavors and long silky textures.  They have a shimmering medium to dark ruby-red color.  Pinotosity is the unique essence of Pinot Noir.  A Pinot Noir is said to have pinotosity when it is irresistible and brings you to your knees.  Ana had this effect on Christian Grey as he found her completely irresistible from the moment he met her.  
Cabernet Sauvignon:  The flavor profile for Cabernet Sauvignon is highly dependent on the grapes’ ripeness when harvested.  Less ripe grapes tend to have a more vegetal flavor profile such as green peppers, while very ripe grapes may display salacious flavors of jam, black currant, plum and black cherry.  Commonly described flavors include smoke and tobacco.  Oak barrels also play a big role in the flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon bringing out flavors of toast and vanilla – another word used by Christian to describe his “relationship” with Ana.
Zinfandel: Zinfandel comes in a variety of intensity levels creating a flavor profile that is hard to put into words.  A Zinfandel can be a  lighter red fruit-driven wine or a black fruit-backed offering built for aging. Ripe, even jammy fruit is a constant. The seductive taste of  spice – pepper, herb and brown iterations – and vanilla, cola, mocha and toast from oak fill your senses and pair well with the salacious desire Christian and Ana have for each other.
Sauternes: Christian told Ana, “You. Are. So. Sweet.”  It is no wonder that one of his favorite wines was Sauternes, a sweet French wine that is characterized by a balance of sweetness and acidity, a perfect way to describe the struggles of Christian’s “Fifty Shades” as Ana tries to pull him into the light.
Sauvignon Blanc:  Crisp and zingy, this wine is tantalizing just as Ana found it so tantalizing to be close to Christian.  Sauvignon Blanc is one of the easiest varietals to recognize as it typically has an enticing sharp, grassy, grapefruit flavor.  Sauvignon Blancs are very versatile with such crispness that it cleanses the palate.
Pouilly Fume’:  Christian has expensive taste in wine with an extensive wine cellar.  White wines seemed to  be his preference.  This included Pouilly Fume’, a variety of the Sauvignon grape.  Trademarked by mineral and fruity aromas, this wine will leave you feeling satiated on a hot summer day from its fresh, lively flavor.  
Wine – erotic, sensual, delectable, exquisite – and it pairs well with Shades of Grey!

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