Soaring High – Highflyer Pinot Noir

This wine was a media sample from Somerston Wine Company.

One of the things about wine that amazes me is how our palate constantly evolves.  A few years ago I developed an affinity for Pinot Noir.  I think this was after my love of Cabernet Sauvignon and before my love for Zinfandel.  Even though my evolution continues, I find that I can still fall back to one of these old favorites and it is like putting on that sweater you’ve had for at least ten years but just can’t bring yourself to get rid of.  Its comforting.  It brings back memories and stories and a smile.

What I thought when I received this bottle of 2009 Highflyer Pinot Noir from Somerston Wine Company was, “Wow – it’s been a while since I tasted a Pinot.”  And then I found myself really looking forward to it!  I actually received three different wines from the Highflyer line and I have been impressed with all of them.  (Highlyer Centerline  and Highflyer Grenache Blanc)

The grapes for this wine were harvested from a vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands where they are known for “bolder character and elegant flavor.”  This Pinot was a deeper color than some Pinots and was bursting with flavors of dark stone fruit and earth.

Varietal: Pinot Noir          Alcohol:  14.5%          Price:  $38

Although Somerston Wines are not sold at retail locations, you can make reservations for a visit to Somerston Estate and enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyard.  You will be able to purchase wines at the Estate.  You can also join one of the wine clubs and receive Somerston Wines before they are ever released as well as get discounts on exclusive Somerston Experiences.

World of Flavor – Grove Winery

Congratulations to Berl & April – they were the winners of a special give-away for the World of Flavor” dinner at sponsored by Grove Winery.  Then Berl generously agreed to do a guest post on my blog to tell us all about the fabulous meal & wine pairing.  Thanks so much, Berl.  Sounds like I missed a great time!

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 Red Wine Diva 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 complemented 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.

Pairing Hopkins Reserve

This wine was a media sample from Hopkins Vineyard

Fall is my favorite time of year.  The heat of Summer is now just a memory.  The crisp night air begs for an outdoor fire in the fire pit and we can go back to drinking our robust red wines – but should we???

Typically, I would say, “Yes!”  But today I had a craving for something just a little bit different; comfort food, warming to the insides and spicy so I decided to create my own Italian Chili.  As the aromas started filling the kitchen, I couldn’t help but wonder what wine I would pair with this spicy dish.  A heavy red might overpower the chili which would ruin both the taste of the food and the taste of the wine.  So I decided to pull out Hopkins Vineyard Reserve.

Stylistically similar to Viognier, this Seyval Blanc/Traminette blend has floral notes on the nose with hints of apricot on the palate along with the crisp tartness of citrus fruit – but no grapefruit.  This light acidic wine would pair perfectly with Thai or Indian cuisine but was also a great compliment to my Italian Chili.

     Varietal:  Seyval Blanc/Traminette           Alcohol:  12%        Price: $13.50

Hopkins Vineyard is located in the scenic Litchfield Hills area of Connecticut and has been making wine for more than 30 years.  Sometimes I marvel at how many different wines are out there and how little exposure any of us will ever have to all them.  Wine is actually produced in all 50 states of the United States.  How will we ever have the opportunity to experience the plethora of wine available to us?!?!?

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