Monday, July 13, 2009

So There Really Is Good Wine in North Carolina. I Swear.

So I am not exactly a wine snob. But I also prefer what I lovingly refer to as "real wine" i.e. wine made from grapes. Specifically varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, etc. Even Hondarrabi Zuri which I sampled the other night as part of my quest to become a member of The Wine Century Club. I do not care for wine made from muscadine or scuppernong grapes. And don't even get me started on non-grape-fruit wines like blackberry wine or peach wine.

A little trivia for y'all: all 50 states produce wine. And I have drunk wine from the obvious ones (California, Oregon, Washington, New York) and the not so obvious (Texas, Nebraska) and some of the wine is good and some of it's crap and some of it is actually surprising.

As for my current home state, NC has close to 100 wineries and it's actually a big part of the tourist trade. However, short of some local wineries specializing in the types of wine I prefer to avoid, a visit to Biltmore where THEY FORCE YOU TO ONLY DRINK THEIR WINES (which frankly are only so-so), and a random bottle of Duplin during the holidays, I have avoided the NC wineries. I guess I just didn't want to be further disappointed.

But then someone I know introduced me to one of the owners of Childress Vineyards and he invited me up to Lexington for lunch, a tasting and a tour and I was all like: Hell yeah I'll go. Because actually Childress has a very good reputation and I recently had the chance to sample 3 of their wines at a wine tasting and surprise, surprise, they were all good.

So I drove up to Lexington on Saturday morning and met my host at 11:30am and we went right into the unbelievably gorgeous tasting room and started tasting. We skipped over the scupperdine wines (they coined that cross between muscadine and scuppernong) and went straight for the real wines. There were several Chardonnays, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Viogner, a Cabernet Franc based rose (very dry, surprisingly good and apparently unsellable since the entire universe except France seems to think that rose = blush = white zin = pink crap), several Cabernet Francs, several Merlots, a Meritage and some Cabernet Sauvignon. They varied in style and depth and I was particularly surprised by the Signature Meritage and the Signature Merlot which were both on par with some of the great California reds I've had in my life. I swear.

And then after the tasting, we had a delightful lunch in the bistro. And then I got the most kick-ass tour of the winery ever (I saw every nook and cranny of that place including the roof) and I acted like a total dork and took oodles of pictures because, well, I have an audience to think of:

And then we went back to the tasting room where I bought a mixed case of wine (including 2 bottles of the awesometastic Polar Bear which is a late harvest white dessert wine and which is quite yummy) and where I was surprisingly gifted with 2 really amazing things:

This bottle of sangiovese is not for sale in the store. It's not on the list of wines that the winery makes. It's something that my host (who is Richard's partner and co-owner of the winery) makes on his own. This bottle came from his private cellar and he assured me despite my protestations, that I should go ahead and drink it.

And then I received this:

A 1.5L bottle of the 2004 meritage. We had been drinking the 2005 during the tasting but the men bestowing this most awesome of gifts on me assured me that the 2004 was even better and that it was continuing to age well. Um - who am I to complain??

I know you're like: Holy Hell girlfriend. Sweet way to spend a Saturday. And I agree. But WAIT. IT GETS FLIPPING BETTER.

So as if all of this does not just add up for one of the best Saturdays ever, I totally talked to Richard Childress. Yep! As we were sitting down to lunch he called (from Chicago where he was in town for the race) and and my host decided for whatever reason that I ought to speak to Richard and so we had a lovely 2-minute conversation where I pretty much blathered on about how much fun I was having and how great his wines were and how lovely the winery was and I was my usual charming, delightful self and it was more than a mild thrill to speak to the man who put Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel of a racecar. The only thing I left out? That I pull for the #48.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

ps While I will always be a Jimmie fan, I will now pull for the Childress drivers (Bowyer, Harvick, Burton and Mears) because really - how could I NOT?


Linda said...

Hey Sarah! Did you get the chance to try the Missouri wine that I brought you?

Shelly Overlook said...

Cannot believe you spoke to Richard Childress! Damn! But not sure I could ever root for Harvick. Blech.

debb said...

I am a NASCAR fan, not a wine fan. Although, I love White Zinfendel, when I do have wine.

Still until you pointed out the connection, I. did. not. get. it.

Glad to see you back. Missed ya Friday. BTW--my kin calls your fancy ratatouille something else like stir-fry veggies or whatnot.

Andria (one of the "Trio") said...

I'm glad you had fun, Greg's always an entertaining host. You didn't mention whether or not you met Mark the winemaker extraordinaire.

You need to make sure to make it back up there during one of the many parties, it's a blast.