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Archive for the ‘Drink’ Category

The Great Grapes! Wine, Art & Food Festival was last Saturday, April 16th.  I had been checking the weather the week before and it was looking like rain would hit.  The day of, it looked like it would be raining on and off until about 4pm, when the thunderstorms would really hit, so we stopped by at about 12:30pm.  We brought umbrellas and raincoats just in case. The format was typical for a Koka Booth wine/food event, except this one had free parking!  We were on the will-call list because I ordered tickets ahead of time, and all the lines were really short because of the threat of rain.  We picked up our glasses, and entered the festival.

Live music was playing about every other hour, so when we got there it was 30 minutes before the next act would start.  My husband hadn’t had anything to eat yet, but the “Food” part of the festival looked a bit scarce.  There were some typical concession-type stands selling gyros, cheese steaks, hot dogs and the like, and a pizza stand, and some kettle corn.  I didn’t really see much else.  I ended up getting a chicken gyro, and my husband got a lamb gyro.  Not great, but edible.  I was disappointed there wasn’t a better food selection there.

My son went down near the lake to play in the bouncy inflatable slide thing.  He loves these sorts of things at Monkey Joe’s.  It was a bit wet when he started from the rain, but with the high winds and the sun peeking out now and then, it dried off soon.  I would go to the booths trying out a few different wines, and bring back the sweetest dessert ones for my husband to try.

The flyer we got wasn’t very helpful.  I liked some of the booklets I’ve gotten at other events that list each wine that each vendor has.  This one only had a list of vendors.  The total was 25, and I think I tried at least one wine at nearly all of them.  For NC wines, I try to just stick to the sweeter muscadine wines.  I figure if I’m going to try a chardonnay, I’ll get a Napa one.  If I want a Riesling, I’ll get a German one.  If I wanted a Shiraz, I would look for something Australian.  But it’s been my experience that North Carolina doesn’t have the right type of grapes or climates for those types of wines.

The Cypress Bend Vineyards had some nice wines.  I tried the Daniel, To-morrow, and McNeil, and they were all pleasant.  The Allison Oaks Allie’s Choice was a fairly sweet dessert wine, but my husband didn’t like it very much.  The Carolina Heritage Traminette was a surprisingly good take on a gewurztraminer that would go excellent with a good dinner.  The Chatham Hill Winery (that oddly prides itself as being the Triangle’s only urban winery) had some pretty odd-tasting Blackberry wine, but I actually found the Peach to be quite tasty.  I think it’s something my mom would enjoy, she likes the girly, wine-cooler type wines.  Seriously though, I really liked the peach.

The Southern Charm Winery had quite a few excellent sweet wines.  My favorite was the Summer Mist, which is probably the best strawberry wine I’ve ever had.  I really should have picked up a bottle.  I also liked their Hummingbird, Carolina Sunset and Edisto Black.  The Edisto Black had a very good take on the blackberry wine, but it wasn’t quite as good as the strawberry.

The “Art” part of the festival really wasn’t there.  I saw some small booths with crafts for sale, but I was really expecting more.  I think there were more booths for businesses and charities outnumbered the art booths by about 4:1.

We left the festival by about 2:30pm, as it was sprinkling on and off and I didn’t know how much longer the weather would hold.  By about 3:30pm the storms came down hard, and soon after there were tornado warnings and hail, and things like insulation and plywood flying around the neighborhood.  I imagine the festival didn’t last long after that.  Such a pity that the worst storm in years happened to coincide with the Great Grapes! festival.

For next year they could make a few improvements.  More food booths, more art booths, and live music throughout the 11am-7pm festival would have made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable.  As it was though, it was a good time at a fairly cheap price.  At only $20 per ticket though, I really can’t have too many complaints.  I look forward to attending next year.

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I went to Southern Season looking for some good wine.  I asked if they had ever heard of Il Duca Stella Rosa, or had any other sweet blush wines.  They didn’t have the one I was looking for, but it was suggested I try this Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Rose des Glacieres.  I was told it wouldn’t be nearly as sweet, but would be similar in flavor.  I figured at $15.99 it couldn’t hurt to try.

I found the wine to be quite sweet, despite what I was told.  I think it would probably make a good dessert wine, or movie-watching-sipping wine.  It has some delicious sweet fruit flavors like fresh ripe apples or berries.  I don’t think it was as good as the Il Duca Stella Rosa, but it was still really good.

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Covey Run 2007 Chardonnay

I was unable to find any more unoaked chardonnays to try at my local Kroger, so I decided this Covey Run looked decent.  I think I had had this brand before, but at the time I couldn’t recall for sure.  After checking their site when I got home, I realized I had tried their ice wine before.  I can’t remember what I thought of it, so it probably wasn’t bad.

This chardonnay, though oaked, had a very light and refreshing flavor.  It was also incredibly smooth to drink, and went well with my brie.  I think it could be a good cooking wine as well, as it could really add a lot of good flavor to any dish without overpowering it.

As an experiment, I poured out a small glass of my Estancia chardonnay so I could compare the two.  Estancia has long been one of my favorite cheese chardonnays.  The Estancia still has a flavor I like, but compared to the Covey Run, it comes across as more harsh and less smooth.  But the Estancia does seem to have a more warm, homey flavor to it.  Honestly, I’m not sure which I like better.  I’m just really impressed that the Covey Run performed so well, and I think when the Columbia Reserve becomes available I’d like to see if it’s even better.

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My local Kroger started carrying Fromager D’Affinois so I’ll be trying out more Chardonnays to go with my brie.  This one caught my attention as it’s not treated with oak, which is what I prefer with my wines.  It’s a screw-off cap, which I’ve found isn’t always a bad thing, and can be helpful when on vacation.

I tried it by itself first, then later with my cheese.  It comes on rather strong with a bitey acidity to it.  Very fruity, but almost harshly so.  I really prefer the Layer Cake Chardonnay over this one, it didn’t appeal to me.  It’s not the worst Chardonnay, and I’ll certainly drink it and eventually finish the bottle, but I probably won’t buy it again.  I imagine it might go well with some sort of citrus food, like lemon marinaded salmon or orange peel chicken.

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I got the Friday night VIP ticket for $55 which included a beer glass, T-shirt and food ticket.  Parking was $10, but I got dropped off at the entrance.  They didn’t oversell for the event so the lines weren’t too long to get in.

When you first arrive, you’ll get your ID checked, then get your name checked against a list.  I think if you didn’t pre-order your ticket you’re going to be SOL for this event.  You get a ticket that tears off into 3 pieces, depending upon what you’ve ordered.  One piece is for your glass when you come in.  It’s like a large shot glass that holds 4 oz.  The next piece is for your T-shirt, which comes in many sizes.  It’s just a plain white T-shirt with a black phrase on the front and black logo on the back.  The last chunk of your ticket is for your food.  I recommend looking at several different BBQ booths before you choose where to eat. Some of them even offered drinks, snacks or other cool things with the meal.

I picked Big Al’s randomly, not knowing that you can only get food once for the ticket.  I thought it was unlimited food…  The dish came with BBQ pork, beans, coleslaw and 2 pieces of white bread.  I opted for no bread.  The BBQ was good but had a few gristly bits in it.  The beans went really well with the BBQ.  The coleslaw had a bit too much pepper for my taste, but I ate most of it anyway.  Afterward I browsed through some of the other food booths and saw one with sweet corn and sweet potatoes, I think that one might have been better.

There was an impressive beer selection there.  I tried to try what I could, but I don’t think it’s possible for a single human to try them all in one day.  Each booth has at least 2 different varieties of beer, and there were so many booths.  Of course they had bourbon there too, all different kinds of bourbon.  But I’m not much of a bourbon person, all I tried was one of the honey bourbons and it was a bit tough for me.  But they had a lot more too!  Sweet tea vodkas, other vodkas, boxed margaritas, rum and mixers, Jager bombs, and others I didn’t get around to.

About halfway through the evening they brought out a large pig for everyone to eat off of.  It was near the front by the live music.  It wasn’t the greatest entertainment, but people were here for the booze, not the entertainment.

There were also booths with other things like drawings, ice cream, cigars, barrel moonshine kits, clothes, jewelry, and many other non-beer related things.

I think it was a really well-organized, well-controlled event.  The lines were all really short, and I don’t think I waited in a line more than 5 people long for any beer.  I think it was a really good time and I look forward to going again next year.

http://www.beerandbourbon.com/cary/show-info

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2009 Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay

I purchased this Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay at my local Kroger the other day.  It was decently priced, and since I had just gotten done making a chocolate cake, the label grabbed my attention.  I read the back and found that they use no oak.  I don’t know why making wine in oak barrels is still so popular.  I don’t think it adds anything positive to the flavor of the wine to store it in wood.  Other than the Turner & Cole Lot 3 Chardonnay it’s been really hard to find others like this.

I went to uncork it and it was a screw-off cap!  No cork!   That’s usually not a good sign, but since I paid a reasonable price for it, it shouldn’t be too bad.

This wine is actually really, really good!  Because it has no oak, it’s even more delicious with other foods like my cheesecake, cranberries, or plain ol’ Fromager d’Affinois.  Honestly I think it would go well with just about anything.  This is a fantastic wine for hot weather, all clean and fresh and crisp like a lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

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SpanishVines.com 2008 Tempranillo

My local Kroger had a few wines out for tasting the other day and this one caught my attention.  I brought home a bottle and I thought I’d try out my first wine review.  I’m still a wine nub yet, but I’ll try to be honest.

I chilled the wine in the fridge for a day, then let it air in the glass 30 minutes at room temperature before drinking.  The color is extremely dark, even for a red wine.  If this wine were a variety of coffee, it’d be an espresso.  It was rich, solid, and dark.  At first you taste something a bit sour and tingly like a light sparkling wine, but then you get hit by some really rich, deep flavors of black cherry, chocolate and coffee.  At first I thought it was just like a pinot noir but the after-flavors really hit you a lot harder.  Honestly I don’t know if I liked it.  I had a hard time trying to think of what it could possibly be matched with.  Certainly not cheese or fruit, not dessert, and far to deep to match most meals.  I suppose the kind of person who likes coffee and cigarettes for breakfast would like the SpanishVines.com Tempranillo for dinner.

I’d like to try some other Tempranillos if I can find them.  The idea that the bottle of wine has a “.com” at the end of the name puts me off a little.

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