Blogs > The Grapevine

Wine recommendations and comments from Dean and Lisa Foster, Vintage Connections Wine Educators and Consultants. Most wines are available in Southeastern Pennsylvania and are priced between $10 and $20. Up-coming "wine events" available in the Pottstown Tri-county area are listed.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wine Tips of the Week - In SEARCH for Chardonnay and NC Wineries

 from Vintage Connections 
Dean and Lisa Foster 
Wine Educators and Consultants  


In this issue, we'd like your recommendations about Chardonnay!  

In SEARCH of Chardonnay 

Chardonnay is the best selling white wines in the world and grows well in most grape-growing regions.  It's easy to find, so why go "in search of Chardonnay?"

Because Chardonnay grows in many different conditions, and because it is influenced by the terroir and affected so much by  winemakers' decisions about style, Chardonnay is a chameleon, taking on many different aromas and flavors.  

Many wine drinkers have only tasted "oaked" Chardonnay, and many people who "don't like Chardonnay" have only tasted strongly oaked, high alcohol styles.  But Chardonnay can be crafted to be a more delicate, subtle wine as well.  French White Burgundy, which is 100% Chardonnay, is often made with a softer (French) oak influence and with lower alcohol than the "big" Chardonnays from California, Australia, and other similar climates. 
Some Chardonnays are "naked," made in stainless steel with no oak.  These Chardonnays display more of the fruit of the vine, but lack the vanilla and toasty aroma and flavor imparted by oak (even in subtle ways). They can be delicious and dry, we think with more aroma and flavor than many other whites.

So, why go "in search" of Chardonnay?  First, because different Chardonnays display so many different aromas and flavors, it's fun (and educational) to try different styles, comparing the differences and "searching" for a few favorites.  

Secondly, because it is so common, we take Chardonnay for granted ourselves, rarely write about it, forget how much we enjoy it, and often forget to buy it as we are searching for something a "little different."  So, we've gone to the wine fridge and our wine closet in the basement, searching for Chardonnay, only to find we have NONE!  Oh, that roasted chicken was craving a lightly oaked Chardonnay with hints of vanilla and toast, and the cupboards were bare.  Oh NO! 

So, we're asking our readers to go "searching for Chardonnay" and tell us what you find, what you like, and what you don't like.  We'll report back after we've heard from a few (or more, hopefully) readers.  If you want to remain anonymous, let us know and we'll respect that.  Otherwise, we'll list your favorites and identify you by first name (or alias if you prefer).

GET TO IT!!!  Go search and taste and describe some Chardonnays (and French White Burgundies), tell us what you smell, taste, feel, and like and dislike.  Please write to us at by Monday, August 13 (that gives those of you who - sadly - only drink wine on the weekends TWO weekends to do some experimenting).


On the Road Again - North Carolina Wineries

We've written about North Carolina's Yadkin Valley AVA wineries and wines in the past.  Yes, good wine is made in North Carolina, especially in the Yadkin Valley.  Because of its (high) elevation, the temperatures and growing season enable vineyard managers and wine makers to grow and produce some excellent viniferas and a few good French-American hybrids.

Recently, we made the trip south again and by the time we reached the VA/NC border on Interstate 77, we couldn't resist the craving and temptation to stop at a few Yadkin Valley wineries.  Besides, we needed wine for our week away from home and were craving Chardonnay (hmmm).  Why buy from a liquor store when so many wineries are inviting you to visit (highway signs aggressively promote wineries in VA and NC)?

This trip, we only stopped at three wineries, although in the past we have stopped at MANY wineries in VA and most of those in northern NC, the Yadkin Valley AVA, along I-77. 

First across the border heading south, we stopped at Round Peak Vineyards.  Round Peak has become one of our favorites.  Good wine, very friendly tasting staff (usually one of the owners, husband and wife), and they are DOG FRIENDLY with a cute "dog yard" next to the winery, providing a shady spot for Rohan, our doggie companion.

Round Peak produces a line of dry whites and reds which we have enjoyed and purchased over and over.  They often sell out (see their website for a painful illustration), so we've often missed some of their best.  But, we've always found a few wines worth taking with us.  They also produce a line of sweeter wines, using the Skull Camp label, for those who like their wine on the sweeter side.  And, just recently they've started BREWING BEER and putting two on tap at a time.  We really enjoyed a sample of Kolsch-style beer.  Regrettably, they had not received their shipment of growlers yet so we had to go on our way without the beer.  However, we were satisfied (very) with a few wines including a wonderful Chardonnay, a tasty dry rose (made with Cabernet Franc).  Usually, Dean doesn't like roses, even the better dry ones, but this Cab Franc Rose was excellent. 

Next down the road is Shelton Vineyards.  Shelton is a big name in NC, and this is a huge wine operation.  The tasting room has to be one of the largest on the East Coast.  But, despite their size, they produce good wines and employ a friendly staff.  And, there is a very nice restaurant on the property (too often, we forget to eat while on our wine trips). 

Yep, we bought another Chardonnay for our trip.  Too bad we don't like sweet Riesling.  Cases of their "American Riesling" were on sale for $6 per bottle.  Unheard of.  Several years ago we lucked out and bought a case of mixed, dry, excellent reds for about $10 a bottle.  While not usually this inexpensive, Shelton has about the most reasonable wine prices we've found at any winery (on the East Coast).

Our last (but not least) stop this trip in the Yadkin Valley was Dobbins Creek Vineyards.  Dobbins Creek is one of five vineyards/wineries within the Swan Creek Association (a sub-area of the Yadkin Valley AVA) all within five miles of each other.  We've stopped at all of these wineries at one time or another and have several favorites among them.  This trip, we favored their dry Riesling, Chardonnay of course, and the wonderful, dry Hemric Mountain Rose made from Cabernet Franc. 

And, the view from the front porch is AMAZING.  Even if you don't drink wine, take drive up the mountain and take a look over the valley.  WOW! 

Enough already.  Time for a glass (or two) of wine! 

Fun Fact

Here's an easy one.  Burgundy is a wine-producing region of France.  In most of France, wines are named by their region, not grape variety.  Red Burgundy is 100% Pinot Noir.  White Burgundy is 100% Chardonnay.  NO OTHER WINE in the world should be named Burgundy.  If it's not from Burgundy, it isn't Burgundy.


Blogger Dean and Lisa Foster said...

OK, this was unexpected (but MUCH APPRECIATED). One reader helped resupply us in Chardonnay by gifting a bottle of unoaked Chard from Hosmer Winery in the Finger Lakes. Thanks!!

July 29, 2012 at 4:22 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home