About two weeks ago, I was invited out with other food and drink industry types to come for a special wine tasting at the Angus Barn. It was the second event in a tour promoting Virginian wares to their neighbor to the south: us. The first was a Virginian wine and food event at Fullsteam the previous afternoon, but I was unable to make both events in two days. When in doubt, choose the complimentary tasting!
The Angus Barn is one of the most popular restaurants in the area for the steakhouse crowd and the established Triangle politicos. This event was hosted by Barbara Ensrud, a well-known wine writer for her website Be Wine Wise and her long, acclaimed career in the field.
Barbara getting the event off to a good start.
It was a cozy setup with mostly winemakers and winery owners doing the pours. They were stationed in a small room at the back of the empty restaurant.
I slowly made my way through the group, starting with the enthusiastic owner of Democracy Vineyards, Jim. They were one of the youngest wineries at the tasting, opening up about three years ago. Most of the wineries represented had been around for about 10 years, but some had much longer histories than that, bordering on 30 years or more of winemaking. I spent a good amount of time talking with the lovely women of Foggy Ridge Cider, watching the charismatic wine pourer for Barboursville with fascination, and telling the wine pourer from Chateau Morrisette how much I loved their blushing dog rosé a few years back. Turns out all of Chateau Morrisette’s wines bear the image of the family’s black dogs.
A few of the wines stood out for my palette, which of course, may bear no resemblance to yours and tends to prefer blends for easy drinking. Chateau Morrisette had the perfect one for that, the Black Dog semi-dry red table wine. It’s on the left in the previous picture and is exceptionally smooth with strong chocolate, raspberry, and cherry notes. Smells sweet but tastes dry, and it is a cabernet franc and petit verdot blend.
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Watts Hillandale, Durham
This is a seasonal offering at Watts, and it’s the second I’ve had locally featuring Foggy Ridge cider—I must check into that label to see why our bartenders are experimenting with it! Including the cider, the Graniwinkle is made of house-spiced apple cider syrup, brandy, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Surprisingly, the lemon juice is the strongest flavor, and because it goes so well with brandy, I think that’s a great choice. I expected the maple syrup to be overwhelming, but it was mellow, acting as a binding agent for the apple, spice, and lemon more than anything else. The bubbles from the cider cut nicely through what might have been strong lemon otherwise, and the concentrated apple cider syrup gave the drink that little bit of extra oomph to keep my interest.
The Graniwinkle is a well-crafted drink that’s worthy of your taste buds if Watts is still featuring it!
Reviewed 3 Dec 11.
Foundation has another wonderful cocktail to add to its list with the Golden Era. Bourbon has been my spirit of choice for the past year or so, but recently, it’s been a bit too harsh for my palate. So I’ve gone back to my first love, rum. The Golden Era uses Cruzan single barrel rum, Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold cider, Peychaud’s bitters, and lemon peel to create a strong drink that’s smooth going down. Isn’t that what all good cocktails should strive for?
The star player in this drink is definitely the cider used to complement the rum. It’s a dessert cider, which wasn’t something I’d heard of before, though I know apples are common to the dessert wine world. In this drink, it mellowed out any harshness from the rum, and the subtle lemon oil from the peel gave it all a little infusion of brightness.
If you love rum, I think you’ll find this is a golden era at Foundation for your tastes.
Reviewed 10 Dec 11.