Thursday, November 24, 2011


When I found out that Boo and I would be spending a bit of time in North Carolina, I got in touch with an old family friend, Desirée, who had moved to Virginia from Canada almost twenty years ago. Her mom and mine went to high school together (a few years ago) in the Kootenays and the respective families have stayed in touch all that time. Boo and I finally got on the road from Greensboro and committed ourselves to five or so hours of freeway driving to the Outer Banks on the Atlantic coast where Desirée arranged for all of us to rent a beach house for the weekend.

The drive was pretty monotonous for about the first three-quarters. Nothing but highways and interchanges. But, as we started getting closer to the coast and through a more rural lifestyle, the scenery was far more bucolic. On the final stretches before we hit the Atlantic, I started seeing farmer's fields and a huge smile crossed my face when I realized I was seeing cotton fields for the first time. It must have been during, or just after, harvest time because most of the fields were pretty much barren as we drove by, but there was no mistaking those white puffball-laden stalks when we saw a field that hadn't been picked. I was certainly thrilled when an opportunity presented itself where we could stop on the highway and get a real shot.

Shortly after the cotton fields, we hit the causeways that took us out the Outer Banks and it wasn't much further until we arrived in the interestingly named township of Kill Devil Hills. Desirée and Cruncher had arrived earlier in the day and had already started to set up house. That meant there was a much appreciated glass of wine just waiting to be tasted as soon as we put down our bags.

994. 2010 Casa Sant'Orsola - Dolcetto D'Alba (Dolcetto D'Alba DOC - Piedmont - Italy)

Casa Sant'Orsola is one of the brands operated by Fratelli Martini and has been in operation since 1947 when two Martini brothers, Secondo and Luigi, started up in the Langhe region of Piedmont. Now making wine under six different brands in most regions of the country, the Dolcetto goes back to the brothers' origins - Dolcetto being one of the most widely grown grapes in Piedmont.

Dolcetto is generally seen as a varietal that most major producers treat as an "early to market" wine. While the big Barolo's and Barbaresco's are perhaps better known wines from the region, they require minimum ageing before they can be released for sale. Wineries can keep the cash flow moving with the Dolcetto as it is considered a light, easy drinking wine that is meant to be drunk within a year or two of being released.

An easy drinker was just what we needed. The beach was only two blocks away from our new home. So, we filled our glasses and moseyed on down for a bit of a hike before the sun went down. Boo and I had met up and visited briefly with Desirée in Virginia once before when we weren't far away in Washington DC. We'd made a quick drive through the Outer Banks on that trip on our way to Raleigh (before HDR3 had moved to the Carolinas), but we didn't get a real chance to take in the beach or stay at all. This was a treat.

Things got even better when Desirée announced that she'd gone grocery shopping and was fixin' up some short ribs for dinner. She figured the food would be better than the tourist trap restaurants; the wine would be cheaper; and we wouldn't have to worry about making it home to bed. I think she was remembering our last visit where we finished off lord only knows how many bottles of Sangre de Toro. We joked about cheap red wine and bull's blood for years after that.

995. 2007 Stonefield Cellars Barrel X (North Carolina)

We'd picked up another couple of bottles at Stonefield Cellars when Boo and I were in Greensboro. We figured they'd be good for the weekend. I'd asked Desirée to see if she could bring down a couple Virginia wines with her when she came and her response was, "Why would you want me to? I may not know much about wine, but I know I don't touch Virginia wines." Somehow it just seemed right to pay a little homage the local product. We might have been a long way from Rome, but I figured we should still make like locals.

The Barrel X is a small batch production for Stonefield - there's only a single puncheon (or barrel that generally holds a little over 300 litres) - of Syrah, Barbera and Mourvèdre. Those aren't exactly varietals that I'd expect from a somewhat cooler climate region and that may be why the wine seemed a little green and acidic compared to the other reds that we drank that night. It tasted bigger and better at the winery, but I suppose that might be because we'd been comparing it to a lot of whites and lighter reds in the tasting room.

After posting our earlier visit to Stonefield Cellars, I was asked about the number of wineries in North Carolina. I took another quick look and saw that there are now over 100 wineries in the state - a four-fold increase over the last decade. North Carolina, as a state, is now the 9th biggest producer in the US. The situation actually sounds quite similar to the size and growth that BC wineries are seeing back home - our's is a new industry in the greater scheme of things as well. So, it will be interesting to see how North Carolina fares in the coming years.

996. (?..ndo) Amarone (Amarone della Valpolicella DOC - Italy)

I guess I'd better not go on vacation while I'm still counting bottles. I thought I was doing really well taking notes and photos of the bottles we enjoyed but it appears that this is the only picture I took of this bottle and it doesn't show enough of the label to see the name of the producer. I can make out the letters "NDO" but I couldn't find any producers that have a name with a similar ending. Oh well, the picture's there, we did drink the wine with Desirée's short ribs and I'm counting it.

Too bad I can't look up anything further on the wine. I can't say that we splurge on Amarone's all that often. We picked up the bottle to bring along as a treat - as opposed to a bottle of Sangre de Toro (which would have been hilariously funny) - since Desirée has mentioned that Amarone is a favourite of Cruncher's. We hadn't met Cruncher before since he wasn't on the scene when we last saw Desirée back in the 90's. I kinda thought he'd be my sort of peeps - even before I met him - when she mentioned the Amarone though.

Looking forward to the rest of the weekend? You bet.

No comments:

Post a Comment