United Slurps of America: North Carolina

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America. Week ten: It’s North Carolina.

Well, actually it’s week eleven. Last week We took a bye. This week’s edition of our Slurpin’ America had a couple of hiccups (namely that our original co-blogger, who will remain unnamed, went MIA), but We’re back into the project with our palates fresh and eager to taste the states.

Thank you, Twitter friends and Facebook fans (or “likes” as FB now refers to you–weird) for hooking Us up with our (new, improved, and non-flakey) North Carolina co-blogger, Joshua Sweeney of Wine(Explored). He’s a cool dude with a fun and informative blog to add to your wine-related reads. When We were scrambling to find a new friend he stepped up with enthusiasm. But really, who wouldn’t want to try McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks?

After hearing such positive (downright effusive) reviews of McRitichie’s wine and cider we cold-emailed them in hopes of getting some wine shipped to Us in California. Patricia McRitchie replied within a few days,”We did our due diligence and read excerpts from your blog.  We were highly entertained and would enjoy reading your thoughts on NC wines.” Awesome. Our big thanks to Patricia and her family for playing along with Us.

Check out McRitchie’s jealousy-inducing website to find out more about this family run business in the bucolic hills of Yadkin Valley. Not just grapevines. Chickens! Bees! Horses! Cute kids! And We knew We were going to especially enjoy this tasting when We saw this picture of the father/son wine-making team. Here are our collective reviews.

Dry Hard Cider, McRitchie 2008 (sample, $14)

She said: The bubbles are very fine, even scarce–looks like a Moscato d’Asti in the glass. Very pale green yellow in color. Very subtle on the nose as well–barely a hint of apples with some yeasty, bready scents. After months (well, years really) of paying very close attention to wine scents and flavors, the cider is a refreshing change, but I can’t help but compare it to wine: it reminds me of a Txakolina. Super dry and refreshing with very quiet and elegant apple notes (but completely dry–more like a Granny Smith than a Fuji). I imagine the cider would be excellent with food and also an aperitif. Makes me want to be outside and cook on the grill. Love it.

He said: In Her notebook she wrote, “He is going to love this.” She’s right. The cider is a shiny gold-green (reminder: I’m colorblind, could always be wrong on this) with tiny little bubbles. Yeast and bread initially on the nose giving way to green apple…a green apple Jolly Rancher™. In the mouth it is very dry with more sour apple. It tastes like an apple Jolly Rancher™ too. I love it. So, good. I want a case(s) of this. It would be such a great thing to take to daytime summer parties. I will seek this out again.

Wine(Explored) said: It’s much, much lighter than most hard ciders I’ve seen. I cheered inwardly a bit when I noticed the carbonation in the glass. It’s very fine, frizzante, not aggressive like the more common hard ciders. It has a musty, Champagne-like nose with a very subdued apple scent. I honestly don’t know what to expect just from the smell. The flavor is very subtle, and, as the name states, very dry. The apple flavor is pure, but not sweet, like apple juice. If it weren’t for the warming sensation in my throat and stomach, I wouldn’t even be sure there was alcohol here. It barely comes through on the finish, but there’s just enough there to give it a bite. Its got a great balance. 7/10

Fallingwater, Yadkin Valley, McRitchie 2009 (sample, $16)

She said: Very pale yellow. The nose has a funky chemical smell mixed in with honeysuckle, tangerine, and other tropical notes. There is a citrus peel bitterness on the finish and a strong acidity, yet the wine is also very full and rich, almost overly luxurious in the mid-palate. Seems out of balance. Not for me, but very interesting to taste and ponder.

He said: Slightly cloudy and pale yellow-gold in the glass. The nose is weird; citrus, tropical and scents that I can’t really describe. I actually wrote “indescribable” in my notebook. Strong acidity with very light fruit. There is something woody about it to me, or like carbonated water. I don’t really like it. 

Wine(Explored) said: The Fallingwater has a very light yellow color, with just a tinge of green, and it has a lower viscosity than I would have expected. The nose consists of overly ripe tropical notes, apricot and a sweetness like honey, and a bit of vinyl. Rather dry, with a detectable alcohol flavor and a hot scent. Flavor of apricot preserves, pineapple, and there is that slight vinyl flavor. It’s got a very luxurious, tropical medley on the finish that’s hard to pin down but still very enjoyable.  Has a very strong acidity that becomes prominent on the finish. Balance isn’t quite there for me. 6/10

Ring of Fire, Yadkin Valley, McRitchie 2008 (sample, $18)

She said: Very deep purpley ruby color. Oak on the nose, but also chocolate, coffee, dark berries. The wine is lush on the palate–almost syrupy. Medium tannin and alcohol is in balance with the fruit–the structure is strong but doesn’t overwhelm the flavors. Rich and creamy finish, like chocolate milk. With a fresh blueberry garnish. Very enjoyable and easy drinking wine. Tried it again later with a turkey meatball sandwich (from Locali–love that place) and it paired wonderfully.

He said: Actually drinking it as I type this post. I had it last night and my notes are fairly negative, but I am enjoying it right now. Light nose with coffee and dark fruit. Maybe a little licorice too. Nice weight and very rich in the mouth, but maybe a little too much oak for me. Some heat in mid-palate and finish. Not great, but a nice, drinkable wine.

Wine(Explored) said: Color’s a very deep, almost opaque reddish purple. Rich scent of redcurrant and coffee. It has a very smooth, very full texture, evidence of a very good amount of time in oak. Flavor is a very rich mocha with a bit of cherry. Tannins are chalky, not quite chewy, and the sensation lingers on the finish. Good balance on the alcohol here; it contributes to the structure without coming forward. Though simple, this one is my favorite of their wines. 7/10

Merlot, Yadkin Valley, McRitchie 2008 (sample, $18)

She said: A very dark/opaque garnet with a translucent purple rim. There is obvious oak on the nose, but more than anything else: chocolate. Pleasant, soft and chalky tannin and more coca on the palate. Also sense dried herbs (lavender?), coffee, and stewed tart cherries. The wine finishes a bit harshly with high acid and an almost burnt, bitter flavor (in this way it is similar to the white we tasted). Another interesting wine to taste; it challenged my palate.

He said: Deep Purple. Chocolate, anise, and more chocolate on the nose. I wrote “Really nice smelling wine” in my notebook. A little light in the mouth but very tasty. Coffee, chocolate, a little bit of heat and licorice in the finish. The flavors are great in this wine, but the composition seems a little “funny”. Good not great.

Wine(Explored) said: Before I even get to the color, I can smell the chocolate. My exact words: “mmmm, chocolatey.” Anyway, the color is a wonderful, deep, rich red with a very, very light purple tint that becomes noticeable on the swirl.  In addition to the chocolate on the nose, there’s a jammy cherry scent. I also, and I think I’m a bit crazy, get a hint of both burlap and maple syrup. Was this aged in French oak? I can definitely detect the oak influence in the flavor, contributing a powdery vanilla-sugar flavor. I also get a tart cherry and coffee and a bit of chocolate on the finish, which is long and clean. There’s also a certain sort of baking spice flavor like cloves or cinnamon. Mouthfeel is a bit stringy and the alcohol/acidity balance is a bit harsh, but the overall experience is a clean, medium-bodied, classic Merlot flavor. 6/10

10 down, 40 to go…

Summary:

We said: This was a real treat and We give a big, glass clinking “Cheers!” to the McRitichie family and Wine(Explored) for expanding and tantalizing our national palate. Also, love, love, love the little diagrams on the back labels.

Yesterday afternoon We stepped out onto Her usually lovely porch to enjoy our last few sips of McRitichie’s delicious cider and were greeted with this not-so-lovely view:

A big hole, an even bigger tractor, and a construction worker’s butt. And the noise. Suddenly big-city life felt a lot less glamorous. We took our glasses back inside, turned up the music, and daydreamed about being elsewhere…the lush, quiet splendor of North Carolina, sipping McRitchie cider.

Previously on USA: Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington

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5 comments

  1. Thanks for bringing me on board for this, guys! It was a fantastic time, and I got to taste a new winery.

    P.S. I thought the Fallingwater was closer to $10… knowing it’s close to $20, I’d probably rate it a 5.

  2. Joe says:

    glad you guys worked it out with my friendly neighbor to the north!

  3. inkwench says:

    You go to Yadkin Valley and don’t hit Shelton? RagApple? Any number of others?

    I do more with Haw River AVA–they sell at the local farmers market!


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