Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19th, 2013 - TWITs Georgia Mountain Winery Bus Tour

October 19th, 2013 - TWITs Georgia Mountain Winery Bus Tour

The TWITs had an absolute blast tasting wines in the North Georgia Mountains.  Even though it was chilly and bit overcast, we embraced the Autumn weather and wined on!

Photo Gallery

Our first stop was Monteluce.  If you've never been to Monteluce, you are in for a treat.  The entire countryside reminds me of Tuscany. The views and buildings are just beautiful!  Our bartender was John Hammond, a very humorous, sassy, guy.  He had served us last year as well, and it was a pleasure to see him again. I did the Red Wine tasting for $16 and split it with a friend.
Overall, I think Monteluce's wines are an improvement this year over last year.  I also recommend they stop using the tiny tasting glasses, the wines taste TOTALLY different and BETTER in a larger wine glass.  Request one if you go there for a tasting.  All the Monteluce wines were between 12-13% alcohol.

1) 2011 Montaluce Risata  $5 glass/$19 bottle
(Blend of Monteluce grapes:  Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec)
Monteluce's tasting notes:  "This off-dry Rose is made from all 9 varietals we grow.  It is the perfect example of a Georgia Rose with its raspberry and cherry flavors along with a zesty, spicy undertone of citrus, melon, and white pepper.  Pair with Idiazabal Cheese or our Garden Beets."
TWITs tasting notes:  Risata means "Laughter" in Italian. could not gather a nose for this one, no aromas to me, light simple rose.

2) 2012 Monteluce Super Georgian $7 glass/$27 bottle
26% Merlot, 20% Sangiovese, 18% Cabernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, and 8% Petit Verdot
Monteluce's tasting notes:  "Monteluce Estate grown red grapes co-fermented create this luscious wine with fresh red cherry and dark chocolate flavors.  Pair with Drunken Goat cheese or the Rabbit Duo."
TWITs tasting notes:  was able to gather some nose, but it was not very fragrant.  The palate is very very very fruit forward.  Almost too much for me.

3) 2009 Monteluce Baleno $5 glass/$12 bottle
100% Merlot,
Monteluce's tasting notes:  "Candied cherry on the nose, Medium bodied with a rustic finish.  This is a wine made for food.  Pair with Pimento Cheese "
TWITs tasting notes:  Baleno means "Lightning, glitter, sparkle, or glow" in Italian.  This wine had a funky nose, I felt it might benefit from aerating or decanting.  The palate was much more pleasant, but ended abruptly in a thin finish.  I would try this one again at a later date perhaps?

4) 2009 Monteluce Tramonto $6 glass/$17 bottle
Monteluce's tasting notes:  "A Bordeaux style blend named for the beautiful North Georgia Sunset.  Medium on the palate with flavors of red berries and faint smell of cigar box. Pair with Crater Lake Blue Cheese"
TWITs tasting notes:  Tramonto means "sunset" in Italian.  faint mushroom, cedar on the nose, more promising palate, very light red wine (to me), but MUCH better than the previous ones.

5) NV Monteluce La Stella $9 glass/$35 bottle
60% French grown & 40% Georgia grown (varietal specifics weren't listed)
Monteluce's tasting notes:  "The Georgia grown Merlot, was aged in oak barrels for 6 months before blending with French grown Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  This very balanced wine has earthy tones of dried mushrooms, black currant, cherry, and whiffs of old leather on the nose.  Pair with Painted hills Short Rib."
TWITs tasting notes:  Beautiful nose on this one, lots of leather and mushroom.  This was my favorite Red of the entire flight.  I considered buying a bottle but thought it was a bit overpriced for the quality.

The next stop was Wolf Mountain Vineyards.  Wolf Mountain seems to be higher up and has another spectacular view of the countryside.  Their tasting room and restaurant are built into the mountain, so you have amazing panoramic views on 3 different levels of decks/balconies.
Our bartender at Wolf Mountain was Blake Stevens.  He was super sweet and even poured a little "heavier" for us, since we split our tastings again. We got the Reserve Tasting Flight for $20 (shared with a friend).
Blake informed us the red grapes are grown at Wolf Mountain, but the white grapes are from Frogtown.

1) Blanc de Blancs Brut - $10 glass/ $25.95 bottle / 200 cases produced
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "A light bread flavor was imparted by aging en tirage (on the yeast) for almost a year.  This combined with hints of citrus, spice notes, and crisp acidity makes this our signature style sparkling wine."
TWITs notes:  I liked this wine, it was light, crisp, dry, I would say a good "breakfast" wine.

2) Vintner's Reserve Brut Rose - $10 glass/ $27.95 bottle / 100 cases produced
Blend of Chardonnay & Claret grapes (Malbec, Tannat)
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "Made by adding a small amount of our Reserve Claret to the dosage in order to produce a beautiful light salmon color. This adds more complexity and red berry flavors, without overwhelming the delicate citrus flavors and crisp acidity."
TWITs notes:  Lovely Rose, nice and crisp, dry, just how I like it.

3) Blanc de Syrah Brut - $10 glass/ $29.95 bottle / 200 cases produced
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "A one of a kind in North America, our Blanc de Syrah Brut is made from Estate grown and whole cluster pressed Syrah.  It offers complex raspberry and strawberry flavors building to a dry crisp finish. "
TWITs notes:  I felt this one tasted a bit sweeter than the others, and seemed "off" somehow.  not thrilled.

4) Sparkling Demi-Sec- $10 glass/ $25.95 bottle / 100 cases produced
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "A medium-dry sparkling wine designed to bring out the delicate fruit flavors of the Chardonnay grapes.  The addition of sweetness softens the acidity and smooths out the finish. "
TWITs notes:  Much better than the last wine, a good compromise if you like a slightly sweeter sparkling wine.

5) Plentitude- $8 glass/ $21.95 bottle / 650 cases produced
Chardonnay & Viognier
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "French for "All the best" Plentitude is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier.  Aged in stainless steel to preserve its acidity, it expresses beautiful citrus and grapefruit notes with a crisp refreshing finish. "
TWITs notes:  It smells like fresh picked green grapes, and while it's not unpleasant, I feel it needs a food pairing to be fully appreciated.

6) Chanteloup- $8 glass/ $25.95 bottle / 375 cases produced
Chardonnay & Viognier
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "French for "Song of the Wolf", Chanteloup is a full-bodied Oak aged blend of Chardonnay and Viognier.  Chanteloup offers notes of melon and apricots with a softer finish "
TWITs notes:  Better than Plentitude, definitely get the melon and apricots on the nose, the oak is Kentucky oak, I think the TWITs quote of the day was "Their heart is in the right place" - Jackie

7) Private Reserve Chardonnay- $10 glass/ $32.95 bottle / 100 cases produced
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  "We broke tradition blending varietals to bottle this small lot of Chardonnay. Barrel fermented and aged 11 months in New American Oak, this wine exhibits rich melon and banana notes with a buttery oak finish"
TWITs notes:  Reminds me of a California Chardonnay, it is good, but I'm not a Chardonnay fan in general.

8) Howling Wolf Red - $10 glass/ $27.95 bottle / 470 cases produced
70% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wolf Mountain tasting notes:  " A non-vintage blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, these varieties are aged for 18-20 months in New American Oak barrels, offering notes of raspberry and strawberry jam with richer oak tannins on the finish."
TWITs notes:  There we go, finally a good decent red!  Nice nose, nice palate, love the finish.  Good, I love it, I really really wish they had more than ONE Red wine on their tasting sheet, but they said they ran out of the other red wines, unless you were in their wine club.  

9) there was an option to try the Delicieux (Delightful) - their port-style dessert wine, but I don't care for Port so I re-tasted the Howling Wolf Red.

Then we went to Frogtown Cellars.  Frogtown has a bit more casual atmosphere than the first two wineries we visited, but their wines are definitely a force to be reckoned with.  Hands DOWN Frogtown has the best red wines we tasted!  Frogtown was packed, as it was still harvest for them.  I had visited before, but this was by far the busiest I have ever seen them.  I didn't even have a chance to get the name of our bartender, it was too hectic.  They have bowls of Goldfish crackers that you can nibble while tasting. Yum!  Also, for some odd reason the entire lobby was humming with fruit flies.  We were constantly waving the flies away.  I believe we made a joke that "where's the frogs? they should be eating these flies like crazy" This is not the norm for Frogtown.  They told me it was just this way due to the harvest.  It was better if we got our tasting glass and some wine, then we went out on their back deck to admire the view.  Much fewer flies outside. Then we had to go inside to get a pour of the next wine, and so on.  However, it was a very nice day and we had fun looking out on the vineyards.  I did the All Red Wine Tasting for $15.

1) 2010 Frogtown Sangiovese - $8.50/glass, $20.99/bottle
12.5% alcohol.  90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet
TWITs notes:  earthy, tart, lovely nose, rich palate, big and bold, spicy as it opens up.

2) 2009 Frogtown Reserve Sangiovese - $12/glass, $28.99/bottle
TWITs notes: funky, dirty, I LOVE it!

3) Frogtown Applause FSO (First Standing Ovation, means their first time making it) - $8.50/glass, $21.99/bottle
TWITs notes: this one was okay, but not as wonderful as the first 2 wines.

4) 2008 Frogtown Cabernet Franc - $10.00/glass, $29.99/bottle
TWITs notes: absolutely delicious

5) 2009 Frogtown Propaganda - $12.00/glass, $33.99/bottle
TWITs notes: even better

6) 2009 Frogtown Personality - $8.00/glass, $19.99/bottle
TWITs notes: yummy!

7) 2008 Frogtown Norton - $12.00/glass, $28.00/bottle
TWITs notes: WOW AMAZING, we bought 2 bottles of this.

Last we had very brief stop at Cavender Creek.

Our driver was the lovely Nevolia from Georgia Wine Tours.

We had 7 attendees and we rode in a large comfy van for this trip.  After the tour, we had dinner at Season's 52.  Yummy!


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  2. Shout out to the Georgia wineries for bringing us Norton!! Aka Vitis aestivalis, a varietal you'll not find anywhere outside the U.S. Frogtown does it justice... make sure you get your Norton from Frogtown, folks!
    Thanks for arranging this Abbie, it was my best North GA experience ever.

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