Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tasting Notes & Winery Reviews: Three Sisters & Blackstock (North Georgia)

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is having a great weekend. My assignment was to bring apple pie and macaroni & cheese. Both turned out really good:

I'd like to declare a mulligan for November, please. The month started with a thrown-out back, then a hurt neck, then a stomach virus, then back out again, and now a cold. Yeah, I'm so ready for December! With all the crap that's happened this month, I haven't had much time or opportunity for blog-worthy stuff, and I didn't really think y'all would have much patience for my whining. I do intend to write a review of the Iberian Pig, especially since I think that the "professional" reviewers have been unnecessarily harsh, but I want to go back and try the entrees first. I've also gotten a new laptop, and it's been fun trying to get everything moved over.

Let's go back to the end of October, when Hubby, my parents, and I checked out a couple of the North Georgia wineries. For those who haven't been following me on Twitter and who don't know, my parents got a second/retirement home in Blairsville, and Hubby and I got a key. Yes, we're very excited. Here's the view from the porch that weekend, when the leaves were nearing peak color:

Impressive, no? Just as impressive was the lunch I fixed us for our five-year wedding anniversary, stuffed lobster tail with Caprese salad and an unoaked Chardonnay (don't remember which one -- got something cheap-ish since I was cooking with it):

We first tried to stop at Frogtown, but they had moved their tasting outside due to a wedding. My father is allergic to yellow jackets, and it was cold for my mom, so we decided to try them another day and go over the hill to Three Sisters Vineyards (not on the list). This is a winery that prides itself on not taking itself too seriously. You'll often see the owners, one of whom wears overalls, in the tasting room.

They have two levels of tasting. The "Vintner's Tasting" costs $12, and you get to keep the glass. It includes tastes of six wines, four from the top tier, all dry wines (price points $14-$28) and two from the lower tier. The "Complimentary Tasting" is free and includes three tastes from the lower tier, which range in description from "Off Dry" to "Dang Sweet" (price points $8.99-$15.99) and no glass. We went for the "Vintner's Tasting" because the cabin needs wine glasses, and we wanted to try a full range of wines. Here's what I tried:

Top Tier:

2004 Chardonnay (No Oak!):
Has the "Georgia wine" nose with a hint of muscadine, but mostly citrus. The palate is a nice balance of vanilla, lemon, and melon.
Rating: Very Good

2004 Cabernet Franc:
A lighter-bodied Cab Franc, this one had a spicy, oaky nose but ended up being a little cough-syrupy.
Rating: Okay/Good

2004 Cab/Merlot:
Bing cherry nose, medium-bodied and fruity.
Rating: Good

2004 Cynthiana: Norton grape
Black cherry nose, but otherwise unremarkable.
Rating: Good

Lower Tier:

Chestatee Red: Cab/Merlot blend
Berry and plum
Rating: Good

Blood Mountain Red:
Smells like a real red, jammy and a little viscous in texture
Rating: Good to Very Good

We got a bottle each of the No Oak! Chardonnay and the Blood Mountain Red, which pairs well with Cheetos, as they demonstrate during the tasting, and should go well with barbecue.

I did take a picture of their vineyards, but went for the vineyard view over the Three Sisters mountain view, for which the winery is named:

Our next stop was BlackStock, which is close by Frogtown and Three Sisters. Their tasting is eight wines for $10, and they'll comp a tasting if you buy four bottles. Hubby and I each got a tasting and passed back and forth, so that's how I have notes on more than eight. They also have the beautiful views:


From the tasting room:

Here's what we tried:

2007 Chardonnay:
Mineral and citrus with a melon finish; wants cheese
Rating: Very Good
Wow, two Chards I liked in a day!

2008 Chardonnay:
A little smoke on the back of the palate.
Rating: Good

2007 Viognier:
smoky/earthy nose, a little grassy
Rating: Good

2008 Reserve Viognier:
A little oaky with a lot of stone fruit.
Rating: Good

2006 Sangiovese Rosé:
Dry with mild oak, just short of syrupy with nice strawberry notes
Rating: Very Good/Excellent

2008 Sangiovese:
Italian-style with big fruity nose and a dry, spicy finish
Rating: Very Good

2005 Merlot:
Dark fruit nicely balanced with oak
Rating: Very Good

2005 ACE Family Reserve: reserve Merlot, Mourvedre, and Touriga
Liked the previous vintage better
Rating: Good

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon:
Fruit and leather nose, tannic but smooth
Rating: Very Good/Excellent

2005 Reserve Merlot:
More full-bodied than the non-reserve with more oak and darker fruit.
Rating: Very Good/Excellent

NV Touriga Dulce:
Can smell the alcohol on the nose, but not bad with berry and caramel notes.

Blackstock's tasting room also offers a limited array of wine munchies such as a cheese sampler, chocolate port cup, and French baguette. Additional pours are $1.00, and they also offer wines by the glass. Price points on bottle go from $10.99 to $26.99.

We came home with Sangiovese, Sangiovese Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

For information on Georgia wineries, the area, and an almost full list of wineries and tasting rooms, go to

Tasting Tips:

1. Before you go, check websites for tasting room hours. Also consider calling ahead, especially during the week off-peak and on weekends during peak due to closings for events. For example, we tried to go to Montaluce on the way up that Saturday, but by the time we got there, they weren't accepting any more walk-in tastings because they were clearing the place for a wedding.

2. As Hubby and I did, consider getting a tasting for each person and passing glasses back and forth if you're sure neither of you are sick and you feel comfortable doing so. Most of the pours are 4-6 sips' worth, so you should have enough to get an idea of the wine.

3. Ask questions about where the grapes are grown, how the wines are made, etc. The people there are more than happy to answer questions and talk, and they're a little more laid-back than in other regions. There's no point in pulling a snobby wine attitude EVER, but especially here.

4. Remember where you're staying in relation to the wineries. For example, if you've got to drive back to Atlanta or go over Blood Mountain, take it easy or bring or hire a driver.


Three Sisters Vineyards said...

Thanks For The Three Sisters Visit & Review. Sounds like you had a good time in these here hills. I did want to tell you that we don't cultivate muscadines at Three Sisters. Too cold here for commercial production of that grape in Dahlonega. Not sure about your encounter with a "muscadine nose" but am glad you liked the wine! We believe folks can be right proud of Georgia wines these days. If you come with an open mind to taste what we can cultivate and vint from this mountain estate'll experience a rare wine or two from the east coast. Sadly, many people avoid the opportunity to taste locally produced wines while getting wrapped up in California and European comparisons. That is about like waiting for a trip Italy to taste Italian style foods! Many wonderful artisans are making wine and cheese and food right in your own backyard. Come see again soon.
Remember, Thar's WINE in Them Thar Hills!-tm at Three Sisters Vineyards. Cheers! The Guy In The Overalls.

Dan said...

Cecilia, you hit my two favorite wineries in Georgia (and IMHO, the only two worth visiting). Blackstock is decent, but Three Sisters is most definitely tops on my list. Based on my prior experiences tasting Georgia wines (or what passed for wines!), I was pleasantly surprised to find some darn good juice at Three Sisters.