Friday, April 23, 2010

Winery Reviews: Wolf Mountain and Montaluce

My parents' cabin just south of Blairsville is giving us great opportunities to check out the wineries around Dahlonega, which are on the way. We just have to be careful because stopping on the way up means we have to go over Blood Mountain, and on the way back we have to be mindful of Georgia 400 and Atlanta traffic. In other words, we have to sip judiciously, which is hard because we visited a couple of good ones this last trip.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards is just off the road between Dahlonega and Blairsville. I had high expectations because I had visited their Roswell tasting room many years ago and loved the reds, and I wasn't disappointed. I don't think that the Roswell tasting room is still open.

They offer two tasting flights, the "Estate Tasting Flight," or tastes of eight of the estate wines for $10, or the "Reserve Tasting Flight," eight reserve wines for $20. Some of the wines overlap lists, but we saw Claret on the Reserve tasting list, so that pretty much made our decision. Here's what we tasted:

2008 Blanc de Blancs Brut
Yes, a North Georgia sparkling wine! Oaky chardonnay nose, which is not surprising since that's the grape used. Citrus on the palate with very mild yeast and some creaminess.
Rating: Good

2008 Vintners Reserve Brut Rosé
Has some Reserve Claret in it for the color. Nice balance of yeast and red berry flavors. A pink wine that Hubby liked!
Rating: Very Good

2009 Plenitude
75% Chardonnay and 25% Viognier
Stone fruit Viognier nose, but with the acidity of Chardonnay. The best comparison we could come up with was that it's like a Sauv Blanc with the smoothness of an unoaked chard and the silkiness of Viognier.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2008 Chanteloup
70% French-Oak aged Chard and 30% Steel-Fermented Viognier
A little oak on this one, but mostly citrus and melon with some minerality, and again the silky texture of a Viognier.
Rating: Good

2007 Instinct
"Field Blend" of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Touriga Nacional
Musky, smoky nose. A medium-bodied red with currant-cherry flavors. It would probably be better with food. Like meat. Red meat. Yes, it's aptly named.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2007 Claret
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Mourvedre
Well-balanced with nice, dark fruit on the nose and all the way through. Oh, yes, we liked it.
Rating: Very Good

2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice dark fruit nose with blackberry and cassis on the palate. Yum.
Rating: Very Good

Like Port, but not syrupy.
Rating: Very Good

We ended up joining the wine club and bringing home bottles of the Brut Rosé, Claret, and Reserve Cabernet. Yes, we liked them that much. We'll do the regular tasting next time. Oh, and we also ended up having a glass of the Reserve Cabernet with a cheese plate while enjoying the view:

On the way back to Atlanta, we stopped by Montaluce Winery & Estates. Well, not the estates, just the winery. If you recall, we were there back in January for the "Wine Conclave." I am pleased to report that they thawed out nicely, and the view from the porch is even prettier in the spring:

The winery offers different flights of three wines for $10 each. We tasted the rose, two whites and two reds, all made at Montaluce.* It was interesting to taste the wines outside the context of a meal. Click here for my first review of the wines as well as what they were served with.

The Risata, or rosé, seemed to have simultaneously smoothed out and become a little more tart than previously. The Chardonnay still had its vanilla and lime flavors but had also developed some melon notes. The Viognier is honeysuckle and honey, a good sipping wine for a hot afternoon. The Merlot, again medium-bodied with blackberry and raspberry, had some tobacco overtones. Finally, the Cabernet Sauvignon was still very good. We got glasses of the Cabernet and Viognier to sip on the porch and wait for snack time:

Both Wolf Mountain and Montaluce have restaurants as part of the wineries. I'm looking forward to trying Wolf Mountain's Vineyard Cafe sometime. At Montaluce, we shared an arugula salad with blue cheese, pork belly croutons, and cashews tossed in sherry vinaigrette. We also split a ramp flatbread, which had ramps (a garlicky spring onion-type vegetable), Manchego, and chilis. They paired a wine with it, and unfortunately I didn't get the name, but it was one of their wide selection of Italian whites. Apparently our efforts to eat light posed a challenge to the sommelier, but he rose to the occasion and picked the perfect wine.

One thing to remember is that several of the North Georgia wineries host weddings, so if you're looking for a less expensive "destination," it's something to consider. For the rest of us who are already married, it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure they'll be open regular tasting hours on weekends.

We came back from Montaluce with bottles of the Risata, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It looks like my parents' investment in a mountain home is going to benefit us in many ways. I'm happy to be able to support our state's "agritourism" efforts. If you've turned your nose up at Georgia wine in the past, consider visiting one of these wineries. You may change your mind.

*Yes, FCC, they comped the tasting and all but two glasses afterward because they know us.


Aislinn O'Connor said...

If any of these are exported to the UK, I'd be interested to know of any distributors that sell them - I'd love to try some wine from Georgia! Failing that, it's going on my list of places to visit when I make my longed-for tour of the American South :-)

Joe said...

Wolf Mountain's such a great place to visit. The views are amazing. I have the Blanc de Blancs in the keep, and I think I liked the Instinct and Chanteloup as well.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Aislinn, if you come down this way, let us know, and we'll take you around the Dahlonega wineries.

Joe, have you eaten at Wolf Mountain? Yes, I was very excited about North Georgia bubbles. When are you and Heather going to come to Decatur for the Iberian Pig experience?