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The Sip & Share Wine Blog
Further Adventures in Traveling to Taste Black Wines by Nicole Kearney
In April, I traveled to beautiful, fun and sunny Miami, Florida. Why do you ask? To be part of a first, the first Black Women in Wine celebration. Marcee Jones, owner of Urban Connoisseur organized and hosted the event. In advance of the event, Celebrity Chefs “Hit Squad” a team of five Black male chefs to the stars tasted 40 wines. Out of the 40, they selected six wines to pair with a six-course meal. Each food pairing would compliment the wine being served. A few dishes were even prepared using the wines.
The six Black women winemakers chosen were Theodora Lee; Shae Frichette; Chrishon Lampley; Rhonda Russell; Dawna Darjean Jones and Sherrijon Gaspard. As each course was presented, wines poured and tasted, it was easy to understand how these six women and wines rose to the top. Each wine had a distinct profile that the food enhanced.
The first wine poured was Theopolis Vineyards 2014 Yorkville Highlands Symphony created by Theodora Lee, know as Theo-patra, Queen of the vineyards. Symphony is a blend of Muscat and Grenache Gris, fermented in stainless steel, it has a floral nose, tastes of peaches and mangoes with a clean finish. It was paired with grilled scallops on a bed spinach accompanied by an edible orchid. Theopolis Vineyards located in Yorkville, California started in 2003, producing its first harvest in 2006. Theopolis Vineyard boasts three other award-winning varietals. They include 2015 Symphony; 2013 Estate Grown Petite Sirah, 2014 Rose’ of Petite Sirah and 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir as well as 2015 Pinot Noir.
The second wine was Love Cork Screw’s Good Times Good Friends Pinot Grigio, created by Chrishon Lampley. Her Pinot Grigio is medium-bodied, flavorful wine with a crisp and clean apple and pear character. It was paired with gourmet mac and cheese. Love Cork Screw is based in Chicago, Illinois. However, Chrishon carefully selects grapes from various vineyards to give complexity, balance, and intensity of flavors. In doing so, she has created four other varietals; Touch the Sky Niagara, a white table wine; Head Over Heels Sweet American Riesling; Hard Knock Life Concord red table wine and We’re Moving On Up Cabernet Sauvignon.
Third, was the sparkling and bubbly Vina Sympatica white varietal, created by Sherrijon Gaspard. The white Vina Sympatica bursts with flavor in your mouth, yet finishes dry and crisp. It was paired with Cajun shredded chicken over a bed of rice. Vina Sympatica is Southern California-based with two additional award-winning varietals of red and violet. While I have tasted Vina Sympatica previously, it was my distinct honor to sit at Ms. Gaspard’s table and learn about her journey into sparkling wines.
The fourth wine was 2014 Merlot Napa Valley created by Dawna Darjean Jones. The Merlot is a deep garnet color with intense fruit forward mouth-filling flavors of blackberry and boysenberry overtones, refined spices and velvety finish. It was paired with sauteed, sliced vegetable medley. Darjean Jones Wines, located in California sources its grapes from four vineyards; two in Sonoma and two in Napa Valley, two of the most well-known regions in California. They produce additional award-winning varietals of 2014 Cabernet Franc Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley, 2015 Viognier Russian River Valley and 2013 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast.
The next wine was 2013 Shaw Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon created by Shae Frichette. The Cabernet Sauvignon on the nose had aromas of blackberry, cherry, plum, and baking spices. On the palate was dark blackberry, blueberry with a smidge of caramel on the finish. It was paired with grilled lollipop lamb with whipped sweet potatoes on the side. Frichette Winery located in Washington is family owned, limited production, crafting wines that showcase the best of Red Mountain and the Columbia Valley AVAs. They produce three additional varietals; 2015 Sauvignon Blanc; 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon; 2013 Merlot; 2013 Red Mountain Merlot and 2013 Red Mountain Reserve.
The final wine was That Southern Taste 2013 Syrah Rose created by Chef Rhonda Russell. The Syrah Rose is delicate and sparkling full of gentle raspberry, cherry and plum notes, both light and fresh with balanced sweetness and acidity. It was paired with a dessert of sherbert with a light cake. The dessert was infused with Theopolis Vineyards 2014 Rose’ of Petite Sirah. Taste Collection Cellars is based in Houston. However, all of its grapes are sourced from Lodi, California where the wines are produced. The other five varietals, all named after members of Rhonda’s family are; Vivian 2014 Chardonnay, Raymond 2012 Malbec, Jazzy 2012 Cabernet Franc, Henry 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel and Isabelle 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.
The trip was one well worth it. I look forward to sharing the next adventure with you.
Sip & Share Wine & Great Times,Nicole Kearney, MFA
Traveling for Black Wines by Nicole Kearney
Some people take trips for family events, to exotic locales or just to get away and recharge. I travel for those reasons too, but I also travel to taste wine. Wine, you ask? Yes and not just any wine; quality, premium wines made by Black vineyards and vintners. Right there I lost a lot of folks. You’re scratching your head like, there’s a difference? In fact, there is. A vineyard is where you can go and physically see the grapes growing on the vines. Most vineyards have a tasting room to try their delicious wines. A vinter is a person who makes wine. They usually don’t own a vineyard. They can contract with vineyards to create wines.
Now back to the wines. Most people, especially Black people don’t know there are about 40 wines made by African Americans. I didn’t either, until my curiosity lead me to do a search of the interwebs. I was delighted to find so many and have made it my mission to taste each Black owned and made wine there is.
Thus began my will travel for Black wines adventures. My most recent trip, the second weekend in February, took me to Richmond, Virginia to Benita Johnson, founder of The Vine Wine Club’s 3rd Annual Exclusive Black List wine tasting. The wines available were:
Seven Sisters Wines, South African wines created by the seven Brutus sisters has yes you guessed it seven wine.. That night I tasted Sauvignon Blanc; 2012 Pinotage/Shiraz; 2011 Rose’; Cabernet Sauvignon; 2011 Merlot; Sweet White Wine and Chenin Blanc. These sisters are tasty indeed.
Brown Estate Wines, a third generation, family owned, Napa Valley winery produces twelve wines. On hand that night were two stellar wines, 2014 Zinfandel & 2013 Chaos Theory.
Shoe Crazy Wines, created by Gwen Hurt and her daughter is based in Virginia produces six wines. On deck were Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Rose and Sweet harmony white wine (2016 and 2015 Exclusive Black List People’s Choice Winner). All three are fantastic.
Mouton Noir Wines, created by André Hueston Mack and made in Oregon boasts 12 wines. We were served O.P.P – Other People’s Pinot Noir, Horseshoe and Handgrenades, red blend and Bottoms Up, white table wine. All three are top notch.
Flo (For The Love Of…) Wines, created by Marcus Johnson, musician and author is Maryland based and as three wines; a Red Blend, Chardonnay and Moscato. All three were available for tasting. All three were delicious. My palate (taste) runs dry but the Chardonnay was divine; buttery, smooth and a hint of oak (meaning the wine spent time in an oak barrel).
I had the honor and pleasure of attending a fantastic after tasting party with Marcia Jones of Urban Connoisseur. There I tasted a three out of eight wines from Theopolis Vineyards, owned by Theodora Lee, known to many as Theo-patra, Queen of the vineyards, based in California. The wines are outstanding. Longevity Wines, located in California is helmed by Phil Long and has an impressive 13 wines, two if which were sampled. They were incredible. Vina Sympatica Wines, started by Sherrijon Gaspard, based in California has three sparkling wines; two of which were available tasted right on point, light and bubbly.
I can’t wait until the next adventure.
The Exclusive Black List is Black excellence at it’s finest. I know I’m reserving the second weekend of February for this event annually. I invite you to come to Richmond in 2018 and taste quality, premium Black wines with me. To find out more visit thevinewineclub.com.
Sip & Share Wine & Great Times, Nicole Kearney, MFA