Asheville is one of our favorite places in of our new home state of North Carolina. Nestled in the western part of the state in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. it offers a kaleidoscope of mouth-watering cuisine, quirky shops, great craft beer and a vibrant music scene.
It was the later that drew us to Asheville for our recent trip. Our favorite band, String Cheese Incident, was playing at US Cellular Center. During our brief two-day stay, we tried to pack in as much as possible.
We intended to visit the gardens at The Biltmore, but when we learned the tour was $75 per person and would take at least four hours, we balked. Instead we headed to the North Carolina Arboretum for an afternoon of hiking.
String Cheese And A Hot Tub Soak
After enjoying our tapas and vino dinner at Zambra with String Cheese guitarist Bill Nershi, we headed to the show. The streets of Asheville were alive on this spring evening. Street musicians played to the strolling pedestrians and diners enjoyed the sunshine from the outside dining vantage points. Friendly chatter and laughter was in the gentle breeze.
There was a crowd of about 7,000 people for the show. Green Dragon and I opted for the arena seating as opposed to the rippling mass of String Cheese fans on the arena floor. The lights, the music and the scene were rocking!
We arrived back at our hotel about 2 AM, so morning came early. We walked downtown for a bite at the Green Sage Café Downtown. After embarking on a day of hiking, a visit to the New Belgium Brewery and dinner at The Marketplace we were ready to settle in to our VRBO rental for the evening.
One of the main appeals of the place we stayed was its hot tub. (One of the not-main appeals was the narrow, steep driveway that looked like the top of a black diamond ski run!) We grabbed our bottle of Santa Ema Amplus Old Vine Carignan and slipped into the gurgling water of the hot tub.
Carignan From Chile
Outstanding wine values and flavors come from South America, especially Chile. Santa Ema is a leading Chilean wine producer and exports to the Americas, Asia and Europe. In our experience, you can be assured that you'll be getting a quality bottle if it is from Santa Ema.
I picked up the Amplus on sale from Great Grapes in Cary. They have a room set aside for discount and clearance wines and I've always found great deals there. Carignan mostly has a supporting role in red blends, but it is ready to step into a starring role, like with Amplus.
The Amplus Carignan has an aroma of crushed berries. On the palate there are flavors of cranberry and strawberry. It is lively and fruit forward with just the right touch of acidity. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, which gives the body a full, almost creamy texture. The wine is aged in French and American oak for 15 months.
The finish is long and elegant. The wine was so good that even though showers of rain were coming down on us in the hot tub, we just kept pouring the Amplus and enjoying the night.
The Amplus Carignan retails for about $32. I was able to score a primo buy at only $18.56 from Great Grapes. If I had known then what I know now, I'd buy a half case. Highly recommended.