Monday, June 7, 2010

North Carolina Winery Visit: Shelton Vineyards

 2010_0126NC-Savannah0019 Nourished by the bright sunshine, gentle rains and fertile soil of Yadkin Valley, North Carolina’s Shelton Vineyards has been producing distinctive wines for nearly a decade. Green Dragon had the opportunity to visit Shelton while on a recent family trip.

It was a pleasant surprise in an area that should be better known for its wine.

The tasting room and winery building were just a short distance from I-77 and were first class. A nice picnic ground overlooked a scenic stream. Shelton grows 12 different varieties of grapes including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot and Viognier.

2010_0126NC-Savannah0021 One thing we’ve not seen at any other vineyard is the roses. At each vineyard row, there was a beautiful, blooming rose bush. According to Shelton, the roses are extremely sensitive to disease and insects and begin to show symptoms much sooner than their vines. The roses are a sort of early warning system for the vines.

Yadkin Valley is 2,700 miles from Napa Valley, but serves as a hotbed of great wine in North Carolina. The clay loam soil of the valley is ideal for growing European varietals such as Merlot, Syrah, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling.

On the tasting menu were: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay Bin #17, Estate Chardonnay, Estate Cabernet Franc and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Sauvignon Blanc is light bodied, simple in character with flavor notes of pear.

The Chardonnay Bin #17 is unoaked, dry with lush fruit and a dry finish.

The Estate Chardonnay is Shelton’s best seller. It is whole cluster pressed and then barrel fermented sur lies in French, Hungarian and American oak casks for 10 months. It has a creamy texture and rated as pretty good by Green Dragon. It has a good QPR (quality price ratio) at a price of $16.99.

Moving to the reds, a dry, herbal Estate Cabernet Franc was next. It has a smooth texture with some spiciness and black cherry flavor notes. This doesn’t have the pepper snap of some other Cab Francs – which could be a plus for some drinkers. Got a bottle of this.

2010_0126NC-Savannah0018Bold, rich a dry describes the 2007 Estate Cabernet. Cherry flavor notes.

The Estate Malbec is considered a reserve wine and has a price tag of $20. It is spicy with a taste of raisins and plum.

Lower photo: Monica and Nathan Strauser enjoy a tasting poured by Angela Hooker. Monica and Nathan purchased Zephyr Red and Malbec.
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