I was pretty excited about this tasting... All of the wines below come from Shelton Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. I've never had North Carolina wine before. Based off my experience with Tennessee wines, I was a little apprehensive, but everything was great. All of the wines use traditional European grapes as opposed to the American natives and hybrids you get elsewhere in the South. There was a representative from the vineyard on hand to answer questions. Currently, about 70% of their sales are in North Carolina, and the wines are available in limited quantities in ten other states.
Wine 1: NV Shelton Madison Lee White. 72% Chardonnay, 14% Viognier, 10% Riesling, 3% Pinot Blanc, 1% Sauvignon Blanc. Bright and tart, lemony but not sweet. Very refreshing. Nice way to open up the palate. $10.
Wine 2: NV Shelton Vineyards Riesling. 95% Riesling and 5% Viognier. Lightly sweet, but with a very full mouth feel. Honey like. Lots of fun, low acidity. A really surprising Riesling. Reminded me of some similar bottles from Oregon. $12.
Wine 3: 2005 Shelton Vineyards Bin 17 Chardonnay. Pure Chardonnay. This one didn't do much for me, I thought it had an unusual taste that I couldn't quite pin down and a bitter finish. Probably should have tasted it before the Riesling, though. $10.
Wine 4: NV Salem Fork Blush. The website claims this is made with Sangiovese and Viognier, but the rep said it was a rosé of Sangiovese and Zinfandel. The latter is the reason why it doesn't bear the Shelton name on the label--they don't grow Zinfandel grapes in that area and have to import them. Despite the appearance, it's not a sweet wine. Rather, it's bold and fruity. I really enjoyed it. $8.
Wine 5: NV Shelton Madison Lee Red. 33% Merlot, 28.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22.1% Sangiovese, 10.4% Cabernet Franc, 3.3% Syrah, 2.6% Petite Verdot. Sort of a Bordeaux with Sangiovese thrown in for fun. A surprisingly good table red, well balanced and applicable to a wide range of foods. She said that it was their pizza and burger wine, and I think it would work well with even higher class fare. $10.
Wine 6: 2002 Shelton Cabernet Franc. 92% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot. Wow. Black cherry flavors and aromas, with some of that nice herbal character you get from the Cab Franc. I was really happy with this wine, and ended up purchasing a bottle after the tasting. It's difficult to find a basically pure Cab Franc for $15.
Wine 7: 2002 Shelton Merlot. 93% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium tannins, mild and light. I found it a little thin, but that could have been the influence of the Cabernet Franc from the previous wine. $15.
Wine 8: 2002 Shelton Cabernet Sauvignon. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot. Smooth, cherry flavors abound. Light tannins, light acidity and mild oak. $15.