Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Peach Of A Wine

Last night Margot and I hosted Julie and John for another of our monthly dinner dates and I was particularly excited to plan a meal with a peach theme.

I specifically chose this theme because we had purchased a bottle of Hopkins Vineyards (CT) semi-sweet peach wine last August and had also made a similar wine of our own last summer. I was very interested in the side by side comparison.

The verdict on the side by side comparison is that Ancient Fire wins having the most peach expression and a longer and more pleasing finish. The Hopkins selection was less like a fruit wine than a heavily peach flavored white wine such as a Gewürztraminer or Vidal. While not a bad thing at all it the wine also went flat too soon and was not as reminiscent of eating a peach as our home version. The nose on the Hopkins selection was an initial give away that it might be very different, and before taking a sip I could think of several other wines that it reminded me of on aroma alone. The wine was very good and would be one I recommend, but when compared to our peach bomb it didn’t match up. The Ancient Fire selection was slightly sweeter and had peach aromas and flavors throughout. The finish was longer and actually felt a bit thicker as it coated the tongue. We will definitely make the full six gallon batch of this again come summer time. Last year we split the batch and blended some with Moscato which is quite good, but not good enough to repeat.

Both wines were paired with our meal which consisted of slow cooked Peach & Tarragon Chicken over Apricot Ginger Rice with Honey Soy Brussels Sprouts. Both of the wines fit well with the meal but the added peach flavor in the Ancient Fire selection created a more enjoyable pairing.

We have done side-by-side comparison of commercial wines with our own several times and it is clear this time we hands down favorite. Doing this has served several purposes for us including, helping us determine how close to varietal character we have come, using tasting notes of commercial wines to better understand similarities and differences we observe in our wines, and lastly because it is just so damn fun! Why open only one bottle of wine when you can open two or three or more and compare them?



Spring Is On The Way

Several themes are evolving for Ancient Fire’s activities this spring. While not everything we are hoping for is likely to come to pass, more on that to follow, we are nonetheless excited.

This past weekend a lineup of twelve Ancient Fire wines were used in a tasting to raise money for the Relay For Life. Some of the selections hadn’t been tasted in a few months which ended up being particularly exciting for some of our 2008 reds that are now drinking very well. The Cab Blend and Ruby Cabernet are both showing their individual character and Amarone #2 is developing and should continue to do so for another year or more. Margot’s Symphony was the star of the day and as our youngest wine it is sure making a statement. With nice floral notes on the nose, obvious fruit flavors from the first sip, and a balance seldom found in our wines we think we have a competition success in this wine. Everyone who tried it had something, and very positive somethings, to say about this wine where other very good wines didn’t attract nearly as much attention. We raised around $350 with this event which is a nice bump for our annual Relay For Life event.

The Sake experiment was a bust, I grew other fungi than I wanted so I threw it out and will focus my efforts where I am already successful, fruit and grape wines!

Our spring winemaking plan is partially tied to receiving a shipment of Chilean grapes, which after the earthquake is no sure thing. While our supplier is proceeding with optimism they have not yet confirmed what will be available and have extended the pre-order deadline so we must wait patiently and see. If the grapes do not work out we will acquire some frozen must (pressed grapes from last year’s fall harvest) and make some of the wines in our plan, but will reserve budget for the 2010 west coast harvest later in the year.

We have also begun receiving our WinExpert Special Edition kits including the Australian Petite Verdot and the hugely popular Pacific Quartet white blend. When these get started will depend on the outcome with the Chilean grapes. Obviously we will give an update when they get going.

Otherwise we are almost done with the ciders which have also been bringing smiles for all who have tried some. Summer here we come!