VineBox-Shipment One

VineBox first shipment 1

I enjoy taking part in twitter chats especially those involving wine. If you’re looking for me after dinner, most nights of the week, that’s where you’ll find me (@winecheesefri). One day, I heard about a chat with the topic of wine travel. This definitely piqued my interest. As luck would have it, this chat was having a contest for a wine prize pack, and I won! The prize included a wine aerator, a wine vacuum, a backpack and a 3-month subscription to VineBox. Have you heard of VineBox? Its a wine club that sends out three wine samples per month to expose you to their wines before purchasing them. What a cool gift! As you may have guessed, this week’s WineAndCheeseFriday entry will be about our first VineBox shipment.

Before receiving our first shipment, I signed up online for my subscription and was super excited about what the first 3 wines would be. I chose the world wine collection so that I could try some wines I’ve never had before. As many of you know, I love wines that I’ve never tried, especially ones I’ve never heard of! The box arrived and I was already scheming how to create an entry around it.

VineBox first shipment 2

It was such beautiful branding and presentation of wines. Also super cool that it comes in test tubes, speaking to the scientist in me. It’s hard to tell from the photo but these tubes hold 100ml samples and are 8” tall. Although we thought these samples looked large, we weren’t quite sure if we’d each have enough to taste the wine and pair it with cheese. My idea was to pair all of these wines with the same cheese so we could try it with both white and red wines and find the best pairing.

Our Tasting Flight:
Demoiselles Corbières 2016, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Navarra Alex Tempranillo Joven 2017, Navarra, Spain
Chateau de Brègançon Provence Rouge 2015, Provence, France

Elodie Farms Sour Cherry Chèvre Log, Rougemont, NC, US

We began our tasting with the Demoiselles Corbières, a white French wine. When Neil and I are unfamiliar with a wine, we try to guess what the varietals are. We swirled the wine to reveal crisp apple, sweet apple, buttah, some smoke, slate and mineral aromas. I thought the texture was slightly oily. Neil identified flavors of oak, butter, and a little acid. He guessed that it went through a similar process to malolactic fermentation like California Chardonnays do. I found the flavor to be tart and slightly picked up petrol. I thought it might be similar to Viognier. After tasting the other wines, Neil chose this wine as his favorite.

Elodie Farms Chevre Logs 1

Next we tasted the cheese so we could create our initial tasting notes. This is a local cheese that we purchased at the Durham Farmer’s Market. Elodie Farms offer multiple flavored and unflavored goat cheeses, but the sour cherry definitely seemed like an interesting one for wine pairing. As we sniffed for aromas, we both decided it was a very mild fresh goat milk cheese that only had a hint of fruit aromas. The texture was smooth, creamy and light. The flavor reminded me of the milk flavor I’d notice in yogurt, then after a minute, the cheese flavor surfaced from sitting on my tongue. Neil noticed a savory fruit flavor, slight tartness and the freshness of the cheese. The sweetness, saltiness and cherry flavors were all very light for me. This cheese is certainly on the mild side.

During the pairing of Demoiselles Corbières and sour cherry goat cheese, we both had very different experiences. Neil exclaimed “Wow!” He noticed the wine to bring out the cherry in the cheese and the wine to become more crisp. The cheese changed for him too, getting more funky and more of a cherry flavor. I thought the wine tasted more tart, like petrol and it burned while going down my throat. The cheese also became saltier. I didn’t enjoy the pairing but Neil did and asked me to put the remaining wine to the side so that he could repeat the pairing later.

VineBox first shipment and Elodie Farms Sour Cherry Chevre 1

Since the two remaining wines were both red, we were wondering which order to taste them. We figured we’d trust that the order in the box was correctly arranged for tasting and moved on to the Navarra Tempranillo Joven.* We compared the red colors to each other just out of curiosity. The Tempranillo seemed slightly more purple and bright, likely due to it’s lack of age.

Neil and I identified quite a variety of aromas. I picked up fruit, vanilla and a hint of black pepper while he noticed black cherry and blueberry jams. We certainly agreed that this was a dry wine and chalked that up to the Joven style (it’s young). There were some tannins, dark fruit flavors, some jamminess, a dry finish, and mouth-watering acid. Although we are not wine collectors, we knew that this was a wine that could benefit from some aging since it was sucking our faces dry!

We continued through our tasting notes by pairing the Tempranillo with the Sour Cherry goat cheese. Once again Neil discovered an interesting pairing. He found the cheese to get creamier and milkier and the wine to have more fruit flavor, a sweetness and black pepper. I did notice changes to the wine and the cheese but they didn’t seem positive. The cheese seemed cleaner with a salt finish. The fruit aromas of the wine increased but so did the dryness. Not for me.

Our final wine was produced by Chateau de Brègançon. We are still learning about French wines but my exposure to the Provence region has previously been for rosé, so I was ready to try a red! When comparing this red wine to the tempranillo, the Brègançon color seemed slightly more red and a bit more dull. Neil described the color as dark ruby. This wine was filled with aromas including cranberry, lighter berry, terroir/minerals, cassis, and smoke or tobacco. There were just as many flavors too: jammy big fruit, a bit of spice and sweetness, fresh grass, and big cherry. This wine was dry, too, with some tannins but much more pleasant. Neil guessed it may contain cabernet or merlot grapes? Maria declared this as her favorite wine of the evening.

The final wine and cheese pairing of the evening finally worked out for Maria. The cheese still seemed clean but there was also cherry. The wine still had berry aromas but there were more earth aromas. Then the wine flavor became lighter and very dry. It was the best cheese outcome from the pairings. Neil did pick up a difference in the wine with more tobacco aromas and big cherry flavor. The cheese became a little sweeter but didn’t really change.

After all our tasting and pairing, we took a look at the cards provided with the wine info. These too had a very nice presentation! So let’s see how we did with our varietal identification:

Demoiselles Corbières 2016, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
    Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Macabeo
Navarra Alex Tempranillo Joven 2017, Navarra, Spain
    Tempranillo
Chateau de Brègançon Provence Rouge 2015, Provence, France
    Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon

It seems we were totally off on our guessing with the white wine but I did remember that Macabeo is the grape used in the white Rioja that we just tried. So much to figure out when you start tasting new blends and new wine regions. We didn’t need to figure out the middle wine since the grape was listed on the sample. We are familiar with all the grapes found in the Chateau de Brègançon and Neil even did pick out the Cabernet Sauvignon. Way to Go Neil! Also we know we like wines with Grenache and Syrah so that makes sense that Maria chose this as her favorite wine.

What a fun chance to try some new wines and pair them all with the same cheese! And don’t worry, we did have plenty of wine to go around, just had to be a bit conservative. There was even a bit left for us to have a little more of our favorites. We’ll definitely be looking forward to our second VineBox shipment. I wonder where the wines will be from next time?

*As we looked at the tasting notes provided, we saw that the body and tannin measurements were very similar so it may not have mattered which order we tasted them.

VineBox first shipment and Elodie Farms Sour Cherry Chevre 2