Further Adventures in Traveling to Taste Black Wines
By Nicole Kearney
In April, I traveled to beautiful, fun and sunny Miami, Florida. Why do you ask? To be part of a first, the first Black Women in Wine celebration. Marcee Jones, owner of Urban Connoisseur organized and hosted the event. In advance of the event, Celebrity Chefs "Hit Squad" a team of five Black male chefs to the stars tasted 40 wines. Out of the 40, they selected six wines to pair with a six-course meal. Each food pairing would compliment the wine being served. A few dishes were even prepared using the wines.
The six Black women winemakers chosen were Theodora Lee; Shae Frichette; Chrishon Lampley; Rhonda Russell; Dawna Darjean Jones and Sherrijon Gaspard. As each course was presented, wines poured and tasted, it was easy to understand how these six women and wines rose to the top. Each wine had a distinct profile that the food enhanced.
The first wine poured was Theopolis Vineyards 2014 Yorkville Highlands Symphony created by Theodora Lee, know as Theo-patra, Queen of the vineyards. Symphony is a blend of Muscat and Grenache Gris, fermented in stainless steel, it has a floral nose, tastes of peaches and mangoes with a clean finish. It was paired with grilled scallops on a bed spinach accompanied by an edible orchid. Theopolis Vineyards located in Yorkville, California started in 2003, producing its first harvest in 2006. Theopolis Vineyard boasts three other award-winning varietals. They include 2015 Symphony; 2013 Estate Grown Petite Sirah, 2014 Rose' of Petite Sirah and 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir as well as 2015 Pinot Noir.
The second wine was Love Cork Screw’s Good Times Good Friends Pinot Grigio, created by Chrishon Lampley. Her Pinot Grigio is medium-bodied, flavorful wine with a crisp and clean apple and pear character. It was paired with gourmet mac and cheese. Love Cork Screw is based in Chicago, Illinois. However, Chrishon carefully selects grapes from various vineyards to give complexity, balance, and intensity of flavors. In doing so, she has created four other varietals; Touch the Sky Niagara, a white table wine; Head Over Heels Sweet American Riesling; Hard Knock Life Concord red table wine and We’re Moving On Up Cabernet Sauvignon.
Third, was the sparkling and bubbly Vina Sympatica white varietal, created by Sherrijon Gaspard. The white Vina Sympatica bursts with flavor in your mouth, yet finishes dry and crisp. It was paired with Cajun shredded chicken over a bed of rice. Vina Sympatica is Southern California-based with two additional award-winning varietals of red and violet. While I have tasted Vina Sympatica previously, it was my distinct honor to sit at Ms. Gaspard's table and learn about her journey into sparkling wines.
The fourth wine was 2014 Merlot Napa Valley created by Dawna Darjean Jones. The Merlot is a deep garnet color with intense fruit forward mouth-filling flavors of blackberry and boysenberry overtones, refined spices and velvety finish. It was paired with sauteed, sliced vegetable medley. Darjean Jones Wines, located in California sources its grapes from four vineyards; two in Sonoma and two in Napa Valley, two of the most well-known regions in California. They produce additional award-winning varietals of 2014 Cabernet Franc Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley, 2015 Viognier Russian River Valley and 2013 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast.
The final wine was That Southern Taste 2013 Syrah Rose created by Chef Rhonda Russell. The Syrah Rose is delicate and sparkling full of gentle raspberry, cherry and plum notes, both light and fresh with balanced sweetness and acidity. It was paired with a dessert of sherbert with a light cake. The dessert was infused with Theopolis Vineyards 2014 Rose' of Petite Sirah. Taste Collection Cellars is based in Houston. However, all of its grapes are sourced from Lodi, California where the wines are produced. The other five varietals, all named after members of Rhonda's family are; Vivian 2014 Chardonnay, Raymond 2012 Malbec, Jazzy 2012 Cabernet Franc, Henry 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel and Isabelle 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.
The trip was one well worth it. I look forward to sharing the next adventure with you.
Sip & Share Wine & Great Times,
Nicole Kearney, MFA
Wine Enthusiast and Founder of Sip & Share Wine: Home & Event Wine Tastings
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