French Broad Vignerons (FBV) assign first ever Quality Ratings for North Carolina Wines


Marshall, NC – The French Broad Vignerons (FBV) provided the first Consumer Quality Ranking of North Carolina wines for the new on-line wine store, North Carolina Wine Gifts. The new web site is offering 12 wines from North Carolina’s award winning, boutique wineries. The final selection was based on the FBV tasting 33 of North Carolina’s best wines. The French Broad Vigneron organization is comprised of over 80 grape and vineyard specialists, winemakers, and producers of divergent grape products all working together to advocate, educate and provide resources to North Carolina’s vignerons and grape growers.

North Carolina Wine Gifts in Asheville, NC sponsored this first ever consumer tasting panel for North Carolina wines.

Deborah and Philip Halpern founded the new on line wine store to provide an opportunity for people to discover the gifts of North Carolina’s wine country. The on line wine store offers three of the best wines in each of four categories; red, white, sweet and Muscadine wines.

The French Broad Vignerons had taken on the task of developing a consumer wine quality tasting standards for 2012. The North Carolina Wine Gift tasting took place this past March.

Consumers want quality notations on wine bottles

The United States, Australia, and New Zealand are the only wine producing countries that do not have wine quality standards printed on their wine labels. American wine consumers must rely upon their experience at wine tastings conducted by various wine shops and the wineries to determine if they like the wine they taste before buying. Failing that, many American consumers make wine buying decisions based upon the shape or color of the bottle or the design of the wine label.

As an example, Italy has one of the easiest wine quality standards to understand. If the wine label says DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) you can be assured that the wine in the bottle will be a good quality wine. The FBV has asked numerous wine drinkers at tastings over the past several months about the need for wine quality standards. They all want to have wine quality notations on the bottles of wine. With over 120 licensed wineries in North Carolina, it becomes even more important that consumers have good information before making a buying decision for North Carolina wines.

French Broad Vignerons train a consumer tasting panel

Chuck Blethen, a 35 year veteran grape grower, wine drinker, wine/grape lecturer, and wine author, provided training for 10 people from their FBV membership who volunteered to participate in a consumer wine quality tasting panel for North Carolina Wine Gifts. These ten people were experienced wine makers and/or long time wine drinkers. Blethen used a modified Davis Tasting Card for training the panel. The wines were evaluated by FBV’s consumer wine quality panel, all of which were independent of the wineries to avoid a conflict of interest.

Getting to the top 12 North Carolina wines to feature on NorthCarolinaWineGifts.com

The Halpern’s visited many of the smaller North Carolina wineries and talked with the winemakers before deciding which of their wines to taste. Their first pass cut was with wines that had won medals in either an North Carolina, regional or national wine competitions. Larger wineries were not selected because they already had significant market strength and sales exposure and didn’t need the specialized sales help the Halpern’s could offer on NorthCarolinaWineGifts.com.

Once the 33 top contenders for North Carolina’s best boutique wines were selected, a consumer wine quality tasting panel made up of 5 of the trained FBV members assembled at the Barnardsville Community Center on three different days to do the tasting. The consumer panel used the modified Davis Tasting Card to evaluate 11 wines at each tasting session. Tastings were conducted in a controlled setting following well established principles of sensory evaluation. A 20 point system was used to determine the quality level for each wine – a maximum of 3 points for Appearance, 4 points for Aroma & Bouquet, 7 points for Taste, 3 points for Finish, and 3 points for Overall Quality. Clean glasses were used for each wine. Each wine was presented blind with only the vintage (if listed) and wine type given. There were four classes of wines tasted – white, red, off-dry, and Muscadine. Each wine quality panel member was given 5-6 minutes to evaluate each wine. Score sheets were collected after each wine was tasted. The wine scores were averaged and reported to the Halpern’s in order to make the final selection of the 12 featured wines.

Wines that scored 18-20 points by the Consumer Wine Quality Tasting Panel were given a four star rating, 15-17 points a three star rating and 12-14 points a two star rating.

The May 2012 North Carolina Wine Gifts Selection

Red North Carolina Wines:

RayLen Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – ★★★★

Flint Hill Chambourcin 2009 – ★★★★

Daveste Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2010 – ★★★

White North Carolina Wines:

Stonefield Cellars Pinot Gris 2010 – ★★★

Junius Lindsay Viognier 2008 – ★★★

Laurel Gray Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2010 – ★★★

Sweet North Carolina Wines:

Devine Llama Traminette – ★★★★

Junius Lindsay Forget Me Not – ★★★

Skull Camp Euphoria – ★★

Muscadine North Carolina Wines:

Treehouse Vineyard Monroe (white) – ★★★★

Cauble Creek La Vinia (white) – ★★★

Baker Buffalo Creek Mule Barn Red – ★★★

These wines are now available for sale at their website www.NorthCarolinaWineGifts.com as well as their shop located at 1131 Sweeten Creek Road, Suite 111, in Asheville.

The French Broad Vignerons can be contacted at email: Blethen@GrapeSAVI.org or calling 828-606-3130. You can also review the FBV Blog at www.FrenchBroadVignerons.Blogspot.com