Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wine and Sundry: A Look at Westcave Cellars

It is easy to become a fan of Westcave Cellars. The wines are approachable and subtle. The location is picturesque. And the people are about as friendly as they come. After my fist visit, I was hooked. During the last year, I have had more opportunity to visit and get to know the winery. Sean and I made a recent visit to the Pig Pickin party. The weather went from cold and wet just a day before to sunny and warm. It seemed as if Mother Nature wanted us to enjoy Westcave Cellars.

Some Pig Pickin’ Fun

The Pig!
During Sean’s and my last visit, Westcave had one of their regular pig roasts. Allen Fetty slowly barbecued a complete pig in North Carolina style. Those who had decided to buy tickets were treated to all you could eat pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and roles. The pork had a hint of heat and spice. For me, I stayed there; Sean decided to bring on the heat by adding a peppery vinegar based sauce. The food was well accompanied by the current wines available. I drank the current Cabernet Sauvignon (blended with Tannat); it played well with the spice in the pork. Too bad the upcoming Rosé wasn’t available (see below for more on this upcoming release). The light and dry nature of this wine would have been a perfect pairing.

The “Pig Pickin” party is a good idea of what Westcave is like. The Fetty's, the owners, moved about the crowd, sitting and chatting with the rather mixed group of Westcave fans, along with eating and drinking. They are the most gracious of hosts, introducing guests to one another to create a more congenial atmosphere. That is always what it is like at the winery; I always feel like I am going to visit friends.
Flying Pig
 At the same time, this isn’t the run-of-the-mill sort of place. The band playing – Flying Pig – had one of the most diverse and eclectic repertoires I’ve heard.  Early on, they played early Pink Floyd (late sixties, early seventies), but they later played a quieter, deeper track from The Wall. A few country songs were thrown in for good measure, and a list of lesser known songs by well-known bands from the sixties and seventies helped to make sure there was a little something for everyone. They even played more cent hits like Weezer and Radiohead. However, it was when they played “Dreamer’s Ball” from Queen’s Night at the Opera that I started to really smile.

Two of Allen Fetty's Fred Mercury Photos

The odd array of music is a good example of how unique this winery is. During the visit, Margaret told us that Allen had once wanted to be a photographer. His passion led him to see some of the most amazing bands live where we would photograph the performers. We saw pictures of Led Zepplin, Styyx, and the Allman Brothers. But of course I was most in awe of his Queen pictures from the late seventies Live Killers Tour (the tour album is available on CD).

Upcoming Wines

A visit to any winery is never really complete without tasting wines. Allen was kind enough to let me taste three upcoming wines: the Rosé, the Petite Sirah, and the 2013 Tannat.

The first was the new Rosé, which has now been bottled. This wine is primarily Ruby Cab with 
some Merlot. These bright reds give the wine its rich color and the play between both strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors. There is also some Chenin Blanc and Malvasia Bianca added; these bright whites help keep the fruit notes from getting sweet. This will be a big crowd pleaser this summer.

Upcoming Rose'
Also upcoming is the Estate Petite Sirah – to be bottled soon. The inky, dark wine is quintessential Petite Sirah. This is one of the best Petite Sirahs I have had; it is a contender wine that could easily compete against others.

The most exciting preview was for the 2013 Tannat. This year, the winery was able to get enough Tannat to have a standalone and to blend with the Cab. Honestly, I am a fan of their Cab, and I think it is due to the blending; the Tannat adds a layer to the Cab, making a richer red. The new Tannat I tried was very young. It will definitely need the year or so more that t will stay in the barrel. However, this wine is showing a nice balance of fruit and earth, especially oak and tannins. This will be a departure from the long since been sold out first Tannat – which I got to try as well (thanks to Catherine and Marc Matier for sharing the wine). The 2010 Estate Tannat is bright and fruity with subtle tannins. The new one builds from there but shows signs of a fuller body and deeper richness that plays well with the fruit. It should be a wonderful wine.

Westcave Cellars may be a little out of the way for most, but I always find that the drive is well worth it. I feel very welcome when I arrive, which always puts me in a good mood. And when I take that fist sip, I always seem to relax just a bit more. There is something about Westcave, the atmosphere and the wine, that is so calming and peaceful. It is so easy to while away the hours sitting among the trees and starring out into vineyards.

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