Country Heritage Wine x DeBrand Chocolate Pairings

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Posted 2023-05-29 by Gail Clifford MDfollow
Country Heritage Wine and DeBrand Chocolate Pairings …
"When no one understands you ... Chocolate is there"

When you think of the United States and fine wine, you'd typically be thinking about vintages from Napa Valley in California. Yet some delicious wines hale from other parts of the country. Perhaps most surprisingly, Indiana! I recently participated in the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association's wine and chocolate pairings featuring Country Heritage Wine and DeBrand Fine Chocolates .

Full disclosure: the items were provided to us (shipped to our homes) from the two companies to allow us to participate as a group by Zoom webinar. The chocolates, in two boxes, one squares and one truffles, made them hard to resist until the webinar commenced. The explanatory guide made them even more tempting, delivered in a refrigerated box. The wine, which had to be signed for by an adult over 21 and whose delivery to California is restricted but possible through a special process, arrived in a separate crate later. It appears that it can only be shipped to the 50 United States.

Ashley Baumgartner, the director of marketing for Country Heritage Winery and Vineyards in LaOtto, Indiana, played a pivotal role in promoting and highlighting the incredible Indiana wines and suggested the chocolate pairings. Her expertise and passion for these local treasures have undoubtedly contributed to the success and recognition they deserve. Her love of wine started when she was the club manager for a private island and was able to do food and wine pairings for the members. Today, Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard has three locations, all located in Indiana and is the largest vineyard in the state with 101 acres.

I'm a neophyte when it comes to wine, so I appreciate Ashley's introduction to this special label:%%"Some hybrids do excel in our Indiana soils. Any of the ones that we grow ourselves on our soils in those acreage have a label which you'll notice are black with the gold print. This represents our estate wines. So these we can control the process from start to finish before we ever plant. We test the soil extensively to make sure that the nutrient content matches what great varietals we're going to grow. So a lot of these wines people have never heard of, but that's where we come in. We love educating people about these wines that not many people have heard of… a petite Pearl or a Brianna or a Marquette.

We make sure we know exactly what is in every single glass of country heritage wine. We don't actually use any chemicals to filter our wine. We use a process called cold stabilization. So we don't go through all the process of growing and making sure it's nutrient rich, make sure these grapes are the best to change anything throughout the process. We have a very extensive cleaning process and we do use filter pads, but we don't use any chemicals to filter our wines%%."

It's wonderful to see Indiana's wine industry flourishing and surprising us with delightful flavors. Let's dive into the exceptional combination of Country Heritage wine and DeBrand Fine Chocolates.

First, let's talk about Country Harvest wine, specifically their Brianna and Marquette varieties. These wines showcase the true essence of Indiana's terroir, offering a unique and memorable tasting experience. The Brianna wine, with its crisp and refreshing character, bursts with flavors of tropical fruits and delicate floral notes. On the other hand, the Marquette wine boasts a bolder profile, with rich dark fruit flavors and hints of spice, creating a captivating and velvety experience.

Definition: terroir: "the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate." – German Wine USA

I was surprised by the practice of planting rose bushes at the end of every grape vine. Ashley describes it as "They're kind of like the Canary to the Grapevine, and they give us warnings that if that particular varietal may be infested with any diseases, it affects the rose bush first."

When the owners, Jennifer and Jeremy Louder, decided to open the winery, they owned a U Pick blueberry patch, about 6 acres of blueberries and they started having wineries come to them asking for their excess blueberries to make into wine. Jeremy, a farmer by nature, thought, "well, why not try this ourselves?" The property is absolutely amazing. They reinvest every penny back into the business and it has grown exponentially.

When they first started, 12 years ago, they did a little bit over 3,000 gallons their first year and they sold out of wine. It surprised everyone. This last year we did 75,000 gallons of wine with 101.

The property has become quite the venue. Every Friday and Saturday night, people come for live concerts, usually about 3000 people here on a Saturday night at their large outdoor Amphitheatre. Featured on Wine First, the PBS television series the first time they ever filmed in the United States, in 2022. They also have a food outlet there, a wood fired oven imported from Italy, and an estate Bistro.

These two exceptional boutique companies partner in downtown Fort Wayne, IN to create the perfect combination, because who doesn't love wine and chocolate? In fact, the timing happened to be perfect. Country Harvest Wines were in Sonoma a year before and Ashley's absolute love of chocolate and wine started as they paired and received a 100 point "perfect score" cab staff and they paired it with a dark chocolate truffle. "Chocolate is happiness that you can eat."
– Ursula Kohaupt

Now, let's pair these exquisite wines with the DeBrand chocolates. Known for their artistry in creating indulgent and luxurious treats, DeBrand chocolates are the perfect accompaniment to Country Harvest wines. The combination of these local treasures is truly a match made in heaven.

Open the boxes from DeBrand chocolate, you'll find really beautiful artistic pieces of chocolate. If you don't have access to the Country Heritage Wine, Ashley recommends a cab staff as always does well with dark chocolate. It's where her romance and love of the chocolate and wine pairing came into play. "Dry Reds really do very well with dark chocolate, and if you're a sweet fan like a Concord would still be a really good pairing with the dark chocolate as well."

So the first one, our Salted Caramel Café, in the shorter box of the two, look at it, you can see the different colors of this particular chocolate we paired with the Marquette as well as the dark chocolate truffle from the larger box. DeBrands uses only the finest quality ingredients.

Take a sip of the Brianna wine, feel the vibrant flavors dance on your palate, and then indulge in a piece of DeBrand chocolate. The smooth texture and heavenly sweetness of the chocolate perfectly complement the wine's tropical fruit notes, creating a harmonious and delectable experience. Each bite and sip enhance one another, elevating your enjoyment to new heights.

Ashley recommends whenever you're doing a wine and food pairing, try the wine first, then you can try the chocolate, and then you try the two together so you can see how each of them change when the ingredients are combined. "%%This particular Marquette was actually aged in the barrel for four years," Ashley shares. "It's a French / American Oak hybrid, it was a 50/50 combination. The grapes are pressed and transferred to this particular barrel was the 50% French Oak and 50% American Oak and then it goes under the malolactic fermentation. So this one was aged four years, a little bit longer than we typically do, but you can really taste it. It was actually used with the new barrel, a Minnesota cold party grape hybrid. We don't use new barrels because it can be overwhelming that you can have too much of the taste of that barrel in it. But this one, because of the age and what it did, it appears quite well together.

But it's also why some of the chocolates is what we paired with it as well. So the first one I'm going to do is the Salted Caramel Cafe, which is in DeBrand's connoisseur collection, and it's denoted by the square size it. Try it with the wine.

There's a lot of earthiness and smokiness with that wine. It has a spice finish to it, and it's complimented by that coffee flavor. That dark chocolate and the coffee really happened. Two of my personal favorites. Maybe I'm a little biased, but it's I absolutely love coffee. I love dark chocolate and with a dry red wine. They tend to really pull out some of the flavors and help each other. You know, a good combination should always make them both be enhanced.%%"

For those who prefer a bolder and more complex pairing, the Marquette wine with its dark fruit flavors is an excellent choice. Take a moment to savor the intense notes of blackberry and cherry, and then allow the velvety richness of the DeBrand chocolate to envelop your taste buds. The combination of the wine's spice and the chocolate's smoothness is an adventure for your senses, leaving you with a truly unforgettable tasting experience."Chocolate is a gift of love to yourself."
- Sonja Blumenthal"%%And then the other wine that we have today as well is our Brianna," Ashley continues. "So Brianna's not a common varietal that probably most of you have ever heard of. Brianna is the name of this wine, but it's also the name of the grape itself. So in our estates, we typically keep the name of the grape as the name of the wine, very straightforward.

This wine we sent to a competition this last year at the Indiana State Fair, and it beat every single variety out there and won Wine of the year! It beat Petit Verdot, which happened to be ours, which was in the final running as well, but it beat every single thing. It was the first time that an estate grown wine has ever won. Also a sweet wine in addition to that. So both categories, we couldn't be prouder of how this wine shines and it won every single award and won wine of the year for us in 2022.%%"

This sweet white wine is their number one seller across all three locations as well. It is also a Minnesota hybrid, same as that Marquette. It has really flourished. We have the most acres of this grape planted because it is our most popular wine. We currently have around 30 acres of Brianna planted. This particular wine was harvested August 18th, 2022, so it's pretty young.

Their wine makers is a mathematical chemist that is his degree. He keeps times and dates of when they started harvesting to when they finish, so next year they can reference it, he knows exactly when they're going to look at what they may do to adjust how the varietals perform. He tracks how much rain falls each month.

"As soon as they harvest this grape, it's pressed immediately and then the juice is cold settled for the clarity overnight. After that, we do inoculate it with the cultured yeast for 24 hours after that, so the temperature is always kept at 60 degrees Fahrenheit until the fermentation is complete, and that usually takes 12 days, to be exact.

With this wine, we have two different options of chocolate for you to choose from. The first one is a caramel truffle, the one with stripes on the top, very pretty with all the different brown shades with a very soft caramel in the middle. Just to warn you if you're trying that one. The caramel is absolutely delicious. It melts in your mouth. But it will surprise you so that one is paired with the Brianna.

So chocolate and white wine can be quite an interesting pairing. It's a really tough job to have to try all these chocolates and wines to find the right one, but someone had to do it.

But white wine? Not always what you think of, but they have so many interesting flavors. That's fun to see what it brings out in the wine. My rule of thumb is always drink what you like, but I love surprising people with a wine they don't think they like but with a dish that they love and then having them try it together and becomes the new favorite."

When you pair a sweet wine with a sweet, like dessert, it usually helps. It balances out the sweetness level of both so it doesn't make either one seem as sweet as it may have before. This wine isn't overly sweet like a dessert wine by any means.

The other chocolate provided with it is a Jasmine chocolate, the one with that pretty heart. DeBrand hand paints all of these on all their chocolates as well. It's quite a really process that they display when they give tours, and you witness it's a very labor of love.

DeBrand's is a woman owned company in Fort Wayne that does an impeccable job.

The Jasmine chocolate paired with that sweet Brianna wine… you can get notes of apple, a little bit of apricot, you definitely taste the jasmine, a milk chocolate ganache and it's infused with tea. You can kind of even start to think of how those flavors might go together a little bit. It's a very surprising, refreshing combination.

They focus on those exotic unique taste and texture combinations. They want to surprise you with it and it's fun to use those to pair with the wine. It's not your standard everyday chocolate, but their unique take on it.

In conclusion, the pairing of Country Harvest wine and DeBrand chocolates is an absolute delight. Indiana's wine industry has proven itself to be a contender in the world of fine wines, with Brianna and Marquette standing out as exceptional choices. Combined with the artistry of DeBrand chocolates, these pairings offer a symphony of flavors that will leave you longing for more. Cheers to Indiana's hidden gems and the visionary minds behind their success!

93909 - 2023-06-12 01:04:55


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