Chocoate and wine don't really share much of the same "terroir".
Most cacao trees are grown in West Africa, Asia, and South America. Most South American cacao is grown in Brazil and Ecuador, not wine producing countries like Argentina and Chile. That's because cacao trees grow best in heat and humidity. Vines, on the other hand, do not.
Think wine goes with just any chocolate? Think again! The richness, sweetness, and center palate of any type of chocolate pairs best with wines with equal richness. They also pair best with wines that have some perceived sweetness, either from residual sugar or alcohol, and a structured tannic center and finish to help draw out the extractive nature of both the chocolate and the wine.
With that, we’ve broken down the three most popular types of chocolate and paired them with the perfect Scott Harvey wine for you to enjoy year-round. Whether you use this for a virtual wine and chocolate tasting, a girl’s night, dinner party, or date night, these pairings won’t disappoint!
White Chocolate & Tickle Me Pink Rose
It’s no secret white chocolate is sweeter than dark, and a great rule of thumb is the sweeter the chocolate, the sweeter the wine.
White chocolate isn't technically "true" chocolate because it doesn't contain cacao (the brown part with all the flavanols)
Since white chocolate is delicate enough to match with white wines, our sexy, sassy Tickle Me Pink delivers flavors of peaches and cream with floral notes of rose and a touch of spritz. Sparkling wines make the pairing have extra creaminess.
Milk Chocolate & Forte Port-style Wine
Milk chocolate requires something a touch heavier, and our Forté Port-style wine is the ticket. Flavors of candied red fruits, raspberry, and cranberry melt into flavors of red licorice and chocolate, while the soft tannins flow into a long, sweet plum finish. This hint of sweetness coupled with earthy undertones rounds out the chocolate beautifully.
While our Port is a touch sweet, it won’t overwhelm the palate with too much sugar, meaning it can also pair perfectly with fudge and chocolate chip cookies. This wine is complex enough to make the tasting experience intriguing, but won’t clash with or overpower it.
Dark Chocolate & Just One Last Kiss Red Blend
Last but not least, bold and savory dark chocolate is the perfect excuse to explore a dryer wine. The polyphenols in dark chocolate mirror those in wine which can give both a somewhat bitter taste. It's also the part of the chocolate that gives you all the health benefits.The bitterness in dark chocolate is what you want to balance out with a properly selected wine pairing.
Our first recommendation is the Just One Last Kiss Red Blend, which has 11% of our Forte Port-style wine blended in to add to the complexity of this pairing. The base of this fruit-forward red blend is Zinfandel, while the Forte laces through the wine to make up the full-bodied finish. Made with a mouthwatering balance, the wine is full of spicy cloves and blackberry fruit.
Because dark chocolate is such a show-stopper, our pairings don’t end there! Our Jana Cabernet Sauvignon hails from three vineyards all very close together off of the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. This wine was aged for 21 months in French Oak creating a flavorful experience with well-rounded tannins, structure, and aromas. This dark chocolate works with this wine because it mellows the tannins, but also has enough fruit and structure to withstand the boldness of the chocolate. This is the ultimate classic pairing!
Finally, if you’re feeling “zin-ful”, our InZinerator Zinfandel - which has 9% of our Forte included - is also a wonderful option because it’s full of bold black cherry flavors. This wine is a lone warrior in the world of Zins, and Oak aging contributes to its rounded complexity with just a hint of sweetness.
No matter your chocolate preference, we have a wine for every type and every occasion!
Listen as Scott discusses the effects of COVID-19 on wine production and how it financially impacts both our winery and wineries alike. Simply click the photo to watch the video!
Learn about the impacts on wine production:
Learn about the financial impacts on the winery:
Brian Overhauser, Estate Chef
I love the saying, “a magnum bottle of wine is the perfect size for two people if one of them isn’t drinking.” While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it’s true that magnum bottles are excellent choices for enjoying wine as a group. As the holiday season is full of group dinners, parties, and get-togethers, it’s the perfect time to dive into the wonderful world of wine magnums.
Though it seems like a leap to upgrade from the standard 750ml bottle, it really isn’t. At 1.5 liters, a magnum is the equivalent of two standard wine bottles. Given each standard bottle contains five glasses of wine, it isn’t extravagant to suggest a magnum for a table of four dinner guests – that only works out to two and a half glasses of wine per person. There are so many flavor benefits as well.
So, don’t hesitate to put some older vintage, large format bottles on your holiday table this year! Our 2012 Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel 1.5L bottle, produced in the Old World style, has a beautiful balance of fruit, French oak, structural tannins, and medium alcohol. This makes for a perfect option to pair with all of the typical Thanksgiving fixings.
Mollie Haycock, Assistant Winemaker
I like to start holiday meals and parties with sparkling wine, such as our Jana Blanc de Blanc. It may seem predictable, but it’s such a festive way to begin any event. To me, sparkling pairs well with so many things - especially lighter appetizers. Holiday meals for us tend to be filled with heavy foods and lots of flavors, so starting with something light is a nice balance.
We usually start with a cheese and charcuterie board with dried fruits, jams, mustards, and local honey. Sparkling pairs great with anything you might include in a platter, and each of the items enhances something different in the wine. The natural acidity in the Jana Blanc de Blanc pairs beautifully with both soft, creamy cheese and bold, hard cheese.
Clinton Harders, Tasting Room Lead, Sutter Creek
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season can be expressed by a simple word: fondue. My family does our big turkey meal around lunchtime on Thanksgiving day. By the time the day ends, everyone can go for something to eat, but no one really wants to cook again. So, the day before Thanksgiving, I prepare a large batch of fondue and have it ready to heat for Thanksgiving evening.
With a touch of a button and a little time, we’re ready to dip everything from sausage to apples in the cheesy goodness! And, a very important ingredient in traditional fondue is a white wine. The 2018 Jana Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for this. It only requires one-third of a cup, and that leaves the rest for drinking!
Christmas Eve is all about chocolate fondue. With lots of tasty morsels to dip in chocolate, we pair this with a splash of 2011 Forte Port as a nightcap after a day of wrapping way too many presents!
However you enjoy your favorite Scott Harvey wines, we hope you have a beautiful holiday season with good health, laughter, and lots of delicious wine and food offerings! Cheers!
Harvest is upon us! It’s the time of year when your favorite Scott Harvey varietals are being plucked from their vines and crafted into the wines you know and love. This will be Scott’s 46th harvest (we still can’t believe it!) and he hasn’t missed one since 1974.
The exact steps in the harvesting process will vary in time, technique, and technology based on the grape, but, for the most part, each harvest includes the same basic vine-to-wine steps. Curious how this process works? We’re doing a deep-dive into how your Scott Harvey favorites are made.
The grapes have now been through veraison, and it’s time to pick! This year’s vintage will produce some big differences from region to region within our state. Having started with a wet winter, we’ve had plenty of moisture in the ground to develop and grow a healthy crop.
Grapes that flowered early, like in the Central and Napa valleys, are ideal in size and have had a successful growing season. Areas that budded late, such as the high elevation regions in Amador County or Lake County, were caught flowering in unfavorable conditions (such as rain or hail)and many of the flowers did not germinate. This gives us what we call “shot berry”, which means these vineyards will produce less than normal. However, the good news is that the resulting wine tends to be more flavorful and extractive.
When it’s time to pick, the grapes are either cut from the vine by hand or picked by machine, depending on the winery. We prefer the grapes to be hand-harvested at night – when they are picked at a temperature that is too warm, the crushing process develops unwanted bitter components and phenolics in the wine. If we receive grapes picked under hot conditions during the day, they are placed in our air-conditioned winery overnight and crushed the next day when they’re cold. Hand harvesting is more labor-intensive, but can offer superior results. At this point in the process, the grapes are still intact with their stems. These will all be removed in the next step.
No matter how or when the grapes were picked, they all get crushed in some fashion at this step. The de-stemmer, which is a piece of winemaking machinery that does exactly what it says - removes the stems from the clusters and lightly crushes the grapes.
For white wines, once crushed, the white grapes are transferred straight into a press. All of the grapes are pressed to extract the juice and leave behind the grape skins. The pure juice is then transferred into tanks where sediment settles to the bottom of the tank. After a settling period, the juice is then “racked”, which means it’s filtered out of the settling tank into another to ensure all the sediment is gone before fermentation starts.
Similarly, with red wines, the grapes are de-stemmed and lightly crushed. The difference is that these grapes, along with their skins, go straight into a vat to start fermentation on their skins. This is what imparts the red color into red wine; otherwise, red grapes would simply be some form of Rosé wine.
The sooner the clusters are de-stemmed, the less tannic the wine will be. Some winemakers want little-to-no influence of stems, while others feel that some or all stems in the fermentation fill out the wine’s texture and flavor.
Simply put, fermentation is where the sugar converts into alcohol. To break it down this stage mainly includes:
As a Winemaker, Scott has many choices at this step but it ultimately depends on the kind of wine he wants to create. Flavors in wine can become more intense due to several of these winemaking choices:
- Aging for several years vs. several months
- Aging in stainless steel vs. oak
- Aging in new oak vs. ‘neutral’ or used barrels
- Aging in American oak barrels vs. French oak barrels
- Aging in various levels of ‘toasted’ barrels (i.e. charred by fire)
When wines are young we taste their primary flavors, like grassiness in Sauvignon Blanc or citrus in Riesling. We may also notice some secondary notes associated with winemaking techniques, like the vanilla flavor from an oak barrel or buttery nuances from malolactic fermentation.
When wines age, we start getting into tertiary notes or flavors that come from development. This could mean young, bold hints of fresh fruit that become gradually more subdued and reminiscent of dried fruit. Other flavors, previously hidden by bold primary notes, come to the forefront such as honey, herbal notes, hay, mushroom, stone, and earth. While the proportion of alcohol, acids, and sugars stay the same, the flavors continue to change over time – which is so fun to watch!
When Scott feels the wine has reached its full expression in aging, it’s time to bottle the wine for consumption. We tend to age our wines for 18 to 23 months in once or twice used French oak barrels with medium toast. Once the aging process is complete, we make them available to you!
It’s important to remember, though, that wine is a living thing and changes with time in the bottle. Depending on the wine, it can take years to decades for the molecular structure to change. That being said, 99% of the world’s wine does not need cellaring andare actually at their peak the day they are released.
Whether you decide to enjoy your Scott Harvey wines the day you purchase or a few months or years down the line, there’s no doubt they will be wonderfully expressive, well-balanced, and enjoyable no matter the occasion. Curious about the varietals we craft, or want to pick up some of your favorites? Take a look at our wine portfolio!
One of the great things about wine is its versatility. There are countless varietals to choose from, all easily enjoyable in a range of settings. And since we thoroughly enjoy the outdoors here at Scott Harvey Wines, particularly during the summer months, we’re sharing our favorite ways to sip on your favorite wines all season long. So whether you’re more of a “beach bum”, prefer a day on the river or a weekend in the mountains, our wide variety of wines are the perfect complement to any day trip or vacation you plan this summer. Want to see why? Read on!
1. The Beach
Our Amador County winery might not be particularly close to the shore, but it’s one of our favorite places to visit! Amador County can be sweltering during the summer months, and there’s nothing like a beautiful day at the beach to get a breath of fresh ocean air.
While lighter whites and Rosés like our 2018 Jana Sauvignon Blanc or Tickle Me Pink are perfect for hot beach days, sometimes it gets a little breezy and chilly (at least at our Northern California beaches!).
Because of that, we love to bring along our 2016 J&S Reserve Syrah. Aromas of raspberry, pepper, and cherry and bright, spicy flavors make this a feel-good wine to walk along the beach with loved ones.
2. The River
Moving more inland but still savoring the water, a favorite pastime of ours is going to the river to relax, enjoy a meal, and cool of by canoeing or floating down. The comradery of spending time with friends and family is one of the most heartwarming parts of summer, and you can’t beat our Barberas to continue the fun in the sun!
Our 2018 Rosé of Barbera is dry in style and packed with a well-rounded mouthfeel, while our 2016 J&S Reserve Barbera is a fruit-forward wine that boasts rich, full flavors that express both the varietal and the Amador County terroir. Both wines have the potential to pair beautifully with any picnic you pack. Or, simply sip on them while you soak up the sun!
3. The Mountains
Our final favorite location to enjoy Scott’s wines is in a mountain setting, and we love our 2016 Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel anytime we head to the hills. With flavors of blackberry, fig, and violets and hints of coffee with bright currants on the nose, the old vine complexity of this wine is unmistakable and absolutely delicious.
Whether you’re sipping it in the still of the afternoon amongst the trees, on a boat on the lake, or in a group around the dinner table or a campfire, we love how this wine has the power to bring people together in even the most remote settings.
We love this idea so much, in fact, that for the second year in a row we’re thrilled to host our Wine Club Weekend Glamping Trip! If you’re a wine club member, join us as we escape the city lights and leave the noise at home. Let the beautiful scenery of the Sierra Buttes be the backdrop of a beautiful weekend with friends.
From Friday, August 23rd at 2pm through Sunday, August 25th, “glamp” in style with incredible wine and food pairings at the Lakes Basin Recreation Area at the Gold Lake Beach Resort. Pack your suitcase and hiking shoes and leave the rest to us! Enjoy group hikes during the day and wine and food pairings at night prepared by our Estate Chef, Brian Overhauser.
For more information, click here, contact email@example.com, or call us at (209) 267-0122 and ask for Melissa.
Whether you prefer the beach, are more of a casual river dweller or enjoy the serenity of the mountains, our wines are ready to go whenever and wherever you are. Happy summer, Scott Harvey fans!
Are you in need of a vacation? Or, a “staycation” for those that are local? For some people, Amador County would be considered “off the beaten path”. While many don’t know the extensive and fascinating history behind the county, for us, it’s home. In the time we’ve had the privilege of living in Amador we’ve stumbled across many things we love to enjoy as a couple, or with friends and family when they visit. With that, we’ve put together our top five favorite Amador County hidden gems we hope you can someday enjoy.
1. The Amador City Loop
We begin our day in the city of Amador where we love starting our day at Andrae's Bakery for coffee and a sweet or savory breakfast snack. Once we have our coffee fix, we venture up the main road along the creek for a pleasant walk along the brook. After our stroll, we return downtown via Stringbean Alley which is a comfortable, flat concrete walking path. On your way back into the main part of town, you pass the Sutter Creek Gold Mine which is a fascinating piece of history.
You read that right - Volcano! But, it’s not an active one, or even a volcano for that matter. Volcano is actually a town in Amador County. Settled in 1849, the town is named for its setting in a bowl-shaped valley which early miners thought was caused by a volcano. The early morning fog rising from the valley floor only reinforced that belief. If you take a stroll around town, you’ll feel as though you’ve transported into a different era. If you visit the old grocery store, you’ll find items that you haven’t seen in years, if ever. There’s also a charming community theater that was established in 1854 and is continued through the efforts of the Volcano Theater Company. Watching a play at the 50-seat Cobblestone theater is an absolute treat. Finally, you can curb your appetite with a savory lunch or dinner at the Union Inn + Pub.
3. Black Chasm Cavern
This is a place we always love to take new visitors. While Black Chasm Cavern was likely known by the local Miwok people who inhabited this area long before the Gold Rush, the first documented exploration of these caverns occurred in 1854 when a group of explorers braved the unknown to discover the phenomenal beauty that exists below the surface. Simple tours were held at the Black Chasm in those early days, barely penetrating the cavern system that we know today. The tours we venture on nowadays are always interesting and entertaining, and usually given by a member of the family that owns it. We find it fun to use your imagination with the shapes of the stalagmites and stalactites, while in the main part of the cavern opens up for a splendid experience overall.
4. Hikes at Carson Pass
Carson Pass is a mountain pass on the crest of the central Sierra Nevada in the El Dorado National Forest. The historic pass was a point on the Carson Trail during the Gold Rush and was used for American Civil War shipping to California until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. In addition to the extensive history, the hikes at Carson Pass boast some of the most gorgeous wildflowers we’ve seen in California. These trails are best around mid-summer after the snow melts, and this year should be even more beautiful with all of the rain we had over the winter! Carson Pass is a great place to partake in a variety of activities, from day hikes and backpacking to practicing your photography skills.
5. Lake Tabeaud
We don’t see a lot of water in Amador County except for the many creeks, which is why it’s such a pleasure to walk around Lake Tabeaud. This lake is a great place for walkers, joggers, canoers, kayakers, and those who like to fish. This setting is also an ideal quiet place for picnicking and bird-watching. You can enjoy a walk or fishing on the banks in this peaceful setting with shade from the surrounding oaks. While there are no motor boats, swimming, or overnight camping allowed, these trails are open year-round. We love to take a walk around this lake in an easy-to-moderate 2.5-mile loop.
While it’s easy to search “top places to visit” online for any given place, we hope this local’s perspective of Amador County will take you a bit further out of your comfort zone and into our world here at Scott Harvey Wines.
If you choose to visit or partake in any of these activities, we hope you also find some time to stop by one of our two tasting room locations in either Plymouth or Sutter Creek to round off your Amador County experience!
- Scott & Jana
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