On Friday evening, Arkansas Times held its annual Celebrate the Grape Wine, Food and Jazz event. I spent most of my time milling about the tents and tables sampling chilled wines and treats to beat the heat. The event goers came hungry and ate up the majority of the small bites before 7:30pm, leaving the Whole Hog Cafe as the only food tent for the remainder of the event. But before the pi kings became slim, I indulged in a refreshing chilled pasta salad from Graffiti’s, a slice of olive infused sourdough bread from Arkansas Fresh Bakery, smooth goat cheese from Kent Walker and a strawberry cream filled chocolate from Cocoa Rouge.
As the food ran out, so did the crowd, which left plenty of wine for myself and others to indulge in and indulge I did. The wines I tasted were all quite flavorful but there were only a few that were wonderful. My first winning taste was a full flavored effervescent Chardonnay aptly named Sofia by Francis Ford Coppola. It was perfectly chilled with notes of crisp green apples and juicy spiced pears, lovely and perfect for sipping.
Across the way I tasted a naturally sourced champagne white sangria blend, Eppa Sangria Suprafruta White, with clean and fresh notes of lemon and lime followed by chilled peaches and mango. Sweet, cool, and refreshing. I spent a few minutes asking about this wine and discovered that it is made with organic fruit juice blends and varietal grapes grown in Northern California. I received the last sample of the sangria and was disheartened that there was no more to be had.
I moved on to the red wines and tried a few before my palette was satisfied. There was a full bodied Shiraz from Australia, the Mollydooker Shiraz-Blue Eyed Boy, which tasted like blueberries and cherries, with spiced cinnamon and notes of vanilla, tempered in chocolate, leaving a rich sweet taste on your palette. Even at room temperature (a little warmer due to the sun) it was surprisingly wonderful.
Lastly, I tasted a fruity, light bodied White sparkling wine, Gazela Vinho Verde from Portugal. The bottle is what caught my eye but the taste was what was memorable, it was so cool and refreshing, I couldn’t believe it was wine.
There were close to 300 wines and I tasted almost 30 all together but these were the hands down winners for me. The event was a success overall with plenty of wine to go around and a great atmosphere for conversation and indulgence, despite the food shortage, it was a wonderful start to my weekend.