Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate Wine Pops Its Cork at Virginia's Cooper Vineyards






Monday Morning Blog



There's a little sleeper wine called "Noche" (pronounced no-chay) from Cooper Vineyards in Louisa, VA. It's extraordinary.

Noche is chocolate wine. Yes, chocolate wine. Not wine to drink with chocolate but chocolate tasting wine.

Noche means night in Italian and this gorgeously purple wine is as dark as a starless night. It's rich and fragrant but without that uber sweet taste and syrup-y texture that many dessert wines unfortunately possess.

Noche is smooth as silk, mildly reminiscent of a well aged port although you wouldn't call it a port. Noche could, I suppose, stand in nicely for port when there's none in the house and you're in the midst of a recipe that calls for port.

Noche's taste is haunting, richly decadent and oh, so sip-able. It's chic and sophisticated without being pretentious.

Robert Culley, marketing director of Cooper Vineyards, gave me the scoop. "Owner Jeff Cooper got the idea for our chocolate wine after a trip to California where he first tasted chocolate port," he said.

Back in Virginia, Cooper let his winemaker experiment with various chocolate essences until a final selection resulted in a perfect pairing with their 100% Virginia Norton grapes.

"The chocolate essence," Culley continued, "is added after fermentation and just before bottling."
It's great when the bottle is first opened but like most reds, it's much better and much smoother after it's been allowed to breathe. I like Noche best after it's been opened, recorked and refrigerated for a couple of days.

Noche, by the way, took the top prize of a gold medal at the Virginia Governor's Cup wine competition this year.

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Want more info?
Out of the area?
Need a virtual road trip?


Cooper Vineyards
13372 Shannon Hill Rd
Lousia, Virginia 23093
540-894-5253

www.coopervineyards.com

Winery open daily for tasting 11AM-5PM
Noche is available by mail order, at Wegmans
and by special order through your favorite wine shop


Noche Recipes


Noche Coffee
Pour a shot of Noche into black coffee. Serve with cream and sugar or whipped cream, if desired.

Noche Shooters
Pour Noche into chocolate shooter cups. Sip the Noche from the chocolate cup then eat the cup.

Noche Hot Chocolate
Pour a shot of Noche into your favorite hot chocolate. Sit by the fire and watch the world go by. Definitely not for the kiddies.

Noche Peaches
Peel and stone some fresh peaches. Toss with a little lemon juice and arrange in serving dishes. Drizzle with Noche to taste. (Great on fresh, pitted cherries, too.)

Noche Pepsi
Mix half and half over ice in a tall glass. Add a sprig of mint.

Starry, Starry Night
Put a scoop of vanilla or cherry vanilla ice cream into a serving dish. Drizzle with Noche to taste. Sprinkle crushed almond macaroons over the top.

Cherries Noche
Put some dried cherries into a glass jar with a well fitting lid. Don't fill jar more than half full with cherries to allow for expansion. Cover cherries with Noche filling jar. Refrigerate at least a week to let the cherries absorb the liquid. Longer is better. Serve over plain cake, ice cream, rice pudding or custard. Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Noche Trifle
Alternately layer pound cake cubes, Cherries Noche and vanilla pudding in a trifle dish. Refrigerate several hours, covered, to blend flavors.

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