Persimmon Creek Vineyards
wine pixies

Persimmon Creek Vineyards

Songwriter Hoagy Charmichael (who was actually a native of Indiana) gave us the song standard “Georgia on my Mind.” Composed in 1930, it is the official song of the state of Georgia, even though in fact the song was originally written to celebrate a woman named Georgia. No matter, as to agriculture, the state is associated with peaches, perhaps peanuts, but winemaking? Yes, in fact, if husband and wife team Sonny and Mary Ann Hardman have anything to say about the matter. A decade ago, the Hardmans scoped out a plot of farmland in northeastern Georgia, 110 acres situated at an elevation of 2100 feet. The couple did careful soil and climate analysis before planting. They decided popular varietal wines like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon would not do well in the high elevation cool-climate conditions of Clayton County. Instead, they planted sections of French white hybrid Seyval Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and some Merlot. The Hardmans keep at it, doing it all by hand.

The Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2007 Georgia Seyval Blanc, $23, is a near water-white in color. The nose is lovely: mineral, white flowers, honey and a deep lime citrus. Before any other quality, I must bill this as a food friendly wine. It is dry, with medium-plus, racy acidity. Palate notes are a mix of well-concentrated lemon, peach, apricot and mango. Later on in the process, kiwi and green plum take over, through to an exceedingly clean finish. This is a tasty bottle that emptied rather quickly.

The Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2007 Georgia Cabernet Franc, $23, is a medium-depth ruby in color. The nose is pronounced, with aromatic notes of licorice, black plum, nutmeg, dried flowers, violet and mocha with a vanilla tinge. The wine is dry, with soft fine grained tannins and well integrated acidity. Mouthfeel is on the soft side, a quality that dovetails well with fruit notes of plum and blackberry, with tobacco, licorice, and vanilla each playing a part. The tobacco and vanilla linger on the finish, a nice touch.

The Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2007 Georgia Ice Wine, $75, is 100% Riesling from west-facing vines that take their time ripening, often lurching deep into November or December. The grapes freeze naturally on the vine, making it the state's only true ice wine (artificial freezing, as used by some vineyards, does not count). The wine is a deep amber in color. Honey, dried flowers, peach, apricot, and almond meet the nose, with a similar amalgam on the palate. Acidity balances out the sweet. This is a wine you drink slowly, with a gentle touch. The finish is long, unctuous, and dryer that you would expect. The wine in fact is in many ways more subtle than I first expected. I look forward to further vintages.


Verdict: Expands American wine horizons.


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High-altitude cool-climate vineyards need appropriate grape varieties.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


Persimmon Creek Vineyards

Farmstead and vineyard juxtapose in northeast Georgia.


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