Generally in the wine business we focus on wine and food pairings, but our good friends at The Pipe and Pint in Greensboro, NC opened my eyes to the world of cigar and wine pairings.
Larry and Pete bring new meaning to the term “experts in their field.” I found kindred souls in these guys who speak as passionately about cigars as I do about our wines. They have a connection to the people and places behind the products, which to me is the hallmark of proprietors who live their trade.
On my recent trip to NC I brought three of our wines for them to taste:
2010 Croze Chardonnay, Simone Vineyard, Oak Knoll
2007 Smith Wooton Cabernet Franc, Gallagher’s Vineyard
2008 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon, De Coninck Vineyard
I am always impressed with Pete’s palate when tasting wine with him. He can quickly identify specific flavors and attributes of each wine. But then he takes the conversation to a different place… cigars! I can always see the wheels turning as he is scrolling the cigar Rolodex in his head to find the perfect smoke for each wine.
For the Chardonnay he chose a La Flor Dominicana double claro. It has been years since I had a claro, but once again Pete nailed it. The smoke was mild and creamy with a pleasant finish that highlighted the spicy note in the chardonnay without overpowering it.
For the reds Pete picked out a EloGio and a Jamie Garcia blended cigar under the My Father label that is a lounge exclusive. I paired the EloGio with our Cabernet Franc and the My Father with the Cabernet Sauvignon. The EloGio had great aromas of roasted nuts and potpourri notes that highlighted the floral notes in the cabernet franc.
The My Father was a great match to the Croze Cabernet. The smoke was bold, but elegant with great balance. There were pepper notes on the finish that seemed to ride on the finish of the wine. Aromas of espresso in the cigar highlighted the same notes in the wine.
Every time I make it into Greensboro I make it a point to stop by, share some wine, and talk shop. While Pipe and Pint focuses on premium cigars and tobacco products, they do have a great craft beer selection and a wine room. They may not be on other winemakers radar, but for me it is a must stop when I am in town. The company and camaraderie are much appreciated. If you live in the Greensboro, NC area, I recommend stopping in to meet Larry and Pete, pick up some smokes, a good craft beer, and/or Croze and Smith Wooton wines!
The Pipe and Pint
3716 Spring Garden Street
Greensboro, NC, 27407
The wine world lost a great advocate and an even better person when Rob Henke passed away last week. After a short and courageous battle with cancer, Rob passed away much too young.
Rob was a former executive with a very large distribution company who left to start his own business in order to spend more time with family. While managing distribution, Rob was very aware of the poor reputation that brokers had in the industry. After years of experience working with wineries, brokers, and retailers, Rob felt that he could reinvent the role of a broker in the wine industry. He started Heartland Vintage Wines where he created a new model for brokerage. Rob was the ultimate marketer with relationships across the entire Midwest and beyond. We were very lucky to have Rob represent our wines.
Everyone knew Rob, and most importantly, everyone loved him. He was welcomed with open arms in every account from Kentucky to Illinois.
As great as a businessman as Rob was, it was his passion for family, friends, and kindness that captured me. He was truly one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He found a way to manage the demands of the wine industry and his family better than anyone I had seen. While I never met Rob’s family, I felt like I knew them as well as I knew him. That is what a couple of hours of windshield time brought when you rode with Rob.
I loved the opportunity to ride with Rob on marketing trips. You knew the week would be filled with success along with laughter, jokes, and stories. I remember one stretch of road from Indianapolis to Edwardsville, IL where I think we laughed the entire 4+ hours. I still had tears in my eyes when we walked into the account we were there to see.
The wine world lost a great person and a family lost an even better father, husband, and friend. Rest in peace Rob. Thank you for your friendship.
Daniel Benton - Assistant Winemaker, Croze Napa Valley