First, Charlotte has added charm in December. This is the second time I've visited the city in December and I love the Christmas lights and many decorated trees in Uptown Charlotte. South Tryon Street has a huge tree in gold lights and across the street a number of more spindly trees in silvery lights. Fig Tree Restaurant is decorated with nutcracker figures on the wall and draped greenery with red bows. The Embassy Suites has red ponsettia plants surrounding the atrium breakfast spot. I didn't stop in the Ritz-Carlton lounge on this trip but I expect it is also tastefully decorated for the holidays. Yesterday I had lunch at AZN Asian Cuisine near South Park--a new restaurant for me. I believe they have other locations in Naples, FL and Atlanta. I had a decent New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a nice Vietnamese spring roll and really liked the Korean-style short ribs which I requested with steamed rice rather than mashed potatoes. Had fun with the chopsticks and enjoyed some tea as well as the glass of wine. Dinner was at Fig Tree and the manger/owner? remembered me from my last visit there in April. I ordered the cheese plate with five cheeses although I knew I probably couldn't finish it. It included a bleu cheese (from Vermont?), Grumpy Goat, Barely Buzzed from Beehive Dairy in Utah (with espresso and lavendar rub), Cremont, and one other cheese--all tasty-- plus mixed berries, candied walnuts, cracker strips and a bit of honeycomb. Cow's milk, sheep and goat were represented. A tossed salad came with the entree of rosemary encrusted lamb chops with Israeli cous cous, cremini mushrooms and asparagus. I couldn't eat the second lamb chop either and took it back to the hotel refrigerator.
With the cheese plate and lamb I had a glass of 2010 ALEX GAMBAL BOURGOGNE ROUGE (they also had the Alex Gambal Bourgogne Blanc on the wine list.) Dark purple-red color with viscosity. Dark cherry and berries with a spice component (mild pepper.) I appreciated the wine more as it aerated. My nose was somewhat congested, so I didn't get the full impact of the aromas, but the palate was pleasing and paired nicely with the lamb and several of the cheeses.
Lunch today was at City Tavern, again in the South Park area of town. They had a nice list of wines by the glass as well as various draft beers. I contemplated various Pinot Noirs and decided to go with one that was unfamiliar to me. 2011 SEAGLASS PINOT NOIR Santa Barbara County. Checking their website, the 2010 SeaGlass Pinot Noir is listed at 13.5% alcohol by volume and is from a vineyard in the Los Alamos region. I did not find a fact sheet on the 2011 vintage. Website description mentions cherries and strawberry. Medium burgundy color; semi-transparent. Cherry notes stand out on the nose. On the palate, a little simple but tasty. Medium body. Hint of brown spice and maybe some plum notes as well as the cherries. At $8.00 a glass, $28.00 the bottle, one of the inexpensive red wines on the City Tavern wine list. (Ponzi Pinot Noir, for example, is $13 a glass and Hob Nob, from France, is $7.00.)
Some sleuthing shows that Total Wine in Brier Creek, Raleigh carries the Sea Glass Pinot Noir for $11.99 plus tax. It may be my new favorite Pinot Noir in the $10-$15 range.