Belleville, IL store holding Missouri wine tasting and appetizer pairing
Eckert’s Country Store in Belleville, Illinois held a wine and appetizer pairing earlier this month with Missouri based Montelle and Augusta Wineries.

If you live in the St. Louis area you know Eckert’s is the place to go to pick-your-own peaches, strawberries, apples and pumpkins. Eckert’s was started in 1837 by German immigrants and the current owners, Chris and Angie Eckert are 7th generation owners. What you may not realize is in 2010 they expanded to have a new country store and room especially for classes. They have classes about wine each month, plus some Mommy and Me classes (age 2 and up) that I also want to check out.

One thing I loved about their menu pairings for the evening is it’s exactly how I cook – I lean towards fresh vegetables and fruit and use/alter recipes so they have the least amount of steps. Because lets be real – I’m a busy Mom who also owns her own company. I don’t have time for recipes that call for 15 obscure ingredients and  35 steps to create a culinary masterpiece.

Pairing One

2010 Augusta Vidal Blanc  $8.99 – The taste was more floral than fruity. Kooyumjian, owner of both Montelle and Augusta Wineries, said that the citrus flavor of this wine cleanses your palette, so it doesn’t overpower the fresh ingredients.

Steamed fresh green beans, potatoes that were boiled and sprinkled with pepper, plus a crumbled hard boiled egg. I saw this plate arrive and immediately thought – perfect quick weeknight dinner for our family.

Pairing Two

Above: Chris Eckert demonstrates the proper technique for swirling your wine to let all the aromas breathe.

Wine: 2008 Montelle Chardonel $9.99 – The smell was very citrus like – apple, pear and peach. The owner noted that in general white wine has a high acidity level and he prefers his wine to be at a lower level, so you can enjoy a bottle or two over dinner & still function after!

It looked so good, I couldn’t help but take a bite of it before I took the photo. These fish tacos were full of an awesome sauce called “peach salsa.” Sweet with a little bit of a just right kick. Sooooo gooood! I bought a jar and plan to use it soon.

Pairing Three

Wine: 2009 Montelle Seyval Blanc $8.99 – This was my favorite white wine. The Seyval Blanc is a dry wine and has smells of tropical fruits and citrus. The finish is long and crisp.

Scallops with fresh peaches. I wouldn’t have thought to combine these two, but man, was it a great pairing. The scallops were actually grown from another Illinois based company that has been around for 100 years – Dixon Fisheries, located in Peoria, IL. As you can see these are huge scallops. We had two different types of peaches – white and yellow. I also learned that yellow peaches are more tangy than white peaches, due to their high acidity.

Pairing Four

Missouri Chambourcin wine review
2009 Augusta Estate Bottled Chambourcin $12.99 – This was our table’s surprise favorite. Four of the eight people at our table had never tasted such a silk smooth red. One woman asked “I thought all dark reds were dry, why isn’t this?” The owner explained that he prefers to make his Chambourcin fruit forward so you have tastes of black licorice, leather, vanilla and clove. He keeps his Chambourcin in oak barells for 18-24 months and said the silkiness is from fully ripened tannins. To read my full review of 2009 Augusta Winery Chambourcin, go here.

You’ll notice that this wine says its “Estate Bottled,” which means that all the grapes were grown within the 11 square miles of Augusta, the First American Viticulture Area. Napa Valley was not designated as a wine appellation until 18 months later.

Applewurst and kraut. The chef said she cooked the bratwurst in apple juice and let it caramelize until done. Delicious! I loved these so much I actually bought a couple of these fresh Applewurst for dinner later in the week.

Pairing Five

2010 Augusta Seyval Blanc $7.99 – The people around me pegged this one as their favorite white wine. Seyval is a semi-dry white; crisp acidity with a slightly sweet finish.The owner chose to put this in a blue bottle to signify this wine is close in flavor to German style Reislings, which are normally bottled blue.

The wine was paired with fresh baked bread from the Eckert’s bakery and Menage cheese. I think I could have eaten about 5 servings of this cheese. The Menage cheese is made from goat, sheep and cow’s milk and is a very good flavor. The cheese is made in Wisconsin by another 100 year old company – Carr Valley Cheese. What looks like a jelly is actually Eckert’s tomato preserves. It’s very sweet and almost taste like the jalapeno jelly that my mother-in-law bought for us. Sweet with a little kick.

Pairing Six

100% peach wine made in Missouri
Montelle Peachy $7.99 – This wine was made 100% from peaches at Eckert’s! Chris Eckert talked of how the Red Haven peaches are picked at 5:30am and are delivered to Montelle by 3pm the same day. Kooyumjian said that he searched all over for a peach pitter and finally found one in Europe. He let’s the peaches sit over winter and bottles in the spring.

Missouri winery & appetizer pairing
Eckert’s frozen custard and fresh peaches. It was really a great cap to the six different mini meals.

Besides being the perfect dessert wine, Montelle also recommends making the below Peachy Sangria with their Montelle Peachy wine:

Peachy Sangria:
2 bottles Montelle Peachy
24 oz. orange juice
24 oz. grapefruit soda
10 Eckert’s peaches sliced
1lb white grapes frozen
(or other miced frozen fruit)
1 lemon thinly sliced

Overall a great night! Above is a photo of the owners of Augusta and Montelle wineries, Tony and Cindy Kooyumjian. I loved hearing both Chris Eckert and the Kooyumjian’s talk about the intricacies of growing wine, peaches and their other produce. I highly recommend attending an Eckert’s event in the future – great classroom, great commentary and after our class we got a 10% coupon to shop in the Eckert’s Country Store.

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