Monday, November 23, 2009


The other night I came home, and surprisingly, I was early for a change. It was a nice moment. Dominique asked me to grill pork chops, while she made homemade macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli.

We decided to go down to the cellar and find something to go along with the evening’s repast. I opened a bottle of Blue Mountain Blue Heron Meritage 2005.

I poured two glasses. Dominique sipped hers as she continued making the meal, and I sipped mine standing over the grill, wine glass in hand, watching the flames dance. The sun had already set, and there was a slight chill in the air. But the fire was warm, and the crackling, sizzling meat kept my attention easily.

I remember I had my first bottle of Blue Mountain back in the late 1990s, I think it was 1998. And met them at the Pennsylvania wine festival in 1999.

Joe and Vickie planted their first vines in 1986 in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, in New Tripoli, PA. They planted 5 acres of French Hybrid varietals, including Chambourcin, Vignoles, and Vidal Blanc. In 1988 they established another 5 acres, planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. And they continued planting more grapes on their 50 existing acres.

In Fall 1997, Blue Mountain Vineyards purchased a parcel of land that carries with it a significant historical background dating back to pre-Revolutionary War. In fact, the land has been accepted in the National Register of Historical Places! Spring of 1998 Joe and Vickie planted 20 acres of mostly vinifera grapes with the addition of Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Riesling vines. The winery's plan is to continue to plant vineyards over the next few years, which will bring the total acreage to 100 acres. In the Spring of 2007 they constructed a winemaking facility and have established a new winery - Leaser Lake Vineyards!

Today, they have their main tastingroom in the Lehigh Valley as well as four winery extension tasting rooms: Coventry Mall, Willow Grove, Hershey, and Reading. I have watched with wonder and amazement and envy as they have grown their business.

But they have improved their winemaking as well. And the Blue Mountain Blue Heron 2005 is a testament to fine winemaking in Pennsylvania. This Red Meritage® (it is an official Meritage) is an estate wine made from 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Merlot grapes. The free run of these grapes were fermented separately, blended together, and aged in new French oak barrels for 9 months.

It is a big, deep red, with lots of tannin and fruit and acid. Not quite a Parker fruit bomb, but a beautifully structured wine. Nice hints of vanilla, dark raspberry, plums, and some cassis.

It was a beautiful wine that definitely got better and the evening went on.

We sat down, as I proudly placed my offering for the meal at the table. I took a photo of the moment. Dylan and Dawson laughed at me.

“What are you taking a picture for of dinner?!”

Dominique and I toasted each other and dug in. The meal was incredible. The macaroni and cheese was creamy and zesty, and she gave me some of the burnt edges (which I love). And the pork was lean and tender and juicy. And the wine was incredible.
A wonderful meal and a great wine.