Monday, April 25, 2011

Silver Decoy's Tenth Birthday Shows Promise of Another Ten Good Years!

In June of 2006 I tasted for the first time the reds made by Silver Decoy. I met Mark Carduner in the bottling room/tasting room, and tried their blush, Sunrise, as well as Retriever, and a number of other estate reds.

This last weekend I went back It was the tenth year anniversary since they began their long trek. The winery threw itself a birthday. Everyone was invited. I went with a friend, Matt Weismantle, as my wife and his were happy gabbing at home, and we both needed to step out for a minute. Silver Decoy was a great excuse.

The winery itself has grown immensely over the years.

From their one two-door garage like structure, they now have an ample tasting room,

with a large party-room, off to the side, as well as a massive wine making room, and a separate barrel room. Where they had ten to twelve barrels before now they have many, many more.

The fields seem to expand with every visit. First it was one block, then a second. Now their fields are covered in beautifully maintained vines. As in my previous visits, I am always impressed by their impeccably kept rows. Such well cared for vines argue for wonderful wines. They are trimmed and stripped, the dirt is maintained in neat rows and the grass is cut almost to putting green length to keep the insect quotient to a minimum. You can see the effort they put into it.

But they have grown in reputation as well. A year after I had first visited them, they had won the 2007 New Jersey Winery of the Year, and their 2005 Cabernet Franc took a Gold Medal at the New Jersey Governor’s Cup Wine Competition.

I was very curious then that this was their tenth year anniversary. I really wanted to go back and see the changes for myself. As ever, Mark was happy to chat away about wine. We yakked. I yakked. He poured. We yakked some more. And the wines were just as impressive as ever.

We started off with Pinot Grigio and then Traminette. Both wines were lovely, and I continue to enjoy Silver Decoy’s Traminette, a light, lovely refreshing wine with a great nose and lovely palate.

The Black Feather Chardonnay 2009 was very nice with big fruit, and lovely, apples and pears, but both Matt and I were blown away by the Chardonnay Alliers 2009. This was a lovely Chardonnay with bright fresh fruit, bursting with green apple and pear and a hint of mango, but also toasty and with aromas of lovely vanilla. The wine had big fresh apples and pears, in a mouth full of light refreshing wine, but also a toastiness to it, with a nice, creamy smooth finish. One of the nicer oaked chardonnays I’ve ever had. Fabulous!

After that we both tasted a very nice Riesling, which was tart and off-dry. Delicious! And a nice, light Viognier.

Next were the reds. I was worried we experience that – it’s not as good as last time experience. But this was not the case.

The first thing we tried was the Chambourcin 2008. This was a big red wine, with dark purple-maroon coloration, and big notes of cherries, black cherries, vanilla and pepper. The wine was full and lush in the mouth, with a nice mouthfeel. Medium bodied, with nice acidity and medium tannins.

The “10” Marchel Foch remains the best example of the grape I have yet tasted, no matter what state I have tasted in (although the Haight-Brown by Grayson Hartley is a solid contender). And the Merlot was also lovely.

Next came the Cabernet Franc 2008. Again, this was a powerful wine that would stand up to any other east coast Cabernet Franc. Big, with cherry and vanilla, this Cabernet Franc is a wonderful, big deep wine in the hands of the Silver Decoy folks. Tremendous!

Retriever was next. This is made from non-estate grapes, but is a solid winner from year to year. This is a nice, California-styled wine, made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera. This is an American version of a Super-Tuscan. Very, very nice.

Next was the estate grown Syrah 2009. This was a lovely wine with lots of big berries, nice acidity, and medium-to-low tannins. A nice soft finish. A lovely version of the varietal every bit as good as wine from Santa Barbara.

The Sangiovese 2009 was incredible with bright red Bing cherry done in a Chianti style. The notes were wonderful with exotic spices and hints of vanilla. Wow!

But that was not the end of he show. Mark, ever excited, decided to take a small group of us over for a small barrel tasting. As always, with Silver Decoy, the promise of what’s in the barrel is always something special.

We started with the estate Merlot 2010. Big whiffs of dark cherry and dark raspberry. Nice touches of vanilla on the nose. The cherry and raspberry come through on this incredible wine, as well as a little hint of plum.

The Cabernet Franc 2010 was even better. It was big, and dark, and rich. It was very lush in the mouth with a big damsom plum flavor and a hint of cassis. No pencil shavings or hint of grassiness on this wine. It was outstanding!

And the real capper was the 2010 Syrah This is a Santa Barbara styled Syrah, with big dark fruits, huge fruit, big and jammy, it tasted like a plum/prune Pop Tart in the best sense of the flavors I’m trying to get across. Nice acidity. Dry finish with nice tannins. This is a beautiful wine! Incredible! Fantastic!

All three of these wines are what I am talking about with 2010. 2010 will be the best vintage on the east coast in 20 years. The 2007s were nice. 2010 will blow them away.

And Silver Decoy will be one of the east coast wineries that will lead the way for reds….as suspected.

I walked out with more than a few bottles.

Happy birthday Silver Decoy Winery!