Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cape May Winery Merlot 2004



The "moldy oldies" theme continues....

Cape May Winery first made it's reputation before it even had a tastingroom. It was a small production winery, and the only way you could taste the wine was to have lunch or dinner in seven or ten restaurants in Cape May and drink the Cape May Blush, which was an instant hit!

In the intervening years, Cape May winery has exploded into one of the most dynamic wineries in New Jersey. The make classic vinifera, some picinic wines, and some dynamite ports. They have an inexpensive brand of wines, their Cape May grown wines, and their estate wines.

Originally I liked their whites, which were crisp, clean, and refreshing. Some very nice whites. And the ports were great too! But I have to say that their reds grew on me.

But I bought several bottles of the merlot 2004, which when I first tasted it some time ago, in either my 2005 or my 2006 visit. It instantly became a favorite of mine.

Toby Craig, the owner, made a bold move, when he hired his winemaker. Darren Hesington, who perfected his winemaking under Australian winemaker Keith Brown, first made a name and reputation for himself at Unionville Vineyards, where he made an excellent array of wines. Hesington had firmly established Unionville at the top of the New Jersey wine pyramid. His arrival at Cape May was a watershed moment for the small winery. The wines have increasingly become better and better. They are now competitive with others in the state and the east coast.

While roasting chicken, we decided, after tasting a lovely old white wine from another vineyard earlier in the evening, to open a red and press our luck. The winner hands down on choice was the Cape May Winery 2004 Merlot.

We were well rewarded for our faith. The wine had aged beautifully. Still pregnant with a nose full of raspberry, cherry, and hints of cedar and vanilla, the palate was awash in stewed dark fruits like dark cherries, dark raspberries, and a hint of cassis, and just a whisp of saddle leather or fall autumn forrest floor. Just a slight hint. The tannins were still solid, and the acids were really well balanced. A terrific wine!

You gotta try this stuff!

Congrats to Toby and Darren and the rest of the staff at Cape May Winery!