Friday, August 10, 2012

Tomasello Outer Coast Plain Series (NJ) Fantastic!

I always feel like I have to apologize before I review a wine from Tomasello, but that shouldn't be. The reason is that Tomasello has two lines of wines. The first are the ubiquitous inexpensive and sweet wines that seem to be in every wine store I have ever walked into. Good for them!! Seriously! Nice to see a Jersey winery make that kind of splash. Good for Charlie and Jack Tomasello. These guys are third generation New Jersey grape growers...and they have been among the leaders of the New Jersey wine movement for years!

But the other, is a line of high quality, Outer Coast Plains wines that have absolutely been terrific for as long as I can remember! In fact, while the Outer Coast Plains are currently very much in vogue in New Jersey, let's give credit where it's due - it was Tomasello who pioneered the area that is now the Stags Leap of New Jersey!

Tomasello Winery is located in the heart of the Outer Coastal Plain – American Viticultural Area (AVA). This federally recognized viticultural region is home to some of the oldest wineries in the country. The grapes grown at Tomasello Winery are caringly cultivated at the family’s vineyard in Atlantic and Camden Counties, New Jersey.

Owing to its position along the Atlantic Coast line and the Pinelands, Tomasello enjoys a longer growing season as a benefit of the warming maritime effects on their climate. The soil is sandy and loamy with a slightly higher pH – most comparable to soil acidity levels found in the famed Loire Valley of France, which is known for bright, beautifully balanced wines.

For those familiar with the Davis Heat Summation Scale, they are in Region 3 –exhibiting a mid-heat range. According to the USDA Hardiness Zones, Hammonton is found in zone 6B. Harvest generally commences in the last week of August through the first week of October. During dry seasons, the harvest parameters are typically high sugar with a strong underlying acidity.

The wines of the Outer Coast Plains have shown beautifully over the years, beginning with a rave review in 2004 or 2005 from Howard G. Goldberg in the New York Times. Today they offer a full range of vinifera, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Chardonnay. They also grow Villard Noir and Chambourcin in this same series. It's a fantastic series!

I recently did a limited tasting....mostly because time was limited. But my general impressions were general amazement. These are really good wines! The two I'll concentrate on for now were the Cabernet Franc and the Chambourcin.

The tasting notes from the winery:
2008 Outer Coastal Plain Cabernet Franc The 2008 Outer Coastal Plain Cabernet Franc was harvested from our vineyard on October 6, 2008. It was fermented to dryness over 14 days with a S.cerevisiae originally isolated from a Languedoc terroirs. After fermentation, it was transferred to Air-Dried Oak casks for a period of 28 months. The final assemblage was 95% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, all grown in the Outer Coastal Plain. With an unexpected firmness and smoothness despite its medium body, our Cabernet Franc has a lasting finish of green peppercorns and rich espresso. A great wine to savor with cheeses, or pair with game, light cuts of meat, and Mediterranean dishes. 87 Point winner at the World Wine Championships – Beverage Testing Institute describe the wine as: “Dark garnet black color. Dried lavender, thyme honey, wild berry and tomato on the vine aromas. Supple and round with a dryish medium-to-full body. Herb de Provence, crunch apply and dusty mineral notes rise on the crisp, chewy tannin finish.”

The 2008 Outer Coastal Plains Cabernet Franc was a big, dark, fruity wine, with rapberry and bright cherry up front, with whiffs of vanilla and tabacco. The fruit up front was nice, and the acidity was well balanced with the soft tannins. This was an absolutely lovely wine that could easilly compare with Virginia and New York. The wine lived up to the notes completely. Very impressive!

The 2010 Chambourcin notes read:
The 2010 vintage was finished in American Oak for 12 months. It is best characterized as a medium-bodied Beaujolais style red with a slightly peppery finish.

But I am here to tell you that the wine is of the better Chambourcins of the east coast. This was a lovely, European-styled wine, with gorgeous fruit up front and gorgeously balanced on the back side with a nice balance of acids and tannins...and a long, lingering finish, where the fruit just keeps on giving. A lovely, elegant, complex dry red. Also very, very impressive.

Two fantastic complex reds from Charlie and Jack! Congrats!