Friday, August 31, 2012
Cape Gazette: Cabot Creamery Named Official Co-Sponsor of October 21, 2012 Delaware Wine & Beer Festival
Cabot Creamery Co-op named official cheese sponsor for Oct. 21 festival
Aug 10, 2012
What goes better with hand-crafted beer and wine from a small state like Delaware than quality cheeses made from a farm family dairy cooperative in another small state - Vermont?
Cabot Creamery Cooperative, in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, has been named the official cheese sponsor - for the second consecutive year - of the Third Annual Delaware Wine & Beer Festival, set for noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21, at Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village, Dover.
Cabot makes a full line of award-winning cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. With more than 50 prestigious awards to its credit including every major award for taste, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar was most recently named best in class at the World Championship Cheese Contest.
As a cooperative, Cabot is owned and operated by its farm family members. Similarly, Delaware's wineries and breweries are mostly family-run or small businesses that take pride in creating award-winning wines and beers.
"We are pleased to sponsor and participate in Delaware's Wine & Beer Festival, where we can introduce our cheeses to those who appreciate natural products made with the highest-quality ingredients and who want to support farm families," said Cabot's Regional Market Manager Karen Houchens.
Participating wineries, breweries and distillery include: 16 Mile Brewing Company, Georgetown; Argilla Brewing Company, Newark; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton; Fenwick Wine Cellars, Fenwick Island; Fordham/Dominion Brewing Company, Dover; Great Shoals Winery, Princess Anne, Md., (featuring T.S. Smith’s Black Twig Hard Apple, Bridgeville); Harvest Ridge Winery, Marydel; Legacy Distilling, Smyrna; Nassau Valley Vineyards, Lewes; Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery, Felton; Twin Lakes Brewery, Greenville; Unplugged & Uncorked Sonata Wines, Millsboro; and Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia.
For more information or tickets for the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival, call 800-233-5368 or go to www.visitdover.com/winebeerfestival. For more information on Cabot Creamery Cooperative visit www.cabotcheese.coop.
Read more at:
NJ on hook for $800K stemming from wine lawsuit
Posted: Aug 31, 2012 5:55 PM EDT Updated: Aug 31, 2012 5:55 PM EDT
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey is on the hook for more than $800,000 in attorneys' fees to people who challenged laws governing out-of-state wine shipments.
U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden's ruling entered Friday rejected the state's argument that although the plaintiffs got what they wanted when the state Legislature changed the laws earlier this year, they didn't prevail in the legal battle and shouldn't be awarded fees.
Several New Jersey residents and a California winery sued in 2003 over laws that allowed in-state wineries to sell directly to consumers but required out-of-state wineries to use a wholesaler.
A federal appeals court sided with most of the plaintiffs' claims, but the case was held while the Legislature considered action.
In January, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that allowed out-of-state wineries to ship directly.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Read more: http://www.myfoxny.com/story/19431503/nj-on-hook-for-800k-stemming-from-wine-lawsuit#ixzz25Bhnr8uu
This is a great news story. And special congrats goes to Lorraine P. Berkett, who is Professor Emerita at University of Vermont and the most influential Extension agent for grapes in New England. She is, in the northeast, the leader in cold climate grape production. Her website, which works for anyone working in a cold weather climate, is referenced by people from Albany, New York to Portland, Maine. - C. DeVito
Inside Dish: Vermont vineyards bring home wins for cold climate wines
Burlington Free Press
4:03 PM, Aug 23, 2012
Vermont winemakers took home accolades from the 2012 International Cold Climate Wine Competition held last week in Minnesota.
Shelburne Vineyard won a “best of show” honor for its 2010 Marquette Reserve, a red wine, aged 15 months in oak barrels. Shelburne also won three bronze honors for a Marquette, a semi-sweet red called In Spite of Irene and a dry white called Louise Swenson.
Shelburne Vineyard’s wins come on the heels of a competition earlier this month in which its Duet Ice Wine won a best in class at the 2012 Indiana International Wine Competition.
Lincoln Peak Vineyard in New Haven earned a gold for its Late Harvest La Crescent in the sweet/late harvest white wine category.
Lincoln Peak also won silver for its Marquette and a semi-sweet red called Ragtime.
Berlin winery Fresh Tracks Farm earned silvers for two of its wines, a single varietal La Crescent and a maple wine.
This year’s competition included more than 325 wines from commercial wineries in 12 states and Canada. Awards were based on blind tastings by 21 judges who included wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers and wine educators.
The International Cold Climate Wine Competition is a partnership between the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which developed several of the cold-hardy grapes used to make the wines in the competition.
Read more at:
According to Associate Press, in a most recent A-to-Z listing of all the places you should visit in New England this year, Yankee magazine reported the following:
V is for vineyard, and New England’s growing winery scene includes the Coastal Wine Trail from Truro on Cape Cod to Watch Hill, R.I.; Massachusetts’ award-winning Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, and an urban winery with Portuguese roots in New Bedford, Mass., called Travessia.
Read more: http://www.heraldnews.com/newsnow/x1526494051/Westport-vineyard-makes-A-to-Z-autumn-list#ixzz25BYCvfOU
Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11:21 am
Updated: 12:09 pm, Tue Aug 21, 2012.
by Patrick Berkery
The eight wineries of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail will celebrate the kick-off of harvest season Saturday and Sunday Sept. 8 and Sept. 9 with the annual Harvest Weekend.
Set from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Harvest Weekend will feature tastings, vineyard and winery tours, food and wine pairings, and live entertainment, with an emphasis on local fare.
Each winery will promote the state’s “Pennsylvania Preferred” program by partnering with manufacturers of other Pennsylvania products.
Read more at:
Friday, August 24, 2012
So, while I was out in the Finger Lakes for the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, me and two other fellows, decided to spend a day touring the vineyards of the Finger Lakes. In the past, we always went up lake Seneca. One year the eastside, another year the west side. This year we drifted over to Lake Keuka. And one of our stops was at the wonderful Ravines Wine Cellars.
Ravines Wine Cellars is a boutique winery in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York. It is the dream and passion of Morten & Lisa Hallgren, a European Winemaker/Oenologist and his Chef/Foodie wife. Together they have created a small, distinctive winery crafting elegant and food friendly wines.
Morten was raised in the Provence region of the South of France. The Hallgren family owned and operated Domaine de Castel Roubine, a 270 acre estate with 170 acres of vineyards.
The family built a new, state-of-the-art winery at Castel Roubine, and expanded the distribution of its wines to most of Western Europe and North America. Morten spent years in the vineyards learning the viticultural skills that would serve him later in life, along side his future brother-in-law Jean Michel, and in the cellar, he learned the traditional methods of fine European winemaking.
He received an advanced degree in both Enology and Viticulture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie in Montpellier, one of the world’s top winemaking schools, and spent his first harvest in Bordeaux, at Chateau Cos d’Estournel, a world renown winery in the Medóc region owned by the legendary Bruno Pratts.
After working for a French negociant on a project in West Texas, he moved on to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, the most visited winery in America.
He was recruited by Willy Frank who offered him a job as chief winemaker for Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars on Keuka Lake, in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, where he continued working for six years.
In 2000 the Hallgrens purchased a 17 acre parcel of land on a hillside on the Eastern slopes of Keuka lake. According to Ravines website, "This land is located at the widest part of the lake which allows grapevines to receive maximum benefit from its temperature-moderating effects, it has a good slope which keeps the mineral rich soils well-drained, and is situated between two deep ravines, which drain cold air from the land during the winter. These ravines are the namesake of the winery."
The very charming tasting room with scenic views of the lake, opened in spring 2003 and is decorated in a Provençal style. Just two months after they opened, Ravines won Best Dry Riesling in the 2003 World Riesling Cup at the Eastern International Wine Competition for the 2002 Dry Riesling.
Hallgren is the ultimate winemaker as artist. Evan Dawson, author of Summer in A Glass, the highly priased book on Finger Lakes wine, Evan Dawson quotes Hallgren as saying: "The terroir of the Finger Lakes is revealing itself, but only to those who are paying attention."
"Hallgren spends a lot of time working with his growers and in the vineyards. He believes low yields are key to good wine and for the grapes he buys, he pays by the acre and not the ton, to ensure yield control. It's clearly paying off as Ravines is starting to earn critical acclaim," reported TheWineO Blog (thewineo.net). "Last year, New York TImes wine critic Eric Asimov not only singled out Ravines Dry Riesling for high praise in print, he bought a case for himself (the ultimate praise!). Not long after, Wine Spectator included Ravines Dry Riesling in its Top 100 Wines for 2011 (#72). To have your wine mentioned in the same breath as Helen Turley's Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard (#74) can't hurt an emerging wine region."
So that's the level of wine we're dealing with here. Hallgren is a fabulous winemaker. The winery looks like something out of The SOund of music....with his architecture and finesse. The interior is fantastic - light, airy, well appointed, and smartly decorated. It speaks of quality yet it had a relaxing feel to it. The wine bars were lovely, a series of riddler rack sides laid across barrels with glass tops were the rather cool, clean, fun bar top no one expects. But it's that little kind of attention to detail you see when you're at Ravines.
That's where Lisa plays so heavilly a role. Where Morten is somewhat reticent with strangers, Lisa is the smiling face of the winery - and Morten's secret weapon. She is an excellent and charming sales person, and she is a well-established foodie in her own right. She can be bubbly and chatty, and is ecellent with customers both from the trade and with consumers. Her touch is everywhere.
The tasting room was full on a Friday, filled with large groups, small groups, and couples. It had a nice hum to it. The tasting would only improve the experience.
Dry Riesling 2011
This is what the winery first became known for, and what still is their signatur wine. The nose is full of fruit blossoms, pear, and apple. On the palate the pear and apple come through, with a burst of citrus and a nice mineral quality. Absolutely light, delicate, and elegant. A world class white.
Sauvignon Blanc 2010
As promised in the tasting notes, the lime, citrus, floral, steely and mineral elements all come through. Nice fruit that lingers on the palate for a long time, with great acidity and a wonderful, zesty finish. Fantatstic!
Our 100% Chardonnay grapes are picked, sorted, then dried using a traditional drying technique called "appassimento." This Italian word translates losely to mean withering, fading, or even wilting, and refers to both the technique, as well as the final product of the process. Appassimento wines tend to be more of a sweet wine, however, full-bodied dry wines can also be produced. The most famous of this type would be Amarone, which uses the same technique and produces 15% alcohol, totally dry wines. The drying process may result in the grapes losing up to 40% of their weight. Morten's Chardonnay grapes are partially sun dried. Fig and pear explode out of the glass. There's also citrus and some kind of spiceness.Lots of vanilla, but not over powering. Wonderful balance again on fruit and acidity. Wonderuful wine.
Dry Pinot Rose' 2010
Morten makes a Rose from Pinot Noir. I am always agogg over those who have the audacity to make rose from the precious Pinot Noir grape. But, I have to admit, the wine is superior. Lovely salmon colored wine with bright fresh sour cherry and fresh strawberry. There's a hint of kiwi or slate? Wonderful, crisp, refreshing. Lovely.
Keuka Village Red 2011
A light-to-medium bodied dry red made from a blend of Cabernet Franc (40%) and Noiret (60%). A combination of plum and black pepper make this table wine a lovely barbecue accompaniment, or perfect with pasta or cheese.
Pinot Noir 2009
It's not fair. You go through a portfolio like this and you almost look for a clunker, thinking, this is too good to be true. And you are almost elated and disappointed too. Because the whites are so exquisite, you expect the red to almost fall off. Not so! Cherry, earth, and plum and vanilla explode out of the glass on this lush Pinot Noir. Each sip reveals a new flavor. The brightness of the acidity keeps the fruit fresh and vibrant. The nicely balanced tannins help make this a smooth, lovely glass of red. Another Pinot Noir to add to the growing list of favorite NY state Pinot Noirs. Exquisite!
Cabernet Franc 2010
Nice big simple wine made from Cab Franc. Bright cherry and reaspberry, with classic pencil shavings and a slight, slight hint of cut grass. Lots of oak and spice. A lovely, lovely medium-bodied wine. A great food wine. Very nice!
As ever with Morten, the Meritage is a classic European styled blend of traditional Bordeaux grape varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. According to their notes, each variatal is made and aged separately in French and American oak barrels for 1 year before being blended. Close your eyes, and feel Bordeaux on your skin. This is a big, complex wine, with big dark fruit flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, and plum, with hint of vanilla, spices, fallen leaves and leather. A hint of cocoa. Big tannins.Complex, mature, and elegant. This is a lovely, lovely, sophisticated red wine.
Morten has a handsome, cherubic face that lights up when he smiles. And I look at him and he makes it seem so effortless, so easy, and I know it is very much the opposite. It's hard, and exacting, and mother nature is a fickle mistress. But Morten was one of those blessed people, touched by the gods, with fire in his limbs and brains and heart, like fine pitchers in baseball, like a sharp pool player, like an Olympic diver, like a fine violinist, or....yes, an artist. Each one of his wines has a point of view, and is exceptional. Like a painting, the final work is as much about the artist as it is about the subject. Whether he was in the Finger Lakes, Napa, or Bordeaux, Morten would be Morten, and he would be just as celebrated as he is. And it should be that way.
Congrats, Morten and Lisa!
So last night I came home, my usual time around 8pm, and my wife decided we would have broiled lamb chops (the grill needs to be repaired - this weekend's chore). She also made a mean pot of ratitouille, one of the dishes she is remarkably good at, and which I love, heaped upon with garlic and salt and pepper.
For this lovely repast, I wanted something a little different. By that, I mean a wine I had never tried before. There has been a wine I have been dying to try, but it's not always that easy. But this decision was....Coffee Pot Merlot 2008.
Coffee Pot Cellars is the new-ish label of longtime, well regared Long Island winemaker Adam Suprenant. Adam is a familiar name among Long Island winemakers, as he has and continues to be the winemaker for over ten years at Osprey's Dominion. There his wines have garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim. A quick sweep of the internt includes fans like Howard G. Goldberg of the New York Times, Lenn Thompson of New York Cork Report, and Michael Gorton Jr. of Undertaking Wine. He has garnered such fans at Osprey with a slew of brilliant whites, incredible, well balanced dessert wines, and some nice, smooth reds.
Adam founded the label in 2008. The brand is the namesake of the lighthouse just off Orient Point which stands at the eastern most tip of the North Fork.
Coffee Pot Cellars purchases grapes from several exclusive North Fork vineyards. No surprise, he custom crushes the fruit at Osprey’s Dominion. He makes approximately 750 cases of wine a year. He makes four wines - Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and a Meritage blend.
The wiens are available in a number of wine shops through out Long Island and New York City. The wines can also be purchased at The Winemaker's Studio out on the North Fork.
So while I heard the snap, crackle, pot of the the chops sizzling under the open flame of the broiler, I removed the capsule and uncorked this new red beast. Very excited. The grapes for Coffee Pot Merlot 2008 come from McCullough’s vineyard in Aquebogue. So this is a single varietal from a single vineyard.
The wine was dark and impressive in the glass. Black cherry, plum, and cocoa and other spices swirled inside the bowl of the glass. A little vanilla wafted over the rim. Those same flavors came through on the palate. Lovely fruit up front, with lower than expected acidity, and nice, well balanced tannins. Thsi is a very smooth, medium-bodied red. Really quite wonderful and impressive. A sure sign we both liked it, we both sat there talking and drinking long past the finishing of the lamb chops until the bottle was done. Sumptuous. Delicious. The more I drank this wine the more I liked it. You gotta have this!
This sampling only made me want to try more Coffee Pot wines, and made me think it's time to go back to Osprey Dominion's tastingroom as well.
Adam, fantastic stuff!
Friday, August 17, 2012
Long Island’s North Fork wineries offer delights for many tastes
The area boasts sites ideal for festivities, like Martha Clara, and family-oriented fun, like the Harbes vineyard
By Joanna Fantozzi / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, August 16, 2012, 6:00 AM.
Summer marks a busy time for the more than 40 wineries on Long Island, with events like Wine 101 classes, festivals and concerts almost every weekend.
The North Fork of Long Island is only two hours from Manhattan, and is dotted with enough wineries and farmstands to satisfy the parched tongue and organic appetite of most every city dweller.
Many wineries are just a bottle’s throw away from one another and make for a great day trip or weekend getaway.
Keeping in mind the various vibes that potential visitors might be seeking, here’s a breakdown.
Best Party Scene: Martha Clara Vineyards, 6025 Sound Ave., Riverhead
Every weekend, Martha Clara Vineyards’ parking lot is full of cars and limos, and the large tasting room is packed. As one of the larger vineyards, Martha Clara has plenty to offer. The tasting room has two long bars where guests can purchase wine flights. In an adjacent room, buffet food is for sale and the strains of live music fill the air.
“There’s always something going on here,” says Glen Schunk, assistant tasting room manager. Upcoming events include the “Wine and Food Classic” on Saturday, Aug. 25, and the “Blue Moon Vines and Canines” dog walk on Friday, Aug. 31.
Featured Wine: The 6025 — a red house blend of several Martha Clara wines, including Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Don’t Miss: Seeing some of Martha Clara’s unusual critter inhabitants, like the alpacas, fainting goats and retired thoroughbred horses. They’re raised by Martha Clara owner Robert Entenmann (yes, that Entenmann family).
The Harbes Family vineyard offers diversions like pig racing.
Family Friendly: Harbes Family Farm and Vineyard, 715 Sound Ave., Mattituck
A family-owned farm for 12 generations, the Harbes clan pride themselves on being an organic farm first, a vineyard second.
“It’s the combination of farm experiences that make for a nice trip,”owner Ed Harbes says. “We don’t want the kids to be bored out of their minds while their parents taste wine.”
While mom and dad sip in the tasting room or buy fresh farm goods, the kids can play all afternoon in the barnyard for $10. The barnyard has hayrides, cuddly baby animals and regular farmyard events like pig races, led by Farmer Fred. Look for the Harbes Tomato Festival this Saturday and Sunday .
Featured Wine: 2008 Red Horse Rosé, one of the best-selling wines at Harbes and the silver medal winner of the 2009 New York Food and Wine Classic.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/long-island-north-fork-wineries-offer-delights-tastes-article-1.1137032#ixzz23o0kTbR2
To pararphrase Lenn Thompson (New York Cork Report) Dan Berger has forgotten more about wine than I know. I agree. I'll take issue though that the FL is not the only wine region worth writing about in New York. But really, it's a great article about the really good wines of the Finger Lakes. And Berger has been crowing about New York state riesling for almost two decades - much longer than any other serious wine writer out there. He was writing about them in the LA Times back in the 1990s. Gotta give credit to Jim Trezise and Morgen McLaughlin for spreading the good word on Finger Lakes wines.
BERGER: World-class wine in New York?
By DAN BERGER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 4:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 4:01 a.m.
GENEVA, N.Y. - Dornfelder, Blaufrankisch, and Zweigelt. Sounds like a German law firm, but in reality they are wine grapes that may be the key to unlocking New York's wine future.
I visited three superb Seneca Lake wineries here last week, nearly 32 years after I first toured the Finger Lakes and discovered the potential for great wine.
I was no visionary. I merely listened to earlier pioneers, tasted a few experimental wines, and have been a keen, almost annual visitor to this fascinating American wine region.
California, Washington and Oregon are the nation's premier wine-growing states. Two decades ago, if you even mentioned a fourth, someone would suggest psychiatric aid.
Today there are at least 10 other states that have shown the potential to make world-class wines, though most wine magazines (with ads to sell that support a revenue base) take scant notice. That New York leads the pack is these days almost a given.
Skeptics and cynics would argue that a state rampant with Concord grapes (mainly for grape juice), and saddled with such obscure wines as Seyval, Cayuga, Catawba, Diamond, Vidal and Chancellor cannot seriously use the phrase "world-class."
Such talk is mindless, notably in the face of what New York has accomplished with arguably the world's greatest grape variety, Riesling. Finger Lakes Riesling today holds its own against the best Rieslings in the world, and in numerous blind competitions has come out on top.
Dry Rieslings from the three properties I visited last week, Anthony Road, Fox Run and Red Tail Ridge, are so stellar they should be on every New York City white-tablecloth restaurant wine list. Few are.
The old saying about not being king in your own land holds true. New York wine directors who have failed to keep tabs on the local industry may recall blah wines from decades ago and said no-thanks to current wines.
But times change. The three wineries I visited are operated by brilliant vinous strategists who share a vision with Riesling that's overwhelmingly impressive.
Anthony Road winemaker Johannes Reinhardt, Fox Run's Peter Bell, and Red Tail Ridge's Nancy Irelan all were classically trained. The first two have German training; Irelan was with one of the world's most sophisticated wine companies, E&J Gallo, for a dozen years in technical positions.
As good as are the Rieslings from these (and numerous other) properties, each of the three spoke last week of the potential for red wines from a region that historically has struggled to find a red-wine identity. And the three grapes that led off this article are all red and bred for colder climates, which the Finger Lakes is.
Reinhardt is especially fond of Zweigelt for its dark color, low tannins and its ability to withstand cold winters. Bell likes his Blaufrankish (which is also called Lemberger) as a blending grape for his Cabernet Franc.
And Irelan favors Blaufrankish for its ability to make an early-drinking red wine that's quite approachable when it's young. Her other favorite red is Teroldego, an Italian grape that makes a darker, richer red wine.
I asked all three why red wines are so interesting to them. All said roughly the same thing: Until now, New York has been known for the greatness of its Riesling. It's no longer the challenge it once was, so all New York wineries are seeking to expand their portfolios.
Read the rest at:
Eric Asimov highlighted four New York state wines in a top 12 US values column in the New York Times.
Lieb Family Cellars North Fork of Long Island Pinot Blanc 2009, $19
What is it about pinot blanc? It would be easy to dismiss this wine as nondescript, as it doesn’t offer a cornucopia of fruity adjectives in a glass. Yet it is simply delicious: dry and creamy with lightly herbal, mineral flavors. The texture draws you in.
Hermann J. Wiemer Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2011, $17
The label says “Dry Riesling,” but in fact it’s slightly sweet, like an old-school German kabinett riesling from the days before global warming. Nonetheless, it’s superb, with deep three-dimensional flavors, tangy and lightly fruity.
Ravines Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2011, $15
A perfect contrast to the off-dry Hermann J. Wiemer style. The Ravines Dry Riesling is truly dry and intensely mineral, succulent and lip-smacking. A great house white.
Lenz North Fork of Long Island Merlot 2007, $15
I keep hearing that merlot is making a comeback. If more merlots tasted like Lenz’s, perhaps it never would have left. The ’07 is plummy, earthy and balanced, dry, lively and pleasing.
Read the whole column at:
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The same conversation happens all too often, as I first wrote back in 2009. There are a lot of great whites in the Finger Lakes. Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are some of the best in the world. So as your tour the Finger Lakes, finding these wines is a joy. But what of the red wine drinker? Where will he or she find solace? Where will they make THEIR next new wine discovery in the Finger Lakes?
Compiled here is a list of some recommended red wines to try in the Finger Lakes region. Some of my favorites. Also below are links to my previous two articles on the same subject….enjoy!
Red Tail Ridge Blaufrankish – Part of their Obscure Red Varietal series. Big cherry up front and black pepper came through as promised. Also a big whiff of vanilla, and a hint of tobacco or forest floor. Big black cherry and tart red fruit came across on the palate, along with mouth-watering acidity and nice tannins. This had nice fruit, and instantly became my absolutely favorite Blaufrankish/Lemberger.
Red Tail Ridge Donfelder – The Dornfelder is a blend of their estate 2009 and 2010 vintages. Brambly aromatics infused with black cherry, strawberry preserves and dried fruit. Cassis also rears its wonderful head. Medium to light body on the palate with more dark fruit, dried fig and brown spices. Velvety texture with a tart finish. Excellent.
McGregor Pinot Noir 2010 – A light bodied, Loire styled Pinot Noir. The color is just like a rosato. Nice, bright acidity and a great cherry nose pierced with vanilla. Lovely.
McGregor Rob Roy Red 2008 – 50% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. The big, estate dry red was ged in French and American oak for 17 months. Impressive. For big red wine drinkers.
Heart In Hands Pinot Noir – Tom Higgins makes several different varieties of Pinot Noir. Doesn’t matter which one it is, one is better than the other. His red wines have big noses with wonderful ripe red cherries, vanilla, and spice. Exceptional Burguny styled Pinot Noir. Those expecting a Sonoma or Napa Pinot Noir will be disappointed. Those who like lean, elegant, bright Pinot Noir will have find nirvana. A little out of the way, but well worth it!
Rooster Pinot Noir – This is a bright, fun, cowl of bright sour cherries. Easy drinking, light styled Pinot Noir. One of the better Pinot Noirs in the state.
Ravines Pinot Noir 2009 – Ravines is a more medium-bodied red wine, filled with ripe bright and dark cherries. A slightly darker colored Pinot Noir than other Finger Lakes wines. Winemaker Morten Hallgren makes superior Pinto Noir. Fantastic stuff.
Heron Hill Eclipse Red 2008 – Heron Hill is one of the more established, larger wineries. They make a lot of nice wines. But the Heron Hill Eclipse is one of the bigger, deep red wines of the Finger Lakes. A nice dark red, tinged with purple, this wine is a big, deep red of raspberry, dark cherry, plum and hints of cassis, all finished in vanilla and leather. Lovely.
Heron Hill Ingleside Vineyyard Cabernet Franc 2010 – This is a nice, medium bodied red, finished in French oak. Great fruit, bright acidity and solid tannins all make for a wine whose fruit will longer on the palate for a full 60 seconds. Mmmmm…
Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Noir Old Vines 2010 – Again, some of the best Pinot Noir the Finger Lakes has to offer. One of the darker Pinot Noirs of the region. Dark cherry comes through with a smooth finish. Very, very nice.
Red Newt Glacier Ridge Cabernet Franc – This is easily one of the most sophisticated and elegant red wines of the region. Big deep fruit up front, with raspberry and cherry coming through, hints of cassis and leather. This is an experience. A dry red wine that could stand up in any region. Fantastic!
Here's the previous two recommendations:
The sleeping giant that is Pennsylvania wine is awakening. You can poo-poo PA wine all you want, but the fact of the matter is, Pennsylvania wineries are getting their acts together, and they could upset the balance of power on the east coast. And I am here to tell you that Pennsylvania wine has arrived. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But can you find top quality wines in the state….oh yeah! And a goodly number of them. The wines have improved dramatically over the last five to seven years.
And since 2000, when I first started writing about east coast wines, the number of wineries in Pennsylvania has almost doubled, numbering now more than 123 wineries.
Here’s eight reasons to cite that Pennsylvania wine has arrived, and 15 wines you MUST try.
1. Mark Chien and Denise Gardner - Mark Chien is one of the best university agricultural extension agents on the east coast. He has been working the Pennsylvania country side for a while now, and it’s made a difference. Great wine is made in the vineyard and Chien’s influence is evident. With the addition of enologist Denise Gardner, winemakers and vineyard managers in Pennsylvania have a lot to crow about. (Also Maryland extension staffer Joe Fiola and New Jersey extension staffer Gary Pavlis have also had a lot of influence in Pennsylvania as well – a big advantage.)
2. Wine Tourism Is Flourishing
Pennsylvania has 11 mature wine trails and growing. These trails have sophisticated and well developed marketing plans. Three trails stand out, including: Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Brandywine Wine Trail, and Mason-Dixon Wine Trail.
3. Chambourcin - Pennsylvania has embraced Chambourcin. While other states/region struggle to find a grape (except for the Finger Lakes), Pennsylvania made a choice and stuck with it. Whether it’s a sweet red, a sophisticated dry red, or a rose’, Pennsylvania has made Chambourcin its grape…and it is working. They are making it work. The big dry reds from a number of wineries show that very good, quality Chambourcin is being produced. And if you’re not tasting them, you’re missing out.
4. Nouveau Chambourcin Weekend - On the Lehigh Valley Trail in the first weekend of November, they make nouveau from Chambourcin. It’s easily the smartest single trail event I have seen in recent memory. All the wineries participate, and the ride through the trail is easily one of the most talked about east coast wine trail events going. Numerous east coast wine writers have discussed it, and it’s only getting bigger.
5. Satellite Stores – Clover Hill, Blue Mountain, and Chaddsford all embraced the satellite store concept and ran with it. These wineries have grown substantially using the satellite tastingroom strategy. Clover Hill even had a store at the King of Prussia Mall for years until recently!
6. Bloggers/Wine Writers Community – Pennsylvania has a growing number of well respected wine writers and bloggers. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Debbie Skoblionkov was one of the first to take Pennsylvania wines under her arm. Mark Squires, first with his website, and now as a writer at The Wine Advocate is the preeminent wine scribe among the many talented Pennsylvania scribblers. Paul Vigna is a solid and consistent blogger turned reporter, and fills readers in on a consistent basis about the comings and goings of Pennsylvania wine. He is to Pennsylvania wine what Lenn Thompson is to New York. Everyone talks to Paul. And if they are not, then they should be. There's the widely published east coast wine writer David Falchek, who's reputation continues to grow. Falchek not only writes fun articles for consumers, but also follows the professioanl wine scene for numerous wine publications. And of course there is Keith Wallace and The Wine School of Philadelphia, which continues wine education in the Keystone state, while also creating great tasting events at the school promoting Pennsylvania wine.
7. Trio – A while back, three wineries announced their new wine: 2007 Trio. It is a vintage blend combining wines from Allegro Vineyards in York, Manatawny Creek Winery in Amityville and Pinnacle Ridge Winery, Kutztown. They’ve been doing this ever since. This is a sign post because only regions who understand this kind of wine, and how it promotes a region, happens in places that are up and coming.
8. Pennsylvania Winery Association – This previously sleepy, backwater organization seems to have finally woken up. New management? I don’t know. But there’s definitely a new direction over there….and it’s forward. Recipe contests. Promoting the wineries, the wines, the trails, and the state events bigger and better than ever before. Even the website is friendlier, sexier, and more vibrant. I guess kudos should be handed out to Jonathan Patrono, PWA President and Jennifer Eckinger, Executive Director. Good job, guys!
9. And finally, the most important reason - the arrival of reliable, quality, dry red wines. And here, without further ado, are 15 wines YOU MUST TRY!
Chaddsford Merican – The grand daddy of all classic Pennsylvania dry red wines. An exceptional blend from winemaker Eric Miller, who is one of the pre-emminent winemakers on the east coast.
Waltz Vineyards Cherry Tree Merlot 2009 – A lovely, mature merlot with big, dark fruit up front, and a wonderful finish. Excellent!
Ferro Lemberger 2010 – One of the best and most impressive Lembergers I have yet had. Refined, big, and well crafted.
Karamoor Estate Cabernet Franc 2008 – Karamoor, even though their distribution is small now, may possibly be the biggest thing to hit Pennsylvania wine since the establishing of Chaddsford and Penns Woods. Karamoor has the opportunity to become a truly legendary Pennsylvania estate winery. This Cabernet Franc is an impressive first step.
Karamoor Estate Meritage 2008 – The Meritage confirms the idea that Karamoor will soon be a major player and leader in quality red wine in Pennsylvania. Big, bold, impressive.
Brookmere Twisted Trio Red Private Stock 2009 – This was a pleasant surprise to this writer. Had no idea Brookmere had the chops to create such a beautiful, elegant wine. Very nice.
Buckingham Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – Buckingham is a solid producer and this Cabernet Sauvignon is proof they belong. Not only does it not have an off flavors, but instead, it had luscious fruit and a beautiful, subtle finish.
Blue Mountain Meritage – Blue Mountain came out of the gate like a horse that takes the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The rest of the story needs to be written, but the Meritage continues to show promise and maturity.
Penns Woods Chardonnay – Penns Wood is one of the best wineries in Pennsylvania, and may indeed be one of the best on the east coast. Each tasting improves over the last. I would serve this Chardonnay to even the biggest wine snobs, and expect nothing but praise. Elegant, refined, and delicious.
J. Maki sparkling – Good sparkling is also a sign a region is making a big turn. Bad sparkling is easy to make, and can be found anywhere – except at J. Maki. Since they arrived on the scene in the mid-2000s, winning a medal in a Paris tasting, J. Maki has consistently produced some of the best sparkling on the east coast.
Crossings Vineyard – Crossings has produced wonderful whites and reds for the last five years. You can try any number of their wines. Matter of fact, they have one of the best wine line ups in the state. You can taste up and down their line up with no evidence of anything but solid wines. Ask any wine writer – that’s a hard thing to accomplish…and shows your wines have arrived.
Pinnacle Ridge - Bradd Knapp and gang deliver consistent reds across their line-up of dry reds. Their Chambourcin is among some of the best on the east coast. Bordeaux in style, it’s a beautiful wine aged in oak, and treated like vinifera….and it shows….beautifully.
Paradocx Chambourcin 2010 – Paradocx is one of the small but sophisticated wineries on the Brandywine Wine Trail. With a small, lovely tastingroom, and a wonderfully solid line up of wines red and wine. My favorite is the Chambourcin, which is among the best on the east coast.
Clover Hill Winery Chambourcin 2009 – Clover Hill is among the biggest wineries in the state. And although they make a line of sweet reds for their multitude of customers, they can also make some lovely whites (off-dry and dry) and a lovely Chambourcin, again treated like a real wine should be with malolactic fermentation and aged on oak for a fine red wine.
Glade’s Pike Cabernet Franc 2008 – This multi-award winning Pennsylvania Cabernet Franc continues to scoop of medals and impress judges. It took home gold at the Indy International Wine Competition and the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
And last but certainly not least was Va La....whose Mahagony and Silk red wine blends were among the best reds on the east coast. You have not tasted the future of Pennsylvania wine unless you have tasted red wines from Va La Vineyards....end of story (my apologies for the late addition of this winery. Slipped my mind...how, I do not know, since they are one of my favorites!).