Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's In a Name? Ask William Heritage Vineyards: New Name, Terrific Wine, DC Post Approves

I have been writing about Heritage Vineyards for some time now. Since 2010. Event wrote a feature about them for Edible Jersey magazine. And every time I taste them again, the wines just keep getting better.

Two recent tastings confirmed this for me. In May, Paul Vigna gathered winemakers and media types to Pennsylvania for a tasting of some of the Mid-Atlantic's best wineries. The results were impressive. 

Amng the dignitaries was Dave McIntyre, of the Washington Post, who wrote, "Gather winemakers from 12 wineries in five states along with a few wine writers to taste through two dozen wines and — well, it’s not exactly a party. But I can say that it’s a lot of fun, and it’s educational.

The scene was the barrel room at Waltz Vineyards, in Lancaster County, Pa., where Jan and Kim Waltz enjoy hosting such events. I first visited Waltz six years ago for a similar seminar in which East Coast vintners learned viticulture tips from a leading grape grower and a winemaker from California. My second visit, in early April this year, was for eastern vintners to share their wines and compare notes. It was organized by Paul Vigna, who writes about wine for and has become a leading voice on Maryland and Pennsylvania wines.

Participating were one winery from Virginia (Keswick); four from Maryland (Black Ankle, Boordy, Crow and Old Westminster); four from Pennsylvania (Allegro, Galen Glen, Penns Woods and Waltz); two from New Jersey (Heritage and Unionville); and one from New York (Paumanok). Aside from Vigna and myself, journalists included bloggers David Falchek and Carlo DeVito, and Linda Jones McKee of Wines & Vines magazine. The event was moderated by Joe Fiola, a viticulturist with the University of Maryland, and professor/agricultural agent Gary Pavlis of Rutgers University.

Vigna asked each of the participating winemakers to bring two wines. I expected a bunch of red blends and chardonnays, and there were plenty of both. But I was thrilled to experience a much wider and more exciting variety. The tasting was bookended by two scintillating sparkling wines that bowled me over.

Among the first wines we had were Bill Heritage's sparkling wine. As McIntyre wrote: "The first was a 2014 brut made in the champagne method from chardonnay and pinot noir from Heritage Vineyards in New Jersey. Winemaker Sean Comninos explained that he wanted to make dry chardonnay and pinot noir, but the grapes weren’t ripening. So he decided to make bubbly, which uses grapes picked considerably earlier and less ripe than dry table wines. The result was fantastic."

Yes, it was. The sparkling wine was superb. I got apples, pears, pineapple, with a big dose of bread and dough, and a lovely, creamy finish! 

But almost more notable was the new look! With the giant WH emblazoned on the label, there was suddenly a sea change going on at Heritage. This new wine signaled another new benchmark for one of the mid-Atlantic's rising wine stars.

When recently queried about it it seems another winery has already trademarked the word "Heritage." Despite being Bill's surname, that's not good enough in the world of trade marks (just ask Walter S. Taylor of Taylor Wines/Bully Hill fame). So,over the last 18-24 months Heritage has slowly been fazing out it's older labels, and releasing wines with a new look. This sparkling wine was the first to bear he new design this past May. Since then, especially with their late summer and fall releases, William Heritage (their new brand statement) is slowly moving toward creating a higher and better brand and product (if that was possible). It actually works out well for them.

According to Tina Morey, Owner-operator Certified Sommelier at Winestudio, "Heritage, obviously, is their last name but they couldn't trademark heritage because it's a used word. So, over the last 3 years they've begun trademarking William Heritage which makes sense because they are 7 generations of William Heritage."

We also tasted the Heritage Cabernet Franc Norman's Vineyard 2013 Outer Coastal Plain Limited Edition. Cabernet Franc, in the wrong hands, can be a deadly affair. But not so at William Heritage Vineyards. This was a big, dark cherry bomb of a wine, with hints of mocha and cedar and pekoe tea, and small doses of cranberry and vanilla. An amazing beautiful dry red wine fit for any table, good enough to shine in any region!  (above is an example of the old labels).

Image may contain: drink
Recent tasting of the sparkling and another wines from William Heritage showing the new logo and label design. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Lang Wideman)

The scene waiting for its stars off stage.

Wine writers Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post and David Falcheck of Pennsylvania.

No matter what! Tray a William Heritage wine. They are amazing, and you will no be dissappointed!

Here's a link to the Washington Post story: