Tuesday, April 10, 2018

White Horse Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2016 (NJ)

Seferino Cotzojay is the winemaker at White Horse Winery and is one of the nicest and most sincere winemakers I know. And when I saw a chance to taste one of his wines, I was thrilled to do so. While at the Eastern Wineries Exposition, I happened across a bottle of his newest White Horse Chardonnay. I don;t usually review anything that says American on it. That means it's outta state fruit. I don;t mind if its east coast fruit....say if a New Jersey winery uses New York, or Pennsylvania or Maryland or even Virginia fruit. I am less generous when it's California, Washington, or Oregon. I have nothing against those states. They make great wines. But I am not a proponent of east coast wineries using west coast fruit - unless you're doing it like Jonathan Edwards who identifies where each wine comes from, and who makes estate wines on both coasts. The grapes herein are from Lodi, a reputable region. Regardless, I am a big enough fan of Serefino's to allow this one time transgression here at the paltry blog, for he tells me estate wines are due any second!

WhiteHorse is run by the father and son team Brok Vinton and his son B.J. Owner Brock Vinton is a successful real estate developer, who, after his service in the US Navy, he began to explore the fine wines of France, with a particular interest in Burgundy and Bordeaux in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s He began exploring the wider world of wine after that and had visited many of the major wine growing regions, and became a particular fan of California's many regions.

According to the website, "In 2012 he tasted wines from New Jersey for the first time. Based upon his experience with fine wines, he realized the potential for making wines in New Jersey which could compare favorably with anything from Europe and California. This led to his 2013 purchase of 40 acres near Hammonton, in Camden county.  He and his son B.J. have built a complete modern wine making facility, initially planting 18 acres of grapes. Currently 19 acres have been planted in 10 different grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, Albarino...) .  Having acquired additional land, they plan to ultimately have vineyards covering 60 acres." 

Brock J. Vinton II​ also known as B.J. as a young man had wanted to start a boutique wine importing business.  At the age of 16, he worked in the vineyards and cellars in Cognac, France.   He later studied in Bordeaux and worked in Beaujolais. He completed an undergraduate thesis on the future of the micro-brewing segment of the brewing industry.  After college he went to work in manufacturing R&D, eventually started an engineering company and among other projects developed and patented a wind turbine.   

Image result for Seferino Cotzojay

Seferino Cotzojay, a Guatemalan native, started his winemaking career on the eastern end of Long Island, NY, one of the country’s top growing regions. Working with several different winemakers, Seferino quickly learned the complex nuances of the winemaking process.  His passion and dedication to his craft soon made him the Assistant Winemaker at Bedell Cellars, an award winning winery whose wines have been served in The White House. With his more than 10 years of experience in the winemaking industry, we are pleased to announce that Mr. Cotzojay is bringing his unique combination of old and new world style wine making to White Horse Winery. Seferino has been featured in several publications including the Wall Street Journal.  

I found this bottle on one of the table during the awards dinner and was quite thrilled! This White Horse Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2016 was much more reflective of the east coast thn the west coast. It had a lovely, light flavor to it, more red apple than green apple, none the less, it's acidity was still east coast pop! It had some nice mineral flavors that complimented the big tropical notes that one might expect, especially pineapple, melon, and citrus. A lovely creamy finish to a nice light, drinkable Chardonnay.

Huge fan of Seferino's. His arrival in the taste instantly places him in the top five of winemakers due to his track record. And it could mean huge things for this small wine producing state. I and can't wait to taste the soon to be released estate wines from this exciting new quality producer in New Jersey!

Very exciting an interesting. Keeping my eyes on the lookout!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Vox Vineti: Excellence in Pennsylvania (PA)

In March I stopped by a new winery n Pennsylvania - Vox Vineti in Christiiana, Pennsylvania. I was heading down to Lancaster, and decided to make a few stops. My good friend Paul Vigna had suggested I call Ed Lazzerini and make a pit stop there. It was a little out of the way....but it was well worth the trip!

Ed is a successful businessman who wants to turn his passion for great wine into a real live thing. Like the ancient sculptor Pygmalion who kissed his ivory statue Galatea, and brought her to life, Ed and his wife have sculpted the land, and brought forth art! Vox Vineti means "voice of the vineyard" in Latin.

Ed is now out to make the most ubiquitous wine in Pennsylvania, they want to make the best wine in Pennsylvania, then one the east coast, then the country, then the world. An admirable goal. Many are called...but few succeed in this quest.They intend to make only estate wine from their own Sauvingon Blanc, Semillion, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec plus a bit of Carmenere. They also planted Nebbiolo and Barbera. 5 acres at 2,000+ vines per acre (0.8m x 2m spacing and 0.9 x 1.8 m spacing). That's a lot of vines. Their soils are composed of fractured schist, sandy loam and quartz.

"Customers with a broader wine drinking background are frequently surprised that our wines remind them of many they've enjoyed while traveling in Europe," Lazzerini told a local paper. "What stuns just about everyone who comes through our cellar door is how rocky our vineyard soils are; most people can't believe anything would grow in them. But it's precisely this extremely low-vigor, schist-laden soil, which differentiates our vineyard from most other currently planted sites in the Mid-Atlantic region. Thanks largely to all that rock, we're able to produce compelling wines on a consistent basis."

Vox Venti Galloping Cat Discantus 2016 is a fabulous rose made from 50% Barbera, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Nebbiolo. It's a result of slow, cool fermentation in neutral French oak barrels. This was an incredible wine!!!!! Big strawberries, limes, cream, but tropical fruit notes as well, all followed by a citrusy, dry finish. Absolutely wonderful!

Vox Veneti Galloping Cat Polyphony 2012 is a bend made up of 35% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, 14% Malbec, 1% Carménère. The wine was made using a stainless steel fermentation, and went through a malolactic fermentation in oak. The wine was then matured for 15 months in barrel (60% new French oak, 40% neutral French oak). It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. 4 barrels were produced. The wine was exceptional. Big notes of dark cherry and cassis were followed by mocha and cocoa, with notes of vanilla. The fruit lingers on the palate for a long, long times. A terrific red.

I also tried a tank sample of Vox Veneti Galloping Cat Polyphony 2015 is a blend made up mostly of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with Petit Verdot and Malbec playing a supporting roles, and a touch of Carménère. Again, big dark fruit, with layers of dark cherry, cranberry, cassis, and other stewed fruits. Very, very impressive!

I tried a barrel sample of the winery's Cabernet Franc 2016. Again, very, very impressive. "This is a long-term philosophy which applies primarily to red wines: time in bottle allows them to integrate. There's really no way to speed up this process without using additional intervention in the cellar, which is emphatically not part of our philosophy. It takes patience to grow, vinify, age, and enjoy compelling wines. Vintage conditions play a role here as well in terms of creating exceptions to this strategy...some wines don't require longer-term aging before they can be enjoyed [i.e. most white and rose wines, and to a lesser extent some reds]," Ed told the local press.

The barrel sample of the Petite Verdot 2016 was also quite impressive. Big and lucious and deep, this was also incredibly impressive.

"A wine's textures, flavors and aromas fluctuate throughout its lifetime.  Once in bottle, there are typically points in time along an "integration continuum" when a wine simply smells, tastes and feels balanced when you drink it.  Wines can also gain complexity with time:  primary fruitiness, tannins, and acidity begin to share the stage with all sorts of amazing flavors and aromas [mushrooms, leather, tar, roses, chocolate, herbs, etc]. We've observed this with our own 2012 vintage now that it's been in bottle for three years."

The verdict in in. Vox Veneti has certainly made a great first step! This small, high quality boutique winery is impressive right out of the gate. And the futures I tasted in the barrels and the tanks were also incredible. A huge addition to Pennsylvania and east coast wine making.  Congrats to Ed and his wife.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Bordeleau Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay Lot Number Two 2015 Beautiful! (MD)

So, I was at Eastern Wineries Expo 2017 when I tasted this incredible chardonnay. I'm not always a huge chardonnay guy, so for me, when I tasted this, I was impressed.

But let's talk about Bordeleau Vineyards for a second. Tom Shelton, owner and winemaker, is involved in creating and perfecting every wine. Tom started making fruit wines while still in his teens.  After purchasing a farm in Allen, Maryland in 1998, he planted his first grape vines in 1999.  Early plantings were Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin, and he continued planting additional grape vines each year through 2003. Other varieties planted were Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc.

After considerable deliberation he decided to seek his commercial license in the summer of 2006.  With the renewed commitment, eight and one half acres of plantings were added from 2007 to 2011, including new varieties such as Malbec, Petite Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, and Muscat.

Bordeleau had been producing great quality estate wines since then. This Bordeleau Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay Lot Number 2 2015 was a lovely, lovely chardonnay. This chardonnay was barrel fermented and made in the Sur Lie method (the idea being that this extends the lies contact with the wine that contributes complexity to the wine). The result is great complexity and balance, and a big mouthfeel and great depth. There are green and red apples, ripe pears, and wonderful cirtus flavors as well on the nose and palate. It finishes with vanilla and spice. An impressive, impressive wine.

Really well done. Congrats, Tom!!!!!

Friday, March 02, 2018

Greenvale Cabernet Franc 2012 - Damn That's Good! (RI)

I don't wan to admit how many years I've been driving to Portsmouth, RI to taste Greenvale Vineyards wines. Suffice to say,I may be vain, or embarrassed. Regardless, they've been an east coast engine of quality wine and consistency! Among my favorites is their Cabernet Franc.

Alas, I have not been in a while, but last year I got lucky. I tasted a bottle of it at the Eastern Wineries Exposition 2017 at the awards dinner. And then someone was fabulous enough to bring a bottle to the blogger's station. Two folks in particular need to be praised - Hever Ortega, the vineyard manager, and Richard Carmichael, the long time winemaker. The Greenvale Cabernet Franc 2012 was exquisite.This is a medium bodied blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot aged in oak. They usually make between 175-200 cases a year, give or take. Lovely notes of cherry, raspberry and plum linger on the palate and the nose. The wine is incredibly well-balanced, and show some very nice complexity. A lovely, lovely bottle of red wine.

Greenvale does it again!!! Damn that's good wine!

Jonathan Edwards Cabernet Franc 2015 - Excellent! (CT)

I have written about Jonathan Edwards many times. Continues to be a favorite east coast producer of mine. Located in North Stonnington, Edwards makes wines on both coasts, but I only concern myself with his Connecticut estate wines (his others are lovely, but not for this bog).

I have visited the beautiful winery many times, but this bottle I am speaking of was tasted at the Eastern Wineries Exposition 2017. I had it twice. I had it at the awards dinner that night. Their Cabernet Franc is is an estate grown red, which is most, most impressive, and has been consistent for years.

This Jonathan Edwards Cabernet Franc 2015 was a medium bodied red, made from estate fruit. The wine is approximately 25% aged in new French oak. And then blended with the rest which has been in stainless steel (or older/nuertal French oak) ? Not sure. The resulting wine is immensely pleasurable. The nice, medium bodied, dry red with hints of cherry, cranberry, cassis, and and ends with a lovely, peppery finish. Mouthwatering-ly delicious! 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Schulze Vineyards & Winery Sparkle!! (NY)

I first tried Schulze wines at the Eastern Wineries Exposition 2017, so I am a tad late with this review. Apologies. Schulze Vineyard and Winery is owned by Martin Schulze, and is located in Burt, NY,in Niagara County. They make quality estate produced wines, both still and sparkling. They grow vinifera grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and they also grow Siegfried Riesling and Vidal Blanc, as well as Niagara, Concord and Catawba.

OK, a few things first...I tried two wines, both sparkling. Both were absolutely lovely!And then I also realized that the wines were made by Jonathan Oakes who has developed a cult following over the last few years.

Here's a history of the place: 1969 – The land that now houses Schulze Winery is purchased. This includes a small established Niagara and Concord vineyard which will later be used for juice production. 1970 – Contract begins with Welch’s for juice. 1972 – Contract begins with Great Western for juice. 1974 – The vineyard is expanded. 1980 – Hybrid Siegfried Riesling grapes are planted and a first attempt at producing still and sparkling wine is made at home. 1985 – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes are planted as a trial run. Opening a winery becomes an idea and the vineyard is prepared to produce grapes for this venture. The contract for supplying grape juice continues. 1986 – Contract begins with Cliffstar for juice. 2000 – The vineyard expands by planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. 2002 – The vineyard expands by planting Vidal Blanc grapes. 2003 – Additional grapes are planted. Contract starts to supply several local wineries with grapes. 2004 – Grafted and cloned Siegfried Riesling grapes are planted. 2005 – Domenic Carisetti is hired as winemaker. Produced and bottled first harvest for our own use. 2006 – State Liquor License and federal permits are granted. 2007 – Schulze Winery opens. A dream is realized. 2010 – Jonathan Oakes is contracted as winemaker.

First I tried the Schulze Tiny Bubbles, this light, off dry, fruit fizz was exceptional. Like a lightly styled prosecco, it was fruity but with enough acid, and super easy to drink with a lovely fruity nose with a nice touch of yeast and green apple. Absolutely lovely!!! For the price, everyone should have a bottle of this wine on their table for whatever the celebration is.

The Schulze Blanc de Blanc Cuvee Reserve Brut Sparkling Wine was more of a classic French-styled sparkling wine. The wine opened with the notes of apple, pear, and baked bread. Tropical notes also wafted out of the glass. A soft, slight creaminess provided a lovely finish. A perfect, sophisticated wine. Very impressive.

Both of these wines just made me want to drink more. Great to see another quality producer in the region, adding to its growing reputation. Looking forward to trying more! 

Padanaram Wine Co. Gewurztraminer 2014 Good Stuff!! (MA)

I first had this Padanaram Wine Co. Gewurztraminer 2014 at Eastern Wineries Expo in 2017. Let me just say three things - 1. I apologize for being a little late. 2. Its terrific Gewurztraminer! 3. If you don't like Gewurztraminer, Gewurztraminer yourself!! This was an absolutely terrific wine. Grown at the famed Salt Creek Vineyard in Massachusetts, this is state born and bred. And absolutely amazing. Big nose of floral nose of tropical fruit with just enough spritz at the end. A classic from a producer I know very little about. But this was damned good stuff! Seems to be listed as a wine bar on Facebook, best I can find. Looking forward to trying more, though.

No automatic alt text available.

No automatic alt text available.

Aaronap Cellars - An Impressive Introduction (MA)

Image result for aaronap cellars

At Eastern Wineries Exposition 2017 I had the opportunity to taste Aaronap Cellars wines for the first time. I must confess I had not heard of them before, so I didn't know what to expect. But I always love trying new things. Indeed, it was an impressive introduction!

According to their website:
Aaronap Cellars is a micro-winery located in Westford, MA. We focus on producing small volume, innovative, artisanal wines from the best vineyards and orchards in New England and beyond. Today’s wine is a result of centuries of trial and experimentation in the vineyards and wineries of Europe. Where else is that history of experimentation best continued but Massachusetts, with its own history of innovation since the first days at Plymouth Rock?

Winemaker Noel Powell seeks to combine his passions for art and history, a scientific background, and his knowledge of traditional winemaking methods to produce unique wines not found elsewhere in Massachusetts. After an introduction to wine while living in Southern California, Noel honed his winemaking talents during years of award-winning home winemaking and enology studies at the University of California-Davis. In 2011, Noel established Aaronap Cellars in order to share his unique wines with a larger audience.

The first wine I tried was the Aaronap Stone Wall White 2015.Itis a most refreshing dry white wine, made with real finesse. This white is an homage to the Northeast’s rugged glacial past, showcasing a mineral backbone to this crisp dry white wine. As advertised, pineapple, rhubarb, and tropical fruits come through, with a lovely floral touch.

The fruit is Finger Lakes, but Aaronap is happy to share every detail, unlike other wineries, so I am happy to provide. This blend of 95% Seyval Blanc and 5% Riesling is from Randall-Standish Vineyards, Canandaigua, NY & Salt Creek Vineyard, Dartmouth, MA

According to the winery, the 2015 Stonewall White, Massachusetts
Reisling grapes from Salt Creek Vineyards, Darmouth, MA were hand picked on October 4, 2015 and whole-cluster pressed.  The juice was cold settled, racked, and innoculated with Maurivin B yeast.  Seyval blanc grapes were hand picked on October 11, 2015.  After destemming, the juice was kept in contact with the skins for 1.5 hr, bladder pressed, and cold settled overnight.  The clarified juice was combined with the reisling  must and innoculated with Maurivin B.  Fermentation temperatures were maintained below 60°F during the 14 day fermentation.  Malolactic fermentation was prevented by addition of SO2 while aging in stainless steel.  After 5 months, the wine was filtered to 0.45 microns and bottled.

Aaronapp Revolution Road Red 2015 in named for a bit of history. On April 19, 1775, the Westford Militia marched to face the British army at the Battle of Concord. Along the road to revolution, those brave patriots passed the property that would eventually become the home of Aaronap Cellars more than 200 years later. This red is made from grapes grown along the shores of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.  $2 from the sale of every bottle is donated to the Westford Historical Society. This was a bold, solid, dry red. A very strong candidate for house red for anytime of year. A great food wine, bound to impress friends an family whether it's pasta, pizza, burgers, or roast pork. It won a Gold Medal, 2015 Big E Wine Competition (2013 Vintage).

Raspberry, red cassis, plum, and black pepper all come through as advertised. Big lush fruit is balanced with tannins and a great flavorful finish that lasts nicely.
This blend of 77%  Cabernet franc and 23% Petite Verdot was grown as Bond-Stowers Vineyard, Tiverton, Rhode Island. The wine was 12 months in 2 year old French oak barrels. Bottled aged for an additional 6 months.

We are extraordinarily fortunate to have located the very special Bond-Stowers Vineyard in Rhode Island along the shores of Narragansett Bay.  Specially selected Pomerol clones of merlot and cabernet franc are farmed as organically as possible and thrive in this unique maritime micro-climate mere yards from the ocean waters. The harsh 2014-2015 winter severely stunted the growth of the merlot vines, which produced no fruit while it recovered.  In contrast, the cabernet franc exploded with fruit, which were hand-harvested on October 24 at 21 brix.  After crushing, French oak chips were added to the must and fermentation commenced with GRE yeast.   Following pressing, malolactic fermentation was done in stainless steel and then the wine was aged in a 2 year old French oak barrel for 12 months.  A small portion of petite verdot was added to replace the earthy fruitness normally provided by the merlot.  The wine was bottled aged for an additional 6 months before release on Patriot’s Day, 2017  

Aaronap Cellars is new to the Massachusetts wine scene, but is off to an impressive, impressive start.Noel Powell certainly seems to know what he's doing. I can't wait to visit. But in the meantime, these two wines are worth catching up with!

Eastern Wineries Expo 2018

Looking forward to my annual visit to Eastern Wineries Exposition 2018!!!!!!

Blogger station is  Wednesday March 7 4-5 PM!!!

Convenient location at the Lancaster Co. Convention Center, Lancaster, PA
Record pre-show registration at 800 and counting
193 exhibitors
25 conference sessions, 38 speakers
50% new speakers
Super-star speakers like Lucie Morton, Jim Law (Linden Vyrds), Luca Paschina (Barboursville Vyrds) and Roman Roth (Wolffer Estate Vyrds)
Focus on wine analysis, sparkling wine, cabernet franc, high-end red Bordeaux-style wines, dry rose.
Pre-show discounts in effect until Tues. 3/5.
The rates expire Monday at midnight.
We have 30 sessions
Info/registration at: http://www.easternwineryexposition.com.

Look forward to seeing you! Remember the blogging station from 4-5 p.m. on Wed. 3/7.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Barboursville Vineyards Merlot 2008 Wow!

Image may contain: drink

So, the other night, I was making a steak with my son Dylan, a trained, professional chef (lucky me, I started it, knowing he would never let me finish...LOL). I opened up a lovely piece of dark aged cheese from Holland and munched on that, sipping my wine, and waiting to eat my steak.

Image may contain: food

Barboursville is among my favorite wineries. Luca Pashina is the winemaker, and has been doing an incredible job for years now. And Fernando Franco is the vineyard manager. The winery is owned by Zonin of Italy, but there's no question that Barboursville is among the best wineries on the Eastern Seaboard.  

Image may contain: food

One never knows what one is going to get when one lets a bottle sit for ten years. Sometimes, even the best wines, die off, or fall apart. I once had a 14 year old crianza that was spectacular. And a 5 year old Beajolais that was terrific. But it's always a crap shoot. More often than not, class shows through. I thought I would be safe on those grounds with Barboursville.

So, I opened the bottle an started sipping. It was incredible! This older wine had lots of dark cherry, as one might expect, given it's age. But it still had a lot of young cherry and raspberry as well. A slight, slight hint of fallen leaves did not over power the vanilla, and hints of lavender, and notes of cassis and jam. Great structure, balance, and tremendous complexity. Absolutely a lovely, lovely wine! A true sign of quality. I thought to myself that I could have let it sit another 3 to 5 years. On the other hand, I chided myself, was that I opened it just in time. for it went beautifully with the cheese and the steak as well. 

Fantastic wine! Congrats to Luca and Fernando! Cheers! 

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Best of Times To Drink Local in New Hampshire!

It is New Hampshire wine week, and I thought I would chime in, with a few of my favorites...that I have reviewed in the past. There's a lot of great wines being made in New Hampshire, as well as ciders, and much more. My list isn't as extensive as I'd like it to be. I need to travel the region a little more intensively, than I have recently. So many new businesses and artisans. A very exciting period in the state's history. A great time to be drinking in New Hampshire!

p.s. threw in a few distilled products as well!

Hermit Woods is my new exciting favorite in New England! Their Petite Blue is one of the best red wines in New England (and it's made from blueberries!). And their Deep Blue dessert wine is a massive treat. These folks are talented!

LaBelle winery is one of the largest and most successful in the region. Their Raspberry Dessert wine is among the best raspberry wines I've ever had! Makes for great sipping, and super Kir Royales.

In my opinion, Farnum Hill is the First Growth equivalent of cider in the world! It's the absolute best! From easy summer sippers, to some of the best ciders ever made, this is artisanal cider at it's best!

Peter Oldak is the father of modern winemaking in New Hampshire. He wasn't the first (that I know of) but he made it a burgeoning industry in the state. He organized and promoted. He's the kind of guy every region needs. In the meantime, he makes some great quality wines...for a long time now.  I love his Seyval Blanc, his Vignoles, and his Marechal Foch.

Flag Hill is among the most ubiquitous labels in New Hampshire, and is seemingly the grandaddy of New Hampshire wine. I love their Cayuga white, a great, bright, easy drinking wine. Their apple cranberry sounds like a cheesey fruit cocktail - but I guarantee you, it's an absolute crowd pleaser - a fantastic surprise. And their Cyder is excellent (I know, it says Vermont - but it's made in NH - don;t be a hater).

Fulchino is a wonderful little producer of Italian varietals. But this 603 label, made from local and estate grapes, is a wonderful Italian-styled table wine.

Zorvina Bacca Z is a solid, solid table wine. Enjoy!

The Silver Mountain Raspberry Apple wine is another big surprise. There's enough tartness to keep is honest and refreshing.

I like everything about Sweet Baby Vineyard except that they are hard to get a hold of. I need to get there! But I love what they are about. They give back, their local, and they make some terrific fruit wines. Amazing!

Clark & Chesterfield is one of the best liquor producers in the north east. Check 'em out. This bourbon, and their single malt whiskey are both exceptional.

The Smoky Quartz Single Malt Whiskey and the V5 Bourbon Whiskey are both impressive from this small boutique distillery. Another small distillery that ranks among the bet in the northeast.

Flag Hill is also distilling some wonderful things. I made a wonderful cocktail with their spice rum, but their bourbon is extremely tasty and can stand up to ice. A lovely dram.

Kingfish Rum Gold is one of the better aged rums in New England. Discover the beauty of local aged rum!