Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Tasting at McCall Vineyard - Incredible!!!

McCall Vineyards have been growing and selling Pinot Noir and Merlot on Long Island's North Fork since the mid 1990s in the hamlet of Cutchogue, where the McCall family have their home. In 1996 Russell McCall joined forces with the Peconic Land Trust to save Down's Woods, Fort Corchaug, and the farmland adjacent to his family's property from the threat of development, after which he replanted the corn and potato fields with twenty one acres of vineyards. A few years later, Mr. McCall purchased and gifted the North Fork Stewardship Center to the Peconic Land Trust in allegiance to their shared commitment. But it wasn't until the 2007 vintage that they used as their jumping off point. While many wineries may produce and sell as many wines as possible, they decided to go a simpler route.

McCall draws most of it's wines form the following two vineyards. Corchaug Estate Vineyard 
was planted in 1997 on land rescued from development that borders the historic Fort Corchaug site and Down's Woods preserve. The southern end of the vineyard is planted with 11 acres of four clones of Pinot Noir, and ten acres planted with three clones of Merlot.

Gristina Vineyard is across the main road and behind the Macari tasting room, which was a vineyard planted by Gristina in 1983. The neglected old vine Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay plantings were taken over by the McCalls in 2011. They added a block of Sauvignon Blanc in 2013 when they purchased the vineyard. 

The winemaking team is unique here at McCall. Long Island veteran winemaker Gilles Martin from Premium Wine Group makes almost all of the wines. For many years Hudson Valley winemaking star John Graziano of Millbrook Vineyards (owned by John Dyson, who is friends with the McCalls) has made all the stellar Pinot Noirs in the past. But only his 2010 Reserve remains in the McCall portfolio,

I have always been a fan of McCall but not always been able to get there when they were open. The last time I was out there, I finally got in the door! And what an absolute treat!

McCall Chardonnay Unoaked 2015 was the first I tried. This is a lovely, bright stainless steel fermented chardonnay, sustainably grown and hand harvested, which was crisp and clean, with hints of granny smith apples, fresh pears, and tropical fruits. 

McCall Chardonnay Reserve 2014 is a limited production wine made from Chardonnay grapes from our North Ridge Vineyard. The grapes were planted in 1982 by Dr. Gristina. The wines was aged for 14 months in semi-neutral French barrels. Ripe red apple and bosc pear are couched in fresh toast, vanilla and with a hint of nuttiness. Lovely tropical notes finish with a nice zip but also a final creamy note. Lovely!

The McCall Suvignon Blanc Cuvee Nicola 2013 was a bright, crisp, clean bright white. And the McCall Marjorie's Rose 2016 was a lovely dry rose bright with fresh bing cherries, lime, and cream. A classic lovely dry rose!

I will unabashedly tell you I am a hard core lover of McCall Pinot Noir. Absolutely love it.

The hand harvested McCall Pinot Noir 2013 delivers dark cherry and hints of strawberry and spice as promised in their tasting notes. Aged in French oak barrels, the wine has a nice tannins and layers of vanilla that balance out this soft, lovely Pinot Noir. 

McCall Pinot Noir Hillside 2013 is hand picked from the Hillside block of their Estate. This is made from late harvested grapes and aged in oak for 16 months. This is an incredibly layered wine, with big black cherry, complimented by strawberry, vanilla and spice. Spectacular!

McCall Pinot Noir 2010 Reserve is 100% Estate grown and hand selected McCall's low yield 11 acre vineyard. This wine was made by John Graziano at Millbrook Vineyards in the Hudson Valley. The grapes were trucked to him and the wine was made and stored there in oak, and then shipped back to McCall. Graziano uses partial whole-cluster fermentation, and a higher percentage of this pinot noir goes into new oak than any of the other wines. This wine was named "Best Pinot Noir in NY" at the 2013 NY Wine & Food Classic.  Rated 92 by Wine Enthusiast.

McCall Merlot Reserve 2010 is a small production wine from the Corchaug Estate explodes with dark black currents, and big dark cherries,. complimented by cocoa, tannins and spice. The wine was aged in a variety of variously aged French oak barrels for 16 months. A big, lovely Merlot!

McCall Cabernet Franc 2014  North Ridge Vineyard comes from the North Ridge Vineyard which was planted by Dr. Gristina more than 30 years ago. Lovely ripe cherry balanced by hints of cassis, violets, vanilla, earth, pepper and spice. A beautiful wine.

McCall Cabernet Franc Reserve 2013 North Ridge Vineyards is made using a blend of grapes usually found in the classic Bordeaux blends, The Cabernet Franc was planted by Dr. Gristina in 1982. Aged in French oak, this wine has dark cherry, hints of grass and graphite, as well as red cassis and vanilla. A lovely, easy drinking Cabernet Franc layered with fabulous flavors with every sip.

A couple I met while tasting who had jut returned from a wine vacation in Italy. McCall's was their first stop back in the region. A nice testament, no?

My visit to McCall Vineyards was an incredible tasting. The wines were sophisticated and beautifully layered. McCall Vineyard has always been seen as the small but high-end winery of the island. Their wines are incredible. They are a jewel on the North Fork, but then again, they would be the jewel in any region! Fantastic!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Two Things About Lisa Hinton and Old Westminster (MD)

There are two things you need to know about Lisa Hinton. The first is that she is incredibly charming, funny, witty, and sarcastic, and very gracious. That's just the first thing. The second is that she knows her shit about making wine. And when she speaks, people stop to listen When she offers a glass of her stuff, wine people pause and give the wine proper attention.So imagine my thrill, when I got to sit across from Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post, and NEXT TO Lisa Hinton from Old Westminster at an mid-Atlantic wine tasting in Pennsylvania almost a month ago! She was so much fun to chat with. Such an incredible knowledge of winemaking, and yet chatty and funny to boot! 

The three principals of Old Westminster Winery: Baker siblings Drew, Lisa Hinton and Ashli. In addition to managing their 7,600 estate vines, they work closely with regional winegrowers to source grapes such as Cabernet Franc  from a vineyard on a silty-clay bank of the Monocacy River and Chardonnay from a vineyard perched atop a sandy bank overlooking the Chester River. Old Westminster believes these relationships allow them to craft wines that reflect their region’s unique geology and mesoclimates. More importantly, while still a fairly new winery, they have wowed discerning palates up and down the east coast.

At the tasting, I tasted two wines that were exceptional!

Old Westminster Cabernet Franc Home Vineyard 2013 was incredible. Big dark fruit right up front. Harvested at 23 brix, the wine was bled about 30% and stayed on the skins for 24 days, an was pumped over 3 to 4 times a day in bins, this wine was loaded with big cherry falvors and aromas. A touch of graphite too. And a hint of weeds. All very varietally on point! Immensely drinkable and delicious. Lots of lovely cocoa and vanilla to accompany the cherry and the hints of red cassis. Absolutely lovely!

The nose was a combination of fresh apples ad fresh bread. This spontaneous fermatation petillant Maturel had a lovely effervescence and tremendous acidity. This was a very light rose made from home vineyard Syrah! As per Hinton, the wine was disgorged, and the lees and dead yeast cells displaced with new wine, "but we sacrificed a lot of wine in the process." They made 70 cases of this lovely wine with hints of bright berry, strawberry and bright raspberry but with lost of citrus zest and a creamier finish than I expected. Impressive!!!!!!

Old Westminster continue and continues to make better and better wines.

Hats off to Lisa and the gang! Impressive stuff!

KyMar Malt Whiskey Takes Gold Medal in Denver! (NY)

I tasted KyMar Malt Whiskey for the first time earlier this year, and was floored by it and wrote about it immediately. Now here's confirmation on how good it really is..

KyMar Farm Distillery has added another medal to its portfolio of spirits. Their Malt Whiskey, bottled for the first time in November of 2016 was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2017 Denver International Spirit Competition. The doubleblind competition took place on March 4-5, 2017 at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado. This competition is open to both craft producers and major brands in the industry.

“We could not be more excited to receive this recognition for our Malt Whiskey,” says Ken Wortz, the founder and distiller. “It takes great grain, great water, great barrels (Adirondack Barrel Cooperage) and patience to make a great whiskey. All of which Central New York offers KyMar
in abundance.”

KyMar Farm Distillery is a craft wine and spirits producer located in Charlotteville, New York. They have been distilling and producing since 2011. KyMar products can be found in New York and Massachusetts. The Distillery is open for tasting and tours from May through December.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Three New Expressions From Black Dirt Bourbon - Stepping Away From the Pack And Into the Spotlight (NY)

It's funny, though I've known Jason and Jeremy since they were first small producers, making eau de vie fruit brandies, What's funny is that I don't think of Black Dirt Distillery as a micro distillery or a craft producer - I tend to think of them as a great producer. A great American producer. So I was especially pleased to see that they had taken the next big steps to join that group when they offered three new expressions of their exceptional Black Dirt Bourbon. I think this is an essential step in their claiming a bigger prize in the US bourbon hunt - a conversation, especially after these releases, they rightfully deserve to be in!

Three or more years ago, Black Dirt expanded in a huge way. They installed a whole new distillery and greatly expanded their repetoire. This new still allowed for great production, but also for greater refinement. Great days were ahead. The fruits of their labor were on the horizon.

Indeed, Black Dirt has released a dozen small individual expressions crafted from distinct grain ratios, aged in new charred oak, and then hand-selected when it’s unique flavor is perfect for savoring. This is exciting stuff!

Recently, I spent some time with Black Dirt ambassador Richard Scoffier, who poured me the three new releases. BLACK DIRT takes its name from the dark, fertile soil left by an ancient glacial lake that once covered Thousands of acres of upstate New York. Perfectly suited for growing crops such as corn, this Black Dirt has never been used for Bourbon production – until now. 

New York Straight Bourbon Whiskey 3 Year Blend First Batch Out of the new big column. This will be their main production bourbon. Thank god! Their bourbon has been in such demand that they couldn't keep up. This new cycle of production from the big still will hopefully fill all that, but sadly, more states are waiting for their turn at Black Dirt. Demand is sky rocketing! This is new production is a lovely, lovely bourbon, bursting with bright fruit, corn cereal, and honey and toffee, with hints of vanilla with a hint of spice at the end! Absolutely lovely. An excellent AMERICAN bourbon.

First was the Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel Port Wood Finish, Barrel Number: BD-PW1 (Double Cask). It was released on 03/07/17, and aged for 2 years, 2months in new charred American Oak (Char level 3) and then Re-barreled in Port barrels for 3 months. It was bottled at 100 proof, and distilled from: 80% Black Dirt grown corn, 10% Malted Barley, and 10% Rye. I loved this whiskey!!!! Big sweet mouth full of corn, caramel, figs and dates, and butter-toffee followed by a hint of gingerbread. A lovely, savory finish. Just head spinning. 

New York Straight Bourbon Barrel Single Barrel with a #4 char 53 gallon American oak barrel. Again, this bourbon, like the others, has a mashbill that is predominently corn, but with a solid spine of malted barley and a significant dash of rye to keep it honest and from being cloying. Barrel Number: AB10414-1 (Double Cask), was released on 12/30/16. It as aged for 2 years, 2 months in new charred American Oak (Char level 3).It was then re-barreled in Apple Jack barrels for 1 month!
And then bottled at "Barrel Strength." OMG! Bourbon heaven! Big caramel, toffee, baked apple, chocolate, and even a slight hint of pear and figs, ends with a lovely, long lasting finish that has a hint of gingerbread and more caramel and some vanilla. A splash of water, and it's an aromatic paradise!!!!

With this new round of expressions, and their increasing volume (as their whiskey improves!!!!) signals a whole new stage of growth for Black Dirt Distilling. I confirm that they are no regional producer (prod as they are to be from New York), indeed, Black Dirt is now poised and positioned to be considered a producer of the highest rank, that can now be sold in numerous states across the country. They offer a premium bourbon experience, at a level that places them in the national conversation, Kentucky an Tennessee be damned! (not really, but you know what I mean!). They are making great quality whiskey. Bourbon worth searching out. Bourbon worth savoring next to the best of them!!!

The spotlight is on Black Dirt Bourbon!

Here are some of their other expression releases:

Barrel Number: CRB073013
Aged for 2 years, 4 months in new charred American Oak
Released on 12/07/16
Char level 3
Format: 750ml, Proof: 100
Distilled from:
70% Black Dirt grown corn,
15% Malted Barley
15% Crystal malted Rye

Barrel Number: DO10514-1 (Double Cask)
Released on 11/15/16
Aged for 26 months in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Re-barreled in new Char #4 for 1 month
Proof: 100
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
10% Malted Barley
10% Rye

Barrel Number: BD-821145-5 (Double Barrel)
Released on 10/20/16
Aged for 25 months in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Re-barreled in new Char #4 for 1 month
Proof: 100
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
10% Malted Barley
10% Rye

Barrel Number: BDB81214-2
Released on 9/13/16
Aged for 2 years in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Proof: 100
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
10% Malted Barley
10% Rye

Barrel Number: BDB10614-1
Released on 5/19/16
Aged for 2 years in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
10% Malted Barley
10% Rye

Barrel Number: 071113
Aged for 2 years, 4 months in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Distilled from:
70% Black Dirt grown corn,
15% Malted Barley
15% Crystal malted Rye

Barrel Number: 042413
Aged for 2 years, 3 months in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
12% Malted Barley
8% Crystal malted Rye

Barrel Number: CW102412
Bottled on Feb 4th, 2015
Aged for 2 years, 3 months in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Distilled from:
60% Black Dirt grown corn,
10% Malted Barley
30% Unmalted Wheat

Barrel Number: 052212
Aged for 2 years, 3 months in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Distilled from:
60% Black Dirt grown corn,
10% Malted Barley
30% Unmalted Wheat

Barrel Number: 021512
Aged for 2 years, 5 days in new charred American Oak
Char level 3
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
12% Malted Barley
8% Crystal malted Rye

Jingo Lingo: The perils of jargon in the craft wines, beers, and spirts world from both sides

Recently Amanda Schuster, the highly respected spirits and cocktail journalist, Senior Editor-in-Chief and contributor at The Alcohol Professor, and author of the up-coming NEW YORK COCKTAILS (Fall 17, Cider Mill Press) complained of the over use and under imaginative jingoism of the craft world on her facebook page. And dozens of writers climbed on board the post agreeing.

I think the world of Amanda. And I think she is indeed correct. But I am unique in that I work both sides of the table.

The jargon that Amanda referred to is used (and sometimes abused) by small producers who want to distance themselves from mass produced product. Writers have taught them a language a list of words that signify the difference

Now the words have been overused. In some cases co-opted by larger manufactures looking to join or co-opt the craft movement itself.

These were the words that the manufactures were taught to use by the writers. These were the words the writers responded to:
Small batch.
Hand made.
Hand crafted.
Soon words like expression and release will also be passé

I want to go on the record: As a writer and a producer, I have repeated these words myself!

Hell, go to an etsy page - it's filled with this jargon! Or artisnal creameries, craft hand made bakeries, etc. The words have been befouled by almost every industry! It's cancerous!

With the plethora of new wineries and distilleries, cideries and breweries, these words have become repeated so often they have lost their effectiveness. Furthermore not to be out distanced, the big producers, the mass producers, have co-opted as many of these terms as possible, packaging new products for release caked in this language in order to lessen the distance between themselves and the craft moment which has grown in strength and eaten up market share, reviewer columns, and shelf space.

Today the writers have become immune to the words above. It has all now been reduced to just jargon. To be sure, manufacturers have abused words, repeating them so often that what one becomes numb. And so the writers have become non-responsive to these words to the point of heckling. Indeed writers pass amongst themselves endless press releases they have received packed to the point of bursting with these words to the point of hilarity. Lots of eyes rolling. LOL. LMAO. SMH. These are the accompanying comments.

From the producers point of view, the producers have always responded to the words that the writers respond to. They wanted to use the words that they knew got the writers attention. It is an endless cycle, like animals or insects eating their young.

Suffice to say two things are happening. Conglomerates like Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Suntory/Beam, Bacardi, and a host of others have created brands to compete. And These large mass producers are in fact buying craft distillers Winery cideries and breweries. It is the wave of the future.

So where is the next wave of language to come from? It is sad to say that the producers have always repeated about what they picked up from reading. Like good little grade school students they (dare I say we?) want to repeat terms, phrases, and, events, and dates that will resonate. All producers big and small repeated the magic language, the spells, that would entice the writers like sirens to their booze.

And indeed the writers created some of the words themselves, or at least imbued those terms with their sense of magic. There is no doubt that the writers participated in the creating some of this jargon. Those who disagree are lying to themselves or to each other, denying their own impact on the industry.

What then are the new words to replace the ones that we have above? What Terminology sets the craft world apart from the mass produced? How do you explain that on the label or on some marketing material?

Indeed, the bigger question is now - giant producer - small producer - how do we really explain the difference. It shouldn't be about size (god, does it always come down to size?) shouldn't it be about quality? or the difference in manufacturing? That's a whole other post....

There is no question that the craft producers in each segment of the liquor industry need to find a new set of terminology that explains the difference between them and their larger brethren. The first to do so will gain a wide birth. The last t embrace a new terminology will not only be a rotten egg, but they will end up off the shelves and out of business.

There will be a few stumbles along the way. There will be some head shaking and some eye rolling at some producer claims and silly terminology. But we must take this new plunge. It is the next evolutionary step for our industry. It will take someone with imagination. A team of people.  Perhaps even a few writers will participate. But the new language needs to emerge soon.

Last question: Who is willing to go first?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hudson Valley Distillers Imperial Whiskey and Barrel Rested Gin (NY)

Recently, I did an event and a tasting at Hudson Valley Distillers. Hudson Valley Distillers is owned by Tom Yozzo and Chris Moyer, and their wives Jennifer and Jen. A great, great group of folks. They had invited me to do a wine talk n a rainy weekday evening and I wasn't sure what to expect. As goes with any event at a winery, brewery, or distillery, on a rainy weeknight. In the end, it was a great success on many levels.

First was the new tastingroom. The two separate buildings -the distillery itself and The Grove, their cocktail lounge, we now connected and filled with beautiful furniture. The space is airy but not cavernous, with little groups of furniture to add intimacy to the area. Absolutely lovely!

The next pleasant surprise was despite the rain, a nice number of people attended my little wine talk. Met some people I didn't know and some people who knew me but whom I had never met. Chris Moyer introduced me, and off we went. I bored hem with jokes and chicanery....and dispense a little wine knowledge along the way.

Then came the god stuff. Tom Yozzo introduced me to two lovely new releases from Hudson Valley Distillers. 

The first new baby was the Clear Mountain Gin Barrel Rested. This is the classic Clear Mountain Gin made from grapes grown locally at Hudson Chatham Winery. The gin was aged in second use Applejack barrels for approximately six months. This was a brand new, small release, limited quantity, but more is on the way. It was a fantastic spirit. Light, ethereal, floral, yet rounded off by the sweet oakiness of the old applejack barrel. If you like Barr Hill Tom Cat, you will LOVE this gorgeous sipper! A must have for gin drinkers!

The other wonderful surprise was the new release of an old favorite, Hudson Valley Distillery Chancellor's Imperial Whisky. This is one of my new favorite whiskies in the Hudson Valley. This is a big, big whisky, perfect for serious Bourbon fans who want to take the next step towards more serious whisky. It had been previously released in small quantities, but is now back in stock in a more serious way.

Using an imperial stout made with chocolate and crystal malts, this has all the big brown lusciousness of a BIG bourbon,...but none of the sweetness. The chocolate and stout kind of come through here in an odd way. A big wave of caramel up front, accompanied by figs and chocolate eventually gives way to brown bread and dark tea. If you through at first it would end sweet, you bet wrong.. It segued beautifully from one to another. And it was immensely rich and warming, like a dark brown bread pudding, but without the sweetness. Absolutely an eye popper! 

There is so much going on at Hudson Valley Distillers. You simply have to go there. You are missing out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Venture Capital Firm Wanted: Spirits Business Portfolio For Sale!

We are at a tipping point! And the bankers too slow are going to lose out. Is that YOU? If your investment firm isn't looking at this exploding industry, then you are tooooooo late, and playing from behind! The times is now to assemble an east coast portfolio of wine beers and spirits. The industry has turned that corner.

I have a brilliant damned idea! If an investment firm can put together a capital fund of $50 million (or more) I can deliver a sizable portfolio of regional craft distillers, wineries, cidermakers, and brewers unlike anything anyone has ever seen. And then you can turn around and leverage those brands, and then sell it off to one of the big spirits firms who need to buy big blocks of revenue to increase their over all market share and gross revenues.

Five major regional craft distilleries have been purchased in the last six months:
Tuthilltown Distillers was just purchased by William Grants and Sons just this week.
Westland Distillery was purchased by Remy Cointreau in December 2016.
High West was purchased by Constellation Brand in October 2016 as well for $160M.
Sullivan's Cove Distillery (in Australia) was sold in December 2016.
Bulldog Gin was sold to Gruppo Campari for $58M last year as well.

As an industry expert, I am uniquely placed within the industry to deliver such brands and names so as to create a powerful portfolio that can deliver quality wines, beers, and spirits.

The craft beverage business, especially in states like New York, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Colorado, and Michigan have produced regional powerhouses that are ripe for purchase and expansion. The number of these businesses have exploded exponentially. New York alone is now the second state in the union for distillery licenses.

Wineries have been expanding, breweries have been mushrooming, and cideries have been swelling with the juice of success. These smaller, burgeoning businesses are receiving record scores from the trade magazines and journals, are gaining immense industry coverage, and are ripe for the picking and assembling!

$50 to $100 million buys you a seat at the luxury brand beverage table! It makes you an immediate player, and the best positioned, once assembled, for growth and for resale!

I can assemble a team of experts in each field to target the businesses in the North American market to star up an instant, diversified craft beverage powerhouse.

For plans, expert advice, and an experienced executive with a proven track record, with corporate experience, to spearhead this innovative and full-proof plan, please contact asap.

Poughkeepsie Journal: Grants Buys Tuthilltown

Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner bought by Scottish distiller
Geoffrey Wilson , Poughkeepsie Journal

Tuthilltown Spirits, the Gardiner-based distillery which has helped pave the way for New York distilleries to open, has been bought by Scottish distiller William Grant & Sons.

This move marks the next phase in the relationship between the two distilleries, as William Grant & Sons acquired Tuthilltown's flagship Hudson Whiskey in 2010.

"We’ve been working with William Grant & Sons for a number of years and look forward to building on that relationship to help Tuthilltown fully achieve its potential," Tuthilltown Spirits co-founder Ralph Erenzo said in a press release.

NY WHISKEY: Distilleries boom in NY as Hudson Whiskey turns 10

COCKTAILS: 3 bars that serve a great cocktails

As part of the acquisition, William Grant & Sons now owns the 36-acre distillery, restaurant and visitor center in Gardiner.

"In 2010, William Grant & Sons bought the Hudson Whiskey brand as we were not only attracted to the possibilities within the American whiskey category but in particular, the authenticity of the Hudson brand and the excellence of the whiskey; the same is true of the distillery," William Grant & Sons CEO Simon Hunt said in a press release.

Beyond Hudson Whiskey, Tuthilltown's spirits include Half Moon Orchard Gin, Indigenous Apple Vodka and Tuthilltown Cacao Liqueur.

While Tuthilltown may no longer be local owned, the distillery can still count on Erenzo's involvement.

"Ralph will still be very much involved in the business on a day to day basis collaborating and experimenting with our team of distillery experts and master blenders," Hunt said.

With a history dating back to 1887, William Grant & Sons is perhaps best known for its single malt Glenfiddich, The Balvenie single malt and Grant’s Scotch whisky.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Waltz Vineyards Continues to Lead Quality Wine in Pennsylvania and East Coast

I first fell in love with Waltz Vineyards when I had their Cherry wood Merlot back about three or four Eastern Wineries Exposition. I’ve been following them ever since. But I haven’t had a chance to try their other wines until they hosted the East Coast wine tasting coordinated by Paul Vigna. Luckily for all of us, Jan and Kim Waltz volunteered to host the historic event.  Two Waltz wines were featured.
In my opinion, Waltz is one of he leaders in wine in Pennsylvania as well as on the east coast. They are an excellent producer!!!


The winery is a beautiful place, filled with color and light, and beautifully appointed. Hard to find a prettier winery set in the country that does quality wine such as this.


The first was the Waltz Chardonnay Reserve 2013.  This is a straight up wine. De-stemmed, sat on the skins two days, and pressed. A simple wine, in a world of funky techniques made for 95. 96.and 76 Chardonnay clones grown with traditional VSP trellising. The run is aged in older French oak, except for one barrel which is new oak.  I like all of this because this is a truly honest wine. No tricks or funky things. Shows what solid growers can do.

The first thing that hits you is a big pear and baked aple that come across instantly. A light tropical note is over powered by a big lemon, citrus presence. Then there’s oak, with hints of toast and vanilla that leads into a lemon custard nose. The palate follows through almost exactly but with that lovely lemon custard after taste. Amazing. The nice part of this was that the oak was very nicely integrated, present, a nice compliment, but not over powering. The fruit was very pretty and fresh. They made 150 cases, and though it’s in a few restaurants,it’s mostly sold through the case club members and the tasting room. Fantastic.

The second wine came near the end of the tasting, mostly because of how big it was. The Waltz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 comes from the 20-year old Crow Woods Vineyard. Made from 169 and 337 Cabernet Sauvignon clones, that were green thinned in August, and harvested in Mid-October. There was some leaf pulling on these vines which are lined up more or less North-South. The leaves were pulled more heavily on the eastern side of the vines, where they get the good morning sun. The wine was made in three different lots.

This wine is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, and aged in oak, and then bottle aged the wine for one year. This was a big, dark, jammy wine. Cassis and blackberry jam. Mocha and cocoa, as well as hints of toast and vanilla. And nice, big tannins. A big, layered, complex red wine, very well balanced. If I didn’t tell you, it almost comes across as California, it’s so big! A wonderful wine.

But it's not just these. It's the entire line up. I've had a number of their bottles. The wine is good all the way down the line.Quality. Well done.


Compliments to Jan and Kim!