Saturday, October 31, 2020

Great Wines from Mount Salem Vineyards! (NJ)

Mount Salem Vineyards is a boutique winery in the Pittstown section of Alexandria Township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, United States. Formerly a produce, grain, and dairy farm, the vineyard was first planted in 2005, and opened to the public in 2010. It is owned by Peter Leitner.

Mount Salem Vineyards specializes in the use of Austrian and Northern Italian grapes. Wine is produced from Albariño, Barbera, Blaufränkisch (Lemberger), Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, Merlot, Riesling, St. Laurent, Traminette, Viognier, and Zweigelt grapes. It is the only winery in New Jersey that produces wine from St. Laurent, which is a vinifera grape indigenous to Austria. Mount Salem is not located in one of New Jersey's three viticultural areas. The winery is not a member of the Garden State Wine Growers Association, but is a member of the Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association.

I was traveling along side a group during the pandemic, which posed its own unique problems, especially on rainy days. Despite, we tried to maintain our spacing etc. Sometimes we momentarily grouped up for photos.   

The first wine that struck me as amazing was the Mount Salem Cab Franc Rose.They used the Sagniee method, which means “to bleed,” and it also describes a method of rosé winemaking that involves “bleeding” off a portion of red wine juice after it's been in contact with the skins and seeds. It had a pretty light pink color. It was super aromatic, with big strawberry jam, strawberry rhubarb. It was super fresh, easy to drink. Truly fantastic!

Mount Salem has been featuring virtual wine dinners since early October. Participants pick up food and optional 1 bottle of a featured wine for dinner (at curbside)/ The owners host a 30 minute dinner with suggested bottle. $60 dinner for two dinners. The participants sign on to a Zoom dinner with piece of suggested music in their background. So far, its been extremely popular. They have one every two weeks or so.

Lietner Gruner Veltliner is a reserve white wine, tropical fruits with lots of exotic spice, a hint of  white pepper finish and citrus finish. Lovely bright acidity. Lip smacking good. Really meant for food. Really impressive. 

The Leitner Barbera is 85% Barbera and 15% northern Italian varieties
all grown at the Larry Coia Vineyard in the Outer Coastal Plain AVA. A big juicy, soft red wine, and the deep cherry flavor lingers in the mouth, a long, long time. 

The Leitner Matthias 2014 is a big red blend og Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, and St. Laurent. This is a big red blend. Deep, deep fruit characteristics. Absolutely outstanding! Absolutely stellar!!

A wonderful, if not rain soaked, visit. Wonderful stuff!

Almathea Cellars Cabernet Franc Reserve 2017 (NJ)

Amalthea Cellars is a winery in the West Atco section of Winslow in Camden County, New Jersey. The vineyard was first planted in 1976, and opened to the public in 1981. Amalthea has 10 acres of grapes under cultivation, and produces 5,000 cases of wine per year.

Founder Louis Caracciolo fell in love with winemaking in the cellar of his Italian immigrant grandfather as a thirteen year old boy. He attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York for his degree in Food Science and Technology, in which he went on to a prosperous career. In 1972, Louis bought the farm where Amalthea is now located. In 1976, the first vineyards were planted at Amalthea Cellars.

At a recent tasting with other industry trade writers I was introduced to the this charming roguish individualist. Lou makes some wonderful wines. Especially reds. One that particularly struck me was the Cabernet Franc Reserve. Its a big, dark, opaque, red wine. With lots of ripe dark cherry, dried cherry, cranberry, and hints of spice. Deep center of the wines. And the fruit lasts a long, long time. If you like California reds, this is your east coast red. And Louis is definitely your man! Great stuff!


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Montezuma Pet Nat Marquette 2017 (NY)

Phil Plummer, winemaker for the Martin family of wineries, including Montezuma Winery, in the Finger Lakes, held a virtual tasting tonight, There were a number of good wines, but what stood out was the Montezuma Pet Nat Marquette 2017. Bright and bubbly with aromas of big red raspberry, strawberry, pink grapefruit, and notes of chocolate and mocha. Fresh bright fruit, clean (though a little hazy to the eye) and with enough acidity to make it still seem fresh and delicious three years later, something slightly unheard of for Pet Nat (most of which tend to be drunk immediately upon release). Certainly a nod toward quality of the winemaking. The wine was made in the traditional Methode Ancestrale style and left undisgorged. This was a three year old Pet Nat and was absolutely delicious!!!! Super impressive!! One of his best Pet Nats I tasted this year! Congrats, Phil!



STROOPWAFFLE EPISODE 12: RED NEWT CELLARS/KELBY JAAMES RUSSELL WINES Host Carlo DeVito and wines, beers, and spirits enthusiast Rich Srsich visit the Finger Lakes. Great videos of Kelby Russell, Meagz Goodwin and a cameo by Oz Clarke. And great wines from the Finger Lakes.


Host Carlo DeVito heads down to the historic Outer Coastal Plain AVA, where they've been growing grapes in the 1820s. Today, there is a whole new drive for quality wine in the region, with more than 32 wineries in the AVA. Today we'll go taste the wines of Seferino Cotzojay, a great young winemaker who's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, at White Horse Winery.  Enjoy!


Host Carlo DeVito travels to the Outer Coastal Plains, one of the most historic grape growing regions on the east coast, in southern New Jersey, where they've been growing grapes since the Civil War! We'll be in Landisville at Bellview Vineyards, owned by Jim and Nancy Quarella, whose family has been farming this land for more than 100 years. Oh, and I made a new fried - Keith!  Enjoy!

click on photo for video

Jim and Nancy Quarella

Jim and Nancy Quarella

Drinking Companion Keith


Host Carlo DeVito drives into the Outer Coastal Plain, one of the largest and oldest grape growing regions on the east coast, to visit Tomasello Winery, in Hammonton, NJ. Tomasello's premiere label, Palmaris (Latin for "prize-worthy") is the reason for the visit. Tomasello is the second oldest winery in NJ, and it's largest, with a whopping 65,000 case production. Brothers Jack and Charlie are the men who over see this winery's new transition, for a company that was established in 1933.



Thursday, October 01, 2020


Host Carlo DeVito travels to downtown Walla Walla , Washington to visit Dama Wines. This small urban tasting room is the home of an all woman owned and operated winery. Founded by Mary Derby and co-owned with Judith Shulamn, Dama Wines is one of the premiere boutique wineries in Washington state. Mary Derby is our special guest, and the wines are intense. Enjoy one of the jewels of Washington state wine.


Founder Mary Derby and co-owner Judith Shulman