A couple weeks ago, Tom and I were able to partake in and enjoy another Old York Cellar’s Virtual Vines, an online wine tasting. I really look forward to these events. It’s exciting to get wine in the mail. It’s also nice to be connected to an fun, online wine community that also enjoys NJ wines. As I’ve participated in these multiple times, I’ve gotten familiar with a group of “Tweeters” that I enjoy chatting with during Virtual Vines events. As we watch the online videos, mostly at the same time, we tweet questions to Old York Cellars, we ‘like’ and ‘favorite’ each others tweets, and we tweet our take on the wines. It’s a little bit tricky pairing food with wine, listening to the video, and tweeting at the same time. I mostly drank and tweeted. I had to watch the video again to catch the details of the wines, but it’s nice and convenient that the video is still available so that I can do that.
During this Virtual Vines, we watched Old York Cellar’s Sommelier, Laurin, and the Winemaker, Scott, talk about the recently released 2012 Oak Chardonnay and the 2013 Merlot. They tasted the wines and talked about their flavors as they ate Cabot cheeses that were paired for each wine. We tasted along at home.
2012 Oak Chardonnay – Their Oak Chardonnay is a blend of estate and supplemented grapes. Scott and Laurin explained how it goes through a process that’s called malolactic fermentation. Diacetyl is a byproduct of this fermentation. This is what gives the Chardonnay it’s buttery taste. Most people think it’s the oak, but it’s actually the acid. Laurin explained that movie theater butter flavor is actually diacetyl and that made me think, how would popcorn taste with this Chardonnay. I may have to find out.
This particular Chardonnay is lighter in oak than other Chardonnays because the oak is left in the wine for a shorter period of time. This wine was also different from other Chardonnays by how it seemed to be balanced in fruitiness and oakiness, where most seem to lean to one side or the other. Tom, my husband, prefers an oakier Chardonnay. I like those too, but I also appreciated this one. It had nice, unique qualities. I like fruity and sweet wines, so it gave me a little bit of that with the oaky flavor I also enjoy. I’ve also tasted steel barred Chardonnays. These are usually more fruit forward since they don’t have the oak quality from the barrel. This wine seemed like a mixture of those two types.
This wine is actually one of their most popular. GrapeExp_Cindy tweeted “Plenty of depth and so food friendly.” I agreed! This wine went well with the salmon we had for dinner. Laurin recommended monterey jack, gouda, brie, mild cheddar, or young asiago to go with their Oak Chardonnay.
2013 Merlot – Scott said the Merlot uses 2 different yeasts that are designed for Cabernets. One yeast provides complex characteristics, while the other gives cedar and ripe fruit flavors. The Merlot is fermented in a jacketed tank that enables Scott to control the temperature at about 70 to 75 degrees. (For comparison, the Chardonnay was fermented at about 55 to 65 degrees.) Scott mentioned that this creates heat in the Merlot when it goes into malolactic fermentation, which results in flavor from beginning to the end (on your palette.) They also provided an interesting tip. When you look at the edge of the wine in a glass as you swirl it, the color shows how young or aged the wine is. This Merlot had a garnet color, indicating it’s youthfulness. A brownish color on the edge would show that it’s aged.
According to Laurin and Scott’s description, this Merlot has a softness, a lot of tannin, dark cherry, cedar notes, tobacco, and a long finish. Laurin said, “This one, immediately, I mean it hits your palette and it’s like BOOM! It’s definitely a flavor explosion.” I certainly got a powerful, smoky quality from this Merlot. I tweeted that it would pair well with a cigar because of it’s smokiness. I really enjoyed this red, but I think to sip it, I have to be in the mood for it. It certainly presents itself as a relaxing wine, something to slowly enjoy while you’re also taking in a good book, a good show, or good company.
Laurin and Scott said this Merlot goes well with the fat in cheese because the fat counteracts the acidity. They also gave tips for drinking wines with cheese. First, take a sip for a baseline. Then, bite the cheese. Next, sip again. The cheese softened the taste of these wines. There’s less acidity in the 2nd sip. Pair this Merlot with a hard cheese like sharp cheddar. It will soften the tannin. I actually happened to eat sharp cheddar while tasting this wine and they did go well together.
May 1st Old York Cellars will be having another Virtual Vines if you would like to join. They will be sampling their 2013 Pinot Noir and 2013 Chardonnay. Then on May 2 and 3rd enjoy an in person event at their ‘Vine to Wine’ Spring festival.
If you’d like to watch the last Old York Cellars Virtual Vines, check it out here.