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Archive for February, 2014

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Tom and I kept trying to make it out to Cream Ridge Winery this winter. I follow them on Facebook and as soon as I saw that they released their Winter Spice wine I knew I had to try it. Things got busy before Christmas and we couldn’t make it out there before the holiday. Then, winter storms prevented us from making it there every time we attempted to visit. This past weekend, NJ wineries were participating in the Wine Growers Association event, Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend. Spending our time at our favorite local wineries is just what Tom and I wanted to do for Valentine’s weekend. We planned to go Saturday and then nature dropped another couple of inches of snow on the 10 or so that we have already, so we waited one more day. On Sunday, the roads were clear and nature looked lovely. There are beautiful houses in this area and expansive farm land that looked charming under fresh fallen snow.

Each time we go to Cream Ridge Winery I like it more and more. There’s an inviting warmth here that’s palpable. It’s an added component that not every winery provides. The friendly atmosphere suits the cozy environment displayed within. As we approached the tasting room, snow enveloped the building and topped the wine barrels that sit outside. As we entered the wine room, they were noticeably busier than a normal weekend day. For special events, they draw patrons into their barrel room where they’ve placed additional tasting bars for the occasion. This opened up the main tasting room that we walked into. Conveniently, there were 2 spaces available for us right at the end of the bar. We were quickly greeted by the sommelier and we were excited to try what was new. It seems that there’s always something new and exciting at Cream Ridge as they continue to introduce original wine flavors. I skipped most of the regular wines and spent more time tasting their new, fun options.

Blue Mooney – I really enjoyed Cream Ridge’s Blue Mooney wine. It’s another unique flavor that surprised me. Blue Mooney is a combination of Chambourcin and blueberry. As I brought the glass to my nose, I got a delightful blast of the blueberry aroma. If this was in a candle, I would buy it! The fragrance was so nice that I kept sniffing it! The wine was just as delicious as it smelled. The Chambourcin gives the wine characteristics of red. It mixes well with the sweetness of blueberry. Blue Mooney was real light, smooth, and slightly tart. It wasn’t as sweet as dessert wines, but sweeter than reds typically are. I bought a bottle of this one!

99 Rows – 99 Rows features a Fredonia Grape and celebrates Cream Ridge’s 99 rows of vineyard. I found it to be a mild wine with a mix of sweetness.

Spring Tide Sangria – Spring Tide Sangria is a mixture of concord, plum, and citrus flavors. This wine tasted sweet and mild. I got a hint of the concord accent. Being a big fan of concord grapes, I would have preferred it to be a heavier on the concord. But that’s just me. Spring Tide Sangria had a nice refreshing quality. This seems like it would be a good party wine that would present a variety of flavors while not being overpowering.

Plum – The Plum wine tasted like a white wine that was light on the fruit side. On the finish, I felt a slight kick on the way down.

Almondberry – I find the Almondberry wine to be very enjoyable and apparently so do many others. I heard a sommelier say that this is one of their most popular wines. This wine combines raspberry and Niagara grapes and showcases an almond accent. It’s an interesting and delightful mix. I wouldn’t mind if it went even heavier on the almond flavor.

Winter Spice – Winter Spice was the one we really came to try! We were glad that there was still some Winter Spice left. This wine reminds me of one of my favorite wines. So of course, I had to get 2 bottles, especially when I saw that their supply was limited. Winter spice can be served warm or chilled. It’s a fruity tasting, blush wine spiced with nutmeg, clove, and allspice. When heated the flavors really come alive and become more fragrant. I like spiced wines served both ways. I appreciate that this one is called ‘Winter’, so I’m not limited to drinking it just around the holidays.

If anyone I know likes sweet or fruity wines, I always recommend Cream Ridge. They have a special touch when it comes to sweet wines and original concoctions. And they’re just so nice that you’re almost guaranteed a pleasant experience. I hope you enjoy their wines as much as I do. For more on Cream Ridge, check out my article on our past visit.

www.creamridgewinery.com

Rating

4 Wine Glasses (Out of 5)

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As you are well aware, it’s been a pretty cold and snowy winter. Tom, Kristen, and I headed out one Saturday to visit some wineries as it started to snow. At first it looked like flurries. Then, before we knew it the ground was covered in snow and cars ahead of us were sliding around the road. That particular day we had planned to do our nearest wine trail and one of my favorites, which normally includes the Tomasello Winery tasting room at Wemrock Orchards, Cream Ridge Winery, and Working Dog Winery. We got to our first stop Tomasello just as the roads were getting bad. I bought a couple bottles and we headed back home. This hasn’t been a favorable winter for excursions.

Old York Cellars offers Virtual Vines, an online tasting session. This is perfect for the winter weather conditions we’ve been having. Rather than toughing it in the snow or subjecting yourself to freezing temperatures, you can have a winery experience in your home! I love it. They’re the only winery that I know of who does this. It’s a unique experience. For each Virtual Vines, for a fee advertised on their website, they will ship you 2 full-sized bottles of wine and delicious chocolates, along with suggestions for food pairings. I appreciate that we have the opportunity to really zero in on the qualities of these 2 wines rather than do a full tasting. All you have to do is log into a website where they broadcast a live tasting session and drink your wine!

For the last Virtual Vines, I invited, my sister, Kristen, and our friend, Irene to join Tom and me. We sat around the kitchen table and set up the laptop on the far end. On the opposite end, was a platter of cheeses, crackers, meats, and glasses and bottles of wine. We sampled and completely drank 2 bottles of wine, which were Vidal Blanc and Syrah.

Vidal Blanc – Each of us thought the Vidal Blanc was clean, refreshing, light, and crisp. Scott Gares, the wine maker, and Laura, the Virtual Vines host, discussed how this wine emits qualities of tropical fruits like lemon and pineapple. We didn’t taste the pineapple, but we did get light fruit flavors. Irene said it reminded her of pear and that it was, “really good.” Kristen expressed that considering she likes reds, it’s really good. Not sweet and not dry. I noticed the Vidal Blanc to have a little bite when swallowing, but in a good way. According to the hosts, their Vidal Blanc is completely dry with no residual sugar.

Syrah – As for the Syrah, we each had a different experience. Irene said, the Syrah tasted peppery and that it was a light, spicy wine. During the live steam, through social media, I asked what made the wine seem peppery and they explained that it’s created by the grapes and yeast. Kristen described the Syrah as tasting like a red version of the white. It was a little difficult for her to sip because she felt a burn on the way down. My experience was different than both Kristen’s and Irene’s. I didn’t get the peppery quality and I didn’t feel a burn. I thought the Syrah felt warm and cozy. It had a light feel. It also seemed less bitter than other reds. I really enjoyed the Syrah and did some damage on the bottle. Their 2012 Syrah won a bronze medal in a San Francisco wine competition (out of 5,800 entries). The hosts described this wine as being an old world style vintage with fruit and spice, soft without being light. They said it’s food friendly and versatile. I would have to agree.

During the tasting, we also paired the wines with chocolates from Laurie’s Chocolates in Doylestown, PA. The Syrah and the chocolates blended well together. We tried two different types of chocolates, Madagascar Single Origin and Hawaiian Single Origin Milk Chocolate with Macadamia and Sea Salt. I couldn’t get enough of the Macadamia and Salt chocolate. I LOVE the combination of flavors and they were delicious!

If you would like to attend the next Old York Cellars Virtual Vines, call them to sign up (908-284-9463), as their website is currently under construction. The next session is March 27th at 7:00. They will feature their Pinot Gris and Cabernet. Old York Cellars also offers a Virtual Vines Club membership.

Although they’re working on their website, you can still access additional information about Old York Cellars Winery and their wine shop at www.oldyorkcellars.com. You can also check my full review of our last visit to Old York Cellars.

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