Archive for February, 2015

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On January 29th, Tom and I had the opportunity to try Old York Cellars Port Wines during their Virtual Vines online wine tasting. As odd as a virtual wine tasting sounds, it totally works. I signed up and the wines were shipped in advance of the virtual wine tasting. It’s so exciting to receive wine in the mail! Then, I impatiently waited until the day of the tasting.

This particular Virtual Vines was slightly different. In the past, attendees would watch the wine tasting live. I would click on a Livestream link and watch Laurin Dorman, the Sommelier, and Scott Gares, the Winemaker, discuss the wines, how they’re made, and how they taste. Attendees can share their thoughts and questions on Twitter or right there in the Livestream comment box. However, this time, they recorded the session in advance. At 7:00 pm, the usual time, attendees were able to watch, pause, rewind or fast forward the video as they wish. Live conversation was still encouraged. I prefer the live Virtual Vines to the pre-recorded one. There seems to be a special dynamic, connection, and urgency when it happens all at once. I like tasting and learning at the same pace as everyone else. It provides more of a sense of community and engagement, like we’re sharing something. I had less of that feeling during this occasion. However, I can see that it’s beneficial to some that they can go back through the video as needed.

The wines we tried were Old York Cellars Red and White Southpaw Ports. Laurin explained that this style of Port came from the English. They desired sweeter and more fruit forward wines. Because of wars taking place at the time that limited their shipping, they had to find wines made somewhere else. That led them to discover this style of wine. Scott said that Ports are fortified with a distilled spirit to stop the fermentation process and leave residual sugar along with higher alcohol content. Ports are a little tough for me to swallow because of their higher alcohol content. Between the two, I preferred the flavor of the Red Port. It’s actually one of the best ones that I’ve had. Tom remembered that when we first visited Old York Cellars, this is the bottle of wine that we left with. Interestingly, the term ‘southpaw’ indicates a left-handed person and port refers to the left side of the ship. Scott, the winemaker happens to be left handed.

2011 Southpaw Red Port Wine – I found this port to be a nice winter treat. I felt like it really warmed me up on this cold winter evening, which was just what I needed. I tasted dark cherry, slight plum, and a subtle hint of licorice. The Red Port is a fortified Marechal Foch. This grape is early to ripen and grown on Old York Cellar’s property. It’s a French-American hybrid grape that grows well on the East Coast. Scott described it as a fruit forward, young style Port. It’s aged for a short period of time, so it has a subtle oak taste. The Southpaw Red Port has 20.1% alcohol and 5% residual sugar. The sweetness and alcohol is well balanced for a Port.

Old York Cellars mentioned that the Red Port goes real well with 72% dark chocolate. Someone else had suggested pairing this wine with smores. Another attendee poured it over vanilla ice cream. This sounds like a great idea, but it’s too cold out for me to think about ice cream.

2012 Southpaw White Port Wine – You can see the thickness of the White Port as you swirl the glass and watch the legs form. This is the viscosity. The thick texture was visible in both wines, but more so in the White Port. The color was darker, a heavy, golden-honey color. This color was achieved because it was aged longer, about a year or year and a half before bottling. For comparison, Old York Cellars Riesling is aged for about 9 months and possesses a lighter tone. The Southpaw White Port is like a thick and somewhat fruity liqueur. The White Port tasted like honey and apple, but with a bite. It’s a brandy fortified wine made with Riesling grapes. I would say this is a slow sipper, not meant to be consumed with a full meal, but sipped as a treat or apertif. Scott said the Ports should last about 3 nights, if you have a glass a night. That’s probably all I could drink. The White Port contained 20.6% alcohol and 7.5% residual sugar.

If you’d like to watch this Virtual Vines, you can watch it here. Also, check back here for the next Virtual Vines. For Valentine’s Day weekend, Old York Cellars is participating in the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend from 12 – 5. They’ll have live music, specialty chocolates, red wine hot chocolate, chocolate shots, and a sweethearts custom labels booth, where you can get your picture on a bottle of wine.


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You can love your partners and wines for two weekends in February. NJ wineries are celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 7th – 8th and February 14th – 15th. The Garden State Wine Growers Association is presenting Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend during both of these weekends. You can sample and buy wines and chocolates at participating wineries, which will be most NJ wineries. In honor of this special occasion, many NJ wineries will also present other entertaining features, like food and live music.

These particular weekends have a special place in my heart. About 4 years ago, Tom, my husband, planned a special Valentine’s Day wine excursion. We started with the central Jersey wine trail, which includes Four JG’s Vineyard, Cream Ridge Winery, and Working Dog Winery, which was then Silver Decoy. At the time, we had no idea these wineries were so close to us. This was the day that started my fascination with NJ wineries.

Cream Ridge Winery and Working Dog Winery both left an impression on me during this outing. Both wineries made good use of their space. They had many tasting areas open to accommodate the crowds. Their wines were intriguing. Cream Ridge has many interesting fruity flavors that are fun, tasty, and unique. They also produce good common varietals. Working Dog Winery introduced us to our absolute favorite wines, Ugly Duckling Red and their French Oak-Aged Chardonnay. After meeting these 2 wineries, I couldn’t wait to get back. This is now one of our regular wine trails.

The Valentine’s Day Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekends are a great opportunity to meet more of NJ’s wineries and do something fun for the occasion. I wrote a piece for my friends @ GetOutsideNJ. Here you will see a list of Valentine’s Day NJ wine events taking place for the next two weekends.

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