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Archive for April, 2015

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We recently met with friends and went to the inaugural Waretown Spring Wine Festival. This festival took place at the Waretown Recreation and Lake Area. On this day, the weather was great. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze. It was so nice to be outside after the long, cold winter we had.

When we entered the festival, we started with Chestnut Run Farm. I hadn’t tried them before and I was curious to see what they had. They seem to specialize in apple and pear wines with dry and sweet options. If you tend to appreciate these flavors then they’re worth a try or a visit. If not, then other wineries would suit your tastes better. Here’s what I liked at Chestnut Run and what was notable at the other wineries.

Chest Nut Run Farm

Semi-sweet Fuji Apple was probably the best of their selection. It was not too dry, too sweet, or tart. It had a nice, crisp, fuji apple flavor. The fruit used in Chest Nut Run wine is grown on their farm. I could imagine this pairing nicely with an apple sushi roll at one of our favorite nearby sushi restaurants.

We were also able to taste their Spiced Pear wine, which wasn’t on their wine list. This wine is one of their customer favorites. I appreciated the flavor. It was like a spiced apple wine, but to me pears and apple taste alike. It may be too sweet for some. I thought it seemed like a dessert wine. Their Spiced Sweet Asian Pear wine won a Double Gold Medal in the 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Their Semi-Sweet Asian Pear is also a medalist, winning a Silver Medal in the 2012 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition.

Monroeville Vineyard & Winery

Monroeville Winery’s NJ Stillwater was unique because it’s a red wine fermented in a bourbon barrel. I thought that was a nice, unique touch. I couldn’t get a sense for the bourbon flavor, but our friend, Jen, enjoyed it.

They also had a NJ Asian Pear wine. I don’t remember trying pear wines until this day. I enjoyed the flavor of this one. I’m thinking they may have a pear wine to compete with nearby Chestnut Run Farms.

My favorite of the Monroeville wines was their Monroeville Red. As soon as I tasted it, I thought, this is Concord grape! I could tell because I loved the flavor! Concords tend to be sweeter. It was a little too sweet for Jen, but just right for me. I thought about buying the Monroeville Red, but I didn’t make it back over to their tent.

Plagido’s Winery

I’ve tried Plagido’s wines at other festivals. I enjoy their sweet red selection.Our friends liked their Sangria, which comes in a pouch. This particular Sangria has a stronger presence of pineapple. I enjoyed the combination of flavors of sweet red wine and pineapple. Although, to me, most Sangrias miss the punch that my mom’s Sangria recipe has.

Valenzano Winery

There are so many good wines from Valenzano Winery. We really need to make a trip there!  Bramble on Raspberry and Berry White Cranberry were both tasty. So were their Raspberry Riesling and Blackberry Syrah. I also enjoyed the Red, White, and Blue Sangria. However, their newest wine that I hadn’t seen before, Jersey Devil Lab 2, stole the show! Tom and I tasted it and were told it was made with cherry, vanilla, and graham crackers. I felt like I could really taste each of those flavors, especially the graham cracker on the finish. Tom told our friend, Peter, who missed that tasting, that he’d like it. Without tasting it, he bought it! And he did like it! He was kind enough to share it with the rest of us. Peter’s girlfriend, Brianna, also purchased a bottle. She got their Cabernet Merlot. We stepped aside and enjoyed these bottles there.

Wagonhouse Winery

I told myself before arriving at the festival that I was going to buy more Shore Thing wine from Wagonhouse. When we made it to their tent to taste it, they were sold out! I was so disappointed. Shore Thing tastes like Summertime in a bottle and I thought I’d use this opportunity to stock up. Oh, well. I’ll look for it at the Lakewood BlueClaws Jersey Shore Wine festival.

All in all, it was a great day with good wine and good friends!

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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.

OYC Tweet 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.

4-15-2015 OYC VV Merlot

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 28th 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. Before then, on May 2 and 3rd, you can 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.

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