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Archive for the ‘Dry Wines’ Category

I keep thinking about wines! Which wines to bring to all our upcoming holiday parties? I often buy seasonal wines, NJ wines that I know the host likes or something unique to introduce to everyone. Below are my suggestions of NJ wines to gift or bring to parties for different types of wine drinkers. You’ll certainly notice my favorite wineries listed because they have good selections and great wines. You can find some of these wines at local liquor stores. Or if the winery is near you, stop by and purchase it at their establishment. I also use www.wine-searcher.com to track down some wines. Just enter the wine into their search box. Call before you make the trip to make sure they have it in stock.

Dry Whites

Cape May Barrel Fermented Chardonnay – Tom and I both prefer oaky Chardonnays. The buttery, vanilla, and oak flavors sit well and provide a relaxing experience for us. This one contains those features and gives just a hint of lemon. Our favorite Chardonnays in NJ are made by Cape May and Working Dog Wineries.

Working Dog Winery Chardonnay – One of this variety, an older vintage, took 4th place among white wines in the “Judgement of Princeton” wine contest held by Princeton University, which paired French wines against NJ wines in a blind taste test.

Unionville Vineyards Pinot Grigio – This wine was one of the best Pinot Grigio’s I’ve had. It’s just right. It’s not as harsh as some others, yet it provides qualities true to this varietal.

Dry Reds

Old York Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec – Their Cabernet Sauvignon is well balanced. It presents a cherry like flavor and tobacco taste on the finish. The Malbec is slightly spicy with a fruity taste. It smells like blackberries with a smoky quality. Both of these wines are dynamic by offering fruit flavors at first and earthy flavors afterwards.

Brook Hollow Winery Cabernet Franc – This is another interesting wine. It reminded us of grilling. It’s suitable for meat dishes. This Cabernet Franc had a peppery spice and grapey taste. It seemed heavy in flavor.

Sweet Whites 

Cream Ridge Winery Eastern White – Cream Ridge Winery classified the Eastern White as being “back by popular demand.” So your friends and family just might enjoy this one, as long as they have a taste for sweet things. It’s made from Niagara grapes, which tend to be used in sweeter wines. It had a white grape juice quality.

Working Dog Winery Traminette – This is a pleasing white wine for someone who likes whites and sweet wines and something other than Riesling. It’s an interesting grape because it’s a hybrid that was developed at Cornell University. It comes from Gewurtztraminer grape. Traminette is one of Working Dog Winery’s most popular wines, so it would most likely be a party pleaser. It’s taste is reminiscent of honey and apricot.

Cape May Isaac Smith Apple – This wine would make an interesting story at a holiday party. The label is shaped like a coffin and this wine is called Isaac Smith Apple because Mr. Smith used to be a local coffin maker in the 1820’s and the vineyard property belonged to his estate. The wine itself is interesting. Those who enjoy apple flavors would really enjoy it. It tastes like you’re biting into a Granny Smith apple and the juice running into your mouth happens to have alcohol in it. It’s sweet like candy and the apple smell reminded me of the same flavored Jolly Rancher.

Sweet Reds – My Favorite Category

Valenzano Winery Shamong Red and Red Reserve – Made from concord grape, Valenzano describes Shamong Red as NJ’s best-selling native wine. They also say it’s a popular all-occasion wine. I would have to agree. I could drink this on any occasion and now that I’m talking about it, I want it. I often find this one in area liqour stores. Shamong Red Reserve is real similar to the Shamong Red. It may just have a slight difference, possibly being the Ives grape. The Reserve is a three-time “Best American Varietal” winner at the NJ Wine Competition held by Rutgers. Keep an eye out for these!

Four Sisters Winery Beaver Creek Red – Also made with concord grapes, this wine is one of their best sellers. It’s one of my favorites! It’s described as having a candy apple like flavor. Maybe the sweetness gives it a candy-like quality. I don’t really get apple from it, more like a sweet grape. It reminds me of concord grape jelly.

Working Dog Winery Ugly Duckling Red – I don’t really consider this red a sweet one, but it has sugar added. However, this wine is certainly a crowd pleaser. Everyone I introduced to this wine enjoyed it. Ugly Duckling Red presents a unique flavor combination. It presents the heavyiness and spice of Cabernet Franc or Chambourcin, but it goes down gently with a hint of sweetness because of the sugar added. It’s best served chilled. You probably won’t have any of this left by the end of the night, so buy 2 bottles – get one for yourself!

Tomasello Winery’s Rainier Red – I mention multiple Tomasello wines because they’re good, but they also have a couple tasting rooms in different areas and their wines are sold in many liquor stores. The availability of these wines increase the chance that you may be able to buy them. Rainier Red is classified as a red table wine, which indicates it’d be a good for a group of people with different tastes. This wine is slightly sweet and it’s made from a concord grape.

Dessert Wines

Tomasello Cranberry or Blueberry Moscato – These wines are definitely for people who like SWEET or guests who are ready for dessert. The cranberry is tart, which you would expect from cranberries. They also have blueberry and raspberry. The blueberry is milder than their other fruit Moscatos.

Old York Cellars Blackberry – Their blackberry wine is naturally sweet, like a blackberry. This would be excellent with cheesecake and chocolate. It’s not tart like other dessert wines. Even people who don’t like sweet wines may like this one.

Seasonal Wines

Cream Ridge Winter Spice – Winter Spice can be served warm or chilled. When it’s heated the flavors really come alive and it becomes more fragrant. This wine isn’t available all year, so get it while you can. It’s on the sweeter side. It’s a blush wine spiced with nutmeg, clove, and allspice. Just describing it, I want some now! I also like how the name suggests I can drink it all winter and not just for the holidays!

Tomasello Spiced Apple or Mulled Spice Wine – These both are good wines and slightly different. Obviously, the apple wine has more apple flavor with added spices. Mulled Spice is a basic red with mulling spices added. It’s sweet without going overboard. One time my Aunt had this in a crock pot at a holiday party. The aroma filled the room. It’s best served warm as the heat releases the flavors.

Four Sisters Winery Holiday Seasoned – Their Holiday Seasoned is the Beaver Creek Red, but with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg added, a great combination of flavors. Again, this wine served warm ignites the flavors and aroma.

Ports

Four Sisters Winery Poppa Joe – Tom had described this as being a “good after dinner treat.” Finish off your meal with this one. This was among their top 3 wines. It was like the concord, but with more alcohol.

Cape May Winery Isaac Smith Port – This is another interesting wine to talk about. It’s part of Cape May’s Isaac Smith line that’s named after the coffin maker. The flavor of this Port is also interesting. It’s mostly Chambourcin with some Syrah. The taste is like blackcherry. It’s a little strong for me, but it’s a nice after dinner drink for those who might follow up their meal with liquor.

Plagido’s Winery Empire Port – Tom also really liked this Port. It’s aged in oak. The Empire Port is a red blend with a kick.

Tomasello and Valenzano wines can be found in some liquor stores throughout the state. There’s also a few Tomasello retail stores/tasting rooms. They’re located in Lambertville, Freehold, Smithville, and Chester. The other wines may have to be purchased from the vineyards.

If you try any of these wines, let me know what you, your friends, and your family think. Happy Holidays!

 

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Just recently, Tom and I took part in another Old York Cellars Virtual Vines wine tasting. To attend a Virtual Vines wine tasting, you just have to sign up ahead of time to receive your wines in advance. Then, on the day of, login to Livestream to attend the live tasting session. For this Virtual Vines, we logged in at our kitchen table, where we set up our laptop and tasted the wines. I have to add that I was running late on my way home because of traffic and Tom prepared everything. I’m so lucky to have such a good husband! Appetizers were made, wines were opened, glasses poored, he took pictures, and logged into the Livestream. He also coined the term “wine selfie” – all before I came home. Check out the slideshow to see Tom’s “wine selfie.”

For this particular home wine tasting, we tried their What Exit line of wines. We sampled What Exit White, What Exit Red, and What Exit Blush. I tweeted as much as I could about our tasting experience, because each tweet generated $1 towards the Hometown Heroes organization. Hometown Heroes helps people in crisis. They also honor real heroes in the community like Old York Cellars, who is helping those in need through their fundraising efforts. Hometown Heroes, as well as the What Exit Wines line, began after Superstorm Sandy hit. Proceeds from the sales of What Exit Wines benefit recovery efforts.

What Exit White – We started with the What Exit White. It wasn’t long before it was gone! I tweeted, “We may have already finished the @WhatExitWines White. It’s that good.” This white is 90% Chenin Blanc and 10% Seyval Blanc. This was a light, crisp, and easy drinking white wine. We got hints of honey with a finish of apricot.

What Exit Blush – What Exit Blush is similar to What Exit White in that they both have 90% Chenin Blanc. Except that the remaining 10% in the Blush is Cabernet Sauvignon. The What Exit Blush is a dryer blush, not sweet or fruity like others.

What Exit Red – Old York Cellars makes some of my favorite red wines. As I said in other articles, my taste tends to lean sweet or to white wines. I am usually surprised by how much I enjoy Old York Cellars reds. What Exit Red is another one. This wine is made of 80% Merlot, 10% Barbera, and 10% Landot Noir. I loved the bouquet. I smelled fragrances of fruit and oak. This red was warm and bold. It seemed to provide heat, but it didn’t make me hot. It’s mild for reds, which may be why I like it. I got a black cherry flavor from this one.

I loved the labels on these bottles. If you love all things Jersey, you would like them too. The What Exits wines are good, but it’s also worth buying just to have this awesome label! The labels are customizable too. You can include your exit, town, or a personal message. What Exit Wines would make great, unique, and special gifts.

If you’d like to see Old York Cellars for yourself and welcome the Fall harvest, check out their upcoming Fall Harvest Festival on September 27th and 28th. They’ll have hayrides, vineyard tours, and they’ll share information about the harvest. The next Virtual Vines is taking place on September 25th. Check their website for event details.

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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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Silver Decoy has been one of our favorite wineries in NJ. We visit this winery in East Windsor, NJ more than any other vineyard. Recently, because of unforeseen reasons, Silver Decoy Winery had to change their name to Working Dog Winery. You can still enjoy the same awesome wines and the same comforts of the winery, it just has a different sign. Working Dog Winery is a fitting replacement. Often, when we visit, there are friendly dogs roaming around, helping out, or just relaxing with guests. Working Dog Winery also hosts a popular, annual Hair of the Dog 5K that raises funds for homeless, abandoned, and neglected pets. Furry friends are very welcome here.

When family members visit us from out of state, we usually make a trip here. We also delight in taking our local friends and family to Working Dog Winery. This past trip was my parent’s first ever visit to a vineyard! All together, there were about 7 us for this winery visit: my husband, Tom; my sister; our friends, George and Irene; my parents, and me. On this trip it was a cold Fall day. The foliage was at it’s peak. The stove fire was rustling in the back of the tasting room at Working Dog, creating a warm, cozy, welcoming environment. In the tasting room, barrel tables were set up with stools for hanging out in the room. In the adjacent room a baby shower was taking place. (That seems like a great idea, but if I were pregnant that would be rubbing it in my face that I couldn’t drink! Good for the guests though.) We took our places at the tasting bar on the right with glasses and tasting sheets in hand. Russ and Jerry were there to greet us. I stood next to mom and dad so I could see their reactions to each wine. We made our selections and began tasting. Although I already knew what everything tasted like, I thought it would be good to follow along with everyone so we can compare our flavor experiences. Also each vintage brings slight variations and sometimes my tastes vary, so it’s all worth trying again (wink… wink).

Here’s what we tried:

Traminette (2011) – I like Working Dog’s Traminette. It suits my sweeter side. As I sipped this, I really get the hint of apricot and slight spices. It’s a light fruity wine, that’s not all the way sweet, but definitely on the sugary side. It was okay for Mom. Irene thought this was one of her favorites. I have to agree with Irene. It might be my 2nd favorite of their’s.

Pinot Grigio (2011) –  The Pinot Grigio is dryer than the Traminette, a typical level of dryness for a Pinot Grigio. It’s less fruity. Dryer fans might appreciate this one. I must inherit my taste for sweet wines from my mother. This one was less to her liking, mostly because she prefers sweeter wines. Aside from our sweet preference, this is a good Pinot Grigio.

Barrel Chardonnay (2011)  The buttery flavors from oak aging really come alive in this wine. As I sip a glass, the oak fragrance fills my nostrils and adds to the experience. It’s dry, not sweet, and just as a barrel chardonnay should taste. This is one of the best in the state. I asked if this was the winner of the Princeton Competition. Jerry said it is the award winning one, but the actual winner was a different vintage. This was too dry for mom, but it met Dad’s approval. He liked this one.

Sangiovese (2011) – Sangiovese is Kristen’s favorite wine at Silver Decoy and possibly her favorite all together. It’s a milder red, not sugary sweet, but rich in fruity flavor with hints of cherry. This is an easy drinking red.

Mom and I skipped most of the other red selections, since we both have a sweet tooth. Sorry dry fans.

Sunrish Blush – I knew mom was going to like this one and she did. Sunrise Blush is definitely sweeter and vibrant without being tart like some other blush or white zinfandel wines. There was a taste in this wine that I enjoyed, but I couldn’t place. It made it even more enticing and quick to sip.

Ugly Duckling White – This wine is mildly sweet and light. It’s also easy to drink.

Ugly Duckling Red – Everyone we introduce this wine to enjoys it. It’s a very easy drinking wine. It provides a unique flavor combination. I asked Jerry about it and he said its made with barrel aged Cabernet Franc with sugar added. That makes a lot of sense! I always say this wine is a great balance of spices, which it receives from the Cab Franc, and mildly sweet, which it gets from the sugar! It’s best served chilled and great for any occasion.

Raspberry – The Raspberry wine was really fruity in a good way. It really captures the raspberry flavor and robustness. I felt a little pucker in my mouth at the end, but in a good way. It wasn’t overbearing. Mom ended up ordering a glass of this to enjoy on their back patio.

Blueberry – Their Blueberry wine was sweet, tangy and rich. Dad ordered a glass of the Blueberry wine. He said it would be great for dessert. Well, it seemed like my parents were having dessert before dinner!

Don’t let the name change throw you off. Working Dog Winery still serves the brilliant, tasty wines that they’ve been making for years. If you haven’t been here yet, definitely check it out. If you have been here, go again and invite some friends and family.

Rating

5 Wine Glass (Out of 5)

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From Four Sisters Winery, we drove along Route 46 to Brook Hollow Winery. This part of 46 is completely different than the 46 I grew up with. The drive was nice and the road was sprinkled with farmer’s market stores and unique restaurants.

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