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Archive for the ‘White Wines’ Category

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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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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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Have you tried wine tasting at home? If not, you should! With Virtual Vines, Old York Cellars has connected me to an online network of NJ wine afficionados, an expert wine maker, friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers, and progressive concepts through online wine tasting. Just recently, Tom and I tune in to Old York Cellars Virtual Vines through a Livestream link. We received our wines in the mail beforehand, which is some of the best mail you can get! I rushed from work in NY to home in NJ, hoping there was no traffic, to make it home in time to tune in. Tom kindly and supportively prepared for the at home wine tasting. Bottles were opened and pictures were taken before I arrived! Tom even had time to take his #wineselfie. I picked up Chinese on the way home from my bus stop. Our laptop was set up and I grabbed my tablet, so I can watch and tweet with other attendees (I don’t yet own a smartphone – I’m holding out.) It’s great to be able to connect with other NJ wine drinkers and see what their thoughts are on the wines and how they paired it.

During this tasting session, Old York cellars also had an event at their winery. We got to hear Scott Gares, the winemaker, talk about the wines with Laurin Dorman, the Old York Cellars Sommelier, while a crowd at the winery tasted wines paired with seasonal dishes cooked on premise. The Chef from 55 Main even joined the stream to chat a bit. The virtual attendees got to try Old York Cellars Riesling and Malbec. This Virtual Vines was intended to highlight wines that paired well with turkey. I’m a little late on sharing this information with you. Tom and I headed out to West Virginia to visit family for Thanksgiving and before the trip I didn’t have much time to type this up. Sorry for the delay. Although Thanksgiving is now behind us, these wines may pair well with what you’re eating for Christmas, especially if you’re serving up turkey.

Riesling – This is a dry riesling, with apply, clean, crisp features. It’s is an appropriate option for a Fall, Thanksgiving wine. Since it’s dry, this riesling is not sweet or tart. It reminded me more of a Chardonnay. Lauren described it as having stonefruit flavors. I haven’t had a stonefruit before, but those words seem to capture the taste of the wine. I actually wasn’t crazy about this one at first. However, when we returned from our Thanksgiving trip, I had some of the riesling left in the fridge. It seemed more appealing to my taste buds after letting it sit.

Malbec – The Malbec is gone. Good wines don’t last long in my possession. This was a beautiful, complex wine that presented multiple qualities. At first, on the nose, I could smell blackberries and then, I got a smokiness, which made an interesting combination. The taste fit the scent. The Malbec was slightly spicy with a fruity taste. I also thought the wine had a thick texture to it, like plushness.

@Foodwinechickie said, “2013 Malbec by @OldYorkCellars – juicy fruit, medium body, velvety texture #virtualvines.” I’d have to agree.

I’d also like to recommend that you consider Old York Cellars for Christmas gifts. Their reds are some of the best and pair excellently with chocolates. This Malbec with chocolate would be a great gift for an adventurous wine drinker. They offer a combination of wine and chocolate gift options. If you are buying a gift for someone who likes sweets or fruit flavors, definitely consider getting their Blackberry wine. Also, they make customizable labels and their What Exit Wines make great gifts for Jersey lovers.

Some of Old York Cellars gift options include wine glasses, wine opener, t-shirts, chocolate tin, wine soap, chocolate and wine gift set, and varieties of gift boxes. Find items for purchase here, call them at 908-284-9463, or email narendra@oldyorkcellars.com for orders.

If you’d like to attend the next Old York Cellars Virtual Vines, check their back at their website for their upcoming  January event.

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My birthday was this past weekend and in the lead up to the occasion some friends and family asked what I wanted. There’s not much that I can think of other than wine and clothes. I replied with my favorite NJ wines, which are easy to rattle off! However, with a friend visiting from out of state and family located all over NJ, I realized that it may not be easy for them to get these wines. Other than NJ wines, I don’t know of too many others to suggest. As far as white wines go, I enjoy Kendall Jackson with sushi. I also like Bogle and Toasted Head Chardonnay. One of my usual go to’s is a German Sweet Red made from Dornfelder grapes. I think it’s called, Weingut Fritz Windisch Heimersheimer Rotenfels Dornfelder – there’s no way I can say that, but I know what the bottle looks like. I realized I really need to try more wines to diversify my palate and so I know what to look for in the stores when they don’t have my preferred Jersey wines.

With this revelation, I decided to add a new feature to NJ Wine with Me called Wines of the World. Once a month, I will try a completely new wine that I’ve never had before and let you know what I think it tastes like. Hopefully, my thoughts can help you determine if these wines are worth a try. If you try it or tried it, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

For the first installment of Wines of the World, I tried 2 white wines by Brancott Estate in New Zealand. They are both of their Flight Song line. The first is Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc 2013. The fragrance reminded me of a Riesling, which tends to remind me of iced tea. I found the wine to be effervescent in a way. It was somewhat tingly, which gave it a refreshing quality. It seemed like it had more acidity. The Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc taste reminded me of lemon and grapefruit, which would explain the iced tea smell. The finish was slightly sour. While I experienced some fruit flavors, this was not a sweet wine. It leaned to the dryer side. I can imagine sipping this wine at a backyard party on a deck while watching fireflies bob above the grass.

The next wine was Flight Song Pinot Grigio. I liked the flavors of the Sauvignon Blanc, however, I preferred their Pinot Grigio. It went down real easy because it didn’t have the sharpness that some other Pinot Grigios have. I didn’t get as many flavors from this wine, just a touch of lemon. It didn’t have the aftertaste or tingle that I experienced in the Sauvignon Blanc. I can see myself finishing a bottle of this. If you notice in the pictures, there’s a little bit less in the Pinot Grigio bottle.

An interesting note about these wines, they are made with grapes that were harvested earlier in the Summer when natural sugar levels are lower. This enables the wine to have less calories and sugar, but remain flavorful.

After trying these, I’ll have to try some other New Zealand wines to see if the features of these wines were unique to the location or just to this vineyard. If you would like to buy these for yourself, they are for sale @ WineChaeteau.com, which is a NJ based wine retailer.

What should I try next? Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments if you try these.

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