Monday, August 30, 2010

MOUNT NITTANY VINEYARD AND WINERY TAILGATE RED


Mount Nittany Tailgate Red

Still in the capable - and local – hands of Steven and Robin, our visit to the Wilkes Barre, PA area continued with a special trip which was staged just for me.  It was a trip to one of the many state-run “Wine and Spirits” stores.  The locals just call them “state stores,” and that's where one must go to buy wine in Pennsylvania, either there or the winery.  There's no wine sold in grocery stores, supermarkets, drug stores or the corner Stop-N-Rob.  The Keystone State's archaic alcohol laws make it as difficult as possible to purchase a bottle of wine.

Expecting bars on the windows and a teller-cage atmosphere, I was pleasantly surprised to find the state store looked just like a regulation wine store inside.  There was even a very helpful gent on duty who directed me to the half-shelf of Pennsylvania and New York wines.  The limited shelf space given to the regional juice was a bit of a surprise to me.  Most of the store was given over to wines from California, France and Italy.  There were quite a few offerings in boxes, and quite a few White Zinfandels.  I hadn't seen Mateus Rosé in quite a while, but this state store was well stocked with it.  

I limited myself to the regional half-shelf and pulled a few bottles to share at some family gatherings.  The results were mixed.

The first wine I took from the shelf was dedicated to Steven's love of Penn State football.  Tailgate Red, in fact, is produced by Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery of Centre Hall, PA.  This is located along the Susquehanna Heartland Trail of wineries north of Harrisburg.  I wish I could say I enjoyed this wine as much as I have enjoyed the sight of Joe Paterno stalking the sidelines of Penn State football games for decades.

Tailgate Red is described on the winery's website as a “light, semi-dry blend of French hybrid grape varieties.”  It's light alright, seemingly made for people who just want to drink a whole lotta wine at once.  It's a little darker red than a rosato with a fruity, candy-like nose and even more candy on the palate.  The grapey, juicy taste is appallingly sweet and reminiscent of candy, but not particularly good candy.  There is very little acidity, which makes the wine seem quite out of balance.  It was a $10 bottle which would have been overpriced at the going rate for Boone's Farm in 1973.

The grapes involved in this enological disaster are not specified on the winery's website - perhaps to protect the innocent – but I'm told there could be some Catawba or Cayuga grapes involved.  They are both native to the eastern U.S. and are cold weather varieties.  Whatever grapes were used in the production of this wine would have better served humanity had they been sold to Welch's instead.


Now And Zin's trip to Pennsylvania started with a cheap Pinot Grigio.  The Pennsylvania Wine Tasting continues tomorrow.  Please come back to this space for more.  The wines get better as we go along.