Showing posts with label Cayuga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cayuga. Show all posts

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wine Country Pennsylvania: Lakeview Cellars

For a state with as much winemaking heritage as you will find in Pennsylvania, they lag far behind most states in embracing laws favorable to wine consumers.  Things appear to be shifting there, but the movement is slow.  

While tasting wine from all parts of the US for the Now And Zin Wine Country series, I have had the opportunity to sample Pennsylvania wine several times.  Some has been good, while some has been merely tolerable.  The samples from Lakeview Cellars definitely fall into the "good" category.

Lakeview Cellars is a boutique Pennsylvania winery located just south of I-90 in the town of Northeast, PA, which is actually in northwest PA.  The directional aspect of the town's name describes its situation within Erie County.  The winery offers visitors some great views of Lake Erie and a pond shaped like a wine bottle - in addition to their wines, of course.  Owner and winemaker Sam Best sent two bottles of his very popular Shipwreck Series, a red and a white, for me to sample.

2011 Shipwreck Red

This Lake Erie red blend uses five grape varieties: Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Cabernet Sauvignon and Noiret.  Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon you know.  The other three grapes are hybrids found mainly in the American northeast.  Baco Noir is a cross of the French vitis vinifera grape Folle Blanche and an unknown variety of vitis riparia indigenous to North America.  Chambourcin and Noiret are also hybrid grapes.

Best says, "The wine is finished with 1% residual sugar, and exhibits nice fruit forward and finishes with some oak tones."  Sure enough, it's a dry wine at 12.4% abv, fermented and aged in Pennsylvania white oak.  It sells for $17, when they have some to sell.  This vintage ran out in September this year, nine months after its release.

Medium-dark ruby in the glass, the nose is complex, with black plum and blackberry, a little cinnamon and allspice, cigar tobacco and even a bit of leather.  The sip reveals a beautiful, peppery raspberry delight.  It's a little bit Pinot, a little bit rock'n'roll.  The Baco Noir and Chambourcin grapes seem to shine the brightest.


Shipwreck White

Best says he aimed for crisp and semi sweet with the Shipwreck White.  He hit the mark well.  Notes of melon and citrus come through an earthy nose, while similar fruit adorns the palate.  It strikes me as having just a hint of sweetness, a little odd for a wine with 3.5% residual sugar.  Best explains, "We blended this wine to have a nice balance of fruits and acid and finish with a honeydew melon taste.  The wine was finished with 3.5% residual sugar, but because of the acid, it doesn’t come across as sweet."  

This blend of Riesling, Vignoles, Cayuga and Vidal retails for $14 and barely tips the alcohol meter at 12% abv.

The earthiness on the noise is amazing.  The way the minerals, sugar and acidity merge is equally stunning.  It goes great with almonds and a cheese plate, but it makes a great sipper, too.


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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.