Showing posts with label Chambourcin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chambourcin. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pennsylvania Wine: At The Casino

We put off the wine vacation in favor of seeing family. Sometimes, the family is taken better with a gulp or two of some emotional lubrication, but we didn't require too much on this trip. Anyway, I can make any vacation a wine vacation. There's always a way.

We had a vacation, the wife and I, and we spent it in lovely Pennsylvania. The mountains and forests in the northeastern part of the state - and other parts, too - are gorgeous, even if most of those living there don't know how good they have it. People, you can park in front of the business into which you need to go. Cherish that!

Crossing Vineyards has a tasting room in the Mohegan Sun Casino. If you think about it, it's a great place for good wine. You can't gamble all the time, although I know some people who would disagree with that. The Crossing Vineyards Wine and Cheese shop offers full tastings, which I have had before. this time I opted for a glass of something inviting.

The Chambourcin Reserve 2013 is billed as a "Zinfandel style red wine." It certainly features a savory nose full of spices and Pennsylvania dirt. The palate is dark and silky with a hint of cola and coffee. It reminds me more of a big California Pinot Noir than Zinfandel.

The Crossing Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rosě 2014 shows a deep red color and smells of sweet cherries with herbal hints. It's not as dry as advertised, but maybe for local tastes it is.

A young woman was at the bar with an entire entourage waiting on her to finish a glass of her beloved, sweet, peach wine. She was obviously "worth waiting for," even though no one else in her adoring group would join her in a glass of vino. She effused about her selection to me, and cheerily asked if I like sweet wine, too. "Tonight I do."


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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wine Country: Delaware - Harvest Ridge Winery

Delaware's history with wine goes back a long way.  Historically, the first Swedish settlers in Delaware planted grapes and made wine as early as 1638.  Definitely a small production state, Delaware's wine output is lumped in with that of 13 other states collectively known as "other," totaling a minuscule amount of wine production.  There are only a handful of wineries in The First State, so nicknamed because it was the first to ratify the United States constitution.  It is sometimes referred to as the Diamond State, thanks to noted wine lover Thomas Jefferson.  He compared Delaware to a diamond, "small but valuable."

As a colony, Delaware was claimed not only by England, but Sweden and Holland as well.  The Dutch were the first to colonize the area.  Who knew Delaware was in such demand at that time?  By the way, Delaware is still in high demand.  Their corporation-friendly laws make it a very popular place to do business.  More than half of the publicly traded companies in America are incorporated in Delaware.

Harvest Ridge Winery consists of a 120-acre plot in Kent County - one of only three counties in the state.  The property actually straddles the Delaware border with Maryland. For this reason, the wines are labeled with the "American" AVA, not "Delaware."  Their unique location - on the Mason-Dixon Line - also allows them to claim as their own one of the original Mason-Dixon markers - number 47, if you're keeping score at home.

Owner Chuck Nunan was a home winemaker who got the bug to start a winery after visiting one in South Carolina.  Land was purchased in 2005, vines were planted in 2011 and the wine was poured in 2013 when they opened the doors as Delaware's fourth winery.  The farm was originally called Harvest Ridge, which Nunan thought had a nice ring to it for the name of the winery.

The Nunan family photo looks like a crowd scene.  I count fourteen Nunans, but several of them look a bit young to be much help working in the vineyard.  They probably like testing the grapes, though.  Winemaker Milan Mladjan lists Merlot as his favorite wine grape, and insists that he is not ashamed to admit it.

Harvest Ridge Winery revels in their East Coast terroir, proudly using only grapes grown on the estate or fruit sourced from other local growers.  They make wine not only from grapes, but also from apples, pumpkins and honey.  They were kind enough to supply me with three of their grape wines for the purpose of this article.


2013 Chambourcin  $17.00

The Chambourcin grape is a French-American hybrid that is resistant to fungus and does well in places where the winter climate is on the cold side.  Delaware comes to mind.

Medium dark purple, the rich nose offers notes of coffee grounds, earth and a grapy blackberry aroma.  On the palate, flavors reminiscent of Pinot Noir come forward - black tea, dark wild berries, pomegranate - but in a bigger, bolder setting than is usually found in Pinot.  Alcohol is quite restrained, at just 12.6% abv.  Great acidity makes it a refreshing sip and an easy wine to pair with food.  The tannins are subdued, but quite functional.  This is a very fruity - and complex - wine that feels big in the mouth and will pair wonderfully with grilled pork chops.  It's also amazing with fruit and nut bread.


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon  $22.50

The Harvest Ridge Cab has a tint and fragrance which remind me of Pinot Noir as well, at first.  The medium hue leads to a nose with cranberry and black raspberry apparent, but there is more to come in this complex set of aromas.  Plums and cassis seem to be trying to hide behind a screen of cigar tobacco, smoke, spice and herb.  The oak is well played - noticeable, but not overbearing.

In the mouth, this wine is big and juicy.  Fans of California Cabs may even be fooled by the 13% abv number - it tastes bigger than that.  The acidity is absolutely alive, while the tannins are forceful enough to take on a rib eye with their bare hands.  I don't know that I would guess it to be a Cabernet had I tasted blind; perhaps I would have blurted out "Zweigelt" before the unmasking showed my error.  The wine's cold-climate qualities are the story here - acidity, spice, tartness, low alcohol - but, as with any Cab worth its grape leaves, it is a real mouthful.


2013 Chardonnay  $18.50

This wine looks faintly straw colored and smells of tropical fruit and oak spice.  It is billed as an unoaked wine, a claim that the winery stood by in a series of messages with me on Twitter.  I still think it smells - and tastes - of oak, but they swear to the contrary.  It is one of the biggest, fullest unoaked white wines I have ever tasted.

There is the mark of oak on the palate, too - or, so say I - with apple and pineapple flavors abetted by a serious mineral streak that connotes wet stones and citrus fruit.  The finish takes quite a while, and that lovely touch of lime peel lasts all the way through it.

 All in all, the terroir of Delaware is well represented in the wines of Harvest Ridge.


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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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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Missouri Wine From Stone Hill Winery


My recent visit to Texas afforded me an unexpected meeting with a wine from Missouri.  Stone Hill Winery's Hermannsberg Brand is labeled as a Missouri Dry Red Wine.

On my brother and sister-in-law's porch with uncharacteristically great weather in southeast Texas that day - dry and sunny with a cool breeze blowing - I took a bit of relaxation.  Their insanely quiet neighborhood provided a welcome respite from life in Los Angeles.

This blend of Norton, Vincent and Chambourcin grapes hits 13% abv and shows a lovely medium-ruby color.  On the nose, black cherry and roses move aside for a savory note.  A little chocolate mocha comes through after it opened up a bit.  The palate is fruity, with dusty cherries and a cranberry edge.  It hit me rather like a Gamay, but with a little more muscle.  Good tannins make for easy food pairing: bring on the brisket.


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Friday, April 26, 2013

Wine Country Illinois - Illinois Sparkling Co.


Illinois wine has its roots in the mid-1850s, when Concord was the big grape.  After Prohibition, it wasn't until 1936 that the Prairie State got its first bonded winery.  Even so, the Illinois wine industry really didn't start moving forward with purpose until the 1980s.

The Illinois Grape and Wine Industry report for 2011, found at the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, shows an estimated 175 commercial vineyards in Illinois and over a thousand acres under vines.  There were another 136 "hobby vineyards" of less than an acre each.  Two thirds of Illinois vineyards are located in the southern half of the state.  Their 105 commercial wineries produced 651,800 gallons of wine in 2011.  The report states that 90 percent of Illinois grapes are grown for the purpose of making wine.

Hybrids are the grapes of choice for Illinois winegrowers.  Chambourcin is by far the most popular grape grown in the Land of Lincoln, representing twelve percent of the crop, followed by Norton, Frontenac, Foch, Chardonel and Vignoles.

Nearly half of Illinois wines are made from whole grapes, but only 44 percent of those grapes are grown in Illinois.  Says the report, "Fifty-one percent of Illinois wine is produced from grapes, bulk wine, juice and concentrates, and other non-grape fruits ... imported from other states."  My thoughts immediately went to California, but two thirds of all out-of-state winemaking produce comes from Michigan (35 percent) and New York (31 percent.)  California accounts for only ten percent.

An interesting survey included in the report shows that 24 percent of Illinois vineyards have trouble with the Japanese beetle, and that's the leading pestilence problem, coming in ahead of birds, black rot, deer and racoons.

The Illinois Sparkling Co. makes five sparkling wines, all in the traditional method used by makers of bubbly in a far away place called Champagne.  They use 100% Illinois-grown grapes and the wine is handcrafted at the winery in Peru, Illinois, in the northern part of the state west of Joliet between I-80 and the Illinois River.

Winemaker Mark Wenzel also toils in the vineyards and cellar for August Hill Winery.  He  hopes to put Illinois sparkling wine on the map after spending years on research, trials and getting advice from Champagne producers.

ISC was kind enough to provide me with two of their sparklers for review.

Franken’s

This is a tip of the hat to the French Hybrid grapes used by Illinois Sparkling Co., the grapes they say are “fondly known as ‘frankenvines.’”  A white sparkler made in the brut style from the red Chambourcin grape, this blanc de noir hits 12.5% abv with a dry 1.25% residual sugar.  The Illinois Chambourcin employed here comes from Two Oaks Vineyard in Benton , IL.

The wine is golden in the glass with a white layer of bubbles that dissipate rather quickly.  The nose offers a toasty show of bananas and earth.  The palate has citrus, cranberry, apple and a healthy zap of acidity that leaves a refreshing feel in the mouth.  It's a hit with roast chicken or a handful of almonds.



Stereo

The sec style is put to work in this wine, which means it is dry.  Not as dry as brut, but not as sweet as doux.  In Riesling terminology, it would rate "semi-sweet" on the sweet-o-meter.  The residual sugar hits 2.3% and the alcohol is restrained at 12.5% abv.  Illinois La Crescent grapes from ISC Estate Vineyard in Peru IL are the big show here, with some Frontenac Gris used in dosage.

This very pale sparkler's bubbles hang around on the rim a good, long while.  A subtle nose of apples and citrus leaves no surprise that the flavors are dominated by apple and lime.  There's only a hint of fresh bread on the palate, while the wine tends toward the sweet side without going over it.  A faint earthiness in the bouquet is hardly noticeable in the taste.  This is a great example of the sort of good things being done in America with the La Crescent grape.  The suggested pairing with spicy Thai or Mexican cuisine sounds like a winner to me.

I didn't try these two, but their I.S.C Brut has 12.5% abv with only 0.8% residual sugar.  It's made from 100% Illinois St. Pepin grapes from Hieland Hills Vineyard in St. Anne, IL.   Dollface is a demi-Sec rosé at 12.5% abv and 3.3% residual sugar.  Its grapes are Illinois Frontenac also from Hieland Hills Vineyard.


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Friday, August 17, 2012

Realizing A Wine Dream: Pennsylvania's O'Donnell Winery


If you've ever thought, "Man, I'd love to own a vineyard and make my own wine," you have something in common with Norbert O'Donnell.  He's the owner and winemaker for O'Donnell Winery in northeast Pennsylvania. They have only been open a few weeks (as of mid-2012) but Norbert and his wife, Jeannie, are running full steam ahead.

Norbert is from the NEPA area, but he was bitten by the wine bug while living in Washington's Columbia Valley.  He grew to love the rich, voluptuous wines made there and found it a disappointment to return to his home state and the thin, sweet wines people seem to like there.  He says he wanted to turn around and go right back to Washington.

What he really did, though, is stay in Berwick, Pennsylvania and try to change the wine scene on his own.  O'Donnell's vineyard is still a year from first harvest, so he is sourcing grapes from Erie, PA for his first effort at a full scale release.  He currently has four wines in production, and made 1,000 liters each - about 110 cases for each wine.  That's quite a step up from the hundred he had been producing for personal use with grapes from California, Washington, Chile and Italy.

O'Donnell Winery is now one of 140 or so wineries in Pennsylvania.  The wine list shows two dry wines - his preference - and two sweet ones - the kind people like to buy in his area.  O'Donnell tells me sweet wines outsell dry by at least three to one in his part of the Keystone State.  He makes a dry Catawba, a Corot Noir, a Geisenheim and a concord.  The Corot Noir grape is a hybrid developed at Cornell University.  It's free of the "hybrid aromas" often found in North American grapes.  Geisenheim is a cross of Riesling and Chancellor grapes.

In his vineyard, O'Donnell watches over plantings of Chamboucin, Cameret (a Gewurztraminer clone) , Riesling and Merlot.  I hope to have a chance to taste his wines soon, and when I do I'll include O'Donnell Winery in the Now And Zin Wine Country series.


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Monday, August 13, 2012

Wine Country Tennessee: Grinder's Switch Winery


Tennessee's wine industry - like that of so many other American states - thrived until Prohibition killed it. Today, a rebirth is underway, with 33 wineries listed by the Tennessee Winegrowers Alliance.  Grape growers in the Volunteer State have turned to French hybrid grapes, since they are resistant to grape diseases common to humid climates.

Grinder's Switch Winery is located in Centerville, southwest of Nashville and a little south of Interstate 40.  The town is more famous as the birthplace of country music great Minnie Pearl, but Joey Chessor is working on making wine as famous in Centerville as "How-DEEE!"

Joey Chessor is the owner and winemaker for Grinder's Switch Winery.  He named the 110-acre estate after a nearby stretch of train track.  He explained to me, "Grinder's Switch is nothing more than a railroad siding on a country road.  Minnie Pearl made Grinder's Switch famous when she was alive, through funny tales about an imaginary town named Grinder's Switch.  Although the switch is about 3 or 4 miles away, we thought it was a neat name and used it for ours.  So we decided to go with the train theme for our estate labels.  Besides, my 5 year old grandson, Jack, LOVES trains."

The labels for Grinder's Switch wines are very retro black and white drawings of train locomotives.  I mentioned to Chessor that I remember a classic rock group named Grinderswitch, too.  He remembers them as well.  "We have couple of albums that were given to us by a customer framed and hanging on the tasting room wall."

Chessor's wines are award-winners, including the prestigious "Wines of the South" competition.  He told me that "2010 was a very long hot summer, so keep that in mind as you taste the reds.  2011 was much better as a growing season.”

Dixiana Tennessee Traminette 2011
The estate grown Traminette is new - it should be released by the time you read this.  There's an easy-drinking 12% abv number on it.  In the glass, it shows a straw color with green highlights.  Aromas of dried apricots and limes highlight the aromatic bouquet.  A very strong minerality also is present on oth the nose and the palate.  That earthy taste is joined by apricots, lime zest and grapefruit.  The acidity is razor sharp - its a powerfully refreshing sip, which demands food.  Raw oysters, calamari and lobster should pair nicely.  $16

Three Eighty Two Tennessee Chambourcin 2010
This red wine is slightly higher on the alcohol scale, although moderate at 13.3% abv.  The grapes are estate grown.  I expected a more translucent appearance from a Chamboucin, but this one is inky black.  The nose is striking - tarry blackberry fruit with vanilla notes and a hint of eucalyptus.  The aromas put me in mind of Cabernet, not Chambourcin.  It's fruit-forward on the palate, with an intriguing minerality riding close behind.  I can taste the oak influence, but it's a welcome addition, not overdone.  The tannic structure is good - toothy, but it doesn't bite.  This wine needs a pork chop or a plate of baby back ribs for full expression, but the pleasure of sipping it is not diminished in the absence of food.  $20.

Zephyr Tennessee Red Blend
This red table wine carries a lightweight 12.2% abv number, even though it's a blend of two grapes one expects to see at higher alcohol levels - Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Nacional.  The Portuguese grape is really a surprise - there's little enough of it grown in California, so I didnt expect it from Tennessee.  It's a medium-dark wine with oak aromas plain enough and fruit that puts me in mind of Napa-meets-Port.  This wine really tastes great.  Juicy fruit and mouth-watering acidity is always a good combination.  Again, I'm wishing for a pork chop, but a steak would pair quite well.  The tannins are a little softer than in the Three Eighty two, but they are strong enough to do their work.  $20

If 2010 was an off-year for Tennessee grapes, I can't wait to taste what 2011 has to offer.


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Friday, June 1, 2012

Wine Country: Indiana - Turtle Run Winery


Winemaking in Indiana dates back to the 18th century, although it has only recently become a going concern.  According to the Indiana Wine Grape Council, there were only nine wineries in the Hoosier State in 1989.  Today, there are 60.  There is one American Viticultural Area in the state, the Ohio River Valley AVA. The IWGC states that Traminette is the signature grape of the state

Turtle Run Winery is in Corydon, Indiana, less than a half-hour west of Louisville, Kentucky.  If you can’t imagine a turtle running, try wrapping your head around the notion that Indiana just may have some of the best terroir in the country.

Turtle Run’s owner Jim Pfeiffer tells me his property is situated on one of the  best limestone deposits in the world.  That limestone is prized by builders and winemakers alike.  Wherever you find grapes growing in limestone-based soil, you are likely to find some outstanding mineral characteristics in the wines made from them.  “Our grapes generously provide us with incredible depth and complexity,” Pfeiffer says.

Pfeiffer also breaks down American oak to specific regions, saying that “Minnesota oak has different characteristics than oak from Ohio, Tennessee or Kentucky.”  Pfeiffer helped form the Indiana Uplands WIne Trail.

Pfeiffer proudly notes that his Turtle Run Traminette turned up on a list of best wines under $20 available in Indiana, a list compiled by wine writer Howard Hewitt.  “There were a few American wines on the list,” says Pfeiffer, “and only one outside of the West Coast.  Our Traminette was ranked as the number five wine overall.”  Pfeiffer is sure that only the lack of national distribution keeps his limestone-rich terroir from being widely recognized, and he may be right.  All four wines we sampled for this article were produced from grapes grown in the Pfeiffer Vineyard, in the Ohio River Valley AVA in Indiana.  The samples were graciously provided by Turtle Run Winery.

Traminette 2011 (blue bottle) is produced in the traditional style, 13.1% abv and 1% residual sugar.  The wine is a light golden color in the glass, with a slight effervescence upon opening which was not present on the second night it was open.  Nice aromas leap from the glass, fruity with a nice slab of minerals on the side.  The mouthfeel is medium-full and dry with very nice acidity, ripping acidity, in fact, when unchilled.  Orange peel, melon rind and lemon-lime flavors combine with that acidity to create a very zesty, zippy wine.  This is quite an impressive effort. Traminette, by the way, is a cross of Gewürztraminer and a French American hybrid.

Traminette 2011 (green bottle) is barrel-fermented, as opposed to the stainless steel treatment given the blue bottle version.  At 13.1% abv, the wine is just as enjoyable, though.  A beautiful, rich, golden color appears very pretty in the glass.  Aromas of earthy honeysuckle, apricot and tropical fruit mix with mellow vanilla notes.  There’s a slight effervescence with this Traminette, too, upon opening.  This dissipates over time and disappears completely when ice cold, so don’t give it more than a bit of a chill.  The ripping acidity also diminishes when too cold.  The oak notes support the intense pineapple and guava flavors, and a big spiciness makes a play on the palate, as well.

Vignoles 2011 appears with a lovely golden hue in the glass, just like the barrel-fermented Traminette, but it is steel-fermented.  An earthy, honey-laden apricot aroma dominates the nose, but isn’t too blustery.  The grapes for this vintage were touched by Noble Rot - Botrytis cinerea - and as a result, imparted a lovely sweet edge to this dry effort.  It’s not a dessert wine by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have just enough natural sweetness from the Botrytis to be a pure delight.  As Pfeiffer says, “one unique section of our vineyard allows for us to develop Noble Rot on a regular basis.“  How lucky he is!  The acidity is there, too, so this wine is loaded with good things.

Chambourcin 2010 carries a 13.9% alcohol number, and appears of medium density and color in the glass.  The growing season for the Turtle Run Chambourcin grapes was marked by hot weather and drought, and both elements work in favor of rich, concentrated aromas and flavors in grapes.  The nose is more fruity than spicy, and more spicy than earthy.  Aromas of black cherry and black pepper come forth in a West Coast kind of way - rather unusual for a grape one is more likely to find in the Midwest or East.  This French-American hybrid hits the palate with dark fruit, clove, a touch of leather and cocoa and a really nice level of acidity.

Terroir in Indiana?  These four outstanding wines make a good case for it.


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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CHADDSFORD PROPRIETOR'S RESERVE 2008


Chaddsford Propritor's Reserve

It takes a village to hold Denise's family.  Several villages, in fact.  The villages are in the area around Wilkes Barre, PA.  On a recent trip there, we visited with a huge number of family members in quite a few of those villages.

The family is a big Italian group, the kind in which fifty or so people all share three names.  Joe, Steven and Christopher get recycled a lot.  If you are unsure of any male person's name in my wife's family, one of those three will give you about a 30% shot at being right.  Joe, Joey, Chris, Christopher, Stevie, Little Steve, Big Joe, etc.  All those variations make it seem to the uninitiated that they're talking about the same few people.  The ladies have a few more names to work with, but Mary is a favorite that keeps coming up a lot.

One of the family gatherings on this trip to northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA, I think is the abbreviation) took place at the home of Mary Theresa and Jerry.  Jerry and I were lucky – we married into the family and were allowed to keep our own names.

I brought the last of the three wines from the Wine and Spirits store to this buffet dinner.  I had previously had mixed results with Tailgate Red and Clover Hill DeChaunac.  I hoped the Chaddsford Winery Proprietor's Reserve would be the best of the three.

Labeled as Pennsylvania Red Wine from the Brandywine Valley, the Chaddsford records a 12.9% abv number.  Once again, I'm not expecting a big, firebreathing monster.  Also again, I am experiencing a grape which is new to me - Chambourcin.  The Chaddsford is 91.5% Chambourcin from southeast Pennsylvania and 8.5% Barbera from Flowing Springs Vineyard.  The wine sees American oak chips during its stainless-steel tank storage and it experiences 100% malolactic fermentation.

A translucent cherry red in the glass, it looks almost weak.  I have no great expectations for this wine – until I smell it.  Aromas of dark fruit, ripe cherry and smoke jump right out at me.  It's complicated and delightful to whiff.

On the palate, a bright cherry flavor with a brambly feel is a joy to taste.  There's a bit of smoke, too.  I am relieved to find that it's really a pretty good wine.  It tastes and drinks a lot like a Pinot Noir.


Tomorrow on the Now And Zin Wine Blog, a Washington State Riesling.