This pale yellow Chard is an interesting vino. Taking a few minutes to warm up to it is essential, and allowing it to breathe & open up. What you’ll find is a medium bodied, multifaceted caramel & nut white. The acid is kept in control, forging a complex wine. The initial musty taste & smell are clearly from the combo of 12 months in new French Oak barrels, and then another 6 months in steel. The combo produces a medium oak flavored wine, bit of crisp grass in the middle, and finishing with a very smooth & lengthy deep caramel aftertaste. Nicely done. Vv - 88 pts. www.GalerEstate.com
Karamoor Estate - Meritage - 2008**
Built for a long shelf life, this is the most interesting and complex wine in the Karamoor Estate arsenal. A blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Cab Franc, garnet in color, it's inviting bouquet hits you right away. Highly concentrated black & red cherry fruits, along with an herbal and slight peppery taste dominate. This is a really intense wine, with hints of a cherry soda mouth feel, perfect tannin level, and a nice lingering aftertaste. I know the winemaker & team at Karamoor are very proud of this wine, as well they should be. Maybe my favorite to date from Karamoor. Vv - 93 pts.
Opening with a pale yellow color, and hints pear and woody scents, this wine is super attractive. First few sips were metallic, and smoothed out to have a very light buttery finish. Medium acid level complimented the medium body & crisp taste. If you are looking for a big Oak bomb, this wine isn't it. It suits the new world white wine drinkers, and people who enjoy Sauv Blancs and French Chards will really find this wine appealing. I really started to more appreciate this wine the more I tried, and the non-lingering aftertaste suits my palate well. Clearly another super effort from the team at Karamoor Estate. Vv - 88 pts.
Karamoor Estate - Merlot 2008**
Karamoor Estate - Cabernet Franc 2008**
With opening aromas of mint, bark, and a bit of raisin, this Merlot is intriguing. Dark cherry, blackberry, and raspberry flavors come flying thru the first few sips. Full bodied, medium tannins, and ripe fruit flavors, but the wonder of this wine is how soft it finishes. Multifaceted and rich, this wine is wonderful. I've always believed that PA can produce great Merlot...but this might be the gold standard in PA. With all due respect to all the PA Merlot producers, in my opinion, the future lies in Montgomery County & Karamoor Estate. Vv - 91 pts.
My first foray into the brand new Galer Estate (formally Folly Hill) vino produced a nice drinking summer wine. Pale peach in color, this rose opens with hints of honeydew, apricot, and melon on the nose. Produced utilizing the Saignee method (removing juice early from a red wine being held...), this rose is part Cab Franc & Merlot. First sips were strong, with a nice crisp styling in the mouth feel. Flying thru, yet nicely balanced until the lingering finish is a definite grapefruit taste. I very much enjoyed this characteristic, and think this is a nice summer opener to the grilling season. Very food friendly. Looking forward to the opening of Galer (anticipated July/2011 Kennett Square, PA). Vv - 87 pts www.GalerEstate.com
Starr Hill - 2010 pinot Noir
Another here from the Starr family. Very light in both body & color (dark pinkish), indicative of a typical western American Pinot. Bouquet aromas of strawberry and light cherry come thru, and I suggest to leave to bottle open a while, and allow the wine to open up a bit. Very easy drinking first few sips, with very low tannins and acid levels evident. More light cherry ride through the round body. Finish is solid, but drops off quickly. At times this reminds me of something even lighter that a Pinot Noir, very blush-like, and definitely food friendly. Nice effort for a state that struggles with this variety. Vv - 87 pts. $14.00 www.starrhillwinery.com
Starr Hill - 2009 Dornfelder
Ken Starr and family are a joy to know & work with. A good feel family effort, this vineyard & winery has only been open since 2005. I believe they are on the right track, and this Dornfelder is a nice example of what they can do. Very light red in color, nice floral bouquet opens this wine. Hints of cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry come thru the first few sips. Very light bodied and soft drinking. If you closed your eyes, you'd think this is a white wine. The Dornfelder is a German hybrid (crossing) and is widely considered a rival in body & mouth feel to a European Pinot Noir. If you enjoy a light, food friendly red wine, this is perfect, especially with it's floral undertones. Part of the Groundhog Trail, Starr Hill has 4 locations. This Dornfelder is a nice value. Vv - 89 pts. $15.00 www.starrhillwinery.com
Black Walnut - 2008 Pinot Gris (off dry)
My past experience with Pinot Gris was limited to it's French version (Alsace), and the more popular Italian Pinot Grigio. However, this well balanced, medium bodied white perky my interest. Off-Dry, meaning fermented longer & less sugar, led me to assume this would be extremely dry. Not the case, as this wine has great balance between the acid level & sweetness. A deep golden amber color, the opening aromas were musty, grassy, and herbal. But after the air hit and unlocked it's potential, a beautiful floral smell came thru. First sips were a combo of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, and some oak. The fresh, semi-crisp mouth feel & finish was really refreshing. Done in the German styling of equal balanced sweetness & acidity, this wine will clearly appeal to all blush, Chardonnay, and Rose drinkers. Very nice. Vv - 90 pts. $17.00 www.BlackWalnutWinery.com
Chaddsford - 2009 Chambourcin Craft Cuvee
Remembering that 2009 was not stellar for most PA vineyards, I always approach that yr with an open mind. Thou this particular Chambourcin isn't Chaddsford's flagship, I think it's a decent player in the field. Hailing from the Jansen Estate, this wine has a ruby hue to it, with aromas of wood & ash mixing into hints of cinnamon. The powerful taste is super intense, continuing with the earthy-ness along with spice & some pepper. But the cinnamon is still there, making this quite interesting. Very firm tannins are obvious, and the wine finishes nicely. Not bad for '09, not bad at all. Vv - 88 pts. $19.99 www.Chaddsford.com
Penns Woods - 2009 Bancroft Rose
Wow, what a fruit bomb!! By far the most fruit forward & intense tasting light bodied wine I tried all summer (PA or other...). This strawberry colored Rose is made predominately from the Merlot grape, and seeing this is a '09 vintage, this makes sense to me. Gino @ Penns Woods is forging forward with the Bancroft line, a more affordable option in his portfolio, and this Rose was my first opportunity to try. This highly aromatic vino had a blast of Apricot in the nose, and the beginning sips had ample signs of tree fruits such as Peach, White Peach, and Mango. This is a very sweet wine, and the sweetness is nicely balanced all the way thru to the lingering finish. If you are into light sweet options, this one is a winner. Many PA producers do sweet wines, but not many as clean & refreshing as this Rose. Great value at $19.99 Vv - 91 pts. Penns Woods Winery
Vynecrest - 2010 Chambourcin
Vynecrest, to me, is one of the very best models of consistency we have here in PA. The Landis family churns out wine after wine of a very high caliber, and their twists on a previous vintage hardly ever miss the target. This Chambourcin is exactly what I'm referring to. Nice purple hue in the glass, the bouquet opens nicely and fairly strong. Earth & herbal tones dominate the initial few sips. Continuing thru the taste is this Mocha characteristic that is super enjoyable. Big bodied, yet medium tannins make this softer red the perfect stand alone Happy Hour wine. I'd grab for a glass of this before any type of meat-dominated meal. Nicely done. Vv - 88 pts. $14.99 - Vynecrest
Grace Winery - 2010 Chardonnay
My 2nd go around with the wines at Grace (Glen Mills) produced this crisp Chardonnay. Pale yellow coloring, the pleasant aromas of both melon & grapefruit shined thru. Taking on some citrus characteristics, including melon, lemon, lime, this wine is quite refreshing. Held in mostly stainless steel tanks (90%), the wine produced a more grassy and mineral like taste, versus an overly oaked chard. This, as most of you know, is my preferred type of white. Medium bodied and fairly dry, this wine did not show much acid. It's proportioned nicely with the grapefruit & melon flavors, and finishes almost like a New Zealand Sauv Blanc...leaving you wanting more. Please visit Grace Winery at Sweet Water Farm, and grab this bottle for dinner. A perfect compliment to cheese, white meats, and even fish dishes. Vv - 87 pts. $25/blt
Black Walnut - 2008 Tryst
Based in Sadsburyville (Chester County) PA and having a newer tasting room in Phoenixville, I've known about Black Walnut for a little while now. But last week was the first time I had the chance to meet Valerie Castle and taste some of their vino. Shame I waited so long...because the first sip of Tryst had me smiling from ear to ear. If you like Pinot Noir, this is for you. 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir & Merlot, this light garnet colored wine looked exactly like a nice Pinot. Cherry aroma upfront, the nice smooth first sips were of more cherry & some raspberry. This light bodied red was really refreshing, carrying that cherry taste all the way thru to the lingering finish. Not overly tannic, this wine was pretty simple, straight forward, and very easy drinking. One of the better light bodied red in SE PA that I have tried in years. Highly recommended! $20/btl www.blackwalnutwinery.com Looking forward to more with the Castle & Kuhn's families & Black Walnut Winery. Vv - 91 pts.
Vynecrest - Lemberger 2010
This is my second go-around with the Lemberger grape from Vynecrest. Having reviewed the impressive 2009 vintage (see here) in the past, I was super excited to crack into the 2010 offering. Thankfully, this too did not disappoint. Loaded with dark fruit, this wine is a big fruit bomb! Purple in color, I detected dark plum in the bouquet...from there a nicely balanced taste of both Raspberry & Blackberry followed. The tannins are a bit lower than the 2009, producing a very easy drinking, full bodied, food friendly wine. Very rich and complex, this wine will be a hit with anyone who loves big yet smooth reds from Cali and Washington State. Great lengthy raspberry finish really makes this wine a winner in my book. Vv - 89 pts. $14.99 www.vynecrest.com
Grace Winery - Rose' 2010
A brand new entry from a brand new PA producer. Grace Winery is part of Sweetwater Farm in Glen Mills, PA. Sean Kramer & crew are putting a really nice destination place together, and the winery complements the B&B quite well. More on this whole project soon...
This Rose' is 100% Merlot, mostly straight press, sourced from two different vineyards. Pale orange/amber in color, the initial aroma is of white peach & nectarine. With abundant flavor, the first few sips were strong tree fruit (peach & apricot), with hints of citrus. This is a dry Rose, and is quite enjoyable if you appreciate low acid, light bodied, and a short aftertaste. A really great value at $22, this wine can only be purchased at the Bed & Breakfast, and was featured at the recent wedding reception of Prince Albert. Yes, Prince Albert!!! Vv - 87 pts. www.sweetwaterfarmbb.comAllegro - Forte' 2007
Wow, what a HUGE wine. Booming with powerful flavor from the get go, this is a sipper. Intended to be an after dinner styled wine, this was produced in the Port fortified vane. Mahogany reddish in color, the highly aromatic bouquet boasts smells of blackberry, plum, and raisin. Made with mostly Chambourcin, a bit of Cab Franc, and spiked with PA Grape Spirits, this wine was aged in PA oak for 2 years. All the dark fruit flavors, including grape, come flying thru in every single taste. Finishing with hints of oak, spice, grape, and some earthy qualities, this is a strong wine. For fortified wine fans, or lovers of a ruby styled Port, this is for you. Carl Helrich has another winner here. Vv - 92 pts $23/btl www.allegrowines.com
Penns Woods - Proprietor Reserve White 2006
It's been quite a while since I tasted a Gino Razzi creation, and I realize now I should never wait so long! This blended white (Chard & Pinot Grigio) is pure joy in nose, mouth feel, taste, and finally the finish. Straw lemon color, I detected spice, some tropical fruit, and a slight bit of caramel in the nose. Smooth mouth feel with abundant apple, pear, and lemon grass taste. The wine finishes on a high note with more caramel & spice taste, and some nutty flavors to mix. Super PA white, highly recommended. Vv - 89 pts. www.PennsWoodsWinery.com