Welcome to your Black Winer Newsletter for Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Table of Contents

I'm back!!!!

Okay, I really haven't been gone, but it was my birthday on 7/31 and I have been churning out some freelance projects as well. I am trying to plan on doing a nice wine festival, but also working on a ton of other stuff as well (waiting to hear back from a couple of people in the industry for some future stuff).

Lately, I got exposed to some Jersey wines and actually have some good things to say about them. At the same time, I discovered some grape varietals that I never heard of before and was happy to meet them (my Charbono experience several months ago was not a good one).

I'd love to hear what everyone is doing, and what new things that they have tasted lately. Also, if anyone wins tomorrow's Powerball, just think of me.

Have a good one.

Latest Articles

Fruit Wine Fandango!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This weekend, I attended the 2009 Jersey Fresh Wine and Food Festival which was one week after the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival which I also attended part of.  There were some twenty five New Jersey wineries there, but what was most interesting was that they all seemed to feature fruit wines; well, at least seventeen of them.

Fruit wine is an interesting class of wine, because it can be easily made with readily available fruits, and in some cases, flowers.  New Jersey is ripe with blueberry, strawberry, peaches, nectarines, apples and a number of other delicious fruits.  Truth be told, I have loved Alba Vineyard's Blueberry wine for several years now.  However, fruit wine never evokes thoughts of wine sophistry like classic varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  And I never really considered New Jersey wineries as serious wine producers, having sampled the fruit from places like Chaddsford and Penns Woods out of Pennsylvania.

But wine is wine, and like all things, you might find something by a producer that you'll fall in love with.

While at the festival, I was introduced to several varietals that I never heard of before (Traminette, Ives, Lemberger, Fredonia, Metis, Villard, Madison), saw a couple of varietals that I have just started seeing as of late (Viognier, Filomena, Chambourcin, Vignoles) and even found some new wonderful fruit wines (Nectarine by Cedarvale Winery and Chestnut Run Farm's offerings made from Asian Pear).

And there was a nice bevy of dessert wines there: Sauterne and American Port from Renault Winert; Porto Bianco and Porto Rosse by Hopewell Valley Vineyard; and Heritage by Heritage Vineyards.

While I did not find many wines that made me want to prefer these releases versus similar releases from producers on the west coast or in foreign countries with more years and expertise in winemaking, I was adequately surprised by the offerings of Amalthea Cellars in Atco.  They have a line of wines called Europa in which each year's release is given a Roman numeral.  Of all of the wines there, I would say that it is my favorite.

The only sore point that I saw with many of the offerings was price, and that is something that is on the minds of the average wine consumer, but is not the fault of the winery.  It's the old concept of supply and demand, the lowering of costs over a larger production volume, and the difference in exchange rates and cost of living between first world countries and third world countries.  Sure, you can always get great [and better] wines from other countries, as well as from other parts of the country, but by supporting local wines, you are supporting local people.  And these people feed back into the economy; your economy.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and when you get mad because you call customer support and get some person in India claiming that their name is Steve, simply because some ‘suit' wanted to save money one year… well, there's a prime example.  The more that we support these folks, the more that they can turn out quality product, and when more of us support them, the overall costs will go down.  But that's another rant.

As I had more work to do, I only stayed for about two hours, but I made lots of contacts with many of the winery owners, and intend to visit them along with chef buddies of mine.  You'll hear more in detail about some of these wineries over the next year, and I can't wait to get out there and sit and chat with the winemakers and their staffs pretty soon.

Latest Reviews

A wonderful bright and tropical Chardonnay

Brand NameRed Bicyclette
Wine Name2007 Chardonnay
Wine ClassWhite
Wine TypeChardonnay
Alcohol Percentage13%
Price$10 and Unders
Site Rating8 (on a scale of 1-10)

At first taste, I found a nice bright flavor filled with guava and pineapple, and maybe something else tropical. I have had this brand's well known rose wine, and so I made the move to try their Chardonnay. It was a good choice. The body is medium, with the weight not being too heavy, and the flavor a balance that makes this a superb wine for many dishes, including red meats.

The classic French rose wine

Brand NamePaul Jaboulet Aine
Wine NameParallele 45
AVACotes du Rhone
Wine ClassRed, Rose
Wine TypeCinsault, Grenache, Rose, Syrah/Shiraz
Alcohol Percentage13%
Price$10 and Unders
Site Rating7 (on a scale of 1-10)

It's summer time, which is the appropriate time for blush wines, and on my last outing, I thought that I would pick up a classic French release and see if I found any affinity for it.

Well, at best it's middle of the road in flavor, or really simply sublime. I am tasting the sweetest hint of strawberries along with just a dab of cherry. It's not too strong, not too light, but perfect for fruits and cheese. It's the classic summer sampler.

The mix is 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah. Not bad, although I am loving blush wines made from some headier grapes.

More smooth than powerful, but lacking against their Marlborough Pinot Gris

Brand NameKim Crawford
Wine Name2008 Pinot Grigio
AVAEast Coast
CountryNew Zealand
Wine ClassWhite
Wine TypePinot Gris/Grigio
Alcohol Percentage13%
Price$10 - $20s
Site Rating8 (on a scale of 1-10)

I have been fiending for the 2007 Marlborough Pinot Gris since earlier this year (I should've copped a couple of cases when I had the chance to get it at $10 a bottle), and I picked up this bottle, hoping that it was the same, but knowing that the other one was labeled Pinot Gris and not Pinot Grigio.

Actually, this wine isn't bad, as Kim Crawford produces some very nice releases. The taste has some nice lemon mixed with sublime hints of pineapple (they say pear and apple, but I think that the tastes are similar). The body is medium, so you get a lasting taste that takes at least fifteen seconds to totally drop off to nothing. However, I will agree with them that this would go perfect with fish dishes, preferably those with light sauces.

An interesting Cava from Freixenet, believe it or not

Brand NameFreixenet
Wine NameCarta Nevada Semi Dry
AVASant Sadurni D'Anoia
Wine ClassWhite
Wine TypeGruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner
Alcohol Percentage12%
Price$10 and Unders
Site Rating8 (on a scale of 1-10)

Lemon and peach is what I taste, and the wine itself is a demi-sec, which is a way of saying that it's half sweet. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the levels of dosage of champagne, it's almost the top level of sweetness; most of the time you are drinking the dryest and lest sweet grades.

I usually stay away from Freixenet wines, because the ones that I normally see in the store are horrible, but I know that the company also makes some quality stuff, and that this was a Cava, which I had never noticed of their offerings before.

Back to the wine, it's actually not a bad thing, rather quite good, and it would be perfect with fish or chicken seasoned with lemon. Try it, you might like it.

An ejoyable dessert wine devoid of too much sugar or alcohol

Brand NameChaddsford
Wine Name2006 Swet Late Harvest Style Riesling
AVAFinger Lakes
CountryUnited States
Wine ClassWhite
Wine TypeRiesling
Alcohol Percentage10.5%
Price$10 - $20s
Site Rating9 (on a scale of 1-10)

For those that know me, I am a big fan of dessert wines, both big in alcohol and up to moderate in sugar [with some exceptions]. I had been dying to try this wine as soon as I saw it on Chaddsdford's website, but it's not carried in the state stores. Well, when I finally went out to the winery to taste and review some of these wines, Eric [Miller] bequeathed me with a bottle.

I was expecting a high sugar content, but actually didn't get that, and it was actually great with that aspect. The residual sugar level is 9.7% and it gives you a taste that is sweet but serene and demure, never hitting you with a sweet tooth sized sugar rush, but transporting the gentlest flavors of fruit (apricot, peach, nectarine) within a liquid with a mild level of weight that goes above that of any typical white wine; it's not as heavy as most dessert wines, and this is also a pleasant thing to behold.

While I might have first expected a headier wine in both alcohol and body, this actually comes off as something rather dignified that you can enjoy by itself, or along with a nice light dessert, or assortment thereof.

Keep keeping it classy Chaddsford!


Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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