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Daily Glass: France, New Jersey, Oregon

Old York Cellars WinesGlass of wine (or two, but who’s counting) is a standard daily routine at our house (most of the time anyway). Hence these “Daily Glass” posts, where I talk about those “everyday” wines. What I’m trying to stress here that it is really an “everyday” wine phenomenon, as opposed to the wine dinners, birthday, holidays and other special occasions.

In today’s post I want to talk about my recent “everyday” wine experiences, which included wines from France, New Jersey and Oregon. I’m sorry, what are you saying? You never heard of the New Jersey wines? Really? Okay, fine, you got me. New Jersey wines are not my everyday wines either. But the wines are made in New Jersey, and some of them are pretty good wines, I have to admit.

Anyway, let’s talk about those recent “everyday” wines – shall we?

Domaine Rolet Chardonnay Arbois AOC JuraLet’s start with the two wines from France. First, 2005 Domaine Rolet Chardonnay Arbois AOC, Jura (13.5% ABV, $20?) – yes, a pretty rare bird – the wine from Jura. I got two bottles few years ago at  the store in Massachusetts.  This was my second bottle, and while I’m sure the wine would still can go on and on, I thought that 10 years should be good enough to open it. After initial whiff of oxidation on the nose (quite typical for Jura), the wine opened into delicious, balanced Chardonnay. White fruit on the nose, touch of vanilla. Clean acidity, Chablis-like minerality, touch of lemon and Granny Smith apples, perfectly fresh and balanced. Drinkability: 8-

Chateau Lilian Ladouys Saint-EstépheNext wine was really an unexpected treat. I have to admit – I rarely drink Bordeaux. Inexpensive Bordeaux often under-delivers. And I really don’t want to experiment with $50 wines; $120+ wines are out of my league for the everyday consumption. But with this particular wine, the story was much simpler – “try before buy” is the best thing since the sliced bread, people! Stopped by my local favorite wine store, Cost Less Wines, for the traditional Saturday tasting. Lester, who usually runs the tastings, poured the wine from the decanter and warned me – “you might not like it”. 1994 Chateau Lilian Ladouys Saint-Estéphe (12.5% ABV, $15) – this is just a tasting, how bad can it be? First smell – amazing, mature wine with complex, fragrant bouquet. First sip – wow, dried fruit, hazelnut, spices, distant hint of cinnamon, fresh acidity – a perfect package. Turns out that the first bottle opened for the tasting was somewhat off, this is what prompted Lester’s warning. This wine was decanted for 2 hours, and it was perfect – I don’t know how much life it still has, but considering the way it was drinking, it definitely has a few more years to enjoy it. Drinkability: 9

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for – New Jersey wines. Let me ask you something – what would be your expectations of the New Jersey wines? Yes, New Jersey is better known for its humongous malls, Jersey Shore or evenly spaced, monotonically numbered highway exits. Wines? Not something people would readily associate with the Garden State. I also had sad prior experience with one of the New Jersey wines, which I simply deemed “undrinkable”, so when I was asked if I want to participate in the virtual tasting of New Jersey wines, my first inclination was “thank you, but no”. After a second (or a fifth) thought, there was “well, may be?” moment, so I said – sure, will be glad to.

You would understand my skepticism even better if I will tell you that the wines offered for the tasting were not anything less than the classic varietals – Chardonnay and Merlot. I’m very particular with the flavor profile of both, as from my experience, it is very easy to screw up the respective wines. Okay, so the winery in point – Old York Cellars. Vineyards at Old York Cellars were planted in 1979, and the winery was first to produce commercial wines in New Jersey in 1981. Today winery produces about 6,200 cases from the 18 different grape varieties with Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Marechal Foch been most popular among the customers. We learned these and many other interesting facts during the #VirtualVines twitter session with winemaker Scott Gares, who had been making wines for more than 20 years – “it’s the family business” he twitted.

Old York Cellars ChardonnayNow, let’s talk about the wines. First, 2012 Old York Cellars Chardonnay (under 12% ABV, $18). When I just pulled the cork and poured wine into the glass, the first sip was simply not good. There was lots of salinity and soap, so my first thought was “here we go again” (referring to my prior experience with NJ wine). Oh well, let’s see what will happen. 30 minutes later, it was totally different wine. Touch of vanilla showed up on the nose. On the palate, the wine opened up into a clean, classic Chardonnay, plump, medium to full body, vanilla, apples and touch of butter on the palate, excellent balance. Don’t know why the wine started like it did, but the transformation was very impressive. I was upset when the bottle was finished, would love to have another sip. Drinkability: 8

Old York Cellars MerlotNext wine was 2013 Old York Cellars Merlot (15.5% ABV, $18). From get go, this was one tasty wine. Dark fruit on the nose (without characteristic cassis though). On the palate, very interesting smoke and spice, with undertones of mudrooms and forest floor, and well present sapidity. A thought provoking red wine. Full bodied and concentrated, with excellent balance. What was also very interesting is that at 15.5% ABV, the alcohol was extremely well integrated – it was not showing on the nose or on the palate. Drinkability: 8-

So here are two wines which greatly exceeded my expectations – you know, it is the sip of the wine which becomes an ultimate truth. Perception holds a lot of power in the world of wine – but more on this later in the separate post. For now I can only recommend that if you will have an opportunity, try the Old York Cellar wines – at least I plan to continue doing that.

Brick House Pinot Noir OregonThe last wine for today – 2011 Brick House Vineyards ‘Cuvée du Tonnelier’ Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Oregon (13% ABV, $45). Lately, I come across many wines made with biodynamic grapes – most of them are really good wines, but I’m still trying to form an opinion if those are just lucky accidents or a trend. Also, label specifically says that the wine is made with Biodynamic® grapes – Biodynamic with upper case and registered trademark symbol next to it – is “Biodynamic” like “Champagne” now? Anyway, the wine was delicious – a classic Pinot Noir nose with smoke and mushrooms, bright fresh fruit on the palate, very clean, round, perfectly balanced – a new world wine, yes, but perfect finesse and elegance. Biodynamic or what, but it was one tasty wine.  Drinkability: 8

And we are done here. Have you had any of these wines? Have you ever had wines from New Jersey? What do you think of Biodynamic wines? If you are willing to talk, I’m ready 🙂 Cheers!

Note: Old York Cellars wines where supplied as a media sample. All opinions are my own.

  1. April 25, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Oregon wine! when I used to live in Oregon I worked in a fancy restaurant that specialized in wine and had many from Oregon. that job was what led me to my love of wine and appreciation of it. I had to take on-going wine classes there to learn about it as a server!

    • talkavino
      April 26, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Yes, Oregon makes wonderful wines. But it is interesting for me to see how the passion for grape is spreading all over the US in the last 10-15 years, with the quality of wines dramatically improving.

  2. April 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I’m a spiritual person, and biodynamics is supposedly a spiritual practice, but honestly, the more I read and study about what makes makes a grape/process Biodynamic®, the more it sounds like hocus-pocus (a kind of pseudo-spirituality based on ritual and wishful thinking). But — if for some reason the practice makes the growers and winemakers more attentive to the subtleties of terrior and the nuances of winemaking, it must be useful. (Or maybe the kinds of growers and makers who are attracted to the notion of biodynamics, are inherently more sensitive/artistic?)

    How nice that you enjoyed so many fine wines!

    • talkavino
      April 26, 2015 at 7:38 am

      I think Biodynamic allows growers to be more attuned with the vineyard’s life, and then they can translate that nature’s harmony into the glass. I will start keeping records of my Biodynamic and organic wine experiences. And you know – may be it is me just losing my senses, but lately I’m really with the overall quality of wines I get to drink. But then I keep saying it for the past 5 years…

      • April 26, 2015 at 6:50 pm

        I think wine quality is improving, overall. I’m finding fewer wines I detest, and more that I really enjoy. But then, may I’m losing my senses… 😉

  3. April 26, 2015 at 12:30 am

    I have only had wines from one winery in California that advertised itself as bio-dynamic. They also didn’t filter any of their wines. They weren’t good – I’m not sure if it was the bio-dynamic or the unfiltered part, but they just weren’t pleasing. I’m glad you had a good experience – Oregon has some really great wines!

    • talkavino
      April 26, 2015 at 7:26 am

      I had mostly positive experience with Biodynamic wines, for all I can remember – I think it is time to start keeping track of those in more organized way 🙂 No questions about Oregon – definitely lots of great wines.

  4. April 27, 2015 at 12:54 am

    I have to admit, I did a double take when I saw New Jersey in my Reader! I haven’t tried any of these, but it is nice to know there are some options. 🙂

    • talkavino
      April 27, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Yes, i think a lot of people would be equally surprised 🙂

  5. April 27, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I am a huge fan of Brick House and surprised that you did not seem as enamored with their wines. As for the NJ pair, you were far more impressed than was I….

    • talkavino
      April 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Hmmm, you made me to re-read my post – I liked Brick House Pinot very much, and this is exactly what I said. As far NJ wines are concerned – I did like them, but of course YMMV.

      • April 27, 2015 at 7:05 pm

        I guess I am confused by your scale then. I read your explanation of your scale so it sounds like you liked the Old York Chard as much as the Brick House (which was just slightly more than the Old York Merlot). Is that right?

        • talkavino
          April 28, 2015 at 9:34 am

          So I rated both wines as 8, which means an excellent wine. What are you concluding from that?

  6. May 1, 2015 at 11:12 am

    I have never heard of NJ wines! Thx for the tip.

    • talkavino
      May 2, 2015 at 5:35 am

      I was very impressed with the quality. Try it if you will get a chance.

  7. May 1, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Frugal Hausfrau, try Qupe and Verdad wineries, both make mostly biodynamic wine, but it is not on the label.

  1. June 7, 2015 at 8:36 am
  2. February 8, 2016 at 11:35 am

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