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Run Away with Me… to Spain!

Vinted on July 7, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, PLCB


Well, if not physically, then run away with me virtually, through the magic of the “Global Interweb.” Or whatever you crazy young cats are calling it these days!

Regular readers of this blog might recall that I’ve previously lamented the general lack of quality, easy-to-find Spanish & Portuguese wines in my area of the U.S. (the Communist-wealth of PA, ruled by the PLCB with an iron fist) – and my general lack of deep knowledge about the great wines of the Iberian peninsula (or whatever you crazy cats are calling it these days).

Well, I wanted to change that scenario (at least the part about my own Iberian wine knowledge, anyway), so I decided to take a little trip! A virtual trip.

In the not-too-distant future (hopefully by September), I’ll be working with a few fellow International wine bloggers (Catavino and De Long Wine among them) to take a virtual trip through the wine regions of Spain & Portugal!

I’m thinking of dubbing this the Spanish Caravan in (possibly drunken) tribute to Jim Morrison…

“Carry me caravan take me away
Take me to portugal, take me to spain
Andalusia with fields full of grain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, spanish caravan
Yes, I know you can”
- The Doors

You can read more about the idea at the OpenWine Consortium. Better yet, you can help to shape what this virtual trip will be all about by commenting here, or by joining up in the discussion at the OWC. Both options are free, good for your health (well, probably), and will give you a nice excuse (like you need it!) to taste some great wine, learn about the classic wine regions of Spain & Portugal, and – with any luck make – a few new friends in the on-line “wine 2.0 community.” Or whatever you crazy young cats are calling it these days.

In the meantime… Watch this space… Hope to see you soon, on the Spanish Caravan!

Cheers!

(images: about.com, mtv.com)

Wine Events: Wine on the Deck @ Teikoku Restaurant!

Vinted on June 29, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, wine industry events, wine tasting

Another (sort of) rare event plug here on 1WineDude.com – I don’t do these plugs too often, so when I do, it’s because I think that the event is really going to be cool. And in this case, I think the cool potential is very high: I personally know the two people selecting and pouring wine at the event, and they definitely know their wine (not to mention that they’re also really splendid people).

The fabulous Teikoku restaurant (where I recently covered an event featuring the wines of Penns Woods Winery) is hosting a wine tasting event this coming Thursday, July 3 2008.

I will be there – so if you’re attending, drop me a line and stop by to say hello.

Teikoku Restaurant
Thursday July 3, 2008 –
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
.

5492 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square
, Pennsylvania 19073

telephone
610.644.8270

Join us for an evening of Wine On The Deck with former sommelier and wine educator, Matthew Esser from Shiffrin Selections and wine educator and consultant, Heather Wright from Cellar Door Imports.

We will be featuring some new, off the beaten path pours, along with small bites from Executive Chef Takao Iinuma to compliment them.

$30 per person all inclusive

Space is limited, reserve now

Cheers!

A Pennsylvania (Wine) Revolution (Penns Woods Wine Tasting)

Vinted on June 9, 2008 binned in Penns Woods, pennsylvania, wine industry events, winemaking

A shot has been fired in the world of Pennsylvania winemaking.

And it’s a portent of a revolution in how wines are made in PA – and for that matter, how wines are made in all of the East Coast U.S. wine regions.

A bold statement? You bet. But I mean every word of it. And yes, I am totally sober as I write this (a condition I plan to remedy by sampling some heavy reds later this evening).

And if you taste some of the wines from Penns Woods, the brainchild of Italian winemaker and importer Gino Razzi, you might end up agreeing with me.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gino and sampling his wines during a recent first-rate tasting event at Teikoku Restaurant. Now, before you write me off as having gotten wined & dined so that I would waste several minutes of your life with a recap of a drunken Penns Woods love-fest, you need to know that I did not care for all of Gino’s wines.

At worst, Gino’s wines were over-manipulated, over extracted, Parker-point-chasing fruit bombs (2005 Merlot Reserve); or, just plain unnecessary (2006 White Cabernet, a rose that somehow kept astringency without offering much in the way of fruity goodness).

But at their best… Gino’s wines are nothing short of the opening salvo in a PA wine revolution. A shot that is sure to have reverberations felt as far away as VA, Long Island, or wherever quality wines are trying to be made in the U.S. right coast.

Because at their best – most notably the 2007 Chardonnay – Gino’s wines are that good. Not “good, for a Pennsylvania wine” good. They are “stand up to any U.S.-made wine” good…

While I’d been interested in trying Gino’s wines ever since I read Craig LeBan’s enthusiastic review of Penns Woods, I wasn’t expecting any miracles. We’re talking about PA, after all, whose future seemed to best lie in unique expressions of Cabernet Franc and the brambly Chambourcin. When I saw that the dinner at Teikoku was being prepared by Iron Chef Takao Iinuma (pictured, left), and was bookended by Wakatake Daiginjo Onikoroshi sake and gelato covered in 50+ year old Modena balsamic vinegar made from trebbiano grapes that goes for well over $40 / ounce, as far as I was concerned if the accompanying Penns Woods wines were any good, it would simply be a bonus.

A shot has been fired in the world of Pennsylvania winemaking. And it’s a portent of a revolution in how wines are made in PA – and for that matter, how wines are made in all of the East Coast U.S. wine regions.

I’d expected a quiet spot in the corner where I would be able to take a few tasting notes. Instead, I was given the honor of sharing the winemaker’s table with Gino, wine guru John McNulty, consultant Heather Wright of Cellar Door Imports, West Chester foodie Mary of WC Dish fame, and talented WC Dish photographer Sugendran Ganess, among others. One of the best things about sharing a wine event with a crowd that irrepressible (outside of the fun factor), is that it saves me from having to be irrepressible myself, and afforded me a few moments to reflect on Gino’s wines – which through the course of the dinner were wowing me nearly as much as the food.

As soon as I had a whiff of the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, I was almost speechless. Sure, it has some of that PA ‘grit'; but this wine delivered an improbable amount of citrus fruit. I scratched my head… did these grapes honestly ripen in southeastern PA?

When Gino decided to make wine in PA, he told us, he sent some of his grapes to trusted associates for examination. The news Gino received back was that he should go ahead and make wines with his PA grapes, because they had levels equal to the quality of the grapes that produce his high-scoring Italian-made montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

I was brought down by the Merlot. It tasted of raisins and the varietal character felt masked – overdone and over extracted, I thought. And then it hit me again – how the hell did he get so much fruit out of these wines? No one in PA has been able to do that since, well… ever.

When Gino decided to make wine in PA, he told us, he sent some of his grapes to trusted associates for examination. The news Gino received back was that he should go ahead and make wines with his PA grapes, because they had levels equal to the quality of the grapes that produce his high-scoring Italian-made montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

The two wines that really drove things home for me were the Ameritage red blend and the Chardonnay. According to Gino, year on year he may not have any idea exactly what grapes will go into his Ameritage, but year on year “I promise you, that wine will be good.” And he delivers. Was it a tad manipulated? Yes. But it was also very, very good, at par with (or better than) similarly-priced red blends I’ve had from CA, WA, and southern France. The hint of nebbiolo gave a small, delicate polish aroma to the wine that countered the intense fruit nicely. Nebbiolo? In Pennsylvania?? Is this guy nuts?!?

Gino was insistent that there was no secret to his approach: he wants to make world-class wines in PA, and he has invested the capital (physical and mental) to do so. He uses expensive, ultra-modern equipment to extract the maximum amount of fruit from his grapes. He hires consultants that charge more for a few vineyard visits than most PA winemakers clear in an entire year of doing business. And he uses new (= very expensive) French oak barrels to impart complexity to his wines.

The shining result of this work is the 2007 Penns Woods Chardonnay. John McNulty (pictured, far right, with Gino and the Dude) introduced this wine as “a home run.” My tasting notes for the Chardonnay have two words that really stood out when I went back to them to pen this article:

“A revelation.”

This wine had tropical fruit, just the right amount of oak and creaminess, and was big – and I mean BIG – on the palate. It finished long and strong with minerals, almost like wet rocks. Tropical fruit? In Pennsylvania?? This was one of the best Chardonnays I’d had in the last three years outside of France. I was stunned. Maybe it’s not as steely as a great Chablis, or as complex as a Montrachet, but it aims to kick no less ass than the French big boys.

A Revelation – for me, anyway. Actually, it’s more like a Revolution.

The word is out, and if you want to hear it, just pick up a bottle of the Penns Woods Chardonnay, pour a glass, and listen to what that fine wine is telling you.

PA can make world-class wines.

It’s now a fact – and if Penns Woods repeats this over multiple vintages it will be indisputable – and not just a dream of a few passionate individuals. Gino has fired a well-aimed first shot. Will any PA wineries return the volley? Time (and a good heap of venture capital) may tell…

Cheers!

(images: members.aol.comliv18thc, sugendran.net)

Penns Wood Winery Event @ Teikoku Restaurant

Vinted on May 23, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, wine industry events

I don’t normally plug events here at 1WineDude.com, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give some press to this shin-dig, because I am totally into what both this restaurant and this winemaker are doing.

NOTE: The following is a Philly-area event (much apologies to my Left Coast and International readers!).

Teikoku is serving up some of the most killer Asian fusion food in the greater Philadelphia area. And Penns Wood Winery is making some of the most daring wines in all of the East Coast (hello? Sauvignon Blanc, anyone?) – and they now own the old Smithbridge wine property (a stone’s throw from Chaddsford), which is capable of producing some of the best grapes in the area.

If you’re in the area and can make it, I highly suggest checking it out.


Teikoku restaurant proudly presents
Penn’s Woods Winery dinner

with Chef Takao Iinuma, Winemaker Mr. Gino Razzi
and wine educator John McNulty…

Tuesday June 3, 2008, 6:30 p.m.

Amuse Bouche

Fresh, delicate, mélange of sushi

Pairings: Wakatake Daiginjo Onikoroshi sake and Yamada Pecorino 2006

First course

Alaskan wild king salmon and live scallop in onion soy dressing with a micro herb salad

Pairings: Penn’s Woods Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and Proprietors Reserve White 2006

Second course

Seared Kobe beef tataki in a yellow pepper ceviche served with a Branch Creek micro green salad in a spicy citrus vinaigrette

Pairings: Penn’s Woods Ameritage Reserve 2005 and Penn’s Woods Merlot Reserve 2005

Third course

Poached daikon cup filled with uni (sea urchin), wild mushrooms and baby spinach, in a sauce americaine

Pairings: Penn’s Woods Chardonnay 2007 and Penn’s Woods White Cabernet 2006

Fourth course

Seared Foie gras over French black truffle white asparagus served with shallot demi glace and lotus chips

Pairing: Penn’s Woods White Merlot 2006

Fifth course

Tahitian vanilla bean gelato

Pairing:: Aged (50 year old) balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy

$95 per person (Does not include tax and gratuity)

Executive Chef Takao Iinuma – Takao is one of the world’s great Japanese chefs. An accomplished student at Japan’s prestigious Hattori Nutrition College, where he learned everything from French technique to traditional Chinese cooking, Iinuma went on to teach there for eight years. His education also included an apprenticeship at the Karin in the Ana Hotel, one of Tokyo’s top restaurants. He has competed in 40 episodes of the popular Iron Chef Japan, winning 75 percent of his match ups. It was during this era that he befriended world famous Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who became his culinary mentor. Chef Iinuma went on to become executive chef at Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia and Wasabi by Morimoto in Mumbai, India, where he helped the chef open both locations. He was also appointed corporate chef of Morimoto in Washington, D.C. The Iron Chef still calls upon Iinuma for advice before going into culinary battle.

Winemaker Gino Razzi- The Abruzzi-born Razzi, a well-known wine importer and a maker of highly rated wines in Italy, knows what he’s doing around grapes. His “Symposium,” a profoundly good montepulciano d’Abruzzo, has won 90 points or better from the Wine Spectator ever since the first vintage (1997) was issued. Penn’s Woods is one of the latest additions to a boom in Pennsylvania wineries, which have nearly tripled since 1999, from 42 to 122 in late 2007. Razzi’s extreme commitment to making only the highest-level wines possible coupled with his superb palate and winemaking instincts, refined by nearly four decades in the importing business is a departure from the approach taken by many of the state’s wineries, which feel obliged to create a wider range of styles and prices to appeal to a mass-market audience.

Teikoku Restaurant
5492 West Chester Pike

Newtown Square, PA 19073

Tel:
610-644-8270
Fax:
610-644-8265

Contact: Christine Olmsted, Events coordinator


Cheers!

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