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A Jersey Girl who loves Jersey wine ...and the fermented fruits of the tri-state area.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rose Bank Winery, Newtown, PA

Hitting a winery or two during a pleasant snowfall is rather beaucolic - as long as a few muddy potholes in the parking lot don't bother you.  And don't let them -- especially when it comes to Rose Bank Winery in Newtown, PA.

Rose Bank possesses the perfect combination of Bucks County charm (settled on land deeded by William Penn to his daughters in the 1700s) and modern winery flair guaranteed to please anyone from the first-time visitor to the wine trail wine-o. 

With over 20 wines to sample ranging from uber-dry to super-sweet, Rose Bank Winery has a flavor for everyone's palate.  Not being a dry fan myself, the most I can say of the Merlot and various Cabernet blends are that they were assuredly dry with a definite oak flavor. 

The Pinot Grigio was one of the least tannic, most clear dry whites I've ever tasted and the Riesling was a barely-sweet and light dry wine that I would definitely have at my table for a variety of meals.  The Vidal Blanc was an extremely pleasant wine that I rated 8/10 on my own personal scale with the comment, "Really nice cold" on my tasting sheet.  Again, with only a hint of sweetness, this semi-dry would be a fantastic choice for your summer dinner fare. 

Being a big fruit wine fan, Rose Bank's Summer Sangria was a special hit with my husband, the grapefruit fanatic, for its powerful citrus blend.  In fact, it is so citrus in nature that Rose Bank deserves special recognition for managing to pour a bit of Florida into every glass.  Offering a diverse selection of 100% fruit-based wines, Rose Bank's Pomegranate has a scent to die for; their Cranberry contains a mouth-puckering tart finish; their rather acidic Blueberry goes down extremely smooth.

The standouts for uniqueness in idea, taste, and finish were:

Red Raspberry - 3/4 sweet, 1/4 tart, this gem is as pleasant to the nose as it is to the palate and as worthy a choice to combine with certain foods as it is to stand alone. 

Cayuga - A gorgeous grape developed in the Finger Lakes region, this white blend is "light, sweet and crisp" ...translating into clear, cold, and full of flavor with a powerful, yet not over-powering finish.  This is the wine that becomes your best friend on a hot summer day out or a cold winter afternoon in - pair it with a light meal and let the flavors draw you in.

Blackberry - Amazingly potent, this wine is both sweet and dry with a light finish.  Unlike some blackberry wines that can be almost syrup-like, Rose Bank's Blackberry manages to offer itself as a careful dinner pairing as well as a stand-alone aperitif or dessert offering after a heavy meal.

Raspberry Secret - Like chocolate?  Like chocolate-covered fruit?  This is what Wonka would produce if he had a distillery.  Drink in rich, sweet raspberries and savor the chocolate flavor dancing along your palate after you swallow.  Amazing.  Forget cake.  Forget cookies.  This is your ultimate dessert wine.

Acai - Yes, the power-berry is now a wine.  My tasting card reads: "Wow, so different!" It's true.  Flavorful - not sweet, not tart ...simply drink and be satisfied.

Tastings come at a minimal fee, but the price is reimbursed with a minimum purchase of $30, an easy thing to accomplish at Rose Bank.  Available for weddings, life-cycle events, and religious occasions, Rose Bank is an excellent choice for that special day out and a definite place to obtain the must-haves for your own wine cellar.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

tip your hat to the Pink Lady

Renault is New Jersey's oldest winery, established in 1864 by Frenchman Louis Nicholas Renault.  Thanks to Renault's French pedigree, Renault Winery is the only winery outside of the Champagne region of France with the ability to call its champagne by its rightful name.  Located in Egg Harbor City, Renault is a hidden treasure that offers wine lovers an escape from the Garden State's daily grind, with a hotel, two restaurants, and a golf course on its vineyard grounds.

A personal favorite is Renault's Pink Lady, a sweet rose that--when well chilled--blends perfectly with any meal.  A flapper-esque woman donning a wide-brimmed hat graces the label of the semi-sweet pink concoction, evoking a lifetime of memories made floating through antique shops filled with vintage furs and couture fashions. 

Drink in the bold, light scent and you're reminded of an era when women showed up to evening events powdered, perfumed and dressed to the nines.  The taste - sweet, but not sugary.  She is a woman who knows what she wants and--even better--knows how to get it.  The precious pink dwells on your palate reminding you that prohibition wasn't merely an era: It was a lifestyle.  At first bold to the point of near tart, she decides to settle into the unsurety of the Forgotten Era, resting like roses left by Hemingway on the doorstep of a beloved who long ago moved on to another.  Finally swallowed, Pink Lady lingers on the tongue like sweet memories of days gone by. 

Fear not! Pink Lady is far from liquid ennui.  It is a pleasant jolt to the senses - a reminder that terrior is as much history as geography and that the history, once uncorked, becomes a part of the drinker's own autobiography in the making.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wine Library, Read: Bottles Only

Today I decided to browse the wine section at my local library.  Skipping over the straight up wine guides, I aimed towards books that promised more of a narrative that a "Do's and Don'ts of Wine Tasting".  The problem, as I soon found out, was that even the books promising stories of wine guides traveling through exotic European locales eventually turned into opinionated accounts of what wines were and weren't acceptable.  Only, in these instances, the ratings were based on accounts of quirky proletariat vintners who bucked the system versus the wines that rated 90+ points on the wine world's Top Ten Palates. 

It was as if these authors spent a good 200 pages saying, "Yeah, screw you, Robert Parker -- who cares if these guys make wine that tastes like raisins, they're not sellouts, so their wine is superior on principal!  HA!"  Okay, so these little working class wineries were so much better that you chose to commercialize on their stories by publishing a book ripping on the commercialization of the wine industry. 

Hey, wait a sec: Where'd that pleasant little narrative through the rolling hills of France go?

It isn't as if I'm seeking out the Eat, Pray, Love of wine writing, but when it comes to wine, I'm not looking to be told what to think or how to do it right.  Tips and hints are always welcome and anecdotes are forever enjoyable, but please, spare me the diatribe that wanders into foot-stomping territory.  The only foot-stomping that should happen in the wine world is the kind that takes place in bins full of grapes.