Right now, I'm sipping away at one of my favorite Valenzano Winery offerings, Shamong Red Reserve. The Concord grape (something I think pseudo-wine snobs tend to be afraid of - "Oh my gawd, they'll think we're drinking Welch's!") is blended with Ives for a rich, semi-sweet fruity taste made to sip and savor. It's the perfect wine for a Friday night when you're ready to shrug off the stress of the work week and get psyched for a great weekend of wine tasting.
Speaking of which, if you've got the winter blues and are ready to celebrate this weekend's unseasonably warm temps, why not check out the Winter Wine Festival at Renault Winery in Little Egg Harbor, NJ?
This year's fest features ten great NJ wineries offering everything from traditional old world vinifera to Jersey fruit favorites. I'm especially looking forward to samplings from Sylvin Farms Winery, famed for giving anything and everything vinifera a shot in their Outer Coastal Plain soil. We're talking everything from Cab Francs and Chardonnays to Shiraz and Viognier. They aren't afraid to experiment in the fermenting phase, either, growing four Italian varieties to blend them into Accozzaglia ("medley" in Italian).
Of course, I'm also looking forward to renewing my relationship with some Jersey standards from Sharrott (Crimignoles!) Plagido's (Homestead!) and Wagonhouse (Jersey Girl!- or whatever they're calling it nowadays, it'll always be Jersey Girl to me) wineries. A new favorite, Auburn Road Vineyards, will also be making an appearance, giving me a good opportunity to restock my Good Karma. This Sangiovese & Merlot blend has a light mouthfeel and fruit-forward appearance with a dry finish. Recommended for poultry, pork and heavier fish, I brought it to an Italian BYOB and pleased a series of wine drinkers with pallates ranging from dry to sweet.
Renault Winery makes a great setting for the event. With a gourmet restaurant, ballroom and museum on site, this historic Jersey winery has a unique ambience that makes you wonder whether or not one of the Crawleys will be walking down Prohibition Alley. (Can you tell I'm a Downton fan?) The winemakers respect the history of one of the first bonded wineries in the country, occasionally pulling out 100 year old recipes for wine and champagne to throw into the mix. One of my all-time favorite blushes, Pink Lady, stems from Renault.
Stay tuned for the full report...or just check it out for yourself!