Wine Reviews: Galer Estate Albariño

Happy Friday Friends!

Have you ever cleaned our your closet during those transition seasons and stumbled upon that perfect statement piece that has been missing from your life for way too long? Well, I was searching through my old drafts and found the blog equivalent of those perfect statement knee high leather boots for fall. (Or for the boys, that perfect plaid shirt. Or maybe an unopened bottle of bourbon that you put away to "age" and accidentally forgot about...)

For this post I want you to think back to almost a year and a half ago. It was April, after that insanely harsh winter. We were celebrating warm winds, spring flowers, and the hope of fun fresh white wine. I give you a post I drafted after visiting another great Pennsylvania winery.

Galer Estate.

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Spring has finally sprung folks! And I could not be more excited! Warm weather, sunshine and wine tastings! Tons of wine tastings actually! A while back, I had the opportunity to visit several wineries in Pennsylvania and taste some delicious wine. It was a really special day for me because when I'm at my favorite winery, I usually spend my time pouring from behind the bar rather than in front tasting wine - so it was great to see what other local wineries had to offer. Two in particular were especially interesting: (1) Stargazers Vineyard and Winery (interesting post on sustainable winemaking to follow), and (2) Galer Estate Winery.

I believe I have said it before, but I will say it again, wineries are definitely the unsung heroes of happy hour! Now that I am no longer a student, but a full time employee, I have come to appreciate happy hour that much more. For me, a great happy hour has a great location, ambiance and drinks. Once location that definitely has all three (and then some) is Galer Estate Winery.

Galer Estate Winery is located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania - close to Longwood Gardens! ThIs tasting room had a great vibe. The space has both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating overlooks a field of beautiful grape vines. Inside there is a great bar in the middle of the room where you can try the wine, check out the wine tanks, and even listen to live music. The owners also display art made by local artists on the wall, which is ever changing, and really brightens the space.

The wine was definitely just as fun, if not even more fun, than the great atmosphere. I tried several of their wines and all were delicious. However, I walked away with a bottle of their Albariño. 

The 2012 vintage was 100% Albariño aged in steel tank for approximately five months. This wine smelled super fresh, with aromas of herbs, fresh cut grass and a hint of citrus. This wine was definitely what I was looking for in a Albariño, it smelled like putting your face in a tropical fruit bowl. I particularly noticed notices of grapefruit, lemon and lime.

The taste was surprisingly smooth. With most Albariños, I expect almost tingling acidity. Kind of like licking a lemon (which is something I like!). But the Albariño at Galer was super smooth, it almost reminded me of Chardonnay, until I hit the slight tang of acidity on the finish. It left my mouth watering. I think it would have paired nicely with a fish dish, like ceviche!

So if you have some time to get out of the City, Galer Estate is definitely a worthwhile stop!

 

Cheers!

The Noble Grape Challenge: Pinot Noir and Grenache

Hey there wine nerds! I can't believe it it took me this long to post about my next challenge, but Philadelphia Wine Week really got the best of me. It was a great event and I hope to see it expand next year! Stay tuned for a full post on the topic! But for this post, something a litte different...

Recently, I discussed the fermentation process and the important role it plays in determining the flavor of a wine. But, most wine writers will agree that the majority of a wine's character is determined in the vineyard, specifically with the grapes. Learning about all the grapes used in winemaking is a tedious mission - there are thousands of grape varietals! However, if you are buying wine in a store in the United States, you will see certain varietals more often than others. These are known as the noble grapes.

What makes a grape noble?

I wish I had some intricate story about on ancient nobles in France only drank these certain grapes and blah, blah, blah. But, it is really as simple as - these 18 varietals are most widely grown and also know as the international varietals. Check out the full list below:

Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Temperanillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec
— Red Varietals, (light to full bodied)
Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Moscato, Gewurztraminer, Semillion, Viognier, Chardonnay
— White Varietals (light to full bodied)

Pinot Noir.

The purpose of this series is to provide an overview on these noble grapes and what makes them so special. To start, I wanted to discuss two red grapes known for producing light-bodied wines. First, the notoriously difficult to cultivate - Pinot Noir! I have discussed Pinot Noir on the blog previously in a few posts. I introduced the grape in a Grape Tales feature and posted an interesting comparison of Pinot Grigio vs. Pinot Noir. But being the noble (and delicious) grape that it is, Pinot Noir definitely deserves some additional discussion here!

Pinot Noir performs best in cool climates (think Oregon). The traditional home of Pinot Noir is Burgundy, France. Fun fact to remember, Red Burgundy is almost always made with Pinot Noir. So if you are looking for a Pinot Noir from France, start with Red Burgundy. It is also grown in Champagne, France. Wine made from Pinot Noir is known for bright red fruit flavors, like cherry, raspberry and strawberry. The level of earth and other savory flavors will depend on where the wine is from. Plus, it usually has medium-high acidity but low tannin.

Grenache.

Delicious!

Delicious!

While Pinot Noir is well-known and deliciously complex, Grenache is a wonderful grape that is sometimes underappreciated in the United States. Grenache is known for ripening later in the growing season and actually loves hot and dry climates. Therefore, you will most likely see it in wines from Spain, Southern France, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Want to hear one of the most hilarious, yet wildly accurate descriptions of Grenache ever, it's an "old world wine with California cleavage." (I swear, hilariously accurate). For more awesome commentary like this, check out books by Jay McInerney or Mark Oldman. But seriously, when it comes to flavor, Grenache for its subtle berry flavors and high alcohol content. While these wines are high in alcohol, the commonly lack acid and tanning, which makes Grenache a highly preferable blending grape. In fact, it plays a major role in one of my favorite red blends... ever! The Grenache-Syrah-Mouvedre blend of course! (GSM for short) This blend is traditionally associated with the Rhone Valley, but you can also find this blend in Australia.

Not a bad start for two awesome noble red grapes. Looking forward to your comments on your favorite Pinot Noir or Grenache based wines!

 

Cheers!

Grape Tales: Riesling

Riesling has been in the news lately and not all of it has been good... no there isn't a major scandal (that I know of) but prices of German Rieslings are set to rise in 2014. With the threat of price increases, I figured I would share some details on Riesling and why you should pick some up while you can.

Let's start with the bad news. Decanter.com (a great resource for those interested in wine) reported that the price for German Rieslings is set to rise in 2014. The culprit for this spike in prices = bad weather during the 2013 growing season. Key regions like Rheingau and Mosel are seeing 20-30% decreases in their grape yields compared to last year.

So you know that German Riseling may be pricey this year, but you still have some reservations regarding the wine. Give me a chance to change your mind! We discussed a simple overview of Riesling in our Big Six Grapes post last year. Since then, I have noticed that Riesling is seriously misunderstood. Initially, wine drinkers may assume all Rieslings are "Über Sweet." Only when you discuss Riesling amongst serious drinkers will you likely hear more praise than disgust. I have said it before (and will likely say it again), Rieslings are not all super sweet and are arguably the best white wines to pair with food.

Riesling Tasting Profile.

Where it's Grown.  Mosel and Rheingau regions of Germany; Alsace, France; Austria; and Clare Valley Australia.

Common Characteristics.  Aromas of peach, nectarine, apricot, honeysuckle, jasmine, wet stone and even baking spices if it is well aged.

Acidity.  High to very high (perfect for food). It is also this high acidity that allows Riesling to be aged in the bottle and even stay preserved once opened. Most can last at least a decade, while the best bottles can last for almost 100 years.

Alcohol.  Extreme range, can be very low to high.

So if you don't mind the lightly sweetened styles, look to Germany first, anything with Kabinett (normally ripened grapes), Spätlese (sweeter, meaning "late harvest") or Auslese (sweeter still). If you like drier styles, try Alsace, France, where you will notice more citrus and apple balanced with mineral flavors. 

 

Cheers!

Grape Tales: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is sometimes referred to as the "chef's wine." This is because Pinot Noir is light bodied enough to pair with a large variety of foods. Plus it's bright berry flavors are typically enjoyed by red and white wine drinkers alike.

Pinot Noir grapes are considered wine making royalty. But these grapes are definitely the black sheep of the royal family - high maintenance and a pain in the butt to grow. Pinot Noir grows best in cool climates. In such climates, the grapes are better situated to develop crisp acidity - a reason Pinot Noir is so frequently used when making sparkling wines. As if things weren't confusing enough, Pinot Noir also goes by different names in some countries. You will most likely see Spätburgunder, used in Germany.

Finally, Pinot Noir is the most widely planted grape and genetically unstable. This genetic instability means that Pinot Noir is prone to mutations, including Pinot Grigio/Gris and Pinot Blanc.

Pinot Noir Growing Profile.

Where it's grown.  Burgundy, France; California, specifically Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, and Carneros; and Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Common characteristics.  At a young age, Pinot Noir may have aromas of cherry, raspberry, or strawberry. With age, Pinot Noir develops more complex aromas including earth, mushroom, violet or sandalwood.

Acidity.  Medium to high.

Tannin.  Low, Pinot Noir is noted for it's silky smooth texture.

 

Cheers!

Grape Tales: Gamay

gamay.jpg

Photo Source

Gamay

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If you have heard of it, you are probably thinking Beaujolais. Now before you judge this grape as a less-than desirable red grape whose most memorable quality is the likely headache you will have the next day - read the history and give this grape a chance!

When I think Gamay, I think young, fun, the life of the party - and with good reason - because Gamay is the star of the show in Beaujolais. Some wine writer's consider Beaujolais a joke, not even worth a full paragraph of discussion. But I think there is something to be said for a mass produced wine, quickly bottled as a sample, basically just opened to celebrate a new vintage. (Stay tuned on a post discussing the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration in France).

Gamay based Beaujolais Nouveau is produced primarily in the Burgundy region of France. It is known as an easy drinker that can take a chill. Even more exciting, it is usually not very expensive (I have found a lot of decent bottles at TJs - Trader Joe's for you newbies). And a fun fact, this grape is rumored to wine over even the most devout white wine drinkers.

Growing Profile.

Where it's grown:

 Beaujolais Villages, Burgundy, France; Loire Valley, France; Niagra Falls, Canada and Oregon

Common characteristics:

"Peardrop" aromas, fresh fruit, strawberry, raspberry, fresh

Acidity:

Medium to high (acidity in grapes softened by carbonic maceration*)

Tannin:

 Low, light bodied wine.

Alcohol:

 Average

Labels to try:

 Jadot or Duboeuf

So get out there, grab a bottle and remember to drink it young. This grape is known as party-er that does not benefit from arriving fashionably late. (Think Ke$ha around 4 a.m., no one really needs to see that...)

Cheers!

*Carbonic Maceration - wine making technique where whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing. This allows the grape juice to start fermenting while it's still within the skins, resulting in fruity wine with low tannins.