Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birthday weekend becoming a gift for others

Anniversary weekend for the
Lehigh Valley Wine Trail generally has leaned more toward the wine than the food, different from the March Madness tradition that’s laden with good things to eat and the proper pairings. But this is the second year that the anniversary has benefited someone besides those selling and drinking the many wines produced by the nine members of the trail.

What is called “Drink Pink Weekend” donates $1 to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) for every bottle of pink purchased. Vickie Greff, of
Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars, said earlier tonight that members of the trail got together before the 10th anniversary and decided they’d like to use the event to support a cause. The debut was a hit. “Now it’s a good thing, a very good thing,” she said, noting that this time of the year “the pink stuff is your popular stuff anyway. So it kind of goes hand and hand. Like blushes, thing like that go over well. I mean we have a range of wines; our other wines sell, too. But sometimes people will buy that wine just because they are supporting something. Or even if they don’t like blush they might buy it for their daughter or their brother or whoever they know likes blush.”

The wineries, Greff said, agreed this year to do “different kinds of fun stuff as far as wines.” With that in mind, Blue Mountain will be offering a Riesling punch. You can see what five other wineries are planning at this
link to the trail’s Web site. Wine trail glasses are $1 a glass at all nine of the wineries, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Blue Mountain is one of the charter members of the wine trail, which was formed in 1997. Greff said the winery grows 13 varieties of grapes on 50 acres, producing about 30,000 gallons or 15,000 cases.

Asked what’s new there, Greff noted that it just released its ice wine and put its sangria back out on the shelf. But they’re not just sweet. “We’ve very known for our red wines,” she said. “Our Merlot in particular has taken a lot of international medals, and that’s kind of our [signature]. You have to have everything in the area we live in. You have to have the sweet wines, you have to have the dry wines, you have to have a little bit of everything; but I would say we like to feel that we go toward the red palate.”

Basignani touting its Chard, Lorenzino

The phone conversations yield plenty of story ideas and are a great way to break the ice, but the amount of information I want to pull into this blog will come only from the kind of exchange that I had in the last 24 hours with Griffen Taylor, the marketing director for Basignani Winery. Asked for tasting notes on a couple of wines they are pleased with this year, Taylor sent the following:

First the 2006 Chardonnay is one of the best Chards from us in years. A blend of two vineyards with complimenting characteristics, this wine manages to be both delicate and restrained (12.5% abv), while giving rich tropical fruit and a full mouth feel. French oak is used exclusively but only a few new barrels in the mix. This is a fantastic compliment to Maryland seafood.

Our blockbuster 2005 Lorenzino Reserve recently won a silver medal in the Los Angeles County Fair. It is a "Bordeaux blend" of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot. We barrel select the very best of each of our vineyard lots to create this "Maryland First Growth." Although aged for two years in oak, first sip reveals youthful tannins and tar. Mid-palate yields tremendous fruit of plum and boysenberry. In the extremely long finish you'll find the oak, pencil lead, and more tannins that show its structure from beginning to end. Great with your sirloin or with aged cheese.