Sunday, January 11, 2009

Best of the best to be rolled out Jan. 18

Looking at the shoveled entrance to Pinnacle Ridge, and a peek in the other direction.
You might have noticed on the Event Grapevine the seventh annual Excellence Awards planned for next Sunday at 2:55 p.m. at the Harrisburg Hilton. Shoot, that gives me just a couple of minutes to race from there to the Harrisburg Patriot-News offices to catch the Eagles-Cardinals 3 o'clock kickoff for their NFC Championship Game.

There is a $30 charge ($25 for patron members) to regular members of the Wine Society of Central Pennsylvania, which sponsors this event. Otherwise, the cost is $40 per person to hear the announcement, meet the producers of the 10 wines that will be recognized as the best in the state for '08, and hear wine grape guru Mark Chien (the wine grape extension agent for Penn State Cooperative Extension) wax poetic about the wines, the current state of the industry and what's on the horizon. All that, plus a taste of the top 10.
Four are produced by Brad Knapp at Pinnacle Ridge, where my wife and I popped our heads in late this afternoon outside snowy Kutztown. There are few wineries in the state where you'll get as much bang for the buck, with the most expensive wine priced at $20 and some of the award-winners down at $10 and $12. All of Knapp's wines are sold only out of his store; indeed, you can't find the wine except at a couple of nearby restaurants. He did mention that he is planning to team with a restaurant called John J. Jeffries for a food and wine pairing; that could happen as soon as later this month. As soon as I hear more details about the four-course meal at the restaurant located on the premises of the Lancaster Arts Hotel, I'll be happy to pass those along.

Here's some background on next Sunday's "state wine Oscars" and a list of the winners and those that merited honoroable mention, gleaned from the wine society's Web site.

Our annual tasting to celebrate the best of the vinifera and Chamboucin wines produced by Pennsylvania wineries will be held on Sunday, January 18th at 3:00 PM at the Harrisburg Hilton & Towers. Each year the PWS Board holds a judging under the guidance of Dr. Gary Pavlis from the Cooperative Extension Service of Rutgers University. The ten top scorers will be presented at this tasting, where we will also present the producer of the highest scoring wine with our trophy. A new element this year will be an honorable mention table which will have samples of 8 runners up that are also worthy of our attention.

The event is a terrific opportunity for attendees to sample fine wines made right here in Pennsylvania. Our speaker for the afternoon will be Mark Chien, Pennsylvania's wine grape expert for the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service. Mark is a fine speaker and has wide knowledge of the growers and producers of wine in the state. In addition the wineries will send representatives who can talk about conditions in the vineyards as well as how they produced their award winners. We will be presenting the following 10 wines with tasting notes provided by Gary Pavlis:

Allegro 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Pretty aromas of black cherries; palate has good fruit and balance; medium finish.
Winemaker/owner Carl Helrich: "The grapes were sourced from Waltz Vineyard in Lancaster county and aged in thin-stave French oak barrels. Allegro thanks the Pennsylvania Wine Society for recognizing some of the best wines in Pennsylvania."
Chaddsford 2005 Merican: Nose is complex, a little stemmy; cassis flavors on the palate with fine balance and good concentration; Very good meritage.
Winemaker/owner Eric Miller: "2005 was one of those great vintages all a winemaker had to do was no screw it up. In fact I rated it a 10:10 until '07 at which time I downgraded '05 to a 9:10. With a similar blend as the Cabernet Sauvignon but longer skin/seed maseration period, all old vines fruit, a bit more Merlot and Cab F (and surprisingly, a lighter color) this wine is just waking from a long sleep in the bottle. And will continue to do so for another couple of years if it is tyipical until it is every thing the '05 CS is but MORE."
Chaddsford 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: Concentrated black fruit aromas follow into the palate; well balanced, with soft tannins, medium to long finish. Reflects the excellent 2005 vintage.
Winemaker/owner Eric Miller: "After its early years being almost exclusively fruit forward this wine has finally begun to open its komoda adding sexy curves of chocolate and earth that glide into a smooth but firm tannins with a medium body promising more later."
Manatawny Creek 2006 Meritage: Nose of black fruit, leather and oak; flavors are deep and rich; acid level a little high. Excellent meritage.
Pinnacle Ridge Brut Rose: Attractive coral pink color; strawberry fruit aromas; good complexity; excellent mouthfeel; long finish. A good sparkling wine.
Pinnacle Ridge 2007 Merlot: Complex nose of black olive and blackberry; concentrated fruit on the palate; almost lush. Excellent Merlot.
Winemaker/owner Brad Knapp: Our Merlot displays a beautiful garnet color followed by a nose of ripe plums, vanilla and exoitc spices. In the mouth it shows plenty of bright fruit.
Pinnacle Ridge 2007 Pinot Noir: Good depth of color; complex aromas of black cherry and spice; excellent fruit concentration on the palate; could be an Oregon pinot. Excellent Pinot Noir.
Winemaker/owner Brad Knapp: "Our Pinot Noir shows an intense crimson color. The nose is dominated by aromas of dries cherries, cranberries and vanilla. The flavors follow the nose with plenty of tannis and acid to give this beauty enough structure to stand up to hearty foods."
Pinnacle Ridge 2005 Veritas: Aroma is complex with black fruit, spice, dried rose petals and black olive; aromas follow through on the palate with good fruit concentration; long finish.
Excellent meritage.
Winemaker/owner Brad Knapp: "A classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, made only in the finest vintages. Our Veritas was barrel-aged in American Oak for 20 months."
Presque Isle 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: Aromas of black cherry, vanilla and toasted oak; on the palate there is beautiful fruit concentration showing the excellent '05 vintage; acid is a little high. Outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon.
Winfield NV Merlot: Classic Merlot aromas of black olives; very good concentration; tannins are soft and well resolved; medium to long finish. Excellent effort.
Wines for the Honorable Mention table:
Allegro 2005 Cadenza
Blair 2006 Chardonnay
Chaddsford 2006 Pinot Noir
Chaddsford 2006 Rubino
Crossing Vineyard 2006 Cabernet Franc
Manatawny Creek 2007 Chardonnay
Spyglass 2006 Cabernet Franc
Spyglass 2006 Riesling

Linganore plans wine-dessert pairing

Linganore Winecellars/Berrywine Plantations in Mt. Airy, Md., has a couple of events going this month. These descriptions are pulled off the winery's Web site.

Daily throughout the month of January 2009
Food and Wine Pairing January 2 – 31
The art of matching wine and desserts has become one of the greatest outgrowths of the American Food Revolution. In the past 20 years we have seen increased interest in matchingfood with the exemplary wines produced by Linganore Winecellars. Just Desserts by Linda, from Sykesville, Maryland, produces fresh baked pastries and cakes. Linda Gourley, owner and certified Pastry Chef of Just Desserts by Linda, has matched her European style desserts with an excellent selection of Linganore wines. Linganore Winecellars, a perennial favorite, produces a wide selection of Estate bottled wines, such as dry dinner wines, semi-sweet dessert wines and pure fruit wines. “Our companies have carefully selected the matching of Linganore’s fine wines and my fabulous desserts”, said Ms. Gourley. She added, “ My Chocolate Raspberry Cake, with a dark chocolate finish, goes perfectly with Linganore’s Black Raven, Merlot or Cabernet”.“ The flavors and intensity of both the wines and the desserts are enhanced”, added Anthony Aellen, Tasters should bring photo ID.

$5.00 pairing fee entitles you to:
• A tasting of our complete selection of wines
• Tasting of five exceptional, freshly baked desserts.
* Almond Petite Fours
* Tosca
* White Chocolate Cream Puffs
* Chocolate Raspberry Cake
* Pecan Shortbread Cookies

The other event, called Jazzin in January, is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24. Again, this explanation appears on the Web site: Join us at Linganore Winecellars/ Berrywine Plantations for Jazzin’ In January! Enjoy the cool sounds of Mainstream Jazz Band while relaxing with your favorite glass of our award winning wine! We invite you to taste our 27 wines and tour the winery. Tours are scheduled at 12, 2 and 4 pm. Admission is only $5 to this event! You can also sample the yummy chutneys and pepper jellies from Charles Street Gourmet. Or try pairing your favorite wine with desserts in the cellar, featuring various desserts from Just Desserts By Linda Gourley. Mainstream jazz will be performing from 1-3pm, along with vendor Susan Boro from Charles Street Gourmet, visit their website,