Friday, October 30, 2009

For Allegro owner, another 'Christmas' behind him

I took it as a compliment knowing I had a little bit to do with owner and winemaker Carl Helrich's blog on his Allegro Vineyards Web site. He was the first winemaker I interviewed when I started this blog, and we have continued to talk off and on since then, sometimes for publication and other times just to catch up.

A couple months ago he rolled out the blog and provided his followers, including me, with lots of insight. His newest one was posted earlier this week at the end of harvest, what he calls the "best time of year. Think of it as Christmas," he adds a bit later.

What's fun about Carl is that he's not much for fluff; neither with his wines nor his comments. You know where you stand. and the blog reads that way, too: direct, lots of passion squeezing between the lines. "I will admit it makes me tired some," he writes later on in his post. "OK, a lot. I'm 39, and this is my 12th harvest. Not a lot, yet. But I can tell a difference. I still wake up early, too excited to sleep, but I can't go go go like I used to. Ray--my assistant winemaker--is starting to show it, too. When he first showed up here in his late 20s, he used to help with harvest then head to the bars. Now, four years later, it's been a few weeks since he's done that. We all get older, but the feelings for this only get stronger."

Two other things to mention about Allegro, located in The Brogue in southcentral Pennsylvania. A member of the Uncork York! trail, he will be participating in the trail's first Nouveau Weekend (or what they are calling New Wine Off The Vine) on Nov. 20-22. It will feature 10 of Uncork's wineries, including Allegro, which will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and will include tours of the cellar and tastings, plus many of the wineries will pair with local restaurants for a wine and food extravaganza from Nov. 19-22.

In addition, Allegro's Bridge will be one of the wines features in my next Vintages column for In Central Pennsylvania magazine. A 2006 vintage, it's a Bordeaux-style Merlot blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. He wrote in an e-mail that the wine, which sells for $27, pairs well with beef dishes and should hit its prime in 2011 (although you can certainly open it now). And if you're in a cellaring mood, he said it should keep its life anoter eight or nine years beyond its prime.

As for the name, Helrich wrote that "it was created initially in 2001 as a "bridge" between John Crouch's Cadenzas and mine. The 2001 Bridge was really nice, but not quite a Cadenza. In 2006, I felt that the wine wasn't quite Cadenza quality, but much better than our regular bottling. I brought back the name in 2006, and we bottled a 2007 as well. We may have one from 2009 . . . we'll see."