Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Nouveau, but the old standbys should make visitors plenty happy at Pinnacle Ridge

Lehigh Valley Wine Trail will be among several in the state that will hold Nouveau Weekend NEXT weekend, a day or two after the Beaujolais from France is released in the state stores. You probably recognize the term even if you pay little attention to wine. Nouveau is, obviously, new wine that only a month or two ago was hanging out in clusters on the vine. All nine wineries will be participating in the promotion, which will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 21st and noon to 5 p.m. on the 22nd.
Pinnacle Ridge Winery will be one of those wineries, indeed open until 6 both days, only you won't be getting the Nouveau when you exit the Krumsville exit of I-78 and drive the half-mile or so to the tasting room. Had a chance to bust on winemaker and owner Brad Knapp on Thursday about Nouveau Weekend without the Nouveau, since he decided not to make it this year after producing it since 1995. The reason? Simple. Lots of effort for minimal reward.

"I had made a few from Chambourcin," Knapp said by phone, talking about the grapes he incorporated into his previous Nouveaus. "Which is troublesome because it's so late [to harvest]. It's hard to get the wine made in time. And then I was purchasing some Dornfelter, which is an early ripening German red variety, which works reasonably well. But I was not real happy frankly with the sales of that style."

Knapp said that he and wife Christy were touring wineries on Long Island when they entered Macari Winery, which "put out a wine called early Chardonnay, I think it was called. And it was an oaked wine, released very early. I think it was November. And they did very well with it and we decided to try it. They pitched it as an Austrian pub wine. . . . the taverns around Vienna will serve this newly fermenting wine in the fall. So we pitched it that way, that this was an Austrian-style Nouveau. And that actually did well. Slightly sweet and very fruity."

But, he added, no matter what he made, it was a lot of work to produce a small quantity of wine that just didn't have much appeal. "The bang for the buck was low, let's put it that way," Knapp said.

So what you'll get instead will be a few of Pinnacle Ridge's award-winning line of wines paired up with Turkey Day foods. They'll match up their 2008 Chambourcin and slightly sweet, fruity 2008 Chambourcin Rose with smoked turkey breast piled on lightly toasted baguettes. Those will be topped with a variety of Robert Rothschild spreads: Caramelized Onion Balsamic Spread, Champagne GarliC Honey Mustard or Raspberry Cranberry Horseradish Sauce.
Check out the Web site to see the wide array of food to be served at Customer Appreciation Weekend on Dec. 5-6 and the chocolate and red wine pairing event the following weekend. Knapp said there have been plenty of customers to appreciate this year.

"Our business is phenomenal," he said. "We're doing great. My take on it is that most of us, myself included, there's a strong element of entertainment. And we're inexpensive entertainment. And we're local entertainment. So folks are getting in their car and driving around the countryside and spending a few bucks on buying a few bottles of wine instead of hopping in a plane to go somewhere or doing something more expensive."