Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sand Castle opens TASTE, unveils 2 new wines

Two recent wine releases and a new store have the folks at Sand Castle Winery in Erwinna, Pa., buzzing. A suburban Philly winery that's a member of the Bucks County Wine Trail, it recently came out with a 2006 Pinot Noir and a 2004 Chardonnay Classic. About the Pinot Noir, general sales manager Peter Ricci said was tasting "very good, good fruit, with raspberry flavors to it. Pinot Noir is hot, that's just a given in the marketplace." It's selling for $30/bottle.

The 2004 Chard hardly sounds like a new release, but it emerges from three years aging in French oak. "It has really nice flavors of vanilla and almonds and caramel. You really pick up the French oak in the wine," Ricci said. That's available at $17/bottle. Three years in a barrel is probably as long as any winery in the region ages its Chard.

Ricci said the winery's new retail store, called TASTE, is located in a former Starbucks shop at the Valley Square Shopping Center, 711 Easton Road, in Warrington, Pa. You can purchase wine there, but that's just part of what Ricci called selling a gourmet experience that includes wine-related gift items, a coffee bar, a wine bar, an imported olive oil and balsamic vinegar bar, gourmet cheeses and gourmet foods. Samples are scattered throughout the shop, giving customers a chance to try things before they purchase them. Hence, the name of the shop. The hours at TASTE are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

This isn't the winery's first attempt at an off-site retail outlet. Last year it tried a kiosk at a mall in Lower Bucks County that Ricci said "worked reasonably well" for awhile. The economy took some of the initial burst away, and so did the mall insisting that the kiosk be opened when the mall was. During the holiday season, that could mean as early as sunrise. "Well, how many people are going to buy wine at 6 o'clock in the morning?" Ricci asked. "We didn't lose money last year, but it just simply wasn't worth all the time and effort we had to put into it."