Barrels on the Brandywine 2013 Part I – 3/2/2013

Wine a bit ... you'll feel better.Maybe it’s me, but the older I get, the faster time seems to fly by. I simply can’t believe that it’s March already. I am, however, thankful of the minimal amount of snow that we received again this year (Go global warming!).

In case anyone is wondering, Barrels on the Brandywine is the annual, March event that features the wineries on the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. Now in it’s 10th year, each member winery has it’s own activities going on, and each one offers tastings of their newest juice right from the barrels.

Since the calendar has blessed us with FIVE March weekends for 2013, I wanted to hit all eight wineries. That’s right, this year we have eight. Borderland Vineyard has joined the Trail and I look forward to my inaugural visit. More on that soon.

So on this cloudy Saturday, Fran & I headed west on the bypass towards Coatesville for a visit to Black Walnut‘s gorgeous tasting facility. I haven’t been there for a couple of years (Last visit here) so I was excited to try their new offerings and see if anything new was going on there.

Kellina from Black Walnut WineryWe arrived, picked up our glasses and were directed to the main bar. There was a good number of people here already, despite the weather. The winery had free popcorn today for the patrons and samples of your choice of six wines. Plus, two from the barrel downstairs.

As standard practice, my wife and I implemented the ‘divide and conquer’ approach. She goes for the whites and I do the reds. This isn’t intentional, and there is some overlapping but it reflects our respective biases and works for us.

We were greeted by the enthusiastic Kellina, our awesome, chatty hostess. She helped us navigate the wine list and made a few suggestions. She shared her favorites and asked a lot of questions to help maximize our tasting experience.

Between the two of us, here’s a few highlights of our latest taste of Black Walnut:

Chambourcin 2006. This is a new release from BW. A traditional Chambourcin, earthy & herbaceous.
Tryst 2010. A 50/50 Pinot Noir & Merlot blend. My favorite red today. Medium bodied and it sticks around awhile.
Merlot 2009. Great PA Merlot, not too heavy. Love it.
Black Tie Optional 2007. This is BW’s Bordeaux blend. Cab Franc with some Merlot and Cab Sauvignon. Versatile table wine with a spicy, peppery finish.
Sassy. Black Walnut’s blush. Great on it’s own. I would prefer this chilled in summer. Preferably on the lawn at an ampitheater with Alicia Keys on the stage.

Off the record, Black Walnut may or may not be working on a white Port. You will have to just wait & see.

Black Walnut's SèmillonDownstairs, the assistant winemaker, John was siphoning two magnificent wines out of the barrels. The 2011 Merlot and a 2011 Sèmillon. The latter is an absolutely spectacular white, with hints of vanilla and a smooth, oaky, butterscotch finish. I used the 5% discount that I got from the prize wheel on a bottle of the 2010. If it’s even remotely as delicious as the new stuff out of the barrel, I’ll be elated.

After sampling from the barrels, we made on last stop at the bar to try the 2009 Smitten. We were advised to save this for last. It is a blend of Syrah & Merlot and is infused with cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. It is a heavily spiced wine and very unique.


Since we happened to be in the neighborhood, and en route to a family visit in nearby Lancaster County, I couldn’t just skip by my old favorite, Twin Brook without stopping in. This made for a long day but entirely worth it.

Tim & John manning the barrelsFor Barrels, Twin Brook is presenting tastes of 6 wines of your choice, plus the Cabernet Franc out of the barrel. It also goes without saying that Tim’s famous gumbo (A Barrels tradition) is a must have.

Twin Brook is focusing more on the sweeter wines and a few dry whites these days. The terroir here is more suited to that and winemaker Tim Jobe has opted to steer away from dry reds from the vineyard, at least for now. Though I’m a bit disappointed by this, Twin Brook has a great selection above & beyond that.

George was pouring the juice for us this afternoon at the main bar. Here’s some of what was featured:

2009 Naked Chardonnay. Estate grown grapes aged in steel. Crisp & citrusy.
2011 Chardonnay Reserve. Aged in PA Oak for two years. Hints of vanilla & buttery. Pairs great with white chocolate.
Blossom Blush. A light, sweet blush. 95% Cayuga/5% Norton grape.
2011 Octorara Red. Full bodied but sweet. Lingering, black cherry finish. Chambourcin/Cab Sauv/Cab Franc blend.
Springhouse Red. Made entirely from Norton. Good summertime selection. Sweet, black raspberry flavors.
2012 Cayuga. A crisp white developed by Cornell University. Apple flavors.

Tim''s infamous gumbo!Tim shared some of the Cabernet Franc out of the barrel for the crowd. He’s a smart, soft spoken guy who serves up some great local grape juice. He shared what’s been going on lately at Twin Brook and answered questions from the guests.

More Barrels on the Brandywine to come later this month. I can never thank my awesome readers enough for stopping by!


Brandywine Valley Wine Trail
Black Walnut Winery
Twin Brook Winery

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2 Responses to Barrels on the Brandywine 2013 Part I – 3/2/2013

  1. C.J. says:

    The Semillon sounds like heaven! I am addicted to their Off Dry Pinot (Sir Not Appearing in This film) and Tryst.

  2. D says:

    The Sèmillon was a nice surprise. You should stop by and taste it from the barrel, C.J. Pennsylvania wine is making some big waves.

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