October is a bountiful month for the wine & beer business. Between the annual harvesting of the grapes (and corresponding celebrations of that) along with several dozen ‘Octoberfest’ beer offerings, it’s almost as if libations are synonymous with hayrides and Halloween. Though the cool weather isn’t always welcome, October offers many fun events and fall colors … and most importantly COLLEGE FOOTBALL (Have to make a plug for my beloved Nittany Lions here). A time of change.
The second weekend of the local Harvest Festival brought me to Penns Woods, another one of my favorite local wine hangouts. Our little group decided to forego the regular passport tasting to focus on the “Grand Reserve” tasting that was being offered for $15 (COMPLETELY worth it). The list included a generous tasting of four of Penns Woods’ award winning vintage reserve selections followed by some warm holiday mulled wine.
The following is a breakdown of the delicious reserves we tried, two dry whites & two dry reds in order of tasting. Tasting notes are provided by Penns Woods Winery:
2006 Pinot Grigio ‘Reserve’
This wine possesses a rich, clear, bright gold appearance. Hints of honeydew melon and cantaloupe give way to abundant tropical fruit on the palate. Pinot minerality cuts through the mid-palate giving way to bits of buttery almonds and toasted oak on the finish.
2008 Chardonnay ‘Reserve’
This burgundian chardonnay greets the drinker with a deep golden straw color and a complex nose full of apples and hints of tangerine. The vibrant fruit is complimented by buttery vanilla oak flavors and a beautiful acidity that brings about a mouthwatering long finish. Pairs well with creamy pasta or chicken dishes.
2005 Merlot ‘Reserve’
This St. Emilion inspired merlot appears ruby in the glass with hints of violet coloring. On the nose it emits aromas of strawberry preserves, dried cherries and hints of tobacco. Exploding on the palate with enormous terroir driven red fruit and finishing with meticulous tannins, this masterpiece is sinfully enjoyable now, but will continue to to develop for another 15 years.
Side Note: Contrary to what Miles from Sideways thinks about Merlot, this ’05 masterpiece is one of the BEST wines I ever had. Kudos to Gino Razzi.
2005 Ameritage ‘Reserve’ (Bordeaux style red)
Handpicked by our winemaker, this wine uses only the best grapes. A complex nose full of dark cherries, semi-sweet chocolate and subdued spice explodes onto the palate with red fruit, a hint of tobacco and soft tannins. A complex Bordeaux blend redefining what people think about not just east coast wines, but American wines in general.
Traminette 2010 & Caramel Apple Cupcake
Chardonnay Reserve 2008 & Vanilla Cupcake
Merlot 2006 or Merlot Reserve 2005 – Chocolate Cupcake
Cabernet Reserve 2004 or 2005 – Red Velvet Cupcake
Mulled Wine & Pumpkin Spice Cupcake
Our group chilled out after the tasting with another bottle of the ’05 Merlot Reserve and glasses of the festive mulled wine. As always it was a very nice visit. If you’re ever in the area stop and visit Penns Woods, a first class winery with a knowledgeable and friendly staff and a growing catalog of year round events.