Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Best Dinner Ever

OK, this one is only in my dreams. But I was thinking the other day as we were bottling our next Bridge that the 2007 vintage was just phenomenal on so many levels. It got me thinking--yes, it was around lunchtime--that a dinner using on 2007 wines is just begging to be created.

I was thinking we could start with our 2007 Fanfare (the Gewurztraminer based wine with a good dose of Reserve Chardonnay in it.) This could go with some harvest style appetizers, and then maybe follow it with the 2007 Bridge and a hearty squash or goulash-style soup course.

Then we could serve Maryland crabcakes with our Reserve Chardonnay, followed by our Riesling and a nice salad with cranberries and goat cheese and walnuts. The main entree would have to be filet mignon covered with a nice reduction sauce with the 2007 Cadenza. Lastly, our 2007 Aria--still in barrels, but we could pull a sample--to go with a key lime creme brulee for dessert.

OK, again, this is only a dream, but a mighty tasty one at that. Anybody know any restaurants our there who are game?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cadenza, Bridge, and Trio: Three Wines

For the first time ever, Allegro has three reserve reds on the wine list. Here’s a short description of the wines. I have had numerous people ask me about the differences between the wines, so I thought I would write up a short piece trying to start to explain them.....

2005 Cadenza
This is our flagship wine. It was aged two years in French oak barrels and bottled unfiltered. This is meant to be the best wine we can make. When we make Cadenza, it’s not just the best from that vintage, it is a quality level that never changes. The 2005 is only the ninth time in Allegro history that we made a Cadenza. 2007 will be the tenth.
This is a traditional Bordeaux-style red, emulating the best of the St. Emilion or Pomerol regions in the Medoc. It is structured with nice acid and supple tannins. The wine exhibits aromas of dried cherries and leather and spice, and these carry through to the palate. This is a wine that begs to be served with nice beef. It should age gracefully until 2012-2015.

2006 Bridge
Bridge was originally conceived in 2001 as a bridge wine between John’s Cadenza tradition and my own. Now I think of it more as a really good wine, just not quite Cadenza level. Hence the lower price.
It was also aged two years in French oak barrels and bottled unfiltered. This wine has more primary fruit characteristics and a fuller mid-palate. The tannins are still firm, and this wine should peak around 2012-2014, and perhaps live on until 2020.

2007 Trio
This is the collaborative wine that I made with my good friends Brad Knapp (from Pinnacle Ridge) and Joanne Levengood (from Manatawny Creek). If you ever get a chance, please go up and try their wines. They are fantastic winemakers.
This wine came about because I had what I called a “dumb marketing idea.” We always taste each other’s wines each spring, and in 2008, we all realized that we were each sitting on too much great wine. I suggested this collaboration, and it worked out really well.
After getting together a couple times to work on the blend, we settled on a distinctive trio of grapes: Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Each winery kicked in four barrels. I donated 2 Merlot and 2 Cab Franc barrels to the cause; Joanne added 2 Syrah and 2 Cab Franc; and Brad threw in 2 Syrah and 2 Merlot. We blended the wine up at Joanne’s winery and bottled it there as well.
This wine had a good core of dark fruit with light yet firm tannins. It was aged 18 months in French, Pennsylvania, and Hungarian oak barrels—another “three.” It should age nicely through 2012-2014.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Looking at this Year

We're heading into the middle of August, the grapes are going through veraison--the coloring-- and I've been trying to figure out this growing season in order to be ready far harvest.

I think we've been a little drier than our friends to the east, enough to lower the downy pressure and increase the powdery pressure. I was getting a bit depressed a month or so ago about this season. After the last four years, I know we're due for a bad one, but I kept hoping we would be spared. I started looking at historical weather data from for York. (It's not quite Brogue, but close enough.) They even give GDD above 50F.

Here's what I gleaned from doing it. May was our second wettest ever since 1998. June was our coldest. July was drier, but not very warm. But then I noticed we were only 80GDD behind 2005 and 2007 at the end of July. 2004 had more than 250 more GDD than 2007/2005/2009 at this point. I am starting to think that our best years really come down to two things: warm and dry Septembers and dry Octobers. That's really the only pattern I could see.

So, my strategy this year has been to stay clean, open the canopy early, pull out all secondaries early, and hope for a good fall. At least I'm not as depressed as I was. Spraying every 5-6 days is a pain in the butt, though.

The wines should be at least nice, and if Mother nature cooperates at all with us this fall, look out, we could have some beauties.