Saperavi: The Next Big Thing?

Saperavi Grapes Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Saperavi Grapes Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

     The Red Wines of the East Coast have never gotten the love that their White Wine counterparts have received over the years and in most cases for good reason.  But that may change if an old Eastern European grape can live up to its promise of becoming the foundation on which the future of eastern Red Wine is built.  The wine grape that I am talking about is Saperavi.  This grape variety originated in the Georgian Republic of Russia and features a dark skin with

Chuck & Daneen Zaleski Owners Fero Vineyards & Winery

Chuck & Daneen Zaleski Owners Fero Vineyards & Winery

pink flesh.  It is a teinturier variety of grape, meaning unlike most grapes that have uncolored flesh and produce clear juice a teinturier has red-tinted flesh that makes a vibrant richly colored wine. Saperavi vines are grown throughout the area connecting Asia and Europe know as the Caucasus and in various regions of the former Soviet Republic. Sapervai has long been viewed as an ideal ingredient for cheaper blended wines but in recent decades it has been proven to be capable of producing a varietal of high quality.  The best Georgian-produced Saperavi comes from the Kakheti Region that is near its eastern border with Azerbaijan.  These Georgian-made wines are available in the U.S. but you will have to do some searching to find them. The fact that this grape is late-ripening and thrives in a cooler climate while producing generous yields without sacrificing much in quality is the reason that vintners in the Finger Lakes and Central Pennsylvania are exploring its potential within their vineyards.  I have mentioned in earlier posts the pioneering work done by the Standing Stone Vineyards and Winery with Saperavi but I have recently learned of a producing vineyard in Lewisburg, Pa.  Chuck and Daneen Zaleski owners of Fero Vineyards and Winery have produced a varietal from Saperavi grapes grown in their Central Pennsylvania vineyard and made exclusively in their Lewisburg winery.  Chuck Zaleski at Fero and Marti Macinski at Standing Stone are on the cutting edge of this exciting reinvention of an Old World stalwart.  I am excited to have the chance to follow the evolution of the Saperavi wine grape in the Eastern United States from the persceptive of the wine makers themselves. For more information about these two fine wineries visit their websites at: www.standingstonewines.com  and  www.ferovineyards.com

Tom & Marti Macinski  Owners Standing Stone Winery Photo Courtsey:Examiner.com

Tom & Marti Macinski Owners Standing Stone Winery Photo Courtsey:Examiner.com

Goulart Winery

     The Goulart Winery is a partnership between Mauricio Parodi and Erika Goulart.  Mauricio Parodi is one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished agronomist in Mendoza and Erika Goulart, whose grandfather lead the overthrow of the Brazilian government in the 1932 Constitutional Revolution.  Erika is a successful entrepreneur who with the help of Mauricio resurrected her grandfathers Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in Mendoza that were originally planted in 1915.  It took six years to rehabilitate the vineyards back to the point of perfect balance that is necessary to produce high quality wine and after the enlightened hiring of Luis Barrund all the pieces were in place for a world-class winery.  Goulart wines have been hard to find, especially in Pennsylvania, below I have posted the New Vintage releases for the United States so you can focus your search for the wines of this exceptional producer.  You can visit www.fincalugildegoulart.com.ar or click the link to the left to visit Erika’s Facebook page for more information that also includes the releases for Europe, Asia and South America.  

Wine Tasting at Westmoreland County Courthouse

     Westmoreland Community Action will be hosting its Eleventh Annual Wine Tasting Event on Friday, April 12, 2013 from 4:30pm to 8:30pm at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in downtown Greensburg.  Tickets for this event are $45 in advance or $50 at the door and can be purchased by calling Jennifer Kemer at 724-834-1260 ext. 153. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Dinner

     Seven Springs Mountain Resort will be hosting the Chateau Ste. Michelle Vineyards Wine Dinner in their Slopeside restaurant at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday March 20th, 2013.  This dinner will feature a wine pairing for each course from the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery.  I have posted the menu for your convenience.  Reservations can be made by calling 800-452-2223 ext.6000.  Seven Springs Mountain Resort is at 777 Waterwheel Dr. Seven Springs, Pa 15622. ChateauSteMichelle

Free Finger Lakes Travel Magazine

Photo Courtesy Finger Lakes Wine Country

Photo Courtesy Finger Lakes Wine Country

     Anyone considering a possible trip to the Finger Lakes Region of New York should request this informative free guide.  Simply go to the website www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com and select “Plan” from the toolbar then scroll down to the submission form or click on the picture of the magazine, if you prefer the human touch you can call Morgen, Christina, Teresa or Ginny at 800-813-2958 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday.  While you are on the site consider subscribing to any of the free e-newsletters offering a wide spectrum of topics that will interest any visitor.  The current 2012 digital issue of Finger Lakes Wine Country Magazine is also available for download from this site as well as a free Finger Lakes Travel app for your mobile device, which can prove to be invaluable while exploring the region.  The information that you can obtain from the magazine and website can be very helpful but the real fun begins when you visit and begin discovering something new around ever turn.

Hot to Trot Red Blend

Hot to Trot Red Blend Photo Courtesy: 14 Hands Vineyard

Hot to Trot Red Blend Photo Courtesy: 14 Hands Vineyard

     The 14 Hands Vineyard in Paterson, Washington produces one of the best blended red wines made in the United States.  This red was once only available to restaurants in selected markets but now can be found in wide distribution due to overwhelming demand.  Hot to Trot is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvgion, Mourverde and Petite Verdot grapes harvested from vineyards in several of Washington’s AVA regions including Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope and the Yakima Valley.  It is made using techniques that are usually reserved for more expensive wines, these include cold soaking, performing a daily  pump-over to extract color and flavor followed by aging in both French and American oak barrels.  This extra care produces a medium body red wine with flavors of very lightly oaked red berries and dark fruit with a hint of vanilla giving way to refined supple tannins followed by a pleasant lingering spice and mocha finish.  Reds from WashingtonState can be pricey but this blend always delivers a well crafted wine at a great price and its ability to pair flawlessly with a range of food makes it very difficult to beat.  14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend can be found at P.L.C.B. stores for $12.99 with the product code 5213.  I suggest using the in store product locator on the website www.finewineandgoodspirits.com to check for availability of this wine because of demand.

Winter at Standing Stone Winery

Wine Barrels  Photo Courtesy Standing Stone Winery

Wine Barrels  Photo Courtesy Standing Stone Winery

I have just heard from Martha Macinski or Marti as she is known to everyone in the Finger Lakes.  She updated me on the happenings around the Standing Stone Winery that she and her husband Tom have owned since 1991.  They have just finished pressing frozen grapes to make Riesling Ice and Vidal Ice.  The grapes are not picked frozen but are picked as late harvest and then frozen commercially so that they may be pressed to make Ice wine.  The Riesling Ice 2012, Vidal Ice 2011 and the Riesling 2012 are all ready and will be bottled in early March.  One of the nice things about stopping by the tasting room during the winter is that there are fewer people visiting so Marti and her staff will have more time to talk and share details about the wine.  The vineyard crew is busy fixing any trellis components that have broken over the previous growing season.  Pruning will start in February and after that task is completed the vines will be tied up before bud break in the spring.  There was some concern that the recent spike in temperatures would reduce the snow cover that protects the vineyard during the winter but the cold nights and the return of normal winter weather prevented any damage to the vines.  Marti made me laugh when she told me that ” You would be surprised how much work it is to taste 10 barrels of Standing Stone Saperavi.”  I know it is a tough job but I guess someone has to do it :-).  They will be bottling some 2010 and 2012 wines in April and May with the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot being of reserve status and reportedly delicious!  Thanks to Marti for keeping me informed on the latest news from Standing Stone Winery which is on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in Hector, NY.  If you want more info you can visit the website www.Standingstonewines.com or go to their Facebook page.