I didn’t know of any Petite Pearl being grown or made in Pennsylvania so when I had
The tasting room at Greendance Winery Photo Courtesy: Greendancewinery.com
the opportunity to do a barrel tasting of a Petite Pearl wine that was grown and made just a short drive from my home I couldn’t wait to try it. First, a little background on the Petite Pearl wine grape and the winery growing and making it.
Petite Pearl is a relatively new red wine grape hybrid that was recognized by the federal government as a varietal in 2014. It was developed by renowned Minnesota grape breeder Tom Plocher and was introduced to grape growers in 2010. Petite Pearl has many of the traits vintners in the Upper Midwest value, mainly its cold tolerance (-32ºF) and the ability to ripen well in cool conditions.
I visited Greendance – The Winery at Sand Hill in Mount Pleasant, Pa on a cold day in early March. I met with Rick Lynn, one of the owners of Sand Hill and his fellow winemaker Robert Blosser. Robert has been a winemaker at Greendance since it opened in September 2007. I asked Rick and Robert about the barrel fermenting technique they used to make their Petite Pearl. Rick said they destemmed the grapes and wrestled them into oak barrel then we all laughed when Robert told me of a mishap they had along the way. Even with all the modern technology available wine making will always remain an artful expression of a wine maker’s skill and intuition. They decided to put this barrel on Petite Verdot skins in an attempt to enhance the overall quality of the wine. Petite Verdot has a very thick skin and is very helpful in adding structure to a wine while increasing its acidity and tannin character. The skins used on this Petite Pearl had been used on a batch of Merlot before being added to the barrel and as a result we thought the remnants of the Merlot had rounded and softened the Petite Pearl. The wine I sampled was light-bodied and smooth with low acidity. It’s dark red color may have been lighted by the time it spent on the Petite Verdot skins but it still was a darker cool-climate red. In my opinion when this wine is ready it will be a very enjoyable wine and a solid first effort for Rick and Robert. They are already talking about the things they might try on their next harvest of Petite Pearl. Rick will be expanding his Petite Pearl vineyard this year to ensure he will have more grapes to work with as he hones in on how to coax all the flavors and aromas out of this intriguing new grape. The unrelenting desire to improve their wines with every vintage is the one trait that is a constant in every winemaker I have every met.
That day I got a bonus barrel tasting of Greendance Chardonnay that was made from grapes they sourced from Equivine Vineyard near Coatesville, Pa. Still early in its timeline
Greendance Chardonnay in new oak barrels
this Chardonnay displayed a very promising profile that should produce a good Pennsylvania Chardonnay.
If you are looking to spend an enjoyable afternoon in a picturesque setting consider visiting Greendance – The Winery at Sand Hill. For directions and a list of events go to http://greendancewinery.com
Riesling has long been a stalwart for anyone frantically searching a wine list to pick a bottle that would pair well with everyone’s dinner. Riesling is hard to beat when you need a versatile food-friendly wine that can be easily found in styles ranging from sweet to bone-dry. In the past this varietal has labored under the misconception that the lower-quality sweet offerings that filled store shelves was the best this grape had to offer. This
view of Riesling has begun to change as world-class Riesling are being added to restaurant wine lists, websites and store shelves worldwide.
Riesling is a cool climate grape that has excels in rocky soils, like the ones found in the Rhine Valley and Mosel Region of Germany and the Alsace region of Northern France for centuries. Wine makers in the Columbia Valley of Washington, the Willamette Valley of Oregon and the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York have found great success with their Riesling vineyards. All three regions produce very good Riesling, each with its own special personality that is sure to please any wine lovers palate.
You could make a strong case that Riesling with its many incarnations is the most food-friendly of all wines, either red or white. It is the safe choice when following the rules for white wine by pairing it with seafood, chicken and salads. My favorite twist is to pair a sweet Riesling with spicy Mexican, Chinese or Thai cuisine. The extra sweetness cuts through the heat to give balance to your meal.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Dry: Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2016. (From a legendary FLX winery that received a Robert Parker Wine Advocate 90pt rating)
Off-Dry: Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling (A trendy favorite with a Wine Spectator 89pts)
Sweet: Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Riesling 2016 (Wine Spectator 87 pts and a bargain at $10.00 or less)
Gene Pierce & Steve DiFrancesco with “The Egg” Courtesy: G.W.
A little while ago I reblogged a post from Glenora Winery on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes that dealt with their newest acquisition, a concrete fermentation tank A.K.A. “The Egg”. I was curious how things were going with their venture into this rediscovered method of winemaking that has long been used in Europe but is now catching on here. One reason that it took so long for the idea to take hold here was that the only producers of these vessels were in Europe and it was cost prohibitive to ship. Now that there are manufacturers on this side of the pond the idea has more appeal to winemakers because of the more manageable prices making them comparable to oak. Wine Spectator published a short article on concrete fermenters in last months edition or visit my original reblog of January, 2014 “Great Egg-spectations” if you would like to read more about them. I would attempt to summarize what the winemakers at Glenora Winery told me but I wanted to be totally accurate on their experience so I am posting their response as follows verbatim “The project is still in progress, but we anticipate an early July release of the three Pinot Blancs. During fermentation, the wine began to take on personalities of their own. The micro-oxygenation that occurred using the egg and barrels helped to open up and develop flavors from both the fruit as well as the yeast interaction during fermentation. However, the concrete egg contributed no additional flavors to the wine the way the oak did. The stainless steel is very inert, contributing little to the wine. However, dead corners in the stainless steel tank slowed down aging and development of the fruit derived flavors.”
Thank You to the winemaking team at Glenora Winery for your help and I will continue to post updates about the “Egg Wine”.