United Slurps of America: Pennsylvania

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? In the next 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America.

This week our eager palates travel to the state of “Virtue, Liberty and Independence:” Pennsylvania. For this premier edition of USA, wine blogger and Pennsylvanian 1 Wine Dude virtually tasted with us. Joe Roberts is a terrific, unique voice in the wine blog world and We are honored to have him join Us.

By way of background, last week a rather hunky UPS driver (what is it with the hot delivery guys in this neighborhood?) asked for Her signature for a box that looked suspiciously like wine. And to our delight, it was. Penns Woods Winery in Pennsylvania had shipped Us three bottles to taste, no strings attached. Fantastic. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to launch USA. We’re very grateful to receive samples from wineries (go ahead…ship them our way), but the feelings of joy for free booze also comes mixed with anxiety: what if We don’t like it? We pledge to always be honest in our reviews, but biting the hand that imbibes you seems harsh. Luckily for Us, We greatly enjoyed the two unique bottles reviewed below. Seek them out.

That said, let us begin:

Merlot, Reserve, Penns Woods 2005 (Pennsylvania, received as a sample, retails for $38)

She said: Very deep garnet, verging on opaque. In the nose strong wiffs of currants and blackberries with an earthy undertone. Extremely ripe and extracted fruit hits the palate immediately. Jammy stuff. There is a pleasant chalky texture, but more than any other sensation I get is lush fruit. Prefer less extraction and more structure in Merlot, but I am impressed that the wine does not get overwhelmed by the jamminess. As the bottle remained open the finish became increasingly Port-like. Very interesting wine. 

He said: Very, very dark in color. She says “garnet” and I don’t really know what She means. Kevin Garnet is quite dark, but it seems racist to describe wine that way, darling. Dark cherry, tobacco, cola, cedar and a lot of chocolate in my nose-piece. In the mouth there is a lot of fruit, but seems balanced nicely with the chalky tannins. More creamy chocolate and dark fruit flavors throughout. I am not normally a merlot drinker, but I definitely enjoyed this “big” wine. I would (and will) pair it with an American Spirit.

1WineDude said: Robust & full of dark fruits. Flirting dangerously close to over-extraction, but thoroughly enjoyable. The Merlot might blow your mind in terms of how ripe the fruit is, coming from the Right Coast.  This is because Gino Razzi (the winemaker) has spent a sh*tload of money on his small operation and equipment, and he has a horizontal fermentation vessel that can extract everything that the grapes have to offer in terms of fruit – I think you can literally dial-in the manner and depth of extraction on this machine.  Of course, you need to be careful that you don’t create an over-extracted Frankenwine Monster when you’re using that thing.

Chardonnay, Reserve, Penns Woods 2007 (Pennsylvania, received as a sample, retails for $33.50)

She said: Jumping to the bottom line: I loved this wine. It has a terrific balance of fruit/oak/acid with a deliciously long finish…a true delight. Now the specifics. Color is a pale yellow with golden hue. On the nose: apples, lemon curd, hint of wood. Great mouthfeel; very rich and full. The wine is obviously oaked, but the flavors do not overwhelm (not overburdened by butter, vanilla etc.). On the palate I taste pear and apple. There is a tangy creaminess which recalls brie and lemon curd. Some toasty notes and hazelnuts. In the finish I also sense crushed shells, but it is not a strong minerality. The finish lingers and lingers with a refreshing mix of acid and fruit (peach fuzz?). Fantastic. Where do I find it in LA?

He said: Pale gold-green in color, but as I have said before, I am colorblind so this part means almost nothing to me. Wow, very aromatic and smells damn good. Very crisp on the nose with honey and créme brûlée evident. Initial butterscotch in the mouth and very creamy, an excellent mouthfeel (a word I’m still uncomfortable with.) Getting a little something tangy, apple I think. I can taste and feel this in my entire mouth, which gives way to a long aftertaste with a nice acidity. It almost feels and tastes like a Bellini in the finish.I would drink this with anything in a cream sauce, but I would be more than happy just to drink it by itself. This wine is excellent.

1WineDude said: Vanilla, tropical fruit, VG acidity. Might be the best E. Coast Chard. I’ve EVER tasted. Period. I love what winemaker Gino Razzi is doing, and his `07 Chard made my Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009 list because it’s the most balanced and nuanced white wine from the East Coast U.S. that I’ve ever tasted.  I’ve been following this one from its inception in stainless steel through barrel sampling and at multiple points after being bottled.  The amount of fruit that Gino has been able to coax out of these PA grapes is astonishing, and it was clear early on just how special this Chardonnay vintage was, and that the wine was capable of standing up to as much oak treatment as Gino was willing to give it.  It’s drinking beautifully now, a minor triumph really, and a new benchmark for PA and East Coast wines.

We Said: First of all, thank you to Jason Malumed of Penns Woods Winery, and Joe Roberts of 1WineDude for being involved for the premier edition of USA. Neither of US have ever tasted a Pennsylvanian wine, and it’s nice to get out of our oenological comfort zone; i.e. California and France. If We had to critique something about these wines, it would be the labels. We are both designers and can’t help but notice these things and how We would like to make them better (and, umm, We’re for hire).  Thankfully, the wine inside both bottles is terrific and that is what is really important.

In addition to the Merlot and Chardonnay, We also received a bottle featuring a grape neither one of Us had heard of: Traminette. We plan on tasting and reviewing it at a later date. 1WineDude gave us some insight as to what We may discover:

I tasted it while it was still fermenting in the tank and sitting on the lees (the wine, that is, not me!) and at the time Gino told me he was trying to make something simple and really fruity and refreshing.  Then, he ended up leaving on the lees so long that it gained this interesting creamy texture and more complexity.  I was like “Gino… if you were trying to make a simple wine, you failed spectacularly. This is one of most complex takes on Traminette I’ve ever tasted – you’re INCAPABLE of making a simple wine, man!!!”  We had a good laugh over that.

We’re intrigued. Will be opening the bottle sooner rather than later.

1 down, 49 to go.

We want United Slurps of America to be a collaborative project. Wineries or bloggers from states other than California who would like to be involved, contact us.

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  1. Thanks for the shout-out, I’m honored! Where’s the next stop in your tour? My girlfriend and I will be doing our Cali (wine) trip again this year, we’re gonna start in LA and then go to Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, etc., so maybe I’ll look you guys up and we can do some slurping.

  2. 1WineDude says:

    Thanks – can I tell you how stoked I am that I got my very own black & white taster icon? That’s awesome!!!

  3. Him says:

    Jason: That would be awesome. When and for how long will you be in LA?

    1WineDude: Glad you liked it and we are very stoked to have you be our 3rd taster. Cheers!

  4. Thinking early June, although nothing is set in stone yet. You guys rock, keep up the good work on the blog.

  5. @nectarwine says:

    Total Rock and Roll guys! Love it! Can’t wait to see what the great state of Washington brings. I think this journey will take you to some great heights, surprises, and depths of tastlessness (bad taste).


  6. Her says:

    Thanks, Josh.
    WE WANT YOU to be part of our Washington tasting. Will you join us? The field of good wine from your state is wide we could also use some advice as to what bottle(s) to taste…

  7. Mfree says:

    Great read! I can’t wait for next week! Also sounds like I need to hunt out these bottles in LA.

  8. Him says:

    Mel.., err, MFree, Do you and Dav.., DFree want to be our guest tasters this week for the Traminette? We need to taste it either tonight or tomorrow and would love to have you guys taste it with us.

  9. Scott says:

    Love the idea of U.Slurps.A and can’t wait to see what happens when you hit the MidWest. Great vibe, cool look, and nice content. I’m glad I found your blog.

  10. Her says:

    Thanks a lot, Scott for your nice words.
    I just checked out your own wine blog too–nice work.
    I chuckled a bit about Silverlake Wine. It’s a fave shop of both of ours and up until a week ago, my old neighborhood. Sometimes the crowd can be a bit much during tastings, but the staff really are fantastic: low key, easy to talk to, and knowledgeable. Try it out again.

  11. Scott says:

    I promise I will try it again. Like I said two different staff came and chatted with us while we were there and seemed great. The selection of wine was interesting and intriguing also. I just tend to be more of a Pasadena-speed kind of guy (you can read that as ‘boring’).

  12. Brian says:

    The other 46 states are doing some great things! The quality continues to amaze me and it’s only a matter of time, not if, when people begin to take note. Cheers!

  13. TNWT says:

    Fun bumping into this article about Pennsylvania wines. We had previously searched out two of PA ‘s four Norton wine producers and found Stone Mountain Wine Cellars east of Pine Grove, PA along I-81. What a hoot, ~ a side of the road air conditioned vegetable shed with grand “folk” wines all at very reasonable costs. We were shocked by their fine offerings which crossed both dry-to-sweeter wines. Absolutely value wines presented in a farm location: http://www.stonemountainwinecellars.com/

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