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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Erath single vineyard pinot noirs

We’ve spent the last week moving Her into new digs in Hollywood, an arduous but also satisfying task: the place is effing awesome. But by the end of a day of lugging and unpacking boxes (including two labeled “jello molds”) the last thing either one of Us have been in the mood to do is cook. But of course We’re always in the mood to drink wine.

We’ve picked up some nice, inexpensive bottles at a couple of Her newly local shops: hands down our favorite new spot, Locali, and across the street in the competing mini mall, the newly opened Oaks Gourmet Market. (An aside by Her: the word “gourmet” in the name of a store turns me off because of it’s inherent snobbishness, but We’ve found the liquor and food selections terrific, the staff friendly, and the prices on par with or just slightly higher than other places.)

We’ve also scouted the neighborhood for a new “corner” liquor store to supplement our Big Mac’s Mondays series. Hello, Pla-Boy Liquor: you are our winner. Soon we’ll be supplementing our smokes and gin purchases with a bottle of wine.

While we’ve taken care of the booze part of the post-moving evenings (priorities), We’ve left dinner to others: pizza delivery, sushi delivery, sandwich delivery, chicken and ribs delivery, etc. But the best meal We’ve had delivered thus far was from our friends David and Melanie last night. They graciously offered to bring dinner and arrived with a delicious, fragrant cauliflower tart and fresh from their garden herb salad. The night seemed perfect to open our second favorite delivery of the week: a box of 4 bottles from Erath. (Actually, as He aptly pointed out in His post a few days ago, there were two packages at the door that day–unfortunately for Her the foxy FedEx man was not around to share a bottle of wine with Us.)

The four of us swirled, smelled, and slurped greedily from our glasses of two of Erath’s single vineyard pinot noirs. We explained to our friends the wines were samples sent by the winery, something We were both thrilled about (free wine!) and nervous about (what if they suck?)

Pinot Noir, Prince Hill, Erath 2006 (provided as a sample, winery price: $45)

She said: Very beautiful nose: dark cherries and Knott’s Berry Farm jam, with a little hint of spice. Lush and perfumey in the nose, sensations that continue on the palate. A truly voluptuous mouthfeel: soft, creamy, rich. Very fruit forward (dark cherries and berry jam again) and ready to drink now. The structure, acid, tannin could all be stronger, but the wine is beautiful. A total crowd-pleaser. score:

He said: This smells really good. So creamy in the mouth. All fruit with a hint of spice. Drank very well with the tart and the cupcakes we had for dessert. Not really feeling a lot of tannins, but the creaminess and flavor make up for that. I would and will buy another bottle of this.

Pinot Noir, Leland, Erath 2006 (provided as a sample, winery price: $50)

She said: Another beautiful nose, this time heavy doses of cocoa and cola with dark cherry fruit. More refined in the mouth than the Prince Hill because of a touch of acid that gives it some backbone, but again very lush and voluptuous. This is another very pretty, feminine wine; downright sexy. Long cherry cola finish with mild tannin. Of the two pinots, this is my favorite. A delight. score:

He said: Cherry coke on the nose. This one feels lighter in the mouth than the previous. More acidic and less creamy. All cherry and cola and fruit-forward. A very good wine indeed, but I like the creaminess of the previous one more.

Phew. Thankfully, we really enjoyed the wine. As did our dinner guests.

Erath also sent us a Pinot Gris, which we drank with CW, chef-owner Canelé, while we discussed our cooking debut at the restaurant on February 23 (join us there Tuesday–it’s going to be a great, tasty night). We all agreed that the wine was a little shy in texture and acid, but had really nice tropical fruit flavors. All in all, this was a very good batch of wines. We, and our friends greatly enjoyed them.

And We aren’t just saying that because they were our first samples and We were excited by that. We promise.

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Pinot? Pi-Yes!

Aloha everyone, happy Friday. It’s been a busy week, being my birthday and all. Today, as We were moving Her into Her new SSS HQ (where I have built two compost bins; one pile and one worms) a package (well, 2 really) arrived at the door. She was taken aback by how hot the FedEx deliveryman was. Yes, he was young. Yes, he had tattoos. And OK, yes he was handsome. I am going to have to be there every time a “package” comes.

Anyhow, the dashing deliveryman had in his hands our very first free sample, from Erath Winery. We are very grateful. We are a new blog, less than 4 months old, and have already been offered free bottles. We are humbled. Note to anyone who wants to send Us free samples: Please Send via UPS. Or anyone whose deliverymen aren’t hot. The foxy FedEx driver is a porn plot waiting to happen.

But also totally fucking having a moral dilemma.

We haven’t opened a bottle yet, but what if We hate it? We vow to write honestly about the wine We taste, but We also would like to continue to receive free samples. Our wine intake ain’t cheap.

The wines we received:

Erath 2008 Oregon Pinot Gris
Erath 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir
Erath 2006 Prince Hill Pinot Noir
Erath 2006 Leland Pinot Noir

We plan to taste the single vineyard Pinot’s side-by-side later in the week. And I really hope We like them. Either way, producers, send Us more free stuff.

And, really, when We started this blog it was never to get free wine. It was for my wine education and for Her to get back to an industry that She has been in and out of Her entire adult life. And We really enjoy writing together. But as my favorite wine reviewer, legendary rapper Sadat X, says “If you wanna get down with us, send a case to this place.

Word.

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