Chambourcin

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I worked a wine festival in Allentown, NJ and came to realize that a number of people do not know what a Chambourcin is so here is a small introduction.

Chambourcin, a red grape, is a French-American hybrid grape that was first commercially sold in the early 1960’s. For a hybrid it is very popular in France and has found a home in the northeast United States, Australia, and Vietnam as well. It is a grape that can handle the winter cold better than most hybrids but also does well in the hot and humid summers of New Jersey because it is particularly resistant to downy mildew.

From a wine side, Chambourcin does particularly well when aged in oak. It has a number of fruit forward notes like, black cherry and plum but also has hints of baking spices from the oak. We age our Chambourcin in American oak for a period of ten months. The wine has a deep and dark plum purple color and a very round, smooth finish.   

We are just about to release our 2015 vintage, which is a wonderful example of the full bodied reds that can be produced here in Southern New Jersey. Stop in and try some today.

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery

Let’s Talk about Closure. Wine Closures that is…

There are two main types, corks and screw-caps.

Corks are produced from the bark of a cork tree, in the Quercus species. These cork trees can be harvested every few years. Removing the bark off of the trees does not harm them in any way; additionally a new layer of bark will form meaning the cork is a renewable resource. The majority of corks used for wine are produced from trees that grow in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy. One benefit to cork is the slight bit of air that passes through them over time. This allows older wines to breath. The main drawback to natural corks is cork taint, a bacterial issue in the cork, which makes the wine inside the bottle smell like wet dogs or old wet cardboard. This has been limited though since corks are screened numerous times between the cork tree growers and the cork producers. To keep a natural cork working correctly a bottle must be inverted so the cork stays wet, otherwise the cork will dry out.     

Screw-caps are small metal shells that go over the opening in a bottle and twist off without the need for an opener. The main advantage for a screw-cap is the assurance of no cork taint. The down side is the lack of airflow across the closure over time; which is not beneficial to wine that should be aged for numerous years. Screw-caps are the main form of closure in Australia and New Zealand as high quality corks were difficult to obtain when these wine regions started to take off in the late 70’s and early 80’s.   

Which closure do you prefer?     

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery

The Basics to Bubbly

To begin, as a point of clarification, the word “Champagne” when used on a bottle of bubbly indicates that the bottle was made in the Champagne region of France. In the United States the term “Method Champenoise” means the sparkling wine was produced using the same traditional methods.

The first thing to do for sparkling wine is to pick the grapes early. This minimizes the varietal characteristics of the wine and allows the yeast aromas to come through. Also, slightly under ripe grapes will make a lower alcohol base wine. After a normal fermentation, the base wine is bottled and has more yeast and sugar added. For Method Champenoise, this must be done on a bottle by bottle basis. (You can note on the bottle that it often says, “Fermented in this bottle”.) These bottles are crown capped and allowed to ferment. The secondary fermentation allows for the CO2 to get trapped in the wine and produces a small amount of alcohol to make up for the earlier lower alcohol level. Once the second fermentation is finished, the yeast is allowed to settle near the crown capped end of the bottle. The neck of the bottle then can be frozen, separating the yeast from the sparkling wine. When the bottle is opened the pressure sends the ice in the neck out pushing the yeast out with it. The sparkling wine then may have some sugar added back via a thick liquid syrup of the base wine and sugar, this is called the dosage. After all this, the wine is finally ready to be cored and with a cage, labeled and sold.

Come try some bubbly today at any of our tasting rooms.

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery

Chardonnay often done two ways

So here at Tomasello Winery we have two Chardonnays. One, our Palmaris Chardonnay, is a classic style similar to Old World methods where the wine is aged for months in oak barrels. This brings out warm oaky notes like vanilla, cloves, and other warm baking spices. Wines of this style, ours included, also commonly undergo malo-lactic fermentation which brings forth buttery aromatics and improves the roundness of the wine, it has a nice smooth silky mouth-feel.  

The other style, found in our Tomasello Painting Chardonnay, is much more a New World creation; the wine solely sees stainless steel tanks. This allows many more varietal characteristics to come through in the finished product. The wine is much more fruit forward, with hints of apple and pear and the lack of malo-lactic fermentation gives the wine a cool, crisp mouth-feel similar to the bite of a green apple. This new style originates from the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) movement of the late 80’s and early 90’s, when consumers pushed away from heavily oaked and very buttery Chardonnays produced by a few very large wineries.    

If already have enjoyed a 2013 Tomasello Winery or Palmaris Chardonnay I am happy to inform you that all of us here at Tomasello Winery feel the 2014 vintages are even better. These will be released in the next few weeks.   

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery

OCP Chardonnay

Wine of the Week: Petit Verdot

2013 Palmaris OCP Petit Verdot (Pronounced pe-TEE ver-DOE)

EZ-1003 retouched

Petit Verdot was originally a Bordeaux grape from the southwest area of France. It is a less common grape in its homeland since it ripens very late in the season, additionally it buds very early. Both of these things make growing Petit Verdot a challenge as frost in the spring or fall and cold weather throughout the summer may produce a limited crop or an under ripened crop. In a good year when the grapes fully ripen, Petit Verdot has a very dark purple hue.

Petit Verdot is often not used as a varietal wine, rather it usually is used for blending to round out Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. This year we wanted to highlight our Petit Verdot and produced the 2013 Palmaris (Latin for “prize worthy”) Petit Verdot. 2013 was a wonderful growing season here in the Outer Coastal Plain. We had dry and warm conditions though the end of the harvest which allowed for a full mature crop. Once picked the grapes were allowed to macerate and ferment for two weeks before it was blended together and stored away for 28 months in a mix of French Nevers Oak and American Oak. The blend is 79% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Cabernet Franc.

Our Petit Verdot is a wonderful full bodied red wine with hints of cherry, warm hearty oak, along with many other secondary and tertiary aromas. It is best to open the wine and let it breath before you drink this wine. This allows the wine to open up and aromas to reach a fuller flavor potential. This is best done by decanting the wine. That being said, stop in at any of our tasting rooms and try some of the 2013 OCP Palmaris Petit Verdot. We are excited about the results.

I hope you enjoy this first of many wine blogs. I am going to try and discuss a few wines a month and teach some basic wine terminology/ wine processing.

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery