A Region Besiegin’ (Its Very Own Wines) 10/14/11
Seeing as it’s Regional Wine Week – albeit the tail end thereof – there’s something you should probably know about me: I live in Pennsylvania. PA is one of a handful of states still controlling all the wine sales within its borders, and this has had both positive and negative ramifications for my vinic adventuring (but mostly negative). Still, I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to avoid the unpleasantness of actually taking a stance on the privatization issue – although I’ll admit I might just be waiting until I have enough influence for my opinion of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to count.
Which brings me to the problem at hand. When the average drinker hears the word “Pennsylvania” mentioned in the vicinity of the word “wine,” he probably isn’t going to think of PA wine; he’ll think of PA wine laws, and all the insufferable nonsense we residents get to deal with on a daily basis (well, the ones who drink a lot, anyway). These include such helpful regulations as not being allowed to have wine shipped in from other states, which is…just wonderful.
But here’s something you might not know (unless you’ve read any of these older posts): Pennsylvania produces some pretty good wine too, often from grapes grown right here in the state. Of course, the PLCB does at best a lackluster job of making these wines available at the stores they run (which is, again, all of them) so even though I live here, PA wine isn’t exactly easy to get. Unless you don’t mind paying shipping fees – which you can bet I mind the hell out of – the only way to obtain the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanian vino is to go to the wineries themselves; a few, however, have satellite outlets, making them a bit easier to locate.
So imagine my delight when, during a mostly food-related excursion to Philadelphia, I happened upon just one such outlet, nestled away in the Reading Terminal Market, for a winery whose wares I’d yet to sample. Blue Mountain Vineyards is located in the Lehigh Valley, which is a bit farther from me than any of the stops on the Bucks County Wine Trail (situated right in my backyard), but still close enough that there’s really no excuse for me not to have tried it yet.
The Blue Mountain Vineyards 2010 Riesling cost me $13, and came in a long, slender bottle, as Riesling should. The placard informed me this was a dry Riesling, my preferred style, so I was pretty excited to be tasting another one from Pennsylvania (the first having been Sand Castle Winery’s Johannisberg Dry Riesling, which is a favorite of mine).
In the glass this poured a nice straw color with a slight green twang, a sign that the wine is a young one (initial research suggests that 2010 was just last year). The nose was simple but powerful: a honeysuckle punch in the face.
Truth be told, after breathing the wine came to remind me more of mead than anything else, a sort of cloying honey scent with a whisper of beer – not something I particularly care for. There was a bit of passionfruit, however, and the palate wasn’t nearly as sweet as the nose suggested, with mostly tropical notes and a relatively dry finish (but not as dry as I was expecting). The wine paired quite nicely with eggs, potatoes and bacon, which I was eating for dinner because, you know, why not?
The wine was also ever-so-slightly sparkling, which I don’t think was intentional, though I can’t say for sure whether to blame the storage or production – or whether I’m just wrong entirely. I don’t know much (read: anything) about winemaking, but I’m extrapolating from some comments I received about a Scheurebe I drank that also had some incidental effervescence, which suggested a lack of sufficient sulfur at the time of bottling.
I award the Blue Mountain Vineyards Riesling thumbs up – not really my preferred style for the varietal, and maybe even a little sloppy (again, don’t take my word on that though), but certainly with its charms.
Incidentally, a Blue Mountain wine is available at my local PLCB store (and it’s not this one), so I’ll probably give it a try, just to be fair. I guess that kind of refutes my accusation that Pennsylvania is fencing in its own wine industry though, doesn’t it? I’d change my title, if only it weren’t so damn clever.