Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WBW #61 - Hudson Valley Wine Goddess in New Jersey?

As Wine Blogging Wednesday is announced, Lenn Thompson, founder and creator of WBW asked all of us to visit a winery in your neighborhood. Special points with a winemaker or vineyard manager.

Well, I thought, I frequent the wineries in the Hudson Valley and have tasted wines in all the tasting rooms, chatted with winemakers, vineyard managers and owners. Some of my conversations can be found on Hudson Valley Wine TV. How can I make this different and in 3 weeks of which are very busy. A trip to the shore, Labor Day BBQ's, then I worked the Hudson Valley Wine Fest. No time for vineyard hopping.

However, there are two wineries & vineyards located just around the corner from our house in Cape May, New Jersey. Cape May Winery which I have visited in the past and Turdo Vineyards which I always want to stop at, however, when we come back from the beach they are closed. So although my WBW #61 isn't going to take you to a winery in my hometown backyard of the Hudson Valley, it is going to take you to my vacation home backyard, Cape May, New Jersey.
On August 27 I met with Sal Turdo, owner and winemaker of Turdo Vineyards in Cape May, New Jersey. Sal purchased the 5 acres of land in 1998 and planted vines in 1999. It was his retirement plan and dream. Retirement is 3 years away for Sal who during the week is an electrical inspector in North Jersey, but on the weekends you will find him as winemaker in South Jersey. His 5 acres of land is home to 6000 vines which produces 1000 cases annually. Turdo Vineyards is a family affair. Sal, his wife Sarah and son Luca all work in the vineyard and winery.

Sal, born in Sicily, his passion for Italian wines is what you will find planted in his vineyard. Varietals he grows are Nero D'Avola, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebiolo, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Moscato and Rosato. The Nero D'Acola is one of Italy's most indigenous grapes and he brought the vines from Sicily to plant in his vineyard.
When Sal planted his vineyard back in 1999, he did so by grafting. When you graft, you only lose one growing season as the vines will produce fruit the following year to be used in the production of wine, Sal explained to me. This is much easier than waiting 4 years after planting young vines. Sal told me he had produced Cabernet Franc. It wasn't a big seller in the tasting room, so he pulled those vines, grafted new vines onto the root stock and 1 year later was making wine from those grapes. Sal has an 86% success rate in grafting. Harvesting of the grapes is not done by brix explains Sal. "It's in the seeds. When the seeds are brown, that's when the grapes have the best flavor and are harvested."

Turdo releases their wines in May, by late summer they are sold out of most wines. He does take orders for futures, from the looks of it, it's the way most of his wine is sold.In the tasting room I made some friends; Karen & Matthew Loing and Lynda. I had a wonderful time tasting wines with them and their beautiful baby, who I might add, slept through the entire tasting to wake at the conclusion. Perfect timing!

What we tasted. I should say, what they weren't sold out of. We began with a 2006 and then a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. I prefered the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. It had a nice nose of melons and citrus fruit and was nice and crisp. He had two Chardonnays that we tasted. The 2006 Chardonnay was stainless steel fermented, no oak. It was crisp and dry. The 2007 Chardonnay was fermented and aged in French oak for 6 months. This wine had hints of soft oak on nose. It had a very long finish that stayed with you for a while. It was a finish of vanilla and soft spice.

I am not a big Rose fan, but I must say, Sal's 2008 Rosato is quite good. Made from Merlot grapes this wine was dry with a wonderful nose of red berries. Fruity flavors of raspberry, strawberry and hint of watermelon on the taste.

As we wind down the tasting, none of the Italian Reds were available. I did taste the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon which had a wonderful nose of black cherry. This wine was nicely balanced. We ended the tasting with the 2008 Moscato. I must confess, as Sal took me through the vineyard he allowed me to taste the Moscato grape. Not one, but a cluster. I can't begin to describe to you the sweetness of these grapes, and the burst of flavor you get with each of them. Yes, I ate the cluster one at a time. Yum! The Moscato Dessert Wine had a wonderful aromatic nose of peaches and almonds. Yes it was sweet, well balanced, silky and sexy. Sarah brought us over some Lady Fingers to eat with the Moscato and WOW, did the combination really bring out the flavor of the wine.

I would like to thank Sal and Sarah for sharing their time with me. They have a wonderful vineyard and winery! If you find yourself in the Cape May, New Jersey area, do stop by the tasting room. It's not to be missed!

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