Cape May Food & Wine Experience Part 2: Sean's Notes

Despite the rather unpleasant weather, we made it out to this year's Cape May Food & Wine Experience at the Naval Air Station Museum. Initially, there seemed to be a bit of a crush trying to get at the tables to taste the wines, but by our third table, things seemed to have sorted themselves out and obtaining samples became much easier.

This year also featured live cooking demonstrations and a number of food and craft vendors, which were each new additions that seemed to go over very well. But let's face it, we were really there for the wines, and there were some really impressive ones on offer. I only stuck to tasting wines I figured I would be interested in, which might skew my overall opinion somewhat, but I didn't dislike any of those I tried, though I definitely had some favorites.

The first that I really fell in love with, and which was possibly my favorite of the day, was the Tango by Sharrott Winery of Blue Anchor. This blend of 3 red varieties (including personal favorite Cabernet Franc) had the perfect smooth and smoky flavor that I love in a red wine. While I enjoyed all the reds that Sharrott had on offer, this one really stood above the rest. Their whites were worth noting as well, with a Pinot Grigio and unoaked Chardonnay that I found crisp, clean and refreshing. Their wines were so consistently enjoyable that they might very well be my favorite winery of the event.

The reds from Plagido's Winery of Hammonton were also quite a treat. The Chambourcin was one of the better examples of the grape on hand, with rich cherry and oak notes. But their Vino de Casa was another one of my favorites of the day. It was velvety smooth with notes of plum and felt like a great wine for an Autumn evening by a fire.

DiMatteo Vineyards of Hammonton also impressed me with 2 of their wines; a delicious Cabernet Franc, which was my favorite example of the grape on hand, and their Chocolate Raz. I don't typically favor sweeter wines like that, but this one reminded me of a Tootsie Pop in the best way possible and was imminently drinkable.

Everything I tried from Mullica Hill's Heritage Vineyards was a treat. The Cuvée Blanc seemed perfect for Summer with strong grapefruit flavors. The Sauvignon Blanc interestingly was softer and cleaner, making a great accompaniment for chicken or fish. All of their reds were a treat, with the Cuvée Rouge, Merlot, Syrah and Chambourcin all offering smooth but interesting flavors. The real star here though was the Estate Reserve BDX, and at $50 a bottle it should be. This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec offers a rich, complex experience that is hard to rival, and only narrowly gets beat out of the top spot of the day for me.

Other personal highlights:

  • Hawk Haven's Naked Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio were easily my 2 favorite whites of the show. Each was crisp and clean with interesting flavors lurking just beneath the surface.
  • Coda Rossa's entire selection of dry wines on offer (Neve, 1526 Blend, Tempesta, Coeur d'Est) was pretty delicious and worth seeking out.
  • Auburn Road Vineyards was also pretty consistently delicious, but the Eidolon 2012 stood out particularly, with complex flavors that only get better as they linger on the tongue.
  • Cape May Winery had a really lovely Cabernet Franc on hand.
  • The always reliable Bellview Winery stood out with the lightly sweet Jersey Devil White and a rich and flavorful Coeur d'Est.
  • Lastly Tomasello Winery had a few stand-out reds in their 2013 Palmaris Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and 2013 Palmaris Petit Verdot Reserve, with each offering the right blend of complexity and drinkability to be truly enjoyable.

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