by Cathy Boyd
The mandated restrictions imposed upon us in March curtailed everyone’s work and/or social calendar. With plenty of free time on my hands, I headed to the basement to organize and inventory our wine cellar. It was a pleasure to review previous purchases and discover lost treasures. I discovered too many bottles had been put away awaiting ‘that day’ when the company would be just right, paired with the right food and the wine would be in its prime drinking window. The quarantine made my husband and I think, “What are we waiting for?”
We began to open bottles that just two months ago we would not have touched. There was a reason we had a wine cellar and finding buried gems was one of them. My guidelines for choosing a wine did have a caveat – there had to be at least one other in reserve. That way the wine wasn’t truly gone. Meals were collaborative. My husband planned the menu and I chose the wine. The wine was delicious, the food complementary and our dinner partner was that special someone we married 34 years ago. But one Friday night there was NO collaboration. Work felt particularly grueling and five o’clock couldn’t arrive soon enough that day. My husband arrived home before I did, and, instead of opening the refrigerator first to determine what we would have for dinner, he went to the wine cellar. I walked in the door to find two partially filled wine glasses on the counter and the 2013 Wine Spectator #1 wine of the year open – CVNE Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004.
I stopped in my tracks when I saw the wine on the counter. I took several deep breaths before I could even approach the wine. The CVNE certainly would not have been my choice because there was no back up bottle. Wine Spectator #1 bottles are a fortunate purchase once announced and almost impossible to obtain afterward. Actually anything is available in the wine world, but now there would be a premium attached to the new retail price. I would never have this wine again. And there was no particular concern about what we would eat. What could I do? I couldn’t put the wine back in the bottle and recork it (I thought about it). The wine was poured and if I didn’t drink my share, my husband would. Then I approached the wine – it was a deep rich color – I don’t remember much more – I had been thrown for a loop. I would have cellared this wine for another several years. But there it was, on the kitchen counter, waiting for me to drink. After my first sip all my negative thoughts disappeared. The wine was certainly worthy of the Wine Spectator #1 designation, and I was having it with the person whom I would most want to share it with. It made the tacos taste great.
by Dave Williams
I hope this finds you healthy and surviving the Covid-19 pandemic. Opening of the liquor stores, I suspect, provides some relief; but I am sure we all hope for more normalcy to return. As indicated in previous online communications, we have been Zoom meeting and discussing when and how we can safely resume tastings. After the feedback we received from our survey, we have decided to hold off the August Zinfandel tasting. It does appears that many of you are anxious and cautiously ready to attend a PWS event. To that point, we will host our next event at Black Ankle Vineyards in Maryland in a spacious outdoor setting. Black Ankle is experienced in hosting events with precautions in place. Additional details are provided throughout this newsletter. Our survey also indicated that many are reluctant to attend PWS events until there is a vaccine, or until the virus is significantly reduced and manageable. We respect your decision not to attend. We do hope you will stay with PWS, and join in-person events at some time when you feel comfortable. In the meantime – please join our virtual activities Sunday afternoons.
We are also quite interested to hear what measures you took, or experiences you had, in surviving the challenges of the pandemic such as Cathy Boyd’s shared anecdote “Drinking #1”. Speaking for myself, I have purchased more wine on line than I typically do, which has put me on a first name basis with the UPS and Fed Ex driver. Some of these purchases were prompted by several of the virtual wine tastings I participated in over the last few months. Socializing at home has been limited to small circle of friends who abide by the appropriate quarantine and physical distancing precautions. Please share your own experiences – be they somber, or humorous. You can respond to Editor@PAwinesociety.com with personal experiences, recommendations, etc. We look forward to your sharing!
by Jim Lang
I could have been in California when I ventured to Black Ankle a couple of Sundays ago: green ecology with solar panels and sparing use of water. The patio between two buildings is shaded with checkerboard panels, and former tasting pourers are now servers, new to that role but pleasant and informative. The servers wear masks. A great place to enjoy wine.
They offer some food choices, like cheese and cashews, but it’s the wines that stand out. You choose from three $28 tasting flights, white and red, and you sit at tables well spaced. I had a red flight which included their reasonably priced ($38 a bottle) Passeggiata and their high end $56 Feldspar IV.
After tasting these incredible wines in the flight, I bought a bottle of each and found them unusually good with a variety of foods when I had them at home. The Passeggiata was incredibly versatile and the Feldspar was like no Burgundy/Bordeaux (no grapes were identified for either wine on their bottles) I have ever tasted, and both were silky like I remember the Russian River Pinot Noir made by Rochioli.
Black Ankle Vineyards is open by reservation only, seven days a week from 10/11 AM—6 PM and until 8:30 PM on Friday, when they have live music (also on every 2nd Saturday). They ask that people wear masks when walking around outside. It’s a leisurely ride of about an hour to Mt. Airy, MD; and a pleasure when you arrive. I look forward to our PWS October event there.
by Kimberly and David Hawkins
Our first stop for outdoor dining after the recent pandemic shutdown was Tatiana’s Restaurant in Mechanicsburg. Located conveniently off of Route 15, the beautiful patio was just the escape we were looking for. This family-owned business serves Mediterranean and Ukrainian cuisine exquisitely prepared by Chef Ash. After a personal review of the menu by the chef, we decided to start with the Ukrainian Meatballs prepared with Champagne Alfredo sauce and Gorgonzola cheese. Pleased with our choice, we moved to the main course. I chose the Vegetables Lugano. This tasty choice consisted of organic roasted apples, broccoli, roasted eggplant, onions, zucchini, and red peppers all tossed with extra virgin olive oil in a garlic basil sauce over Mediterranean rice. The portion was plentiful, which meant I got to enjoy it a second time the next day. David enjoyed the Filet Mignon Bourguignon. This dish is prepared with grass-fed filet tips sautéed with garlic, onions, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and Ukrainian sausage in their signature sauce; served over Mediterranean rice. The meal was a masterpiece from start to finish. And as this establishment is a BYOB, we enjoyed a Rosé of Pinot Noir from Starmont Winery and Vineyards in the Napa Valley that paired very well with our selections. We highly recommend a visit!
PWS Members and wine enthusiasts
First, I hope this message finds you safe and healthy. These are certainly unusual times we are experiencing. Returning to normal is everyone’s desire. However, I suspect normal will be somewhat different, at least for some time.
As you can imagine our tasting schedule has been thrown into disarray because of Corona virus. When a clear path forward becomes evident we will resume our tastings while taking all the appropriate precautions for as long as necessary. Unfortunately, that clarity is lacking at the moment. It is our HOPE to be able to host the planned August Zinfandel tasting and will advise on details if this is, in fact, possible. In addition to our usual events we are exploring on line “virtual” events comprising an assortment of fun and educational topics.
PWS is also considering extending memberships in concert with our time of inactivity. More information on this will be available once we know when we can resume tastings. We hope many of you that have not renewed your membership will remain with us going forward.
In the meantime, I ask you to share with us your survival techniques during the Corona virus quarantine from a wine perspective. This should be a brief, practical, helpful, creative or entertaining statement of how you are coping. Photos are encouraged. Plans are to post them on our social media sites for others to enjoy. Forward your compositions and photos to Kimberly Hawkins at email@example.com
Stay healthy and drink well,
President’s Message to PWS Members and Guests
Corona virus is an invisible threat to our health and normal life. What we do not know about it is what makes it so dangerous. The, so called, “abundant precautions” will hopefully flatten the curve and return quick and significant dividends enabling us to return to normalcy. However, until then we will suspend all tastings by the PA Wine Society. Our intention is to reschedule most if not all events going forward. Details and dates will be communicated when known. PWS will be a responsible community citizen placing your health as priority #1.
For those who have signed up for our tastings, we will hold your reservation payment until we determine if/when the event can be rescheduled. When a reschedule date is announced, you may determine if you are able to attend. If you cannot attend, a refund will be provided, or you may apply the fee as a credit toward a future tasting. A refund check will be mailed to you, if desired. If you wish a refund, please contact the treasurers via the Contact Us page of the PWS website http://www.pawinesociety.com/contact-us/.
In the meantime, we urge you to be a considerate citizen, practicing safe and appropriate measures, to avoid contributing to spread of the virus. We look forward to seeing you at future tastings when things return to normal. Until then, I pray you all have sufficient wine to last until the PLCB reopens its stores.
by Jim Lang
MA(i)SON | An Urban Cookery at 230 North Prince Street, Lancaster, PA 17603 Phone: (717) 293-5060
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
It is tough to find a restaurant which features both good food, and is quiet enough to easily allow conversation. Maison satisfies on both counts. Nina and I got a table at 7 PM on a Saturday night and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, even though the small space was packed.
It’s country French, and BYOB ($7 corkage), with a choice of four starters, four entrees and 3-4 desserts, all in ample amounts and all delicious. We had homemade burrata, foie gras, duck breast, gnocchi…ahhh. Check the website at maisonlancaster.com. I have to thank my dermatologist in Hershey for recommending it.
From their website: “Ma(i)son is a contrived word that combines the French word for house or home (maison) with our last name (Mason)—in essence ‘Mason’s house.’ For the first few years we lived in the apartment above the restaurant and think of our restaurant as an extension of our home. It is this sense of comfort and conviviality that we share with our diners on a nightly basis. At Ma(i)son, we like to think that every night we host a dinner party for our friends, family and neighbors.” — Taylor and Leeann Mason
Street parking is easy, even on Saturday night, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. I now have four restaurants, three of which are in Lancaster, to recommend to friends: The Belvedere, John J. Jeffries, Maison, and the Hilton in Harrisburg (noisy, but with good oysters and steak). I welcome recommendations from anyone reading this.
by Dave Williams
The life blood of every volunteer organization is first volunteers, and second, new members. PWS recruitment success has primarily been by direct one on one contact with individuals. However, I have to commend Marty Cook persuading more than a dozen non-members to attend his recent “Godforsaken Grapes” tasting. While I want to encourage Marty to keep up the good work, we can all bring new faces to our events. Needless to say, recruitment of new members has been slower than we would like to see.
When I look across our membership at tastings, I see a sea of senior blonde hair; gray for those of us who don’t hold on to a bit of vanity. Of course this applies more to the men than ladies. This brings me to an event, that is in the planning stages, to appeal to millennials or younger audience. This will be a family-friendly extra event planned for June 13 at Nissley Vineyards. The purpose is to enable younger couples and singles (children included) to attend a budget-conscious event to experience and explore wine and its contribution to life. Details will follow, but what I am asking is that if you have offspring, younger acquaintances, friends and co-workers that have even a slight interest in wine, please help encourage them to attend.
Wine is a wonderful, intimate product connected to a place and people. It can enhance a meal, a moment, a romantic encounter regardless of age. It is not a product that should be restricted to the senior blonde audience.
by Averill Shepps
Sunday, January 26th was the date for the annual awards ceremony and wine tasting for the 18th annual Pennsylvania Wine Excellence judging. We were pleased to have record attendance of 107 for this popular event that highlights the Pennsylvania wine industry. I recall the early days when we held the awards tasting in one of the smallest of the Hilton’s banquet rooms, and now we have now graduated to a section of their ballroom! The winner of our top award and recipient of our elegant plaque this year was Mazza Vineyards Winery for their 2018 Ice Wine. The runner up was Armstrong Valley Winery’s 2017 Cabernet Franc. Winemakers representing the top 13 wines spoke at the event, recalling the difficult wet summer of 2018 when conditions were difficult in the vineyards. We could only admire their hard work, perseverance and ingenuity in dealing with what nature handed them.
Your wine society has a strong crew of volunteers, many of whom helped with such tasks as receiving the wines and getting them to the Hilton on time (Dave Williams and Brett Kern); pouring the sparkling wine for the guests as they entered the room (Rit and Stephanie Casey); many hands were at work with the set up as well as with opening and pre-pouring the other 12 wines (Cindy Shingler, Scott Casper, Kim and Dave Hawkins, Bonnie Noll, Marty Cook, Christine Williams, Susan Decker, Stacey Zechman). Before and after the tasting our Treasurer (Lynne Beeson) and Assistant Treasurer (Cathy Boyd) took reservations, followed up with guests on details, kept financial records, and checked in attendees. It was heartening to see them all work to make the event a great success. My thanks to all of them!
by Dave Williams
A considerable amount of work goes into PA Wine Excellence, for which I would like to thank Averill Shepps and the PWS team that tackles any problem that arises the day of the event. To give you an idea as to scale, we poured 1,378 glasses of wine on Sunday, Jan. 26. No small feat. However, for me the greatest reward is seeing the enthusiasm of the audience, both wine enthusiasts and wine makers. The chatter that occurred during the breaks had many exchanges between wine makers and enthusiasts. Pennsylvania wines certainly deserve more attention and recognition. PWS tries to call attention to the great wines of PA with PA Wine Excellence. Our contribution to the wineries is the press coverage we seek before and following the event. Congratulations to the Winning, Top 13 and 10 Honorable Mention wines and wineries. Attendance exceeded 100 this year. Hopefully, guest and winery participation will increase year after year.
Through my participation in PA Wine Excellence over the years I have gotten to know many of the winery owners and wine makers. These have become valued relationships for me. I particularly enjoy hearing the details and stories behind the wines as told by the wineries at our event. The wines are not merely a product but a place, a time and people captured in a bottle. I like Terry Theise’s term, “authentic” as an excellent contrast to manufactured. Drink local, you may be surprised at what you find.