Jerram Winery 1.1.11 ~ The Whites

Jerram Winery, New Hartford, Connecticut

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

I managed to start the New Year as planned, spending New Year’s Day re-visiting a couple wineries that I hadn’t visited in almost a year.  The weather certainly helped; after a Boxing Day snowstorm dumped 12″ of snow on most of Connecticut, New Year’s Day dawned bright and sunny and hit the 50s by early afternoon.  The sun glistening off the snow in the hills was beautiful as I made my way over to my first stop of the day, Jerram Winery in New Hartford, Connecticut.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Jerram, despite my liking their wines enough to have brought home one of everything the last time I was there.  So I was looking forward to tasting the latest vintages of some of my favorites and seeing if they had any new wines on the menu.

It was pretty quiet when I arrived; owner and winemaker Jim Jerram was at the Tasting Bar engaged in a lively conversation with a gentleman who, it appears, has recently bought a place – or is considering buying a place in New Hartford.   The interior is bright and cheery – just as I remembered it – and both the ambience and the company welcomed me warmly.

There are 11 wines on Jerram’s current wine list, six of which are available for tasting, three whites and three reds.  First up was the

White Frost, a 100% Chardonnay lightly oaked.  This is a very dry Chardonnay, and those who dislike the fruity, buttery, sweeter Chardonnays should really like this wine.  In some respects it reminded me more of a Sauvignon Blanc than a Chardonnay – crisp, with light notes of lemon and a nice bite of acid on the finish.

After the Chardonnay, I had my choice of Seyval Blanc.  Jerram produces two Seyval Blancs each year, one sweeter and one drier.  I opted for the drier, but in hindsight I realized not only had I sampled the dry Seyval before but had a bottle at home.  I would have done better to choose the sweeter Seyval Blanc BC for the contrast.  Live and learn… and an excuse to return soon.  Despite the oversight I very much enjoyed the Seyval Blanc.  Crisp with light notes of lemon and grapefruit, particularly on the finish, this is my favorite of the Jerram whites.

When I returned home, I looked back over my notes from my first visit to Jerram Winery – almost two years ago.  I had no idea it had been that long!  Turns out the Seyval Blanc BC is one of Jerram’s newest wines, having bottled the first vintage not long before my visit.  Man, I definitely should have opted for the BC!

The whites concluded with the sweetest of Jerram’s whites, the Aurora, a Villard Blanc/Aurore blend.  This is a really nice wine, and one of Jerram’s most popular.  The wine has a soft, sweet nose with notes of apricot and honey both of which blend nicely in the mouth.  Semi-dry, the Aurora is fruit forward with lovely notes of apricot immediately apparent.  The honey is more subtle and really comes through with subsequent sips, providing the wine with a nice depth and complexity over time.

Not on the tasting menu that day, but a wine which I recently enjoyed at home is Jerram’s Gentle Shepherd, a blend of Cayuga, Chardonnay and Aurore grapes.  This was the bottle I opened two weeks ago to launch my vacation – and the holidays.  Nice point/counterpoint to the holidays.

Having finished the whites, it’s time to clear the palate and rinse the glass before proceeding to the reds…

Jerram Winery
535 Town Hill Road
New Hartford, CT 06047

Spending Time With… Jerram Winery’s Gentle Shepherd

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

I have the luxury of being on holiday for the next two weeks – heaven!  Of course achieving that was a direct result of not using more of my PTO during the year.  I’m also forgoing the stress of holiday travel this year – the thought of NOT worrying about dealing with busy airports full of people who travel infrequently, overbooked flights and the expense – double heaven!  Not that I won’t miss spending the holiday with family and friends, but I am looking forward to a quiet, relaxing holiday at home.

So after spending Saturday and a good portion of Sunday finishing the decorating, wrapping and Christmas Cards, I headed down to the basement to select a bottle of wine I could kick back and relax with, something light which would be a good sipping wine.  As I scanned through the whites, my eye it upon Jerram’s Gentle Shepherd, a bottle I picked up about 18 months ago.

A blend of Cayuga, Chardonnay and Aurore grapes, Gentle Shepherd was an inspired choice.  The wine is made for sipping and relaxing.  The nose was more subdued than I originally remembered, but that my be a result of my leaving the wine so long before drinking.  In the mouth, the fruity sweetness of the Cayuga and Aurore grapes is balanced by the buttery smoothness of the Chardonnay.  Light citrus notes combine with the softer sweetness of apricot.   It’s a deceptively simple combination with a silky mouth feel that makes the wine stand well on its own.

Generally I’d have said this was a great summer wine – served chilled on a hot summer afternoon – but turns out it is also the perfect accompaniment to a cozy afternoon in front of the fire.   The wine holds up well on the second day – although I recommend sealing it well.

Spending Time With… McLaughlin Vineyard’s Coyote Blue

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

Hats off to Gretchen for covering for me this week.  I usually try to stay ahead of my posting – writing at least one or two posts a weekend.  If I’m really good, I can often be 3 or 4 weeks ahead, taking the pressure off if I don’t have time to sit down on a particular weekend.

Unfortunately, I skipped too many weekends recently, and the posts caught up with me.  And of course it would happen on a week when I was scheduled to be out of town at a conference.  Oh well…  I’ll get back on track for next week.

So if I wasn’t writing posts – what was I doing last weekend you ask?  Well, as it was Halloween and quite chilly here in New England, I built a fire in the fireplace, roasted a pork loin, opened a bottle of McLaughlin’s Coyote Blue wine and waited for the trick-or-treaters.

McLaughlin Vineyards was one of the first wineries I visited when I began my Connecticut Win(e)ding Road adventures just about 2 years ago.  I like their wines, the coziness of the winery and tasting room, and most importantly love hanging out with Dee, the winery host.  I find myself returning fairly regularly and often dragging friends and relatives along with me.  I’ve been back a number of times since that first trip, including attending one of their Blind Tasting events at which great fun was had by all.

On one of my earliest jaunts, I picked up a bottle of McLaughin’s most popular white, the Coyote Blue, a blend of Aurore (add another grape to the wine century list!) and Vidal Blanc grapes.  At the time of the tasting I found myself really drawn to the hint of  green apple in this semi-sweet wine.  The balance of the green apple tartness of the Aurore with the sweet Vidal grapes made for a rather appealing wine; certainly one I wanted to get to know a bit better.

I recently pulled that bottle out of the cellar where it had been for probably a good 18 months.  I’m not sure why I waited so long to open it, but now am glad I did.  The additional bottle aging softened the wine a bit; it’s lost some of the tart crispness I noted during my initial tasting, but the apple feels more integrated with the wine overall.   Keeping to my “spending time with…” protocols, the first glass was drunk on its own, not paired with food.  The nose was a bit musty with earthy notes, making me worry that perhaps I had left the wine too long before drinking.  But my fears were for naught.   The wine retains much of the sweet richness of the vidal blanc grapes which provide a nice context for the apple notes.  There’s still a touch of tartness on the finish which balances the sweetness and results in a more satisfying wine.

My second glass I paired a roast pork loin with rosemary potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.  I deliberately chose the wine because of the apple notes which, as to be expected, paired well with the pork.  Together the two were a really nice complement.  The pork and rosemary softened some of the green apple tartness of the wine, while the apple, not surprisingly, really brought out the richness of the pork.  I’ve often paired hard cider with pork, but found myself really liking the softer, yet still crisp, notes of the apple in the wine.  It’s a more delicate balance and worked well with this meal.

As that was the only bottle of Coyote Blue in the cellar, I expect next weekend will find me back on the road heading west to Newtown for yet another stop at McLaughlin.