Perfectly Aged

Happy Leap Year!

Winter has been more than kind to us this season: not too cold, not too much rough weather. Thankfully February has not been too long. Kind of like aging wines: not too short, not too long.

Aging wines in the bottle brings some deposits in the bottle. While these deposits may not be pleasant to see, they are perfectly normal. Recently, some wine deposits have been found in some of our red wine. As red wines age, the tannins slowly soften and change and the wine becomes more pleasant to drink. Such is the case with Chambourcin, which will have a “tang” in aroma and flavor when young, that softens with age. The 2017 vintage now has been bottled for 20 months, and is losing its “baby fat” (tang) and maturing into a nice, round, supple red wine. The tannins drop as a slight sediment in the bottle. If it happens simply let the bottle stand upright overnight, and then pour off the clear wine from the solids, or “decant” it.

Often if you look at the bottom of a bottle (if stored upright) or the low side of a bottle (if stored sideways)you’ll see a light green/yellow/purple/brown/red sediment. The green and yellow colors come actually from the green glass bottles. The purple/brown/red colors are coming from the tannins softening and dropping. Could we process these deposits out of the wine in the winery? Well………yes, we could,
BUT,
Every time you process a wine, you will lose something in terms of aroma or bouquet, flavor, taste and body. We constantly try not to over-process the wines, but let them develop naturally on their own in the tanks, in the barrels, and in the bottles. These slow changes over time are what makes wine drinking interesting and fun. Too young, too harsh. Perfectly-aged, just perfect. Too old, over-the-hill. It’s like preparing food: neither under or overcooked, but just right.

Another area is cold stabilization (I’ve written about that in the past). Excess potassium and natural acidity from grapes will form crystals (cream of tartar) in tanks, or bottles when the wines get excessively cold. We presently chill our wines to about 26°F in tanks, so you don’t get crystals in your bottles. If you chill your wines below that, you will get crystals.
(CAUTION: freezing wine at home below this, it WILL solidify, the cork WILL push out of the bottle, the alcohol won’t freeze but WILL make a mess in your freezer. Not recommended in my household.)

My assistant winemaker and I recently spent time learning about a new chemical process and compound to take care of tartrates “saving both time and energy”, but we’re not quite sure if we want to use the chemical or implement the process. For the past few years the natural “traditional” method has been working particularly well for us.

SPOTTED LANTERNFLY UPDATE:
York County is now listed in Pennsylvania’s list of quarantined counties. Please exercise care!

That’s all for now. Enjoy your changing wines in good health!

Steve Bahn

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

I cook leftovers and so for St. Stephen’s Day, December 26, I made: Oyster Chowder

8 ounces of shucked oysters and liquor
8 ounces of left-over baked corn (from Christmas dinner)
8 ounces of mashed potatoes or baked potatoes or boiled potatoes (left over from Christmas dinner)
8 ounces of broth (gravy or whatever left over from Christmas dinner: yes, ham broth will be fine)
1/4 small onion, brunoise
1 small stalk celery, brunoise
3 tablespoons parsley
1 glassful of dry stainless steel aged Chardonnay (e.g, 2018 Logan’s View)
5 dashes Old Bay Seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper to taste (go easy on the salt)

Melt butter, add onion & sweat.
Add celery & sweat.
Add Logan’s View Chardonnay to deglaze the pan.
Add oysters & all liquor, reduce heat to low.
Add potatoes (diced or mashed)
Add finely chopped or food-processed baked corn. If you don’t have baked corn, use 8 ounces of whole corn (creamed, canned, or frozen).
Add parsley, Old Bay, salt & pepper to taste.
Stew for 10 to 15 minutes on low heat.

Enjoy with a glassful of Logan’s View Chardonnay, and crusty bread.

Happy New Year!

P.S. Things are fine in the cellar, 2019 is a very good vintage. See you January 16 at Meet the Winemaker Happy Hour in the wine shop!

Steve Bahn

Happy New Year!

This greeting comes a few days late, and for good reason.  We had been “sworn to secrecy” regarding announcing until today that we won some awards at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show Wine Competition.

We entered five wines in the competition (held in early November), and we were awarded five medals: a sweep!

2017 Riesling, Bronze Medal

2017 Chardonnay, Bronze Medal

2016 Commonwealth, Silver Medal

2016 Merlot, Bronze Medal

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bronze Medal

The Commonwealth is our tribute to classic French red bordelaise-style wine: a blend of 36% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Both the 2017 Riesling and 2017 Chardonnay are the finest wines that I have tasted and seen over my past six vintages here at Logan’s View, characterized with excellent true-to-variety fruitiness, body and balance.

The Merlot is marked by beautiful balance of oak, fruit, soft tannin and acidity, and is one of our best Merlots from the past six vintages.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is exhibiting the benefit of receiving extended aging, after 14 months in bulk storage and 22 months in the bottle.  Both bouquet and flavor are integrating really well, and this wine will continue to improve over the next years.

So, the 2018’s are currently clarifying in the case of fruits, whites and rosés, and the reds have begun barrel aging.

We truly appreciate your business, and have a very Happy New Year!

Enjoy your wine in good health!

Steve Bahn

One Tough Vintage

This has been one tough vintage to handle.

Poor spring weather led to problems with Strawberries, Cherries, and Blueberries, and

Poor weather in early spring led to poor grape berry set, and

Poor weather throughout the summer led to extremely low degrees of photosynthesis (sugar formation) in all crops, and

Poor weather throughout the summer and into the ripening period led to extraordinarily high levels of grape spoilage, and

Spotted Lanternfly just dumped more bad onto what was salvageable as good, and 

Hurricanes.

And freak torrential rainstorms.

Plus, just trying to get people to work the vineyards when you need them to do so.

Even with this, we’re still making some very good wines from a not-so-stellar vintage.  Varietal character (the smell of the grape as crushed) is at lower levels: we’ll have some very delicate wines this year, with some wines probably not be bottled under their characteristic name.

There are, however, some exceptions.  Our supplier for Chambourcin grapes, who has been consistently diligent in producing meticulously raised fruit: the 2017 and 2018 Chambourcin red wines and the 2018 Logan’s Rosé are very nice with very good fruit aroma, good body, balanced acidity with very clean fruit flavors.

But, there will be no 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, like there was no 2013: we had to use it only for Cracklin’ Rosé as opposed to a red wine due to less than optimal weather ripening and vineyard management issues.  Sometimes I have to make tough choices with what to do with the harvest.  Expensive fruit for less than optimum wine.  Sorry about that, but we do still have the excellent 2015 and 2016 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon bottled, and the 2017 to be bottled soon.

The good news is that the 2016 reds, which have been bottled, and the 2017 reds which will be bottled very shortly are both very good wines and are tasting quite well.  The 2016 reds have had around 11 months of bottle age and are developing their bottle-aged bouquets.  The 2017 reds are clean, overall moderately intense of the grape variety with a nice complementing dose of oak, and should develop well over the next 5 years or so in the bottle.

The 2017 Riesling and 2017 Chardonnay, both currently available at our shop and at selected restaurants, are the finest examples of those grapes that I have tasted and seen in our past six vintages I’ve had the pleasure of making.

So, keep the Spotted Lanternfly at bay, report it to Penn State when you find it, and enjoy your wine in good health!

Steve Bahn

Spotted Lanternfly

I don’t want to be accused of being too technical, and please forgive me, but we do have a serious economic agricultural problem with an invasive pest: the Spotted Lanternfly.

If we don’t control it, it will kill us.

Presently a quarantine area exists in Pennsylvania covering the Delaware River west to the Susquehanna River, with not quite all counties being affected. Thirteen counties in southeastern Pennsylvania are now under quarantine for this insect. However, major economic damage has been happening and crops are being lost. One grower alone is reporting going from 150 tons of grapes annual average harvest to less than 5 tons this year. Grape price are skyrocketing, where the grapes are available. Some vines are dying completely due to their inability to overwinter after infestation. And grapevines are not just the only crop being affected: up to $1 BILLION plus in potential damage to Pennsylvania agriculture alone, if we do not stop this pest.

The spotted lanternfly’s preferred host is an oriental Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and grapevines. It feeds on grapevines by piercing the vines and feeding on the phloem and xylem (fluid and nutrient transporting tissues). This feeding causes intracellular damage as the insects siphon vast amounts from the phloem which drastically reduces the vine’s health and vigor. The insects excrete “honeydew” and the feeding sites leak sap, which causes sooty mold to form on the plant’s leaves, reducing photosynthesis (sugar-making capability) of the plant. The sap also attracts wasps and bees. The wounds make the host plants more susceptible to disease. Insect feeding is damaging as there is a constant inflow of insects from surrounding wooded areas. The insect eventually lays eggs at the end of the season, and the adult insects die. When you discover them, remove and destroy the egg masses immediately.

SO: Kill the beasts. Report the beasts. DO NOT TRANSPORT EGG MASSES OF THE BEASTS. Please go online to visit PENN STATE UNIVERSITY website and learn what this pest looks like.

Enjoy your wine (while you still have it) in good health!

Steve Bahn

Presence of sediment in dark fruit wines

Wines in the bottle are chemically alive and over time evolve. I’ve written in the past about well-aged Ice Apple and Chambourcin wines.

We deliberately try to handle our fruit wines as very little as possible to preserve their qualities of fresh fruit color, aroma and flavor.

As all fruit wines age they may deposit some harmless sediments in the bottle. Eventually it occurs, especially with dark fruit wines made from blackberries and blueberries. The presence of alcohol and age are the culprits. (Sorry, but we’re NOT going to start making alcohol-free wines. As for age? Drink up! The next vintage is coming!)

There are times when bottles of blackberry wines drop a white- to pink-colored precipitate of ellagic acid.
Ellagic acid is proposed to be one of the most powerful naturally-occurring anti-carcinogens found in the “dark fruits”. It appears as a sometimes unsightly but totally harmless precipitate, and even though winemakers don’t appreciate its appearance, it occurs naturally.

So, if you should find some and it clouds your wine, all is not lost: simply allow the wine to settle upright for a day before uncorking, and decant the cleared wine from the solids, and:

Enjoy your wine in good health!

Steve Bahn