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March 2014

Oyster River Winegrowers Hoboken Station Cider

Oyster River Wine Growers is located in Warren, up in Maine's mid coast area.  Establishing a winery in Maine was a gutsy move.  Not many people have attempted it so there's no real established knowledge or road map of how to go about it.  Never the less, Brian Smith and Allie Willenbrink decided to make the leap into wine making and vineyard ownership.  

Brian got interested in wine making when he took a job at a winery in VT and was passionate enough to move to CA and study wine making at Fresno State.  After graduating he and Allie moved to Maine and took up residence in an old farm house in Warren to raise a family.  They've planted a few acres of vines (that they work with a horse and plow) but they haven't started producing in earnest yet and the fruit for their grape wines is bought in upstate NY.  This cider however comes from locally grown apples that Brian meticulously selects to give him the right mix of acidity, sugar, and tannin.  

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The Hoboken Station is more of a wine like cider, more similar to the dry ciders of Normandy France and Asturias Spain than to the sweeter lower alcohol versions that are popular in the UK. 

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Aroma: Oyster River's cider has an elegant, delicate, perfumed kind of an aroma.  There's soft white wild flowers, a bit of toast, and some golden raisiny smells.  There's also just a whiff of honey; not in a sweet way, but like floral wild clover honey.  It smells like spring fields and wild flowers in bloom.  And hay!

Palate: Elegant, soft, and with just a hint of spritz to it.  Oyster River's cider doesn't have too much fruit and it's certainly not sweet.  What it is is very clean and refreshing!  The appley fruit that it does have is pretty and relaxed, not too tart, although there is a bit of a cool lemon zest thing going on too.

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This is a really hand made wine; Oyster Rive doesn't filter the cider, doesn't add any sulfites to it, and ferments it with the natural yeast on the skins.  The Hoboken Cider has a golden and slightly cloudy color and it's about as real and honest a farm product as these things get.  Overall it's a delicious and refreshing wine of a cider.  At 9% alcohol and with no sulfur you can quaff jugs and still feel fine, or at least I can.  Also, it's fantastic with grilled cheeses.  

The Hoboken Station Cider is about $12 and available at so many places I'd need another paragraph.  Most small wine shops should have it.


Joan D'Anguera Altaroses Granatxa 2011

Joan d'Anguera is next door to Priorat in Montsant at the southern edge of Catalonia and shares Priorat's painfully arid, rocky, vertiginous mountainside vineyards.  Josep d'Anguera was the man who introduced Syrah to the area and made a name making richly bodied, powerful, lush wines.  Josep passed away, but his sons Joan and Josep carried on and took over the winery.  Joan and Josep have since put their own stamp on things by switching to Demeter certified biodynamic agriculture and focusing more on Grenache (Garnaxta in the local dialect) and less on Syrah. 

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Altaroses is the clearest demonstration and declaration of their vision.  The two brothers started making this since their fathers passing and is completely their own creation.  The Altaroses is brighter and livelier than most of the wines Montsant and Priorat are known for.

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Aroma: Oh dried cherries and rose petals!  This is gorgeously lux melancholy wine.  It smells like the dog days of summer; hot, ripe, pungent.  The aroma is so thick it has texture, like a fuggily hot August afternoon.  There's just a bit of char and some of those hot dry climate herbs: rosemary?  Rosemary and the remains of last night's bonfire.

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The Altaroses is black!  It's totally opaque!

Palate: Big, Big, Big Grenache.  It fills your mouth and then some, but it's not too alcoholic and still has acidity to put some spring in it's step.  The Altaroses is so extroverted; it yells and shouts and waves it's arms as it talks!  And it might have some sticks in it's wild hair.  So much dried cherry, bramble, blackberry, and black berry jam.  There's an underlying taste of dark dry earth to, but so much fruit layered on top you miss it easily.  The fruit is dominant, but the Altaroses has enough other components (tannin, some acid, some earthy flavors) that it comes together well.  Maybe it's a bit of a one trick pony taste wise (Grenache!) but so were the Rolling Stones and look how it worked for them.

Available at Rosemont Brighton Ave and Rosemont Munjoy Hill for $15


Domaine Chene Macon la Roche Vineuse 2012

Domaine Chene is a family winery that started in 1973 and then expanded in 1999 to improve their winery and safe guard the operation for later generations.  The Chene family has been in the general environs of Burgundy since the early 1800s and Cedric Chene is the current farmer/care taker. Today they farm about 70 acres in the heart of the Macon.  

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This Macon la Roche Vineuse comes from rocky vineyards of clay and limestone with good southern exposures resulting in more sunlight.  

Aroma: First off I smell ripe pineapple, but also something a bit richer; there's a whiff of caramel as well.  The Chene Macon la Roche aroma is fresh and floral with acacia and viburnum. There's also a little bit of honey suckle mingled in.  As I smell the Chene more I also pick up a whiff of fresh roasted caramel corn: that smell of sweetness mixed with a bit of a toasted aroma from the hot roaster and corn.  There's lots of rich smelling fruit here, but it's not cloying or over done.  This smells like the start of summer!

 

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Palate: The Domaine Chene is a really energetic wine that over flows with ripe fruit flavors.  I definitely taste pineapple, but also good fresh apple and some lemony citrus.  The mid-palate opens up and there's some of that rich caramely character and a full expansive texture that balances all the acidity of the opening.  There's also a zingy mineral rockiness that hides under the ripe fruit and lush food flavors to keep the wine lively and fun.  

This is an excellent white Burgundy for the money.  The Chene Macon la Roche is ripe, luxurious, and energetically alive tasting all at the same time.  I think this is a great value for white Burgundy and thanks to all the ripe vivid tropical fruit flavors it tastes like a preview of summer!  This is one of my current favorites. 

Available now at the Rosemont Market on Brighton Ave, in Yarmouth, and at Browne Trading for approximately $17.