Five years ago, I put together 12 different bottles of local wine for a friend—A Case of the Brandywine, I called it. The dozen wines were not necessarily the 12 best regional bottles, but collectively they represented the diversity and high quality that is available locally.
Five years later, two of the original wineries have been repurposed into new wineries, and one of them, the old Folly Hill, opened its doors a few weeks ago as the completely done-over Galer Estate. The eight wineries located in Pennsylvania just north of the Delaware border all have different times when they release their new wines, but these 12 wines—the 2011 Case of the Brandywine—should still be available at the respective wineries’ tasting rooms. Check their individual Web sites for more information.
Non-vintage Stargazers Sparkling Traditional ($21) Stargazers is the only local bubbly-maker, which is a shame as it shows that dry, elegant sparkling wines can be made here. Note, however, that hand-made sparklers will have bottle-to-bottle variations.
2010 Galer Estate Pinot Gris ($17) This estate’s first release is an excellent start—clean and vibrant with lots of pear tones, good minerality and balanced acidity.
2010 Paradocx Pinot Blanc ($19) Nice assertiveness, but well-balanced with lots of spices and minerals.
2010 Kreutz Creek Vidal Blanc ($14) Vidal is the best white French/American hybrid grown locally, and this one has very good spices overlaying the apple flavors.
2009 Galer Estate Chardonnay ($15) A juicy wine with lots of sappiness, apple flavors and a hint of custardy flan in the finish. The 2008 has more oak notes.
2009 Va La “La Prima Donna” ($40) It is a lovely mixture of dried and tropical fruit flavors infused with lots of spicy, peppery notes, with a long, tight finish. Perhaps the best wine in the basket; it is, unfortunately, almost sold out.
2010 Paradocx Chambourcin ($19) Chambourcin is our workhorse French/American red hybrid, and here it comes across in a Beaujolais style with lots of Gamay-like fruitiness.
2009 Stargazers Cabernet Franc ($18) Cherries and cranberries with good leathery acidity and tannins. Winemaker John Weygandt calls it a “red wine for fish.”
2010 Chaddsford Barbera ($28) A lovely wine, well-structured with plums, chocolate, anise and mocha.
2004 Penns Woods Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($24) PW is one of the few places to get excellent aged reds, and this 7-year-old Cab has great structure and lots of purple fruits and dark chocolate.
2007 Va La “Cedar” ($45) An elegant blend of Nebbiolo and Corvina grapes from northern Italy, it has ripe currant flavors with moderate oak accents—still somewhat young.
Non-vintage Chaddsford Niagara ($13) A classic for people who like well-balanced, fruity, grapey wines—but I admit it’s not my style.