New Jersey Wineries: Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville

Looking for another New Jersey winery to visit last weekend presented me with a lot of choices, but I narrowed it down to one the moment I saw the name: Working Dog Winery, in Robbinsville. As someone who volunteers at the Sammy’s Hope Animal Shelter in Sayreville on weekends, the winery’s name and logo were already enough to get me there. A couple days before, I’d emailed to ask if I could meet the winemaker and perhaps get a tour. Lo and behold, a very genial guy named Mark Carduner called me, said he was the winemaker and would be glad to host me. And when I walked in, he was the first person I saw, at the front of…

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Stellenbosch Vineyards: South Africa Comes Out to Play

South Africa is one of those wine regions that a lot of people have heard about, but few people–too few, anyway—have taken the time to discover and explore its wines.  I’m a little bit in that category; I’ve tasted some of its stuff from time to time, particularly Chenin Blanc, which they sometimes call “Steen” locally, and of course Pinotage, a cross of Cinsault and Pinot Noir that was literally invented in South Africa in 1925.  But I've never really spent much time thinking about South Africa except at an occasional tasting.  And for a lot of people, SA is really just off their wine map, and that's unfortunate. Wine has been produced in South Africa probably since the mid-1600s,…

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Viognier In 2010!

This is among the world's most aromatic whites, with a rich, viscous fullness, often a relatively high alcohol content and even some distinct spiciness on the palate. If, for example, you're used to light, innocuous Pinot Grigio, this wonderful grape might just knock you over - it makes one of the most distinctive white wines on the planet. And depending on where and how it's made, you'll get flavors or aromas of almonds, fennel, citrus, honey, apricots, white peach, pear, and so much more.  In fact, this wine is so rich you may perceive some residual sugar even when there isn't much. Most Viogniers are made to be dry table wine, but there are several late-harvest dessert Viognier wines, too,…

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Vee-Oh-What?

Viognier may be an acquired taste, but frankly, so is all wine. It's one of my favorite whites, and its relative thickness - think of viscosity in the context of an oil change in your car, but in a good way - powerful aromas, and hint of honey even when it's bone-dry are my favorite characteristics. "Experts" will tell you that the best ones come from France's Condrieu region, and here in the US, good wines with that name (appellation) can fetch $60-80-100. Yep. So until fairly recently, those prices, its tough-to-pronounce name ("Vee-uh-nyay") and the fact that it wasn't grown or sold much as a named varietal rather than by the place name meant that few people outside wine…

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