Penn Shore VineyardsNV Extra Dry Champagne
Penn Shore Winery in the Lake Erie appellation, is recognized as the first post-Prohibition Pennsylvania winery to produce a sparkling wine, having released its first in 1971. When former aerospace executive Jeff Ore purchased the Penn Shore Winery in 2004, he wanted to continue that tradition and Penn Shore’s methode champenoise sparkling wine. While the composition of the Penn Shore’s “Champagne” as it is labeled, changed through the years (old records show it had been for a time comprised of Vidal), Ore has continued it in its more recent formula, 100 percent Riesling from nearby the Lake Erie appellation that stretches along the Great Lake and includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Practicality has trumped precision on the label. The label doesn’t identify the wine as a Riesling. The Pennsylvania wine is billed as “extra dry” when in fact it is closer to a brut. Ore says frankly that he wants the freedom to change the grape sourcing and varietal composition without going back to the federal government for label approval.
Calling the wine Champagne, of course, may irritate purists and outrage the French. But Ore anticipates new labeling rules in 2009 and will drop “Champagne” from the label. The wine remains on the yeast for six months and is riddled by hand. He chills the entire bottle before disgorging, reducing wine loss, and making dosage largely unnecessary.
The wine has fresh apple and wet pastry smell, like an unbaked apple pie. Flavors start with some citric and peach then trend toward musky. The acids are somewhat soft. While sparkling wine and labrusca wines remain the hallmark of Penn Shore’s line-up, Ore has expanded vinifera production, planting Cabernet Franc and the vinifera-like hybrid Noiret. He has been adding barrels annually for an oak program. Offering something unique, Penn Shore also produces a Kir.
Reviewed November 27, 2008 by David Falchek.
David Falchek writes a weekly wine column for several newspapers in Pennsylvania, including the Scranton Times-Tribune. He also contributes regularly to trade publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management and Beverage Media. David has judged regional, national, and international wine competitions where he likes to think he lauds outstanding Seyval or Foch just as readily as Cabernet or Riesling.