Thursday, July 25, 2019

Hawk Haven Celebrates A Decade Of Award-Winning New Jersey Wine

IMG_20190724_215825_459Wine from New Jersey? Say what? Say “yes.”

From Lima Beans To Cabernet

Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery began as a New Jersey dairy farm in the 1940s, later branching out into lima beans, watermelons and pumpkins. When Todd Wuerker and his brother came of age, it was time to take the family farm in another direction. Out with the lima beans and in with the Cabernet Sauvignon!

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Since changing course with the planting of the first vines in 1997, Hawk Haven has earned a passel of honors for its wine. Located in scenic Cape May, the winery has 16 acres of European grape varieties making head-turning wines.

Lower Cape May, part of the Outer Coastal Plain wine region, is considered by some to be the premier growing region on the East Coast. Hawk Haven’s 2007 Merlot captured a gold medal in the New Jersey State Wine Competition – something never before done by a winery with its first vintage. The winery was runner up for the prestigious Governor’s Cup.

Todd and wife Kenna opened the doors of the Hawk Haven tasting room on Memorial Day weekend in 2009 with their first-ever Sangria Weekend, serving chilled Sangria in mason jars. That tradition has continued every summer Sunday since then.

As a native of New Jersey, I was surprised to recently discover the renaissance of winemaking in the Garden State. You can read all about it in our article here. With that in mind, I was anxious to sample the wines of Hawk Haven.

IMG_20190720_184645A Paella Pairing

As part of our journalistic mission to inform you of cool wines from all around the world, we taste beaucoup wines. It’s not always possible, but when it is we like to pair each wine with a tasty meal. With two Signature Series wines from Hawk Haven at the ready, our chef began preparations.

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Our first wine was the 2018 Signature Series Albariño, Outer Coastal Plains. Having sipped Albariño in Spain, I know it is best served with seafood. As luck would have it, the Green Dragon (my wife) was preparing to make paella – a delightful rice and seafood dish.

In the glass the Albariño is a brilliant platinum color. The aroma of citrus preceded the cool, bright and crisp wine. It has ample acidity and a mere 12.5% alcohol, making it an ideal food wine. On the palate there are lemon and peach notes.

It’s a lively and delicious wine that is especially well suited for shrimp, shellfish and mussels. It also works well as a refreshing glass on a hot summer day. This was bottle number 842 of 975. A limited edition luxury wine at a mere $23.99 SRP.

The Porkchop Challenge

I was ready to take matters into my own hands with the 2016 Signature Series Syrah. I picked out some lovely rib-in porkchops at Trader Joe’s to take advantage of a picture-perfect grilling day.

IMG_20190701_182332A knock against winemaking in the Eastern states, some would say, is that robust reds aren’t as, well, robust. Would the Syrah stand the challenge of a perfectly grilled (I say this humbly) porkchop? My normal go-to Pinot Noir was looking neglected in the wine rack.

One sip of the Hawk Haven Syrah and my doubts floated away like a puffy summer cloud. It was superb! The emphasis is on balance and delicious fruit flavor. Medium-plus in body, it was a nice pairing with the chop. For added complexity, the Syrah was fermented with added Viognier skins. This is a Rhone Valley technique which added to the wine’s complex beauty.

There are marvelous flavors of raspberry with a hint of pepper. On the back of the palate there is tart sour cherry. The finish is long and lingering. Wow. I was thankful I didn’t overcook our porkchops.

This was bottle 12 of a 650-bottle production run. We were moving up in the world! This is a wonderful bottle for $39.99 SRP.  Based on our experience with these two bottles, we heartily recommend Hawk Haven wines, particularly the Signature Series.

Ready for the unexpected? Explore New Jersey wines. Hawk Haven Winery is a splendid place to start.

Full Disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

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