Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Silver Decoy

It was 10-10-10, the sun was shinin', and the mood headed towards the winin'. On a gorgeous fall day, Jonaid and I continued the winery escapades to Silver Decoy in East Windsor.

In the spring we tried to find this winery, but my google-maps address led us to a warehouse that did not resemble a vineyard by any means. This time we used the address listed in the passport and the GPS led us right to it.

Pulling up the rocky path we turned into the winery. Inside was a shuffleboard game which two boys enjoyed. Animal heads were mounted on the walls along with a flat screen TV playing the Giants game. Two barrel tables were in the center; there was a couch in the bathroom. If it hadn't been for the giant wine rack it would have felt like a well-kept man cave.

Russ, aka 'Czar' was our wine host. With a big grin he greeted us and began the tasting. He asked us what we normally drink, and then started our tasting based on that. Once he got a response from our first glass (the chambourcin) he again adjusted - I got something sweeter, Jonaid kept getting the dry reds. Continually through the tasting, he changed what we next drank based on our reply.

There is no charge for the tasting and you can try as many wines as you want.  All of the grapes are grown in NJ; all but the Ugly Duckling White are grown on site.

White Wine
Traminette - One of the best selling, but traminettes have had a bad rap with me lately. Slightly remnant of a chardonnay, it is tasty, and as Russ said, "very good for you".
Pinot Grigio - did not try
Stainless Steel Chard - Crisp and clean; Jonaid preferred this over the oak.
Oak-Aged Chardonnay - Flavorful and oaky; I preferred this over the stainless steel
Viogner - did not try

With all of the mounted animal decor and the name of "Silver Decoy" Jonaid was curious if the winery had hunting themes behind it. Russ explained that while most of the founders do hunt, the name is a bit more complicated. "When e-mail first came out I was trying to think of an email name," he explained. "My friends joke I am the 'silver fox' when I hunt, so I tried that. It was taken, so my wife suggested Silver Decoy, and it worked. When we were establishing the winery, we were throwing around a number of names- Windsor Winery, nah, when the email got suggested. All agreed, and the rest is history."

Red Wine
Chambourcin - To me this was bitter and acidic; to Jonaid the sharp taste was agreeable. In the end Jonaid ended up getting a glass of this, and later a bottle.
Marechel Foch - This is the full name of a grape typically abbreviated to simply "foch", which is after French WWI veteran Ferdinand Foch. Usually this grape is used to make a very sweet wine which gives it a bad reputation. Jonaid tried and reviewed it as "good, but the chambourcin is better."
Merlot - Very smooth and relaxing. I ended up getting a glass of this to enjoy on the patio.
Cabernet Franc - This is Russ's favorite. Frequently when he is going somewhere he'll bring a bottle and then open it there because he knows he will enjoy it. It has a heavy berry smell and is very flavorful.
Baby Retriever - 1/2 Syrah and 1/2 Cab Franc. I'm wondering now why there isn't a full Syrah bottle. While this was good, there was a lot of flavor here that was a bit overwhelming.
Retriever - 92% Sangiovese and 8% Merlot. Both Jonaid and I enjoyed this better than the Baby Retriever. It almost had a peppery taste to it, but the Sangiovese was softened by the merlot.

At this point Russ announced, "Jimmy Buffet is in the house!" and over the sound system came Cheeseburger in Paradise.

On The Sweeter Side
Sunrise Blush - Dryer than I was expecting with a lot of flavor. The aroma has hints of citrus and at $10 a bottle this makes a good summertime pick.
Ugly Duckling White - A blend that includes the only grape not grown on site, albeit still in NJ. A standard white that easily pleases the masses.
Ugly Duckling Red - Served cold. Not too sweet; actually quite refreshing. Likely one of those wines you'd pour over ice (a strange trend I've seen only in NJ).
Blueberry - did not try

The ugly duckling bottles have labels that mimic this sign:

Eight ducks for each of the founders. These labels looked pretty sharp, although Russ admitted at first he wasn't a fan. "Who wants the ugly duck?" He said.
"But it becomes a swan," Jonaid countered.
"True, and we sell a lot of this. It swans when you open it." Eight ducks- each founder with nicknames like Bull, Boots, Kansas, and others. Russ's nickname is Czar, which offers him "Czar Power, not to be confused with Star Power," he explained. Five of the original eight are remaining in the endeavor.

As we finished the tasting Russ invited us to tour the grounds and to try some of the grapes. We headed outside and each row of vines was well labeled. The Cabernet Franc was in full force; we sauntered over and picked a grape which were absolutely delicious. Russ explained they do cut grapes from the vines so as to allow the quality to be higher. More grapes on a vine mean higher quantity but quality is sacrificed.

Heading out to the outside patio, we sat and enjoyed the view.

Jonaid's top wineries, now that we've been to 1/3 of them, are Hopewell and Silver Decoy. I must say I agree and both of those places I would (and have) take friends and family.


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