What Exit Wines
We were recently invited to participate in a virtual tasting for What Exit Wines, a second label for New Jersey Winery Old York Cellars. Though actually unfamiliar with Old York’s first label offerings, it was a good opportunity to better acquaint ourselves with wine from the Garden State, which, it seems, some journalist is dubbing “the next Napa” every few months these days. In addition, the tasting was a benefit for Hometown Heroes (and raised over $300 for the cause).
The concept of What Exit is – as second labels often are – gimmicky. The labels are partially customizable (there are a few templates to choose from, and you can personalize text). As seekers of finely-crafted wine, this type of thing can immediately set off red flags, but we’re also keenly aware that East Coast wineries need to do whatever it takes to stay afloat, and this seems like a relatively harmless trick, especially considering the playful take on the timeless Jersey inside joke. More importantly, for each bottle of What Exit sold, Old York donates $1 to Hurricane Sandy relief. (Those of us insulated in PA may forget that this recovery is still ongoing, but it most certainly is.)
At $18 each for white, red or rose, considering the label customization and the charity play, and the fact that it generally costs more to produce wine in this region, even if the wine is nothing special, the starting value proposition is reasonable.
As a natural skeptic of East Coast reds, I was particularly impressed with the What Exit Red, a blend of Merlot (70%) and Barbera (20%), rounded out with hybrids. Boldly fruity, it featured cheery doses of plum and cherry, alongside warm notes from American oak such as toffee and vanilla. An intriguing wine that evolves in the glass, it’s nicely balanced to pair with food or drink on its own.
The dry What Exit Rose – strangely labeled a “Blush” – perhaps because Old York typically sells a sweeter pink wine on their first label – is a mix of Cab Sauv, Chenin Blanc and some hybrids which features some light fruit – apricot, strawberry, even tomato – and is easy to drink. It’s not particularly complex, but it goes down smooth and pairs with a wide variety of light-to-medium fare.
The What Exit White – which is mostly Chenin Blanc with a hybrid called Cayuga White (according to the virtual tasting, even though the website says Seyval Blanc) was surprisingly, considering the fact that whites tend to work best in our little slice of the planet, least successful. There’s this funky, edgy quality – almost like gym socks, to channel Vaynerchuk (since we’re going Jersey) – alongside a mulled cider vibe, leading to a soft finish.
Though somewhat inconsistent, our first experience with Old York’s wines was generally positive, and we’ll look forward to trying more from them in the future.
We’ll be giving away a FREE Old York Cellars tasting room pass for two to one of our Facebook fans on August 15, 2014. Just like us on FB before then for a chance to win!
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If you want to try What Exit wines, between now and August 8, 2014, use the discount code HEROES to receive 20% off any purchases online or in the tasting room (in person just mention the code).