Quick, without looking it up on Google: can you name the state that is home to the Outer Coastal Plain AVA (American Viticultural Area)?
Here’s a hint: it’s in the U.S. (I know, that one’s obvious…).
The answer: New Jersey. Southern Jersey, to be a bit more precise. As in, the area between Philly and the Jersey Shore points, which is more commonly known as the area that most Philly natives pass through slowly in traffic jams on their way to the shore to enjoy a weekend of Summer sun before trudging back to work on the following Monday.
Yes, for real.
The interesting thing about the Outer Coastal Plain (OCP), is that some of the dry red wines being made there just might be the next best-kept secret in South Jersey after their awesome roadside BBQ joints (whoops – was I not supposed to give that last one away?).
Similar to the Finger Lakes, the OCP has also made some high-quality, ripe, European-style red wines in a cooler climate, especially in the relatively hot 2007 vintage. Yeah – I was as surprised
as you are.
As one winemaker in the OCP showed me, if you take a map of the Bordeaux winemaking region and flip it upside down, it’s a mirror-image of the Delaware Bay area that houses the OCP. Which may mean nothing when it comes to OCP wines, or may mean everything, depending on your point of view. Certainly the wines I tried recently from the AVA that were modeled after European / Bordeaux blends showed a lot of promise, though the winemakers in the region tend to get a bit too oak-happy for my tastes. In any case, the fruit for their reds is much riper than you’d first expect, with the Cabernet Franc showing the most personality, spiciness, and raw quality potential.
Another lesson in not writing off cool-climate reds (and maybe an incentive for those Shore-bound Philly folk to take a short detour from the Summer traffic jams to buy a bottle or two to savor over the weekend at their shore houses…).
Joe Roberts is a Certified Specialist of Wine and author of the award-winning 1WineDude.com wine blog.