Connecticut Wine Festival – 2012

The CT Wine Festival was on the last weekend of July. The witless wine troupe (ah, that would be me & the missus and my sister- and brother-in-laws) started off the morning drive to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen, CT under a partly cloudy sky but soon realized that it was not if it would rain, but when. We were hoping the inevitable dilemma of transparent moist daggers from the heavens would hold off long enough for us to enjoy the 4th annual CT Wine Festival.

The parking lot was as empty as could be, given that the wine festival would not open for another 30 minutes.

We arrived a half hour earlier than expected and you can see that we were among the brave and loyal wine enthusiasts to get a front row parking spot.

This is advantageous strategy on the part of us wine purveyors. You see, we didn’t need to worry about parking in the doldrums of the cheap seats, way back in swamp land, wondering if we would ever find the wine mobile without utilizing the panic button on the key fob.

Umbrella in hand, we marched on to the starting gate (see featured photo) to enter the world of fine wines.  You can see the line forming in anticipation of finding the best wines of the festival. Much to our surprise they opened the gates about 10 minutes before the announced starting times.

Fortunately we arrived early but so did many of the other wine enthusiasts as well but it was not yet to the point where you were four or five deep. So, the process of getting wine samples was still relatively easy to obtain. Here are just a few of the brave wine tasters waiting for samples or those purchasing wine.

Many of you have heard about our Fancy Schmancy Initials Club so, can you spot Sparing Sharon and Cousin Carl?

Once we sampled the wines and made our purchases we found ourselves outside the tasting barns and out in the open where the skies threatened numerous droplets of rain but we were determined to visit the vendors of other products than wine before the wet stuff began. I’m particularly fond of the vendors selling oils and vinegars.

Once we had visited the outside vendors we got back to the car – oh, look at the parking lot now.

So, if you want to park in the front row, get to the wine festival early. Now, the only thing left to do now was stop at Apricot’s restaurant in Farmington to top off a perfect afternoon wine tasting. But outside under the tent the rains finally poured down upon us (sorry no pictures of the rain as the camera was in the car). I have to remember that I have a phone with a camera in it.

If you’re looking for a fun day and want to taste wine from many of the state’s wineries, you’ll surely enjoy this outing. So, put a reminder on your calendar for July 2013 to visit the Connecticut Wine Festival

Les Trois Emme

I was getting to the end of my day for wine tasting and Les Trois Emme was my last stop of the day. Located in Southwestern Massachusetts in the Berkshires, it was quite a drive from where I had to be for the evening but it was worth the stop. I spent about 2 hours and 15 minutes here and it will go down in my top memorably wine experiences.

When I first walked in this is what caught my eye right off the bat.

Disregard the pad and pen off to the right of the table as this wasn’t supposed to “get in” the picture. (Note to self: Pay more attention to where you place the writing instruments). I immediately enjoyed the color scheme of the purple walls and the green doors. The only thing missing is the black ceiling I remember from my college days.

I was greeted by a lady named Mary Jane and she came right up to me and wanted to know if I’d like to do a wine tasting. You know what my answer was. But before we got to the wine we took a walk in the back where they make and bottle the wines. Although I have been to many of the back rooms and they are all quite similar, it amazes me how each winery I visit, add their own charm to the surroundings.  I must have left my camera out in the tasting room area as I do not have any pictures of where the wine is made. (Note to self: pay more attention to where your camera is).

During my conversation with Mary Jane, she commented that the name of the winery was named after her first three granddaughters – Megan, Madison, and Mary Katherine – hence, Les Trois Emme. Mary Jane, with a pleasing voice, began telling me “stories” about a lot of interesting subjects. I was so mesmerized with the “stories” that I forgot to write them down. (Note to self: pay more attention to capturing the “stories” you hear).

Normally you get around five wines for a $6 fee but somewhere along the line it was decided I would get to taste all of their wines and do the food parings as well. I forgot to write down all of the food I paired with which wines (Note to self: pay more attention to food & wine pairings). About this time Mary Jane’s husband, Wayne (he’s the chemist), came in for a quick visit and we also chatted for a spell – no, I didn’t write what we talked about – yeah, I know “Note to self” time.

Okay, on to the wines I tasted and yes, I did remember to write my impressions of the wine as I tasted each one:

Kiyo’s Sparkling Wine – $20: This was a semi-sweet sparkler made from the Chenin Blanc grape. I found pear with a hint of apple on the nose with pear and apple on the palate. This was a very nice sparkling wine.

Splash of White – $16: A blend of several white wines from French-American hybrids, this opened with an apricot nose. Megan (not one of the granddaughters, but the wine staff and a radio host) gave me a shrimp cake that had sweet potatoes, cumin, and red bell pepper as the ingredients. This went very well with this wine which had a pear flavor.

Cayuga White – $16: This is one of their medal winners and it was predominately pear and apple aromas and flavors. This was paired with a pot sticker (don’t ask for the ingredients as I didn’t write it down).

Nick Jackson Blush – $16: A blend of 90% Cayuga and 10% Marechal Foch produced pear on the nose with red cherry on the palate with a slight peppery finish.

Julia’s Ruby Red – $18: Red berries on the nose and palate, this was served well chilled and had a bit of sweetness to it. This was paired with a quesadilla.

Shiraz-Cabernet – $18: 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon began with plum and boysenberry on the nose. On the palate I got plum and black cherry with a slight peppery finish.

Old Vine Zinfandel – $25: On the nose were hints of black and red cherry followed by red cherry and raspberry flavors. I liked this one a lot and was probably my favorite of all the wines.

Malbec – $20: I paired the other half of the quesadilla with this. Raspberry on both the nose and palate with a slight mocha finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon – $22: This had black cherry all over it. Although one dimensional it was quite tasty.

Berkshire Red- $18: This blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec produced mostly black berry fruit aromas and flavors.

Stingy Jack’s Pumpkin Wine- $16: I got pumpkin rind aroma, like when you’re carving a pumpkin for the Trick or Treaters, but not too overpowering. A subtle pumpkin flavor unlike a pumpkin ale which is way too much pumpkin flavor for me. This was a bit softer. It was paired with a warm pumpkin soup and it went very well. The wine complemented the soup tremendously.

Wizard’s Cranberry Wine – $16: A semi-dry wine infused with cranberry, hence you’ll get cranberry on the nose and palate.

As you can see from the above picture is was fairly light when I first arrived, however when I left, darkness had taken over the whiner-mobile. Their wine is made from the grapes that are located on their three acres in the vineyards as well as six acres from the Finger Lakes Region. They produce just over 2500 cases a year and Mary Jane is the taster and when she says says it’s ready, then it gets bottled. I’m going to take her word for it. (Note to self: take time to revisit Les Trois Emme).

Furnace Brook Winery

Furnace Brook Winery is located at Hilltop Orchards in Richmond, MA and I almost missed the turn but relied on my GPS to direct me to the right place. Located in the Western part of the Berkshires with great views, Furnace Brook Winery sells not only their wines but other delectable treats such as scones, cider donuts (yum), jams, and of course, fruit pies. My favorite of the bunch were some pickled garlic. I for one, love raw garlic just to munch on with some provolone cheese and crackers but the pickled garlic was really great.

Many of their wines were/are medal winners at the Big E Northeast Wine Competition for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and upon visiting them the first wine is free and then for $5 more you get to try five more wines. And of course they bottle the wines in the Big Red Barn in the picture above.

Here are the wines I ended up ordering:

Chardonnay Special Reserve – $16.99: A pale yellow color yielded a lot of pear, apple, and grapefruit aromas on the nose. I also got pear and grapefruit on the palate with an apricot finish. I really like this wine as I’m not a real fan of Chardonnays but this was one I’d like to have more of.

Dry Riesling – $16.99: Now a dry Riesling is something I am partial to. I think of most of the white wines, a dry Riesling is one I look forward to trying each time I open a bottle. On the nose were nuances of apple and pear with neither one overpowering the other, a nice balance between the two. I got pretty much the same on the palate with a good touch of acidity.

Mead: This wasn’t for sale when I visited them but they had it on the tasting menu. According to the tasting staff, this is made from an Ethiopian recipe that opens with fresh cut hay and sawdust on the nose with hints of honey. Honey and golden raisin flavors followed and although a bit too sweet for me it tasted good nonetheless.

Cabernet Sauvignon – $18.99: Black berries and cassis on the nose led into red and black cherries on the palate with a neat little mulberry finish. I liked this but not as much as some Cabernet Sauvignons from France, Italy, and California. I’m not knockin’ New England reds mind you, it’s just that we’ve got a ways to go yet to be of the same caliber as those I just mentioned. We do well with white wines through.

Sparkling Blanc de Blancs – $16.99: One of my favorite white wines are of the sparkling kind. This had visions of a Brut Champagne with a pear aroma and apple and pear flavors. This was very effervescent like a sparkling wine should be. Really liked this one.

French Cidre’ – $12.99: This had a bit of sparkle to it but not like a sparkling wine and again it had apple and pear aromas and flavors too. I really liked this but thought it was a bit over priced as most ciders I come across are under ten bucks.

Seeing as it was chilly when I visited this winery they had the indoor fireplace crackling for the tasters to get close to while sipping some of the wines. It was real warm entertainment and quite enjoyable on a chilly afternoon, but where else would you go on a chilly afternoon?



Ever wonder what kind of bubblies you should get for the New Year’s Eve festivities. Actually, whatever you’d like and here are three that fit the bill.

Cline Cellars 2009 Nancy’s Cuvee: On the nose you get an aroma of toast with subtle hay nuances. Lemon and green apple flavors follow on the palate. Made with 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir this sparkling wine has 13% alcohol by volume. In my opinion the $21 price tag is worth every penny. Good luck trying to get this as I believe they are sold out. So, make this a reminder for next year!

Furnace Brook 2010 French Cidre Special Reserve: Next up is a local sparkling beverage with a pleasant aroma of apples but not overpowering. Think tart apple on the palate and you will have a delectable beverage that is low in ABV at 6.9%. A decent buy at $12.99.

Cavit Prosecco Lunetta: Peach, apple, and nectarine gently float through your nostrils giving way to citrus flavors and has an 11% ABV. Reasonably priced at $10.99.

Have a memorable New Year’s Eve Celebration!

Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery

Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery sits on approximately 450 acres of land of which about 80 acres are planted with a variety of grape vines. The day I visited was rain-soaked but I still had a great time. The walk from the driveway to the tasting room was a short distance but was very picturesque and the rain held off for a short spell to allow me to get some pictures of the winery sign at the entrance and this one showing the tasting room.

Upon entering the tasting room you see two wine bars although the first one seems to be reserved for purchasing wine, signing up for their wine club, etc. They  have two wine clubs available for receiving wine right at your door. You can sign up for either their 4- or 12-bottle shipments that come out three times a year. They also have a VIP club that provides special deals whenever you visit the winery or their on-line store. The VIP membership is free with the 12 bottle membership but costs $20 for the 4 bottle membership.

The second wine bar, just pass the fireplace, is where they conduct the wine tastings which are $6 for the wines available on their tasting menu. You do not get a signature glass either but I did get to meet CJ and Kyle (the sommeliers) that explained the nuances of their wines.

First on the tasting menu was their 2000 Blanc de Blancs: Made from 100% Chardonnay in stainless fermentation, this bubbly was quite dry (I prefer this), had a pale straw color with an apple aroma with a hint of grapefruit and yeast on the nose. It was a very pleasing aroma. The flavor, however, was what really pleased me as I found grapefruit, tart apple, and a subtle finish of apricot. I really liked this sparkling wine.

Next was the 2006 Westport Brut RJR: Again I got an apple aroma with a hint of grapefruit but found less yeast on the nose. The flavor was much the same as well as my impression of the bubblies – quite good!

2009 Chardonnay: Apple pie and apple blossoms on the nose with flavors of pear and apple delicately balanced where neither flavor overpowered the other. It was a very nice Chardonnay.

2010 Pinot Noir Rose: Candied apple aroma led into a red berry flavor (I couldn’t pinpoint a particular red berry so I just categorized it as just red berries) with a distant flavor of cranberry.

2009 Riesling: This wine opened with tropical fruits on the nose, had crisp acidity with minimal minerality – a very decent balance of the two. This had predominately apple flavors, the others I couldn’t detect.

NV Pineau de Pinot: This dessert wine was awesome and my favorite wine here. Aged in French oak for approximately three years the wine had a pinkish color and a delectable combination of red cherries, apricot, and orange on the nose. The flavor was reminiscent of Cognac with candied cherry, fig, and honey. I didn’t know if I was drinking a dessert wine or a Cognac.

In their gift shop you can purchase other items in addition to their wine such as t-shirts, wine accessories, and books. It was a fun place to visit and the wines were quite good. If you haven’t been here yet, it’s worth the trip. I know I’ll make more than just one trip here.

BTW, CJ says to watch out for an independent movie called Footprints, a Shepard film.

New Year’s Eve Bonus Review 2010

Here are a couple of inexpensive bubblies and a movie that will keep you in stitches for the new year!

The Movie

Death At A Funeral

This 2007 dark comedy centers around the death of the father of an eccentric and wealthy British family. During the funeral a stranger appears to bring the sons some disturbing news about their father’s infidelity and in their attempt to quell the stranger’s claims as all is turned upside down. With the wit only the British are famous for, this black comedy directed by Frank Oz will guarantee your insides will eventually stop shaking from the immense laughter prompted from the dysfunctional clan. 4 1/2 popcorn boxes, a box of Dots and a box of Sno-Caps too.

The Bubblies

Freixenet NV Cordon Negro Extra Dry. This is a fruity sparkling wine with peach and honeydew melon flavors. $9.99, 86 rating.

Cristalino NV Brut Cava. This sparkling wine has citrus and apple flavors sure to thrill all. $8.99, 88 rating.

From the Witless Whiner wishing you a Happy New Year!