Chateau Doyac 2006 Haut Medoc Max de Pourtales

A red blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from 20-year old vines and an alcohol by volume of 13.5% had a rich purple color. The aromas of cherry, blackberry, fresh sage, forest floor, and moss wafted its way to my schnozzola slowly and uniformly. This began to open the wine senses for an exciting experience with a French Bordeaux.

Not only were the aromas very pleasing but the flavors of cherry, cedar, earth, and cigar box were blended with a great deal of care. On the finish I found a delectable vanilla finish, faint but no mistaking the vanilla.

An exceptional French Bordeaux I found on sale for $19.99 but worth much more. I did manage to purchase four bottles of this so I will cellar the last three for a few years and see what develops. Although I again failed to buy a case of this and probably won’t find this bargain price again I do urge you to buy a couple of bottles and drink up.

We paired this with meatloaf, I know, cut off my culinary tongue, but it really paired quite well. I’ll presume this would go very well with grilled meats such as lamb, venison, beef. If any of you try this with buffalo let me know how the pairing went.

 

Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery – 2012

Traveling to Paradise Hills Vineyard brings you to what you think is a residential area giving you reason to believe the GPS isn’t working quite well. But if you persevere you’ll find yourself in front of the wine barrel with the winery’s name on the front. And when you think otherwise, a sign points you in the right direction.

These are the signs I like to see  and after following the hand crafted sign I found my self right in the parking lot with the adobe style tasting room.

 

As you can see I had the place all to myself and could wander around at will and decided to visit the vines before entering the tasting room. I must say the grapes look enticing but seeing as I am a patient individual I can wait for the finished product.

Once inside the tasting room I was met by Richard, one of the owners as the wine staff for the tasting. The tasting fee is $8.00 for the five wines they have on the wine menu. You do not get a signature glass but their wine glasses are clearly 20 ounce or better wine glasses. I’m particularly fond of this venue as it really provides ample room to swirl the wine and get the full potential of the wine’s aroma and flavor. I have a gazillion wine glasses anyway and not getting another one wouldn’t bother me at all.

Before the tasting begins Richard gave me a run down of the history of the place (which I did not write down verbatim, so you’ll have to visit them and get the whole story) including the visit from George Washington traveling through the winery hillsides and the family initial above the wine bar. Then we got into the wines.

Washington Trail White ($18): A strong green apple aroma led into apple and tart pear on the palate. This was clean and crisp with a lingering finish. This is one you’ll want to serve well-chilled.

Chardonnay ($24.99): This is produced from Estate grown grapes which happen to be the ones I decided to visit (see previous picture of grapevines) before I entered the tasting room. This had apricot and honey on the nose with strawberry and citrus flavors and was served quite chilled. A bit more than I like my Chardonnay but good nonetheless.

After tasting the two white wines, Richard produced a new glass for the red wine tasting.

Trio ($22.99): A red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Carmenere revealed a mocha and cherry aroma which was quite pleasing to the ‘ol schnozzola. On the palate were chocolate and wild berry flavors with hints of pepper on the finish.

Riomonte ($22.99): This red blend was very similar to the Trio minus the Cabernet Saivignon but with an additional pronounced plum aroma and flavor. A slight peppery finish and after a few sips a chocolate flavor found its way to the back palate.

Cayuga White ($20.99): This opened with lemongrass and hints of peach on the nose. Semi- sweet flavors of melon, honeysuckle, peach and apricots on the palate.

In the event you want to stay for awhile grab your self a glass or bottle of your favorite Paradise Hills wine and sit out on the patio watching the grapes grow.

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

Chamard Vineyards – 2012

Nestled just past the Clinton Outlets and down to the left a bit is the entrance to Chamard Vineyards – you have to look for it though unless you’re using GPS then you should have no problem finding the winery. As I entered the short gravel road from the road I stopped to get a few pictures of the grapes pondering the obvious that soon I would see them again if only in liquid form began to warm my heat and soul and I was excited about another tasting.

After parking the wine mobile (a vintage Austin Martin two- seater, actually it’s a ’98 Buick Century, but that’s why dreams were invented) I mulled around the grounds a bit before venturing in for my tasting adventure and noticed quite a lot of activity going on. I believe they were getting ready for an evening event, of which I would not be partaking as I would be long gone before the festivities began. But I did peruse the back and just enjoyed the water fountain before going in.

Here’s the view from just outside the entrance of the tasting room.

As I entered the tasting room there were 4 or 5 tasters mulling about the wine bar and I went to the far end to begin the tasting ritual. However, there was only one person tending the wine bar and seeing as she was the phone taker person too, it was a good 14 minutes before I was asked if I wanted to taste some wine. Then another 6 minutes passed as she had to answer the phone again. Plus she stamped the wrong page on my Passport but that was easily fixed. It must have been a tough day for the wine bar staff. I didn’t complain though as I could see she was having a rough go at it.

Once they paid attention to me they said I could taste five wines for $10 with the small wine glass. I don’t know about you but it’s real tough for me to put my schnozzola in that wine glass. In my opinion this glass is only good for having a few ounces of dessert wine at the end of an evening meal – not for tasting wines. Or for $15 I could receive a Riedel white or red wine glass. Now we’re talking serious wine tasting as everything tastes better in a Riedel wine glass. So, I opted for the Riedel.

The first wine I tasted was the Stone Cold White ($14.99) made with Chardonnay grapes from California. Pear, fresh cut grass, and hayfield on the nose and on the palate I found pear and apple flavors with some decent acidity.

Next I tried the Gewürztraminer ($14.99) and this was produced with grapes imported from the Finger Lakes region of New York. Made in the Alsace tradition made this a bit drier than the German style Gewürztraminer. Apple, honeydew melon, and some pear on the nose all blending quite nicely. On the palate I found grapefruit and papaya. This was my favorite at this winery.

Next was their 2006 Estate Chardonnay ($19.99) which is estate grown grapes and fermented for 60% in oak and 40% in stainless steel. A golden color with hayloft (but not musty, more like fresh cut hay that was just stored in the hayloft) with some earthy notes too. Honeysuckle was the predominate flavor (or at least this was all that I could get from the wine), oh and a hint of lime on the finish.

The next wine was their Rosé ($14.99) and I was mildly pleased with the final product. The grapes are imported from Chile and made with 50% Malbec and 50% Merlot. I found herbal and veggie notes on the nose with some mushroom. Then on the palate were spice and cherry flavors.

The last wine on the tasting menu was the Merlot ($16.99) which was a blend of 80% Merlot, and a 20% blend of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot done in the Bordeaux style. Pepper, spice, and red cherry aromas wafted from the rim of the glass to give the taster a prelude of what to expect from the flavor. On the palate were cherry hard candy and pepper flavors.

They also have many songwriter/singer music venues as well. I might just try one this summer. See their website for dates/times as they’re usually held on the weekends.

Next week – Stonington Vineyards

Clos Du Bois 1999 Marlstone Vineyard Alexander Valley

The Alexander Valley has been producing great wines for a long time and it has some of the heartiest reds I’ve come across. As a matter of fact I don’t believe I’ve run across a bad one.

Anyway, this Marlstone Vineyard red wine started with a very dark ruby color, inky almost, and the aromas were abound with licorice, blackberry, tobacco, plum, and spice with a hint of mint leaves, though very subtle almost to the point of not being detectable, but nonetheless after savoring the aromas for several minutes the mint finally surfaced. This was really nice as I don’t remember the mint from when I tried this back in 2002!

The palate delivered luscious ripe plum and blackberry just when these fruits are at their prime. The mocha finish crept up on you slowly but lasted for a lifetime. For not having chocolate with this wine it sure gave you the impression you did have it with chocolate.

At a cost of $39.00, which is what I paid for it back in 2002, this delectable blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and 13% Malbec was well worth the price to go down memory lane. I’ll presume the cost is now around the $45-55 range. Even at this cost I don’t think it will disappoint so I’ll also presume you’ll find this wine to your liking!

Pair this with a beef tenderloin with a vegetable medley of pearl onions and sweet peas, whipped sweet potatoes (yeah, go ahead and add some brown sugar on the top), and a fresh garden salad. I think I’m hungry!

 

 

 

 

The Goats Do Roam Wine Co. 2009 Bored Doe

I couldn’t resist picking up this bottle, I just love the “wit” 😉 The Goats Do Roam wines hail from South Africa and I’ve tasted some pretty decent wines from this area of the world. This didn’t disappoint.

Sporting 14% alcohol by volume and a blend of 49% Petit Verdot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc opens with black licorice, black berries, and tobacco on the nose. On the palate I experienced black cherry, and other black berry fruits with hints of black olive and fig.

Reasonably priced at $10.99, we paired this with a wheat pizza (yah, I’m trying to eat healthier) that was topped with Mexican cheese mix, sauteed mushrooms, onions, and red peppers. We also topped this out with 93% lean hamburg.

I have to say that this deep crimson colored wine was better the second night. I’m not sure if it was because I used the Vinturi aerator or not but suspect this was the reason it tasted better. I liked this wine and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first opened it and I wouldn’t mind keeping this as a staple in my cellar – if nothing more, it is a conversation piece.

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).

Le Coq Rouge 2010 Pays d’Oc

A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Grenache, 10% Merlot, and 10% Syrah, this French red was chosen merely because I liked the label, nothing more – nothing less. This wine wasn’t overly complicated but it did whet the palate.

On the nose were black and red cherry, herbs, and pepper aromas. The palate found much the same but heavier on the black berry fruits. This finished with a chocolate nuance. I also thought I detected a touch of vanilla too but was very subtle, almost unnoticeable.

Given the price ($8.99, I’ve seen this as high as $12.99, guess I was lucky) this was more enjoyable as I did not have any preconceived notions about it seeing as I chose this for the label only. You can find their wines at Sacha Lichine wines to get more information on other wines they produce.

We paired this with a penne pesto and chicken – I know what you’re thinking but it went very well with the meal, so don’t be afraid to experiment with other food choices. I’ll try this wine again when I get ready to fire up the old gas grill and slap a couple of burgers (probably Bison burgers) or maybe a good steak would do well too.

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?

 

Mineral Hills Winery

I was able visit only two wineries on this wine trip and this was my second winery of the day. Mineral Hills Winery is located at Godard’s Red Hen Farm and the tasting room looks like a converted apple orchard building. If you look real close and just to the left of the “Open” flag you can see stacks of apples for sale.

But once inside the resemblance stops at the threshold and it opens into their tasting room with many of their products on display. They are members of the Hampden County Beekeepers Association as well as the Massachusetts Farm Winery Association.

When I arrived, one of the owners, Larry was in the back room of which I was able to visit (more on this later in this post).

The tasting fee was $5.10 (including the tax) for any five of their wines and I started my tasting with the following and Larry put out several cheeses for the tasting:

2010 Chardonnay: This opened with floral notes with fruity aromas. Distinctive apple and pear flavors followed.

Seyval Blanc: A white Rose that was slightly sweet with grapefruit on the palate.

Apple Wine: This fruit wine had the aroma and flavor of fresh apples on a dew drenched morn in the apple orchard early in the picking season. Can you see the apples falling from the tree?

Mead (honey wine): This had a nice honey aroma on the nose. Then I tried the honey that produced this mead and then another sip of the mead wine, wow! The first sip of wine was much different after tasting the honey and taking a second sip. And yes I did come home with a bottle of this wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Plenty of fruit on the nose, plum with nuances of earthiness. Plum and black cherry followed on the palate with a hint of mocha on the finish.

Then I tried the barrel tasting of his newest Cabernet Sauvignon and the tasting notes were very similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon and it had an even longer finish with subtle hints of vanilla which complemented the mocha. I can’t wait for this to get bottled in 2012. Note to self: get back to the winery for this wine:)

One of the most exciting aspects of getting to go into the back room is seeing the following…

Yes, these bottles represent the winemaker’s “experiments” and I found that Larry and Sue are very passionate about making wine, being in the wine industry, and learning about wine in general. They were easy to talk to and the four other tasters and I had a great time conversing with both of them in the back room.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…