Savino Vineyards – 2012

This year I made a decision to visit no more than three wineries in a day which is about a 5-7 hour day of wine hopping. The reason for this was that I wanted to spend more time at each winery and enjoy the experience in addition to tasting their wines. I have come to realize that wineries have more to offer besides the delectable liquid grape concoction we know as wine.

Upon entering the Savino Vineyards parking lot where the “tasting room open sign” beckoned me to a tasting (can you spot the witless whiner mobile?) I found nary a wine taster so I knew I was in for a surprise.

Last year the tasting room was a bit smaller than the new building as you can see from the pictures below. I’ve noticed a number of Connecticut wineries that have expanded or in the process of expanding.

The old.

And the new.

Usually when I am one of a few or no wine tasters I get to know the wine staff a bit better as they are able to spend more time with you. So upon first entering the building I was met by Lisa and Sandy (look closely).

When I first saw the bar stools I thought these would not be conducive to a long visit but after a half hour I realized how comfortable they were.

Savino Vineyards offers two tastings. The first is $7.00 and includes the wines, a plate of cheese, crackers, and salami plus their signature glass which is a pretty good size that will allow you to get your ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to get the full aroma of the wine.

The second offering is for $12.95 for the wines, olive oil, bread, and an antipasto tasting. Sandy prepared this for me and I began tasting the wines and the antipasto, bread, olive oil, salami, cheese and crackers in no apparent sequence but that didn’t seem to matter as everything was tasting really good.

When you decide to visit Savino, go all out and order the antipasto tasting. It consisted of marinated mushrooms, green olives, a garlic/bread crumb stuffed cherry pepper, and marinated julienne-cut eggplant. This was awesome and I no longer thought I was in a wine tasting but felt like I was in my Grandma’s kitchen eating her delectable food.

The wines I tasted along with the food are as follows:

2001 Bianco di Casa ($15.99): This white wine opened with citrus notes with honeysuckle on the nose. Lots of citrus with lemon on the palate. This had a clean crisp finish.

2011 Seyval Blanc ($14.99): This was not part of the tasting as quantities were limited but I was treated to a sampling of this wine. It opened with citrus with hints of white grape aromas. On the palate I found nectarine and apricot. A nice lemon zest was detected on the finish.

2011 Rosso di Casa ($16.99): A blend of Barbera, Frontenac, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot proved to be a hearty red and reminded me of Grandpa’s wine he used to make so many years ago. This wine had red plum and red cherry aromas with a very subtle blueberry note at the end. I detected a bit of a floral note too. Flavors of cherry, red raspberry and sweet plum preceded a slight white pepper finish. If you waited long enough before taking another sip you get a slight mocha aftertaste on the back palate.

At about this time, Sonia, the owner’s daughter-in-law came in and we both remembered the wine our grandfathers made and it was similar to the Rosso di Casa. This proved to be my favorite wine they had to offer.

2010 Frontenac ($18.99): A light red wine with cherry and bing cherry aromas followed by dark cherry and plum flavors and a hint of European chocolate. This went well with the cheese I had.

2010 Cabernet Franc ($18.99): A medium bodied wine opened with red plum and red currant aromas. Plenty of cherry, plum and chocolate on the palate. This wine paired well with all the food I had in front of me.

2010 Merlot ($18.99): This was an unusual Merlot with aromas that I found amazing. The aromas opened with cherry, red currant, forest floor and black olives, not something I have found a lot of in Merlots so I was mildly surprised with these aromas. The flavor was of dark cherry and after having a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss, the flavor turned into a cherry cordial. It made all the difference in the world.

So, if you want to spend an afternoon at the winery they have plenty of room on the right side of the bar area where you can relax and grab a glass of your favorite Savino Vineyards wine. Not only were the wines tasty and the food great, it was the conversations I had with Lisa, Sandy & Sonia making this a very memorable wine visit and one that I will remember for a long time to come.

Pioneer Valley Vineyard

The drive out to Pioneer Valley Vineyard was indeed, to say the least, a picturesque drive (sorry, didn’t take pictures along the way). It was a quiet drive along the back roads from where I hail to Hatfield, MA and upon arrival at the winery I found there was no tasting fee (see sign) for enjoying their wines.

Now when I first arrived I had thought the winery was through the front door of the white house (I think the flag threw me off),

but quickly realized the tasting room was located in the back of the house.

Now I was on the right track and could only imagine what may lie inside. I have found that many of the New England wineries are converted barns, out-buildings, stables, or any other combination of wood and nails to hold up the roof. So the inside looked like this.

Not a bad beginning to savor the wines I would choose.  I was greeted by Linda (one of the owners) and later Casey joined in the tasting festivities. Prodded by their son Josh (making home made beer for the lot to enjoy) and better half, Jen encouraged Ma & Pa to go into the wine-making business. Casey, being a farmer by trade, agreed and their wines are available October through December on Saturdays and Sundays.

Here are the wines I got to taste on a fairly warm day:

Frontenac Red (dry): This dry red wine is estate grown with blueberry on the nose and black cherry, almond, and pepper flavors followed.

Frontenac red (semi-dry): Same aromas and flavors as the Frontenac Red (dry) but with a bit of sweetness on the back palate.

Tomato Wine: This wasn’t on the tasting menu but they asked if I would like to try it. I didn’t know what to expect so…this was made from 50% Mountain Frost tomatoes and 50% Plum tomatoes. Well, you can definitely smell the tomato on the nose. This semi-dry acidic wine produced a distinctive tomato flavor. This would probably go good with cheese and crackers. Pasta wouldn’t be out of the realm either. I can’t put my finger on it, but I did like this wine.

Blueberry: Locally grown and the aroma and flavor said the same – fresh blueberries.

Raspberry: The only difference between the Blueberry and Raspberry wines should be obvious, but in case you want me to spell it out for you: R-A-S-P-B-E-R-R-Y both on the nose and the palate.

Strawberry: An orangy-peach color yielded strawberry on both the nose and palate – no surprise here.

Cranberry: Made from Cape Cod cranberries I found a nice subtle explosion of cranberry on the nose. This was listed as a sweet wine but thought it more of a semi-sweet one.

Blackberry: This was very nice with a rich dark berry aroma with a black berry flavor and a nice smooth finish.

Well, there you have it. Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

Savino Vineyards

Savino Vineyards is located in Woodbridge, CT and are open for tastings on Saturdays and Sundays 12 pm to 6 pm from June 4th through December 17th so you only have two more weekends to get out to Savino Vineyards. Actually it’s one and a half weekends. The tasting room appears very small from the outside however there is ample room for a dozen or so tasters with seating at several tables and chairs. The two sommeliers were quite pleasant and cheerful and asked us if we’ve ever been here before to which we replied “No”. They walked us through each wine and then let us know if we had any questions during the tasting to just ask away. Their tasting fee is $5 and includes their signature wine glass. I did find out that the farm winery was originally a pig and cow farm but now had beautiful grapevines planted all in a row.

Just before the first wine was poured they brought out a plate with cheese, Italian sausage, and crackers for our palate during the tasting.

2010 Seyval Blanc – $14.99: The first aromas were of grapefruit and then I got lemon afterward. Once the lemon hit the nose it didn’t overpower the grapefruit but blended in with it giving it a nice aroma. This carried over into the flavor but I found it more pleasant than the aroma.

2010 St. Croix – $12.99: Produced from CT grown grapes found black currant and cassis on the nose. Black cherry, fig and mocha flavors rounded out this local made wine.

2009 Frontenac – $18.99: The aroma started with raspberries and chocolate on the nose and it took a few smells for me to detect a hint of vanilla and the three aromas blended quite well. On the palate I found blueberry and fig with a bit of a bite on the finish. However after eating some of the delectable food dish the second sip did not have the bite to it.

2009 Cabernet Franc – $18.99: A nice plum color with raspberry and licorice on the nose led into black and red cherries flavors on the palate with a nice smooth finish with a subtle hint of plum.

2009 Merlot – $18.99: A light red color with black currant on the nose with a hint of vanilla. Sweet raspberry and blackberry flavors with a smooth creamy finish. After eating a chocolate morsel the flavor intensified.