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.

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

Geyser Peak 2003 Alexander Valley Malbec

I bought this wine back in 2005 or 2006 (not sure exactly as I didn’t record this in my wine database) and have been cellaring it since then and thought now would be a good time to open this.  After all, shouldn’t we drink our best wine first? Or is anytime a good time to drink any kind of wine? I paid $30 back then and opening it now was well worth the wait and the cost. My only regret was not getting a case of this as only 100 cases were produced and aged in French oak for 15 months.

The Winemaker’s Selection of the Hoffman Estate Vineyard Malbec from the Alexander Valley is one of the best wines I have tasted at Geyser Peak. On the nose were blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, spice, leather, and garden earthy notes. I kind of felt I was in for a treat after getting those aromas. I wasn’t disappointed as on the palate were nuances of raspberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and mocha. After tasting mocha on the palate I thought for sure I would experience a mocha or chocolate finish but I experienced one more like a chocolate raspberry cordial – quite delectable.

We paired this with a 2 1/2 inch thick beef tenderloin grilled to perfection (to my taste buds that is) seasoned with sea salt and Worcestershire black pepper and served with a side of sauteed garlic, onions, scallions, shallots, and a yellow bell pepper.



Callia Alta 2010 Malbec

Did you ever buy a wine on a whim? I do that every once in awhile and luckily more often than not it turns out to be a pretty decent wine. Well this didn’t disappoint as it was quite tasty.

With mulberry, wild blackberry, spices, fig, and earthy notes on the nose it was quite an array of aromas with no one particular aroma overpowering the other which can wreak havoc with your smelling senses. But to no avail, our schnozzola kicks into “wine” mode and delivers nothing but a sensible analysis of the wine’s aroma.

On the palate I found wild berry flavors, mostly blackberry with a slight blueberry finish on the mid-palate with a silky finish. At a price of $8.99 this is one of those wines you definitely want in your cellar and would go well with a variety of grilled meats although I had this as a stand alone wine just for the enjoyment of sipping a good wine.

Be sure to enjoy this on a summer evening on the deck as the sun is going down, maybe with a good book.

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

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!





Dona Paula 2007 Estate Malbec

As you should know Saturday Sarsaparilla posts are reviews of wines produced in countries other than in the U.S.  So, I have been drinking the Dona Paula Malbec (various vintages) for at least a decade.

When I researched this in the Witless Whiner archives I was surprised to find I had not reviewed this wine. I must be slowing down (note to self: drink more wine).

The Dona Paula Malbec is an estate wine produced in Argentina. Does anyone make a Malbec better than the Argentinians?

It is a fairly inexpensive wine at a cost of $13.99 and available in most liquor stores. The deep garnet color leads into black cherry, smoke, bacon and tobacco aromas. On the palate you’ll find jammy black and red berry flavors with a slight, but delectable, chocolate mocha finish.

You can serve this with a variety of dishes, especially grilled ones. We had this with grilled tuna, baked sea scallops, and broccoli. It went very well with this meal. You just never know. We have also had this in the past with grilled tenderloin fillets and grilled chicken with a good BBQ sauce.

Cahors 2008 Les Cotes d’Olt Cuvee Tradition

There are days you are in the mood for a particular meal and on one particular night wheat pizza with all the fixin’s were the spotlight of the evening. Usually I seem to enjoy a good Zinfandel with a pizza, unless of course, I opt for a beer instead which is what I normally do. But this night I decided to go with this French wine.

With a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot, I hemmed and hawed whether or not to open this as I have found in the past that only Zinfandels work for me with pizza. Well, this Malbec/Merlot blend was brimming with black and red fruit aromas of black cherry, red cherry, black raspberry, and hints of spice.

Jammy raspberry, black cherry, and ripe wild black raspberry flavors were found on the palate with hints of spice, tobacco, and mocha on the finish. Very reasonably priced at $8.99. A very decent wine to keep in the wine cellar when the mood strikes you for pizza.

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).

Scialetti Sammarco 1997 Colli Aprutini

I’ve had this in my cellar for about 9 years as I purchased two bottles back then and opened one just after I bought it and I figured I would cellar this for awhile and decided it was time to open this up. Seeing as you can’t take it with you, well actually, you can take it with you, it just won’t do you any good at that point.

The deep red ruby color of this Italian red table wine opened with dark berry fruits on the nose. Comprised of 50% Montepulciano, 40% Sangiovese, and 10% Malbec grapes exhibited dark cherry, dark plum and dark berry fruits on the palate which were intense with a spice finish.

You’ll find this well-balanced red table wine goes great with pasta, marinara sauce, and meatballs. Don’t forget to put grated cheese of your choice on the top. I would think this would go well with an arrabiata sauce as well. This wine had a 13% ABV with a price tag of $12.99 when I bought this 9 years ago and today’s price of $15.99 is still a good buy. I think I’m going to move to Italy – what do you think?

Sensual 2007 Mendoza Malbec

This Malbec is from the Mendoza region and I poured this through my Vinturi aerator before beginning my tasting notes. It had a deep red ruby color and nuances of fig, black currant, spice, pepper, and earth were the aromas wafting throughout my nose. On the palate I experienced blackberries and blueberries with a smooth wild berry finish. I also detected subtle hints of vanilla. A really nice wine and a great buy at $8.99. Pick up a few and serve at your next party, uh that would be the party you invited me too:) I’ll take a stab and say this wine would go well with beef tenderloin, lamb and grilled pork. One note though, make sure you aerate this wine before serving as the flavors open up quite well. So, you can use the Vinturi wine aerator or decant for a couple of hours before serving. Better yet, conduct your own experiment. Taste it as soon as you open it, then aerate it and taste again. I think you’ll see an appreciative difference.