Taylor Brooke St. Croix Rosé

It’s been a while since I’ve been blogging and I recently got an email to my website account from wannabewino.com about Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) and that it’s back. Well, for one, this was news to me and it’s been around for a long time. Goes to show ya that you can teach a new dog an old trick – no, reverse that. Anyway, getting back to the reason I’m posting this one is simple – I needed to get back in the “sip” of things and this seemed like a good place to start. You can read the background for WBW from Tim Elliott at winecast.com for more information. This happens to be WBW #80, but the first for me.

The theme for WBW #80 is a dry rosé and as many of you know I’m more of a bold, sassy, dry red drinker with a Borolo at the top of the list although there are many others that could easily tie for the top spot. Although when I leave this earth I believe I’ll be toting a French Bordeaux or two with me – well, I can’t use my wine luggage for traveling on the plane anymore so I might as well put it to good use.

So I went looking for a bottle of dry rosé and wouldn’t you know I could only find one and I really thought I had two in my wine cellar. Alas, whiners of wine, I remembered I did a tasting up at Taylor Brooke back a few months and was really impressed with their rosé and realized the wine was still in the box I brought home and had not logged it into my wine database yet – not like my mind is going or anything like that! Seeing as this is my first WBW I thought doing a virtual wine tasting of a local wine would be a pretty good choice. The rosé sells for around $14 and had an ABV of 12% so it won’t break the bank and one glass isn’t going to get you tipsy. It’s made for summer sipping and produced from the St. Croix grape varietal.

So, I chilled the wine as I was planning on having it on a warm summer afternoon out on the deck whiling reading one of three books I’m in the process of reading now. And yes, I can remember the plots and characters in each of them – hey, my mind isn’t all that gone – yet!! Okay, the wine’s been chilling in the wine cooler and I’m making a new recipe for a late lunch and early dinner.

The wine opened with a nose predominately of red raspberry (I have to open the wine before I start cooking) and the aroma was much like when I pick fresh wild red raspberries that grow in the backyard when it’s hot and muggy outside with the sun shining with nary a cloud to find. I continued to sniff into the wine glass and found strawberries and black raspberry aromas too. I also detected a slight hint of apricot after sniffing it for 8 or 9 more times. On the palate I found the succulent red raspberry flavors with hints of black raspberry and red currant. This dry rosé had a nice acidic feel to it and the finish was very smooth and creamy on the back palate.

The meal consisted of chicken marinated overnight with a soy ginger marinade making the chicken moist and quite tasty. Along with the chicken were grilled pineapple slices and grilled Portabella mushrooms. We then added garden fresh tomatoes, baby Swiss cheese, sautéed red onions and avocado slices. The recipe called for all of this to be delicately placed between two slices of Ciabatta bread but my better half and my son decided to put it all on a plate while I had mine on the Ciabatta sans the avocado.

Needless to say, the meal went well with the dry rosé and I opted for cubed cantaloupe and fresh picked blueberries for dessert and not only did the wine complement the meal but added to the dessert. If you could imagine a red raspberry in liquid form – this would be it.

Walker Road Vineyards – 2012

Arriving at Walker Road Vineyards on a beautiful sunny afternoon I had noticed the entrance to the vineyard changed from last year’s visit. They also moved from the basement of their home into a barn-like structure not too far from the vineyards. So things are looking up for them.

You may want to get to this winery soon as they are only open the first full weekend of each month. I hope in the future they decide to change this as I think it would be better for business.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the small bridge from the parking lot, which is also small but navigable providing there aren’t too many vehicles in your way.

Upon entering the tasting room you get a rustic feel and they have done a great job with  it compared to the old wine bar (last year) which was a small bench with maybe 3-4 tasters being able to taste wines. The new wine bar can accommodate quite a few more tasters. Sorry for the blurry picture but I wanted you to get an idea of how the place was set up.

When I first entered the tasting room I met Jim Frey and his wife Bruce-Elizabeth and they inquired if I wanted to do a tasting. Last year they did not charge for the tasting but you didn’t get a signature glass either. The tasting fee was $5 plus you got to keep the winery glass. If I’m not mistaken this is the first year Walker Road Vineyards has offered signature wine glasses. They only produce two wines but they’re pretty good and the tasting notes are as follows. I forgot to record the wine prices but do know both were well under $20.

Gertrude’s Garden: A blend of Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc produced aromas of peach, apricot, and melon on the nose. The flavors consisted of citrus, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. The finish reminded me of lemon meringue pie.

Red Table Wine: This red blend consisted of the St. Croix, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese-Brunello varietals . It reminded me a lot of the wine my grandfather made, probably due to the Sangiovese-Brunello varietal. I found black cherry, pepper, dark plum, and cherry hard candy aromas. On the palate were blackberry, black currant, and plenty of pepper. A long finish ended with hints of European mocha.

Here’s a view of the vineyards from the tasting room.

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

Priam Vineyards – 2012

Priam Vineyards was the last winery visit of this wine trip and as it turned out it was a real good visit.  Not only did I talk with the wine staff, I also had several conversations with other tasters who happened to stop by . When I first walked in, Caroline, one of the wine staff wanted to know if this was my first visit (which was “No”, but first visit of the 2012 wine season) and she also asked if I wanted to do a tasting (and yes, I wanted to do a tasting).

Let’s back up just a frame or two…here is the entrance to the tasting room. And next to the cork wreath is their hours of operation.

Caroline explained they had two tastings to choose from. The first was $7 and included five wines and the other was $14 for eight wines with a larger signature glass for you to keep. I opted for the second tasting but I also indulged in the two Reserve and two Dessert wines on the menu as well. Each wine was an additional $2 each. What I didn’t expect was the barrel tasting Gary brought up from the cellar on the Salmon River Red which was quite a treat. Anytime you get to enjoy a barrel tasting please do so as you get a chance to taste future wine now.

So, Priam has two wine bars in which to serve the wines but seeing as there were only a half dozen tasters while I was there the first of the two wine bars was being utilized.

The first wine on the menu was their Chardonnay ($19.00) and it opened with apple and honeydew melon on the nose and followed with flavors of Peach Melba dessert and lemongrass on the palate. I’ll mention here that they stored this in stainless steel instead of oak and this is a first for Priam as they usually use oak barrels.

The second wine I tried was the Blackledge Rosé ($17.50) had summer fruits of fresh raspberries and strawberries on the nose. Although I prefer a hearty red I am warming up to drinking a Rosé from time to time. Pomegranate and plum on the palate with hints of white pepper. Another good thing about this wine is 15% of the purchase of this wine is donated to the Backus Hospital Breast Cancer Survivors Fund. It’s a good thing when local wineries give back to the community – this is why I like to support local wines.

Next up was the Riesling ($19.00) which is an Alsatian style Riesling, so it’s drier than some of the sweeter German Rieslings. I really am getting to like this type of wine a lot more than I ever have. It’s a very versatile wine and goes with a number of different cuisines. This had a fresh pear aroma with crisp, clean citrus flavors. On the finish I detected a bit of minerality that finished this tasting quite nicely.

The Jeremy River White ($16.50) opened with floral notes with a pleasing honeysuckle aroma. This semi sweet Riesling blend had peachy-pear and honeydew melon on  the palate with fresh fruit bowl on the finish. Very crisp with good acidity.

Late Harvest Riesling ($35.00) was the next wine I tried and as expected with many late harvest wines this was sweeter with a nice pear aroma and flavor. A pretty good after dinner wine to sip on out on the patio.

Caroline let me try the 2009 Westchester Red ($19.50) at room temperature which is a blend of six varietals (a well kept secret though) and opened with bing cherry and black cherry aromas. Sweet cherry and mocha flavors followed and had good tannins with a long semi-sweet chocolate finish. Then I tried this chilled (you know me with red wines – I like them room temperature and I actually cringe when someone tells me they put ice cubes in their red wine. But then again, that’s what’s so nice about wine – it’s all about personal taste.

Anyway, back to the chilled Westchester Red, now I found Cherries Jubilee as the aroma and Red Velvet cake with cherry sauce flavor on the palate. This was the best I had tasted here of this wine. I think I’m warming up to the idea of slightly chilled red wine. Why I’ll never know, but who knows what will happen next.

The Salmon River Red ($19.50) had red and black raspberries, blackberry, mulberry, some fig, tobacco, and leather on the nose. Blackberry, strawberry, and raspberry flavors with a long raspberry finish.

One of Priam’s reserve wines is the Salmon River Red PV ($32.00) had fig and pepper aromas with black cherry and chocolate on the back palate and it had a long, lingering finish.

Next up was the St. Croix ($22.50) and opened with cherry but not overpowering, a very subtle aroma with hints of oak. Cherry and raspberry followed on the palate. After this wine I tasted the Essence of St. Croix ($26.50) and found tobacco, leather, and earth notes on the nose. What followed was pure joy with sweet raspberry with hints of plum jam.

Then I had a real treat as Gary brought up a glass (not a sample mind you) of the Salmon River Red from the barrel in the back room. This had wild black raspberry and mulberry with chocolate and vanilla notes on the nose. Black cherry, bing cherry, and sweet ripe plum flavors with a smooth finish. Then I tried the same wine after having a Moser Roth chocolate which was 70% cocoa and definitely of European origin (my favorite). The flavor now became a Black Forest cake with cherries. It’s amazing how a wine changes complexity by the temperature it is served at or with certain foods it will take on a whole new identity.

Lastly, I tried the Late Harvest Gëwurztraminer ($35.00) and on the nose were floral notes with hints of peach, nectarine and apricot. As you would expect from a dessert wine the finish found sweet peach and pear on the palate.

Oh BTW, don’t forget to check out Priam’s unWINEd concert series. Every Friday from July through September from 6:00-8:30 pm you can enjoy a number of music venues. I went to one last year and plan on getting in a few in this year too.

Next week – Bishop’s Orchards Winery.

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.

Maugle Sierra Vineyards, LLC

Nestled into a beautiful country setting you are greeted by wine barrels before entering the tasting room amidst the birds and butterflies. As there were literally a dozen birds chirping hither and yon while the butterflies (at least a couple of dozen) were fluttering from plant to plant as if performing a pictorial aria. See, I learned something from my first wine trip – take time to stop and enjoy the moment. It reminded me of the Springfield symphonies I would attend while in junior high school – which was probably the only good memory of junior high except for science lab – now that was fun.

Once inside the tasting room the rustic decor included a stone fireplace with a spacious wine bar including some table and chairs to rest your weary bones, to enjoy a glass of wine, or just to take in the moment. Outside is another seating area where in great weather you can enjoy the warm sun and get invited to another operatic rendition of the birds and the butterflies. Back inside the tasting room I get the sense it is conducive to tasting wine, I’m not sure if they designed it this way or it just happened but either way you could easily spend a couple of hours enjoying their wine.

Okay, back to the tastings. They had two tasting fees with both being at $10 each which includes their signature glass. One includes the three dessert wines called Aura, Espirit de St. Croix, and Que Sera, Syrah – ya gotta love it. The other tasting included six of their wines which is the one I opted for.

1740 Ledyard House White: The 1740 is not the vintage it’s part of the name. Wouldn’t that be an interesting bottle of wine though? I found apricot and floral aromas with a clean crisp apple flavor on the palate. I would like to cook with this wine as I think it would do well.

1740 Ledyard House Rose: Again, not the vintage just part of the name. This was a very interesting sip of wine as I detected red raspberry aroma with pear and melon flavors. Not quite the combination I’m used to.

Ledyard Sunset White: This was tough for me as I only got apricot in both the aroma and flavor. Don’t know if the ‘ol schnozzola quit or just on a break.

1740 Ledyard House Red: Okay, you know me by now – 1740 – okay I won’t go there. Not the vintage, oops sorry, I went there. I couldn’t help myself, really! Anyway this was a very decent red wine with red cherry on the nose with black berry, plum, and black currant flavors. A nice blend.

Ledyard Sunset Red: Black currant aroma with a hint of spice. On the palate were black currant and plum flavors.

St. Croix: Much the same as the Sunset Red except I got blackberry aromas too.

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

Taylor Brooke Winery

Traveling through the scenic roads of Northeastern Connecticut along the rolling hills you eventually come across a gray New England style building enticing you to drop by. In back of the tasting room you can take some time from your trip to enjoy a self-guided tour of the vineyards amidst the many outlying trees and a gentle breeze. Then you are ready to embark on a wine extravaganza.

Taylor Brooke’s wine tasting fee is probably one of the best I’ve come across so far on my Connecticut wine trips. You can taste any two wines free of charge or eight wines for $4 or everything on their wine menu depending on the season for $6 which includes the tax. This is the first winery on my trip not to charge the CT sales tax as they have opted to incorporate it into the cost of the tasting fee. You can purchase their signature glass if you want to.

Upon first entering the tasting room you get a sense of New England at its best. The bar area would easily accommodate 12-15 tasters at a time without being crowded with enough room to swirl and sip your wine. They also carry local products from the area. The owners, Dick & Linda, are two of the friendliest people you’ll ever come across. Dick was a wealth of knowledge citing facts about residual sugar, brix, and of course, bud break.

I’ve never seen anyone so excited about “bud break” and after looking at some of the vines afterward I could see where “bud break” would be exciting. You see, bud break is when the bud breaks and begins the process of becoming a grape and you can guess what happens after it becomes a grape. Well, bud break is like stopping and smelling the roses or taking time to smell the coffee or watch the sun go down in the evening or watching the sunrise in the early morn or going to the beach at dusk and take a leisurely stroll just where the ocean hits the sand and you don’t care if the water gets your pants wet. It’s just a small aspect of life but it’s those small happenings that make us who we are. I think I like “bud break”.

Taylor Brooke winery has also set up a scholarship fund for a Woodstock Academy senior that will be entering the field of agriculture. They also have an “Adopt A Vine” program where you receive a certificate and for three years you get one bottle of wine from the previous harvest.

If this winery isn’t on your wine tour you should make a point of adding it. Usually when I visit a winery there is at least one wine that just doesn’t sit right with my palate and I wish I never tried it. Well, that didn’t happen here as I enjoyed all eleven of the wines I tasted and the wine quality was exceptional. Okay, on to the wines I tasted in the middle of spring:

Riesling: On the nose was a floral and fruity aroma sort of like a bowl of fresh fruit. The flavor was also like a bowl of fresh tropical fruit with a hint peach.

Traminette: This wine is a blend of Gewurztraminer and Seyval grapes and very similar to the Riesling.

Green Apple Riesling: What can I say, the aroma and flavor said “apple” but it’s unlike an apple fruit wine I’ve ever tasted. You can definitely tell the difference between the two. Try this on a warm sunny afternoon. It will cool you down with crisp clean flavors of apple. Try it with ham, chicken, or pork. Better yet cook these meals with the wine, the apple gives the pork and ham a great flavor.

Summer Peach: This wine is what the name implies – peach, pure and simple. Although I have not tried this with food as every time I open a bottle the temperature is usually above 80 degrees and slightly humid and between my wife and I this bottle is gone in seconds flat. Not really seconds flat but it seems that way as this is a great wine to sip on a hot sunny day. I should try this with grilled chicken and asparagus.

St. Croix Rose: I really questioned if this was a Rose as it was as dark as a Merlot but was not a Merlot. I’m not sure if it was a Rose either. Gee, I’m confused – think I need to go back and try this again.

Cabernet Franc: Lighter than most Cabernet Francs I’ve tasted with lots of fruit on the nose and palate with a hint of chocolate, my favorite part of tasting Cabernet Francs. Almost reminded me of a Pinot Noir.

Woodstock Valley Red: This medium bodied wine was full of cherries, with hints of bell pepper and spice. I could picture having this with grilled upland game such as pheasant or quail with wild grain rice and a medley of pearl onions and peas or perhaps Brussels Sprouts cooked with bacon.

Roseland Red: This is a blend of St. Croix, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I love the flavor of blends and this one didn’t disappoint. Both red and dark berry aroma and flavor took my senses into another world with a spicy finish. Yeah, you read my mind – pair this with a juicy steak.

Most of you know me well enough that I am not real fond of dessert wines especially with them being so sweet. Well, the following dessert wines are in a different class of dessert wines.

Late Harvest Riesling: Although this was sweet it seemed more to have sweetness without being too sweet. I got a whole lot of fruit on this from nectarine, peach, pineapple, honey, and apricot to name a few. A real delectable concoction of fruits.

Chocolate Essence: When I first heard this was a chocolate infused Merlot Port I had to make sure I heard correctly so I said “Chocolate infused what…?” Well, I’ve been told by some that the chocolate reminded them of a Tootsie Roll and others have said it reminds them of Dove chocolate. The first time I tried this was quite the experience and each time I try this it never ceases to amaze me how they even got three distinct flavors in a wine. On the first sip it was like a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss exploding on impact with my taste buds. Let that mouth feel sit for a spell before taking the next sip. When you feel adventurous enough take a second sip where you’ll get a fruitful concoction of raspberries and cherries (flavors indicative of many Merlots). Again, let this sit for a while and when you get brave enough have a third sip of the Chocolate spirit and you get the pungency of port. How the wine maker got three distinct flavors and at different times of the sipping wine cycle is magical – is his name Merlin?

Raspberry Rendezvous: This is a raspberry port style wine and yeah, you guessed it – raspberry, raspberry, and raspberry in this. It reminds me of a raspberry sundae. Get the picture? I wonder if I mixed the Chocolate with the Raspberry – Hmmm, I don’t even want to think of the possibilities.

If you’re not a fan of dessert wines you will be after you’ve tried these. They also have the following wines but were sold out and I’ll have to wait for their next release: Woodstock Hill White, Autumn Raspberry, Winter Pomegranate, and Cherry Riesling. Taylor Brooke will be coming out with an inaugural release of 100% Connecticut grown Merlot  from the Dave Brown Vineyard sometime in the fall. I have already marked my calendar for the weekend I think it will be available.

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

Vhy A Duck?

Those famous words from Chico Marx in one of their many zany movies brings to mind of a story that occurred during the summer of 2009.

It was a Saturday in late summer when the early morning produced a slight fog and out on the edge of the lawn closest to the road was a figure that was unfamiliar to my wife and I. We watched it for several minutes to see if it moved. Although our eyes may have seen the object move it was only an illusion. There really couldn’t be an object of that size on our lawn coupled with the fog made the object a bit eerie. Too early in the morning (we’re early risers) for an eerie silhouette to be lurking in the yard and the java hadn’t quite kicked in yet, so you could imagine our hesitancy to scare off the object. Heck, and what would the neighbors think?

Only after we garnered enough courage to tackle the beast, we diligently but carefully embarked on our quest to capture whatever it was on our front lawn. We have found many a wild animal in our front lawn over the past years – the proverbial deer (although not considered a “wild” animal in the sense of the word, but they do wreak havoc on your flower beds), raccoons, ‘possum, skunks, foxes (several of them at a time), and a fisher cat (now, these are pretty mean). So, you could understand our apprehension approaching the object on our lawn.

Well, wouldn’t you know that the object on the lawn was the result of some high school prank in the form of a ceramic duck about 2 1/2 feet tall. We figured the guilty party would eventually claim the harmless duck shortly, but after a few days no one claimed the duck and seeing as we grew found of it we decided to have it protect a small but important part of the flower bed. To my knowledge the pesty deer steer clear of that part of the flower bed, or so we think.

Okay, here are some wines to enjoy.

Cline Cellars 2009 Sonoma Coast Viognier. This wine opened with orange zest and honeysuckle on the nose with profound flavors of peach and apricot on the palate. $19.99, 88 rating. I did not pair this with food but rather put it in the food. This white wine was used instead of water to cover a pork tenderloin with onion and slow cooked for about 6-7 hours on the low setting. It makes the pork just flake apart and you still have the white flavor too.

Sharpe Hill 2004 St. Croix. This red wine produced aromas of raspberry, wild cherry, leather, and clove. On the palate a delectable concoction of cherry hard candy, mint chocolate, and pepper lead into a wonderful boysenberry finish. $17.99, 90 rating.

Montgras 2007 Quatro. A delectable blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Malbec (30%), Carmenere (25%), and Syrah (15%). This wine had a deep garnet color with black cherry, cigar, and clove aromas. Red raspberry and red cherry flavors with a subtle mocha finish. $14.99, 87 rating.

Both red wines pair well with pork tenderloins and onions slow cooked with white wine (see white wine above), baked potatoes, green bean and carrots.

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

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