Waterbrook Mélange Blanc 2010

It’s that time of year where I tend to drink more white wine than I do the red stuff. Although, my real passion for drinking wine is in the deep garnet coloring of the delectable juice we know as “Wine”. The Waterbrook Mélange Columbia Valley 2010 vintage from Walla Walla, Washington is a surprising, wonderful concoction of 39% Riesling, 18% Pinot Gris, 14% Gewürztraminer, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Viognier with an ABV of 11.8%. Don’t let the mere ABV percentage fool you, as this was packed with a variety of aromas and flavors.

Have you ever picked fresh peaches where you still have the twig and one leaf still attached to the peach? That kind of fresh peach aroma as you put it in the basket with a handful of other picked peaches is the kind of aroma that first hits you when you drop the “ol snozzola” into the opening of the wine glass. At first I thought “Is that it?” – well let that aroma savor for a bit. Then repeat the process of letting the aromas open in the wine glass, and uh, I would recommend using a Riedel or similar type wine vessel to open all the possible smells.

After you get the peach orchard smell, I found melon, honey, apricots, floral notes, fresh cut hay and lemongrass as additional aromas to the already present peach. The fresh cut hay and lemongrass were subtle yet letting you know its presence was real.  The flavors were a delightful blend of pear, apricot, peach and melon with sweet notes of honey. This clean, crisp white wine found the back palate with slight sweet vanilla notes. Although I wished this lingered longer than it did.

We served this well chilled with a baby spinach salad with bacon bits (from the fry pan, not from a jar – so pick your poison), thin apple slices (we used a Fuji apple but whatever suits your fancy & palate will suffice) topped with a mildly sweet salad dressing (recipe follows) and topped with chopped walnuts. For a meat protein topping, we used pan fried skinless chicken breasts sliced about an 1/8″ by 3″ (approx.) in a sage & onion infused olive oil (about a Tbsp) until cooked thoroughly. Just a note: the first glass of wine went down way too quickly but was an excellent complement to the meal. The second glass of wine sans the meal didn’t go as quickly but fear the bottle will not last through the evening hours on the deck. Not bad for a $13.99 bottle of wine. I don’t like spending a lot of money on white wines (there are a few though) and this was well worth the price we paid.

Salad Dressing:

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup shallots, minced

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and pour over the baby spinach, 1/4″ sliced bacon pieces, apples, strawberries (although the recipe didn’t call for this, we decided to add them) & walnuts. One thing of note – the above recipe is very vinegary, so my wife added more honey to sweeten it and that was more flavorful, so you’ll have to experiment a bit before pouring over the salad.

 

 

Coastal Vineyards

I didn’t think I had the right place as I drove up and there was only one car in the driveway and it didn’t look open. So instead of just wandering off into the sunset I decided to call them to inquire if I was in the right place. Ah, indeed I was as Joyce, the sommelier came out of the back of the house and directed me to the tasting room.


As you can see the wine bar can accommodate about three tasters at a time. When I arrived I was the only one there and half way through my tasting another couple showed up and the bar was at full capacity. Don’t let the small bar area fool you though as the wines were quite good. They only had five wines available during my visit and it was worth the visit, I’m glad I called. I can’t remember what the tasting fee was as I do not have this in my notes, I’m presuming it was minimal, however I do not see a signature wine glass in my wine glass collection so I’ll presume they did not give one out. On to the wines I tasted.

Pinot Gris: Pear, peach, and nectarine aromas with crispness and good acidity on the palate. The flavors were much the same as on the nose. This was chilled just right.

White Wine: A blend of the Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer grapes provided a floral bouquet that ended with ripe pear on the palate.

Gewurztraminer: Floral and fruit bowl aromas on the nose led into tropical fruits, pear, and apple flavors with a clean, crisp acidic finish. Very nice.

Vidal Blanc: Floral notes on the nose with apple and pear on the palate and the sweetness balanced quite well with the acidic finish.

Seaside Red: A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Chambourcin. It had a light garnet color with a light berry aroma. Candied red apple and cherry on the palate with subtle hints of mocha and vanilla. A very decent New England red wine that I was quite pleased with.

Their vineyards are 95% planted on 8 acres of land with the other 5% of the grapes coming from local wineries truly encompasses the ideal of being a local winery, not that world wide wines aren’t good but local wines in New England are starting to get some recognition.

So, when you get a chance, stop by their tasting room and experience their wines as they only produce around 600-700 cases per year. They also bottle exclusively with screw tops, but with an average of 3% spoilage from tainted corks I can fully understand the need to incorporate this into the wine bottling process. You all know how I feel about corks but I would rather open the wine with the knowledge that what’s inside will be fresh and delectable.

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

The Magnificent Wine Co. 2008 House Wine White

Okay, I’ve been neglecting my white wine drinking oenophiles for awhile now so I bought this on a whim as I liked the simplicity of the label with the stick house and figured I’d give it a try. Well, this was anything but simple as this straw yellow colored wine from Washington State in the Columbia Valley produced floral, pear, honeysuckle, and peach aromas that took its time traveling through my schnozzola and I enjoyed every second of it. I almost didn’t want it to end. Alas, it must come to end at some point.

On the palate I found numerous flavors of pineapple, pear, apple, peach, tangerine, and lemon that was crisp and clean. I wasn’t surprised to get so many aromas and flavors as this white wine is a delectable blend of Chardonnay 78%, Riesling 11%, Muscat 5%, Gerwurztraminer 5%, and Pinot Gris 1% – gee, ya think? Make sure you serve this chilled as it goes quite well with seafood dinners, creamy chicken dishes, and spicy Asian food. I’ve decided to make this 13.5% ABV a staple in my wine cellar and priced at $10.99 is a very good buy.

Running Brook Vineyard & Winery Inc.

Traveling to a few of the Massachusetts wineries on a rain soaked morning with plenty of fog cover nonetheless did not “dampen my spirits” –  no pun intended until after I wrote this and realized what it said so, what the heck! It’s a been a week since I visited the Maine Coast for relaxation and the trees in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are well on their way to fall foliage. I think upper New England needs to get with the fall program.

When I embark on a wine trip I have no preconceived notions of anything, I’m just out to enjoy the day and seeing as this was Friday and I was on vacation – well, you get the picture. I usually try to visit 3-4 wineries per trip as after four wineries my palate is shot anyway and I would not be able to give you an honest assessment of the winery. So, I like to limit my winery visits to no more than four at a clip. The reason I’m rambling on is this wine trip, albeit rain soaked, was the best wine trip I’ve ever been on. And you’re wondering why this is? Blame it on the sommeliers in each of the wineries I visited – Running Brook Vineyards & Winery, Coastal Vineyards, and Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery. It was way too crowded in New Bedford to stop into Travessia Urban Winery so I’ll make another trip on a less hectic day such as a Saturday or Sunday.

You must put this on your “wineries to visit” trip list as the wines were very good but the “stories” were great. Here was my experience at Running Brook Vineyard & Winery…

This winery wasn’t much to look at but looks can be deceiving. The inside of the winery was small but was well organized.

The wine bar as you can see will accommodate several tasters at a time but I hit it on a day where I had the place all to myself. Pat, the sommelier, has a great personality and a wonderful sense of humor in the hectic hubbub of winery life. Not only was she attending to my wine samples, she was answering phones and giving me some history of the owners/winemakers. Manny and Pedro were from the Azores in Portugal. Manny is the farmer and grape grower and Pedro, a dentist by day and winemaker by night put in many hours to make the fruit of the vines come to reality for our pleasure. They produce over 2500 cases per year.

They have two properties, one in Dartmouth with 8 acres of planted vines and in Westport they have 13 acres planted. They grow Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, and Pinot Gris. And they’re all locally grown. Locally grown grapes in New England are becoming a staple of the area – so here’s my “in” to tell you to support locally produced wines.

Pat was also kind enough to share the following tidbits of information Running Brook has categorized as “frequently asked questions”.

Oak barrels

hold 225 liters (60+ gallons) yielding 24 cases which turns into 288 bottles. One tank of the delectable juice holds 500 gallons, a large tank (my favorite one) holds 1, 500 gallons=7,500 bottles=625 cases=10 tons. Wow, now you’re talking some numbers.

Oh, I’m not stopping here:

Grapes:

One ton makes 150 gallons of wine.

1 grape cluster=75 grapes=1 glass of wine

4 clusters=1 bottle

40 clusters=1 vine=10 bottles (now we’re getting somewhere)

1200 clusters=30 vines=1 barrel=60 gallons

400 vines=1 acre=5 tons

5 tons=332 cases

Okay, on to the wines they produced. There was no tasting fee for trying the nine wines they had for offerings then again you did not get a signature wine glass either.

2010 Unoaked Chardonnay: I found pear and apple on the nose which continued onto the forward palate with good acidity on the finish.

2008 Chardonnay: This is 60% oaked and 40% unoaked which I found much the same as I did with the 2010 unoaked Chardonnay but I did detect a bit of apricot on the nose and this could be why I preferred this over the unoaked Chardonnay. Note: they will soon be releasing a Reserve Chardonnay (see above oak barrel marked 82 W) – it may be worth the two hour trip to taste this.

2008 Pinot Gris: A floral nose with citrus notes on the palate. This semi-dry full bodied white wine had a crisp clean finish.

2008 Vidal Blanc: Kitchen fruit bowl aroma with an emphasis on pear and apricot lead into a tropical fruit flavor on the palate. This was very nice and I can envision having this on a warm evening on the deck with spicy Thai cuisine.

2010 Vidal Blanc: Bartlett pear aroma and flavor. This was somewhat sweeter than the 2008 version. It had minimal acidity on the back palate.

2007 Pinot Noir: Cherry blossom aroma (if you’ve ever been to Washington, D.C. in April you’ll know what I mean) with a hint of bell pepper. The aromas were a nice combination. On the palate I experienced cherry hard candy and a hint of fig with a chocolate finish. A very nice sipping wine.

2010 Cabernet Franc: Black cherry and blackberry awaken your senses before leading into a black cherry flavor with a subtle hint of white pepper. I liked this one.

2007 Auslesen (OWZ-lay-zun): Honey and golden raisin was found both on the nose and palate. This semi-sweet dessert wine had a lot of character with just two distinct aromas/flavors of honey and golden raisin. I don’t know what they did to make this dessert wine pop the way it did but this knocked my socks off. And yes, I did get a bottle of this. For me, this was the gem of the winery.

2010 Frost: This is a late harvest dessert wine made from the Vidal Blanc grapes which are left on the vine for a “couple” of frosts. I found subtle hints of pear and candied apple on the nose with sweet apple on the palate. It had a nice balance between sweetness and acidity.

Greenvale Vineyards

Traveling along the picturesque inlet towns to Greenvale Vineyards on the winding roads on a coastal route amidst fresh sea scents abound from everywhere you point your nose. Don’t you just love the ocean breeze? Again embarking on the proverbial dirt/rock road to the winery portal you slowly trek down taking care not to damage the undercarriage of your car (I knew I should have brought the truck).

The first thing that impressed me when arriving and parking in the driveway was how well kept everything looked. And there was a freshness in the air. The short walk (unlike the long driveways) to the tasting room along a well manicured sidewalk with seasonal flowers gave you the impression of caring. Well, that caring didn’t stop there as I entered the tasting room I was greeted by the sommelier with a good morning (it was 10 till twelve so it was still morning). In the rustic tasting room complete with boutique wine items for sale the wine bar was small only able to accommodate 7-8 tasters but as there were only three other tasters I had plenty of room. The fee for a tasting was $10 for six wines plus you got to keep the signature wine glass. I just checked their website for another purpose and noticed their tasting fee has increased to $12 for 7 wines.

So, on with the wine tastings:

Rosecliff Pinot Gris: Lemongrass and pear on the nose with pear flavors with a hint of lemon (almost a complete reversal from aroma to flavor) and this had a very smooth aftertaste.

Grrenvale 2007 Chardonnay: Fruit bowl aroma much like having a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. The palate found subtle flavors of pear and apple. Although a nice wine this wasn’t to my liking.

Chardonnay 2008 Select: This was much better that showed an abundance of pear on the nose with pear and apple flavors with a subtle apple finish that wasn’t overpowering.

Vidal Blanc 2009: A French/American hybrid was very fruity on the nose with a definitive sour apple aroma lead into mostly apple flavors. If there were any other flavors the apple drowned them out.

Skipping Stone White: A blend of Cayuga and Vidal Blanc grapes with a very light opaque color found a floral nose of fresh cut flowers. The fruity palate finished with a hint of lemon zest. For me this was my favorite wine here (I can tell as I bought a bottle which is a dead giveaway that I really liked the wine).

Cabernet Franc 2006: A medium Bordeaux style wine found plum and spice aromas with a hint of cassis. Plum continued into the flavor with a peppery finish. Stored in French and American oak a blend of 82% Cabernet Franc and 18% Merlot rendered a very smooth medium red wine.

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

Jonathan Edwards Winery

Driving through the country roads in North Stonington on a warm summer day you get to see everything in bloom providing you’re in the right season that is. One thing to mention here is I didn’t have to drive down a long rock road. Instead when you reach the winery you immediately park right off the road.

Once you parked and got out of the car, you are impressed with the beautiful vineyards and the manicured lawns. The enormous white building just in front of you reminds me a lot like Napa Valley with a New England flair. While walking up the stone steps, the iron railing is what caught my eye with intricate designs including the proverbial grapes on a vine.

Jonathan Edwards’ lawn is huge and off to the right of the tasting room is where they place a large tent for their wine festival. If you haven’t been to their wine festival or music venues then you have missed out on the fun.

Once inside the tasting room the area is quite large and the tasting bar will easily accommodate 12-15 tasters. Out on the back porch you can sit and look at the view of the North Stonington hills as well as enjoying a glass of your favorite JE wine. The tasting fee was $12 for eight wines plus a signature glass or $6 for four wines without the signature glass. I was interested in tasting their Connecticut wines so I opted for the $6 wine tasting as I have a few of their signature wine glasses at home.

Here are the wines I tasted:

2010 Estate Connecticut Pinot Gris: Fresh cut grass and pear on the nose with a honeydew melon flavor. A very nice wine which would pair well with fish or spicy foods.

2010 Estate Connecticut Gewurztraminer: This was a really good tasting wine with fruit, mostly peach, on the nose. Fruit flavors on the palate, nice acidity, and a slight spicy finish. I really liked this one.

2009 Estate Connecticut Chardonnay: This Chardonnay opened with pear and lemongrass on the nose. Pear was the dominant flavor although I did detect a hint of lemon and vanilla. This sizes up well to their Napa Valley Chardonnay quite well.

2008 Napa Valley Syrah: The aromas consisted of earth and cedar while the flavors were of chocolate and red raspberries with a hint of spice on the finish. This would go well with most grilled foods.

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

Jones Winery

Jones Winery was the third winery I visited on the Connecticut Wineries Tour #1 and the farm was a typical New England farm setting, complete with the red barns. After I parked the car I took a leisurely stroll about the vineyard and winery grounds and then went to the tasting room. Upon entering the tasting room you get a sense of enormity as the room could easily fit approximately 100 people in it with around fifty at the wine bar. A very rustic stone wall and glass enclosures gave it a very rustic yet modern look to it. Nice place to have a family reunion as it would accommodate most families comfortably.

The tasting fee was $6.75 plus state sales tax and you tried six of the nine wines they had. Plus you got to keep the signature wine glass too. Off the tasting room was a gift shop with wine paraphernalia, t-shirts, and other such stuff plus a few wine racks displaying their wines. The wines available for tasting were: the Pinot Gris Vintner, Stonewall Chardonnay, Woodlands White, in the white wine category. For red wine they had a Cabernet Franc Vintner Select, a Merlot, and Ripton Red. One fruit wine called First Blush. The dessert wine list had the Black Currant Bouquet and the Raspberry Rhapsody.

I chose the following wines:

Pinot Gris: This opened with floral notes and citrus on the nose. Honeydew melon was the dominant flavor. I would have liked to pair this with steamed shellfish such as clams or oysters (although I prefer the oysters raw) or maybe mussels. If not steamed then a hot grill would work well too.

Woodlands White: Made from the Cayuga grape this semi-sweet wine had floral notes and melon aromas and flavor. This should pair well with sharp cheeses, grilled chicken and asparagus, or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich – hmm, I’ll have to think about that a bit more.

Cabernet Franc: Opening notes were of earth and spice. Red berry fruits on the palate with a raspberry finish. A very decent Cabernet Franc.

Ripton Red: A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, and Estate Grown Connecticut grapes. This was very earthy  (or as one of our oenphiles said: “It’s like chewing on sticks!”). However, this reminded me of a decent Chianti. And yes, I would pair this with Grandma’s spaghetti and homemade marinara sauce with plenty of Italian bread to soak up the extra sauce you put in the bowl.

Black Currant Bouquet: A dessert wine, and you guessed it, black currant aromas and flavors abound in this nice after dinner wine with hints of plum on the finish.

Raspberry Rhapsody: Sweet with everything raspberry as the name suggests. This would go well with European chocolate or for that matter, any chocolate. The sommelier remarked that this wine “was a party in a bottle” and I couldn’t agree more. This wine really popped.

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