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…