Priam Vineyards

Located in Colchester the winery is a barn-like structure with an outdoor seating area. There were a few picnic tables out in the lawn area so visitors could eat their picnic lunch along with their favorite Priam wine. The vineyards are just to the left of the tasting room as you enter from the parking area. Upon entering the tasting room you get the sense that wine making has just finished as the staff is bustling about getting ready for the day with abundant wandering wine tasters from within the state and surrounding neighbor states. In the parking lot I saw vehicles from New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and I thought I was going to be the first one in but as it turned out my car was the only one with Connecticut plates.

The sommelier greeted me cheerfully and was eager to explain the wine tastings. You have your choice of three tastings. Tasting level one included five wines (Barrel Select Chardonnay, Salmon River White, Riesling, Westchester Red, and Salmon River Red) for $7, tasting level two included the wines from level one and four additional wines (Cayuga, Blackledge White, Late Harvest Riesling, and a St. Croix – PV) for $14. There were two reserve dessert wines (Salmon River Red – PV, and Essence of St. Croix) for $2 each, and you get to keep the signature wine glass as part of the tasting fee.

Priam also sponsors a dinner with a chef from a Hartford area restaurant paired with each of their wines. In July they host an “unWINED Concert Series” featuring music genres of folk, blues, rock, acoustic, alternative, country, and Americana. I believe I’ll make a couple of these venues. In the latter part of July they host a New England clam bake where part of the proceeds go to the American Heart Association and the New England Seafood Council.

Here are the wines I tasted:

Barrel Select Chardonnay: This wine was well chilled and had an oaky aroma with a hint of vanilla. On the palate I found melon and grated lemon peel. It finished with a peach flavor. This was a really very nice wine – I hope my red wine drinking readers are just skipping over these as I don’t want them to think I’m going soft on my white wine drinking readers.

Salmon River White: This barrel fermented Gewurztraminer/Chardonnay blend opened with fruity aromas leading into apple and peach flavors with a hint of honey. I think I would pair this with Asian cuisine.

Riesling: Floral and fruit captured your schnozzola immediately upon lifting the glass to enjoy the aromas from this wine. Tropical fruits hit the palate much the same way a German Riesling does. As a matter of fact, I thought I was enjoying a German Riesling. I would also pair this with spicy food.

Westchester Red: Black cherry and fig awakened your proboscis leading into European chocolate, cherry (more black cherry than red cherry, but both were there), a hint of vanilla and there were some smokiness, like when you smell a BBQ somewhere in your neighborhood, yeah like that.

Salmon River Red: This is a Bordeaux style wine. The aromas were of smoke, leather, and black cherry. Although I detected black cherry on the palate I found raspberry to be the more prevalent flavor. Not sure if the wine had chocolate undertones or it was because I had a piece of chocolate with the wine; probably the latter.

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

Vacation Planning Begins

Ah, this is the time of the year that we can’t wait for winter to shut down and spring to open up and we begin to make vacation plans to somewhere. It’s been one heck of a winter so far with all the snow that we’ve received. And cold too, what’s up with that? (Can you tell that I just read an article on ‘Global Warming’). I’m certainly glad that we had someone with a plow dig us out after each snow storm we had and we’ve had some doozies.

There are many memorable vacations that we have taken and I would like to share the following one with you. This was a chance of a lifetime as my daughter was going to Ireland to study soils. Well she asked if we’d like to join her after her classes were over and we decided ‘why not’ and started making all our travel plans. So, we decided to visit four countries in a three and a half week trip. Let me tell you that is a lot of traveling in a short time.

Well, we figured staying in local bed & breakfasts would be the sensible, if not cheapest lodging other than a hostel which we weren’t keen on so it was B&B’s except for France where we decided on a self-catering apartment which as it turned out to be a pretty good choice.

Anyway our first ever trip to Europe started with a limousine ride to Logan Airport in Boston to head for Dublin, Ireland. It was a red-eye flight that leaves late in the night and gets you to your destination in the early morn‘ (ya gotta say this with an Irish accent). Once you adjusted to the jet lag which hit instantly upon landing there were so many sites to see you don’t know which ones to do first. We opted to see the “Ha Penny Bridge which used to cost a half penny to cross, however it is such a tourist attraction that it is free to cross both ways. We took a double decker bus (yes, we sat in the very top in the front row but it was damp and cold even for the summer. We traveled down a wide street where each door to the residents‘ home were all painted a different color. Of course the proverbial question arose as to why they did this. The answer was simple as the tour guide told a story of when one of the young husbands came home from the local pub after too many pints he wandered into the wrong door and went to bed with someone other than his own wife and as a result the wives had the doors painted different colors so their man would know which house was theirs. Apparently it solved the problem of husbands going into the wrong doors.

We also visited a castle which was real neat. Then we went to the the night club district and visited the coveted Temple Bar (other than visiting your favorite winery, going to a pub in Ireland is one of the best things in the world to do). It seems that any pub you may visit in Ireland there is always a table or booth or a corner of the pub you know that you should not sit at. Well, once you’ve staked out your favorite bar stool a musician will show up and sit where you knew you shouldn’t and then another musician shows, then another…well you get the picture. I got the impression the Irish did not go to the pubs to drink per se, but rather to socialize. And it was wonderful. It seems that everyone was enjoying the moment.

A short plane ride to France yielded a more subdued crowd that didn’t outwardly show the gaiety the Irish were famous for. However, Paris is the home to so many museums, where do I start. The most famous being the Louvre. My biggest thrill was seeing the Mona Lisa and of course the French wine. I got to see the Eiffel Tower both in the day and the night time. Both were exceptional sights to see. One note when you make reservations for a foreign country you’ve never been to is you really do not know what neighborhood you getting yourself into. The taxi driver that took us from the airport to the apartment warned the three ladies with me (my wife, daughter and her classmate) were not to venture out in the evening alone. He did say however that it was okay for me to travel alone. It was the shopping district of Paris. Great for the daytime activities but I guess it gets a bit risque in the evening. I had the pleasure of visiting the same croissant store each day and I was able to speak enough French to order breakfast for everyone and when I reached a certain point in the French language one person would start speaking English. I would like to visit Paris again.

Next was a overnight train ride from Paris to Florence, Italy. Not a good trip and that’s all I’ll say. Florence is a very beautiful city with their open air markets. You do not need a car in Florence as everything is in walking distance. Seeing as I was so close to Pisa I had to visit it. I rented an Alfa Romeo and it was the sweetest car I’ve ever drove. It’s very difficult to get an automatic in Europe so I was thrilled when I got to drive this beautiful car at enormous speeds on the Italian highways. Anyway there were signs all the way from Florence to Pisa stating that the museum was a certain exit. I reached the exit easy enough but there were so many roads that none of them seemed to be the one to the Leaning Tower I so yearned to see. 1 hour and 45 minutes later after still failing to find my destination the Leaning Tower has turned into the Tower of Terror. I was so frustrated (not being able to read Italian street signs) I finally decided to cut my losses and head back home. I turned down this side street and saw a sign directing me back to the highway and what do I see on my left reaching into the afternoon sun? Yeah, the friggin‘ Leaning Tower of Pisa. So I had to stop and take pictures, etc. and do the tourist thing. After fifteen minutes I headed back to the Alfa Romeo to head back to Florence. Go figure, but it took me another 90 minutes to find the highway. The next day we visited Tuscany winding through the hills in a sweet Alfa Romeo. If you’ve seen “Under The Tuscan Sun” you’ll get the picture. The next day we visited Rome. I loved old Rome but not new Rome. New Rome was not a good experience (will discuss in comments section when appropriate).

Next an all day train ride to Interlaken, Switzerland (of which we just made the last train to where we were going) where you can see the most beautiful jade green colored rivers was the beginning of a new tourist adventure. Awesome comes to mind when trying to describe this scene. And yes, we took the cog railroad to the top of the Swiss Alps. A gorgeous site to see although a bit slim on breathable air. In the B&B’s where we stayed the hosts made fresh yogurt each morning with all the fixins’. Only spent two days here and we wish we had more time than this. Another trip perhaps??

Next up was a train ride back to spend the evening in Paris before heading to Dublin where we headed for the Ring of Kerry to explore the Irish countryside. When you decide to visit Ireland make sure you visit Doolin, County Clare and stop in the pub for a pint. Oh, and a must see are the Cliffs of Moher, preferably before you go in for that pint of beer.

No matter what kind of vacation you’re inclined to embark on, make sure you make the most of it and enjoy the simpler things in life, like laughter – it does wonders for the soul.

Here are a couple of wines for you to take on vacation:

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Ethos Columbia Valley Reserve Merlot. Blackberry, cassis, and oaky aromas roused the senses to precede boysenberry, plum, and raisin flavors. This wine ended with a tart cherry finish. $32.00, 90 rating. We paired this with roast turkey, rosemary baked potatoes, and leftover vegetables.

Wrongo Dongo 2009 Monastrell. This Spanish wine opened with red cherry cough drop aroma with a hint of tobacco and earthy notes. Cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors led into a surprisingly minty mocha finish was very pleasing. $7.99, 85 rating. We paired this with linguine with meatballs and Italian sausage.

Clean Slate 2009 Riesling. This German wine opens with a peach aroma with a hint of spice on the nose. The palate experiences the same peach flavor but with a hint of lime leading into a silky smooth mineral finish. $9.99, 86 rating. Serve this with spicy Pad Thai or with appetizers like shrimp cocktail, stuffed clams, or oysters on the half shell.

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

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Springtime

Now that the winter is over we can start thinking about mowing the lawn, pruning the trees, fixing up the lawn where the plows tore it up. What a mess! This happens every year, why I don’t live in a warmer climate I’ll never know.

Anyway, now we must get busy getting fertilizer down on the lawn and everything else that goes with lawn care. But the most important thing about springtime is the anticipation of warmer weather if you’re so inclined to favor the tropics more so than the North Pole.

Another good aspect of seeing the snow disappear is it opens the senses to begin grilling outside again to make and try out those recipes you’ve been downloading all winter long while somehow never believing you would see the outdoor grill ever again. Now at least we can put the winter of 2010-2011 in the history books (I think this will probably take up a whole chapter unto itself) and look forward to warmth and sunshine.

I vowed to buy a new outdoor grill and am anticipating a spring sale where I can feast on some of the better models than I am used to. Hey, other than dreaming about opening the perfect bottle of wine for that perfect meal; where you grill that meal and on what equipment can play a big part in the final outcome – not really, but it’s the analysis and logic I will plead with my wife to strengthen my case for me to cook the perfect outdoor meal that will not dirty the kitchen at all – and just think of all the good meals that will come out of it, after all there is nothing like grilled food outdoors, right? Hmmm, now to decide which grilling device will be best 😉 Wish me luck!

Anyway, here are a couple of wines to start the springtime with whether you have a new shiny grill out on the deck or not.

Che Gaucho 2009 Malbec. This Argentinian Malbec opened with cassis and boysenberry aromas. A blackberry flavor led into a licorice finish. $7.99, 82 rating. We paired this with a beef stir fry which consisted of flank steak, red pepper, scallions, mushrooms, and sugar snap peas seasoned with tarragon and parsley sauteed in soy sauce over white long grain rice. This was scrumptious!

Chateau Ste Michelle 2007 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling. This white wine had melon and citrus aromas with a green apple flavor and a smooth silky finish. We paired this with a medley of shrimp, red pepper, asparagus and broccoli tossed into a bed of rigatoni. This was a really good meal. Tried this wine again another night with steak fajitias amidst the delectable vegetable fillers wrapped in wheat tortillas . $14.99, 88 rating.

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

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Shall We Talk White Wine?

This post is devoted to white wines so I don’t get scolded from any of our white wine drinkers. So, white wine drinkers I’ll post a few comments on white wines but you’re going to have to help out and comment on the wines I reviewed as you clearly know more about them than I do. So, this post is dedicated to several predominately white wine drinkers that I know – obviously one of our wine enthusiasts’ sibling (yes, this is where I was scolded and put in my place concerning white wines), a fellow friend (Lisa) who would debate red (my choice) vs. white (her choice) any day of the week (I think I would lose by default ‘cos it’s already 2 to 1 in favor of white wines), to Heidi & Missy at C ‘N C for their dedication to white wine in general and to their craft as well. I made the mistake of bringing a red wine as an “oops, I’m sorry gift”, then later learned that white wine is THE choice of wine. Can you imagine having your own wine cooler in your place of business – now, that would be living. Okay, so that’s four white wine drinkers to one and I believe I know of at least 99 red wine drinkers so that’s a ratio of 25 to 1. Although I’m on the red wine side, I think I’m going to lose this battle which is why this post is dedicated to the white wine lover.

Let’s start with my favorite white wine which takes the form of a bubbly champagne. The Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut is comprised primarily of Pinot Noir, with shades of Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay while being aged for 24 months. On the nose are aromas of cherries jubilee, pear, apple and a splendid concoction of floral notes. The palate displayed fresh pineapple, orange zest and ground nutmeg. The finish you say? Bubbly – what did you expect?? Truly my favorite champagne. $39 for an NV, $45+ for vintage champagnes definitely deserves a 94 rating. Get this for a special occasion and throw caution to the wind. You can have this anytime you want either with food or without – your choice.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling. Nose notes are of a crisp apple orchard morning when the sun is cresting the horizon. Flavors of apple, peach, and lime precede a citrus finish. This pairs well with cedar plank salmon with garlic asparagus and baked rosemary seasoned red bliss potatoes sprinkled with olive oil. This also goes well with chocolate cake! It’s also good with appetizers like scallops wrapped in bacon. Try this with chicken salad atop romaine lettuce with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, red & yellow peppers and if you must, croutons. $19.99 and a 92 rating.

Sharpe Hill NV Ballet of Angels. This semi-dry wine comes in a unique bottle that you must see to appreciate. The opening aromatic notes are floral similar to when you open the glass door at the florist to pick out some flowers, remember that aroma, sort of like that. Flavors abound of pear and peach with citrus notes of grapefruit. A nice mouth feel. Pair this with Cajun scallops. I’ll try to remember my home made recipe in a later post as it varies each time I make it, so it isn’t always the same. This will also go well with spicy or Oriental food. Serve well-chilled. $11.49, 92 rating. I may have rated this a bit higher if it were a dry white wine

Okay, here are three white wines I recommended, now I want you to post your favorite white wine so I can learn and appreciate more about white wines. Don’t be shy, I’m not…and you know if anyone looks like a fool – it’s me.

Does Tempranillo come in a white wine? Not to change the subject but I’m really getting to like the Spanish wines I’ve tasted lately. Wild raspberries and mocha stuff! Wow!!:))

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