Sunset Meadow Vineyards 2009 Vidal Blanc

Located in Goshen, CT Sunset Meadow Vineyards is one of about 30+ boutique wineries in Connecticut. In my opinion, CT white wines are getting better every year. Usually when I visit CT wineries I look forward to tasting their white wines. The reds aren’t quite there yet on the grand scheme of things with the rest of the world, but hey, the rest of the world has been doing it for a lot longer than the small wineries in southern New England. The wine retails for around $19 and has a 12% alcohol by volume.

The vidal blanc had an opaque yellow color with aromas of lemongrass, lime, fresh cut hay and floral notes. On the palate I found lemon-lime jello, pear, and clementine. The finish was refreshing with ripe apricots. We paired this with Cajun sea scallops, leaf spinach, and long grain wild rice. The crispness of the wine complemented the Cajun spices (my own concoction BTW) which marinated the sea scallops.

Okay, here’s the recipe for the Cajun marinade for about 1 1/2 lbs of sea scallops (approx. 1 1/2″ in diameter and just as tall): Rinse sea scallops well and drain any excess liquid and place in a quart container. Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp (you can vary this to your taste) of your favorite dry Cajun seasoning (I use the Habanero Cajun seasoning from Hell – beyond hot). You can also vary the ingredients to suit your tastes.

Pour this over the sea scallops and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Bake in a glass dish at 425 degrees for 14 minutes although this will vary based on the size of your sea scallops. Total time of preparation to sitting down and eating the meal is less than an hour so this can be a great meal during the middle of the week. Oh, and don’t forget to have the bottle of wine well chilled. The coolness of the wine with the hotness of the Cajun spices does a cha-cha on your taste buds. Bon Appetit!

Stonington Vineyards – 2012

Before you enter the long and not so winding rock road you immediately see the vineyard sign welcoming you to the vineyard. For me this is when I get excited as I know I’m going to be tasting some wines in the very near future.

As I turned around the slight bend to enter the parking lot I spot a black limo just sitting there with nothing better to do except wait for its inhabitants. Actually, this is a smart thing to do especially if you’re opting to drink instead of just taste the wines. Or, as I found out when I got inside there was a bridal party (hence, the limo outside the tasting room) visiting some of the local wineries to scout the place the bride would eventually tie the knot and hold the wedding reception.

Of course we cannot forget the proverbial signs letting us know where the wine tasting will begin.

Once inside the tasting room there is a person at the cash register asking if you want to do a wine tasting. The cost is $12 for 7 wines plus you get to keep the signature wine glass. So below are the wines I got to taste.

2010 Sheer Chardonnay ($16.99): On the nose I found apple orchard aroma just like the middle of October when apples are prime for picking. The flavor was pretty much like biting into that apple you just picked for the orchard plus there was some minerality on the finish.

2010 Chardonnay ($20.99): Again, I found apple on the nose but mixed in with this were hints of vanilla, subtle but nonetheless it was there. As no surprise apple flavor followed and was similar to their Sheer Chardonnay.

2010 Vidal Blanc ($12.99): This dry white wine opened with floral and citrusy notes on the nose and followed with a concoction of lemon, lime, orange, nectarine, and peach flavors. This was a delicious wine and the wine bar staff seem to have perfected the art of serving white wine at exactly the right temperature. This is one of the best Vidal Blancs I’ve had and it’s at a very good price too.

2010 Riesling ($16.99): Another favorite of mine is this wine also served at the right chilled temperature. It opened with grapefruit, orange, and pineapple aromas. So, this wine was off to a good start and the flavors just blew me away with papaya, apricot, peach, and mango with hints of lime on the finish proved to be my favorite Stonington Vineyards wine. And yes, I have a few bottles of this in my wine cellar.

Seaport White ($10.99): The Seaport White is probably their best selling wine. It is a crisp, dry, fruity wine with a fruit bowl aroma and flavor. I did find a bit of sweetness to the wine but it was definitely not a sweet wine which was very pleasing to the palate. This would go great on a picnic and would compliment a number of foods you’d likely take on a picnic. A really nice wine given the cost.

2010 Triad Rosé ($15.99): This wine really surprised me. It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, and Chardonnay. The actual percentages are unknown as I did not inquire as to what they were. On the nose I found cherry and fruit bowl aromas. On the palate were cherry, spice and pepper flavors. Served slightly chilled would also be a great picnic wine too. I can see this going great with a variety of picnic sandwiches. I’m really becoming a fan of Rosés.

2008 Cabernet Franc ($20.99): The Stonington Vineyards Cabernet Franc has always been one of my favorite red wines. On the nose I found a medley of dark berries – cherry, blackberry, and raspberry with earth notes lingering at the end. The flavors were predominately cherry with nuances of mocha and spice with hints of fresh cracked pepper.

Can you guess the bridal party?

Next week – Saltwater Farms Vineyard

Lost Acres Vineyard – 2012

Lost Acres Vineyard is new to the CT Wine Trail Passport this year and their sign indicating where I should go to enjoy a wine tasting is one of the signs I look for.

But let’s back up for a minute so you can see where the tasting room and other wine activities are conducted.

Did you notice the deck on the right side of the barn structure. Looks like a great place to spend an afternoon sipping some wine while admiring the vineyards.

And yes, this is the path leading up to the tasting room where I have never been before but am willing to take the plunge. When I entered, the tasting room was cool as it was becoming warm outside once the sun was intent on staying for awhile.

As you can see there is ample room to accommodate a lot of wine tasters either at the wine bar or in many of the tables that are set up here. Once inside one of the owners, Michelle welcomed me to the vineyard. The tasting fee is $6 including the CT state tax (I always like it when wineries include the tax within the tasting fee) for trying six wines on their menu. Plus you get their signature wine glass too. So, on to the wines and where the fun begins.

First up was their Chardonnay ($14.99) which opened with lemon, melon, and lemongrass aromas leading into citrus and apple flavors. Serve slightly chilled this was a very good wine to start of the tasting venue.

Next, I tried the Wedge White ($13.99) which is a white blend consisting of Cayuga, Chardonnay, Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc. I found this wine to have clean crisp citrus aromas and flavors with some good acidity. This would be a great wine to have on their deck enjoying an afternoon with friends.

The next wine on their list was a fruit wine called Old Orchard Apple ($12.99) and as the name suggests you get apple aromas and flavors with a neat little tart apple finish.

The Riesling ($17.99) was next up on the tasting menu and I found lemongrass and fresh cut hay on the nose with a lingering spice cornucopia. This was a really surprising array of aromas and the flavors consisted of sweet apple and pear.

The Rock Wall Red ($15.99) was a blend of Carignane, Gamay, Merlot, and Petit Sirah. This red blend opened with plum, blackberry and jammy aromas. Much the same for the flavors but a nice spice and peppery finish followed leaving a nice mouth-feel on the palate.

The last wine on the list was the Merlot ($13.99). On the nose I found jammy blackberry and wild black cherry and on the palate I found cherry hard candy and plum flavors with a nice complement of pepper. Then I tried a chocolate morsel and this seemed to bring out the plum flavor more and as it turned out the last wine I tasted was my favorite.

If you haven’t stopped here yet, you’ll want to make the trip. One thing that I enjoy so far and I know I’ve only visited two wineries so far but how pleasant and friendly the wine staff and the tasters are so far – let’s hope that the trend continues.

Next week – Arrigoni Winery

Sunset Meadow Vineyards

 

Starting early in the morning and traveling through the Litchfield Hills a slight fog burned off quickly to reveal beautiful rolling hills along the secondary roads. I was in no apparent hurry as I’m trying to enjoy the “bud breaks” of the world. Upon entering the grounds here at SMV the vineyards are straight ahead and to your right.

From the parking lot is was a short walk to the tasting room. Once inside it is fairly spacious with room for 10-12 tasters at a time at the wine bar. There is a small but quaint gift shop off to the left of the wine bar. I spent about 15 minutes browsing through their wares alive with wine paraphernalia.

The wine bar staff were quite friendly. Amazingly one of the first things out of their mouths is “Would you like to do a tasting?” I could come back with “No, I just want a wine glass and oh, please stamp my wine passport.” However, I normally say energetically – “Absolutely.” And so it is with many of the wineries I visit in my eventual quest to visit all the New England wineries or at least, the vast majority of them.

 

The tasting fee is $6 which includes a sampling of any five wines on their tasting menu and their signature wine glass. For an additional $0.75 you can get a chocolate truffle with your red wine tasting. They also provide cheeses, sausages, and crackers with varying prices. I opted for the following wines. Dessert wines are an additional $1.50 plus tax.

Riesling: A semi-sweet wine opened with lemongrass notes on the nose with a hint of pear. The palate were of pear and apple with a mineral finish. This was a nice white wine.

Vidal Blanc: This was much better then the Riesling and the aroma was of fresh squeezed lemon with a wafting of lime on the nose. Flavors of lemon and citrus preceded a lime finish.

Sunset Blush: This wine exploded with fruit on the nose similar to having a bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the kitchen table, a very nice aroma with a hint of banana. Although their description says you’ll get peach, apricot, and plum I didn’t detect the apricot. Is it possible that my schnozzola is failing me?

Now for the two reds I tried…

Merlot: The wine was a light opaque red color and a medium bodied wine. The cherry aroma was quite pronounced as this was the only aroma I detected (is my nose off too?). I also got a cherry and pepper flavor.

New Dawn: A blend of Malbec, Merlot, Frontenac, and Landot varietals I found boysenberry and plum aromas coupled with blackberry and black cherry flavors was a more rounded wine than the Merlot. I’m kind of partial to blends though.

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

Hardwick Vineyard & Winery

Driving up to this winery I passed through some beautiful countryside scenes, however you could still see the devastation caused by both Hurricane Irene and winter storm Alfred. This was a really sad scene to see as so many tress were down across the area it’s a wonder they received power at all. But upon arrival at the vineyard the tasting room was in a big barn adjacent to the main house.

And when I arrived there was quite a crowd and the sommelier, Becky, wanted to know if I was there because of the show Chronicle and as I looked perplexed and asked “What’s Chronicle”. One of the other tasters wanted to know if I was from Connecticut and when I said I was they all knew that I did not see this local show. Seems that a local TV station highlights “stuff” in the area and Hardwick Vineyard and Winery was featured on the show, hence the reason it was so busy. Well, busy is a good thing as were their wines.

The bar area was quite ample and there is room for a lot of tasters at once. The tasting fee was $5 for six wines of your choice and you also received a signature wine glass. Most of the wineries I have visited will give you an ample pour of the wine for your tasting pleasure. Here at Hardwick Vineyard & Winery the pours were at least 2 oz each so make sure you stay there for awhile after you have finished the tastings. Here are the wines I sampled.

Giles E. Warner: This dry white wine opened with orange peel and citrus notes on the nose. Orange slice with a hint of apple found it’s way to the forward palate and had good acidity with a clean crisp finish. This wine is a blend of the Seyval and Vidal Blanc grapes.

Yankee Boy White: Pear was the dominant aroma with hints of green apple. Sweet apple (dominant) and pear nuances on the palate. I found it quite interesting that the aromas and flavors reversed in its complexity. It was a really nice combination and a pretty good wine too.

Yankee Girl Blush: A blend of Seyval, Vidal, and Pink Catawba varietals was a peach colored wine more so than a blush colored wine and produced peach and tropical notes on the nose. The palate experienced peach and melon flavors. This was very nice.

Massetts Cranberry: Made with 10% local Cayuga grapes this had a nice cranberry aroma and flavor. A little too much cranberry for me though.

Hardwick Red: The Marechal Foch grapes in this wine found plum and dark berries with a hint of boysenberry on the nose. Mostly plum was found on the palate with hints of black cherry and boysenberry on the finish, maybe some fig as well.

Quabbin Native: Made from the Pink Catawba grape it opened with floral notes with some lingering grapefruit. The flavor was a delectable Peach Melba dessert. I got an unexpected surprise when Becky poured the same wine a second time that had been heated with mulling spices. It was remarkable and much better than mulled apple cider. This was the gem of the winery.

There was also an outside area that could also be utilized for relaxing on your visit although it was nice but chilly with temperatures nearing 60°.

Be sure to take the time and visit this winery in one of your future wine trips even if you didn’t see it on Chronicle. You can even book an event as they have plenty of room downstairs. One other note though; I read a saying that was on one of the beams above the bar area which stated: “Guests: If we get to drinking on Sunday and ask you to stay until Monday, we really don’t mean it“. Good thing I went on a Friday:)

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

 

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…

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…

Sakonnet Vineyards

The ride from home to the coastal region of Rhode Island began with a beautiful gorgeous day that was sure to thrill me mile to mile on my trek of New England wineries. First up on my Rhode Island tour and Coastal Vineyards Passport series is Sakonnet Vineyards.

On the back roads of Rhode Island I reached the Little Compton winery via a scenic route indicative of the New England coast. Driving down the long dirt road (yes, we continue to go down long dirt roads) the winery is in the tradition of New England style coastal homes with plenty of room for outdoor seating in a multitude of areas: by the pond, by the vineyard, outside the vineyard tasting room entrance, outside the tasting room under a covered patio. There is a lot of room to sit if you want to spend a bit of time here. The grounds were manicured exquisitely without a tree limb out of place, but of course that was before tropical storm Irene hit so I’m sure they came under some high winds and plenty of rain.

Once inside the small boutique shop, there were many wine items to buy at reasonable prices. You also paid for your wine tasting here which cost $10 for six wines of your choosing plus you get to keep their signature wine glass. Entering the tasting room you immediately realized it was quite large with room for a couple of dozen tasters at a time and along the walls were racks of their wine ready for the taking. Once inside the room, I walked right to the wine bar and patiently waited to begin my wine experience.

Here are the wines I tried:

Vidal Blanc: This wine opened with grapefruit and orange zest on the nose with a nectarine flavor with hints of lemon-lime on the finish. Quite a nice tasting wine that I would tempt to pair with a cedar plank salmon, roasted red potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. And yes, sourdough bread would be nice too.

Gerwurztraminer: The Estate grown, French style dry Gewurztraminer would go well with spicy Asian cuisine as it opened with spice notes on the nose with a lemongrass flavor and nice acidity.

Chardonnay: Steel fermented this opened with apple on the nose with a slight hint of pear. The apple continued to the palate but the pear was missing so this wine didn’t do it for me.

Rhode Island Red: Their most popular selling wine found black cherry on the nose and the flavor as well with a slight peppery finish.  I had a bottle of their 1999 vintage about  eight or nine years ago and it was much better than their current release, hopefully with cellaring it will be just as good.

Cabernet Franc: One of my favorite wines (well, I guess most wines are my favorites) the medium ruby colored wine found bell pepper and the aroma was almost like standing in a back yard garden. Plus there was a lingering fig aroma too. It was actually quite pleasing. This medium bodied wine found red cherry and pepper flavors complementing the aromas quite well.

Claret NV – 35th Anniversary: Blackberry aroma with fig nuances on the nose with a hint of bacon just starting to cook. Cassis and black currant on the palate. A slight pepper finish most likely white pepper. A nice stand alone wine as well as pairing it with a grilled steak, corn on the cob, and a garden salad with balsamic vinegar dressing.

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

Stonington Vineyards

Driving down a rock road (I’ve come to realize that many of the Connecticut wineries are on rock roads) you can view the vineyards off to the left and on a beautiful afternoon the sight is just gorgeous. After parking the car and walking down to the tasting room door I was greeted by a myriad of bees. They were out in full bloom and although I didn’t get stung I was glad when I entered the tasting room.

Once inside there were two tasting areas and I was directed to the one in the back area which provided a lot more room. The bar area consisted of several wine barrels standing on end with a table top connecting each wine barrel. It was very simple but provided a great atmosphere to talk not only about wine but whatever comes to mind. The day I visited there were two other couples and the sommelier would pour our wine samples and would give us her rendition of the wine. Then something magical happened – all of us started conversing with each other about travel. We talked about Europe, China, national parks within the United States, weekend trips to Canada. We had a great time talking and the wine was good too. Anyway, the tasting fee was $10 for the six wines they were offering plus you got to keep their signature wine glass.

You never know what will happen when you are on a wine trip. You never know who you’re going to meet, what you’ll talk about, or if you’ll even enjoy the wine. But I do know that wine trips are very interesting because “stories” make it all worth while. It’s a pleasure to be part of the “stories” and I’m sure the same “story” is never told the same way twice.

Here are the wines I tried:

2007 Sheer Chardonnay: This was a very good Chardonnay that had floral and apple aromas. The flavors consisted of freshly cut apple with a mineral finish.

2008 Chardonnay: Aged in oak for about a year this wine opened with apple and pear aromas leading into an apricot flavor with a hint of vanilla. This was quite nice as it was slightly chilled. I usually drink Chardonnay at room temperature. Guess I’ll have to start experimenting with this a bit. Ah, experiments – takes me back to my science labs back in high school. Scary!

2008 Vidal Blanc: This grape varietal is one of my favorites and this wine didn’t disappoint. It opened with citrus and floral notes on the nose with a hint of lemongrass. This dry white wine also had citrus flavors.

Seaport White: Upon first raising the wine glass to the nose I got a concoction of fruit aromas which was hard for me to distinguish the differences so we’ll just go with fruit aromas. However, on the palate I found a nice apple flavor with a subtle hint of pear. This is one of those wines that will go really well on a hot summer night with or without food.

2008 Triad Rose: The wine is a blend of 20% Cabernet Franc, 40% Vidal Blanc, and 40% Chardonnay. I detected fruity aromas with crisp apple with hints of red raspberry and spice on the palate. Again, this wine would be a good sipping wine on a hot night.

2007 Cabernet Franc: Black raspberry, black currant, leather, pepper, and tobacco aromas – wow, I was surprised to pick out so many aromas in this wine but they were there. The flavors consisted of red raspberry with mocha. Personally, this is one of the top three red wines produced in Connecticut. The Connecticut wineries are not famous for their reds, whites – yes, reds – no, but this wine is exceptional.

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