Apothic White Winemaker’s Blend 2013

Apothic WhiteThe 2013 Apothic White Winemaker’s Blend cost a mere $8.99 a bottle with an ABV of 12% and had  an array of aromas and flavors that really surprised me. I like the red blend from this vintner so I thought I would give this one a try.

The second weekend of August was not as hot as the start of the month but was in the upper 70’s to low 80’s with a nice Northwesterly wind (red wine drinking in my book) but it still did not deter me from continuing my quest to find as many good, decent, inexpensive white wines for summer sipping.

The wine was pale yellow in color with good clarity and a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Not sure what the percentages were but based on the aromas and flavors it was done just right.

On the nose I found pear, apple, melon and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The palate was a concoction of peach, melon, pear, and lemon rind with hints of sweet lemonade. The finish was that of sweet apricot iced tea. My only regret was not having another glass with the meal. I think it would have paired quite well. Another day perhaps?

The meal consisted of zucchini boats – huh?? Actually it’s a zucchini cut lengthwise and the insides scooped out and stir-fried with onions, broccoli and ground pork (you could use any other meat – ground beef, ground bison, ground veal, ground sausage and any other veggies you’d like to add in) and then baked in the oven until the outer zucchini was cooked but not mushy.

 

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.

 

 

Savino Vineyards – 2012

This year I made a decision to visit no more than three wineries in a day which is about a 5-7 hour day of wine hopping. The reason for this was that I wanted to spend more time at each winery and enjoy the experience in addition to tasting their wines. I have come to realize that wineries have more to offer besides the delectable liquid grape concoction we know as wine.

Upon entering the Savino Vineyards parking lot where the “tasting room open sign” beckoned me to a tasting (can you spot the witless whiner mobile?) I found nary a wine taster so I knew I was in for a surprise.

Last year the tasting room was a bit smaller than the new building as you can see from the pictures below. I’ve noticed a number of Connecticut wineries that have expanded or in the process of expanding.

The old.

And the new.

Usually when I am one of a few or no wine tasters I get to know the wine staff a bit better as they are able to spend more time with you. So upon first entering the building I was met by Lisa and Sandy (look closely).

When I first saw the bar stools I thought these would not be conducive to a long visit but after a half hour I realized how comfortable they were.

Savino Vineyards offers two tastings. The first is $7.00 and includes the wines, a plate of cheese, crackers, and salami plus their signature glass which is a pretty good size that will allow you to get your ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to get the full aroma of the wine.

The second offering is for $12.95 for the wines, olive oil, bread, and an antipasto tasting. Sandy prepared this for me and I began tasting the wines and the antipasto, bread, olive oil, salami, cheese and crackers in no apparent sequence but that didn’t seem to matter as everything was tasting really good.

When you decide to visit Savino, go all out and order the antipasto tasting. It consisted of marinated mushrooms, green olives, a garlic/bread crumb stuffed cherry pepper, and marinated julienne-cut eggplant. This was awesome and I no longer thought I was in a wine tasting but felt like I was in my Grandma’s kitchen eating her delectable food.

The wines I tasted along with the food are as follows:

2001 Bianco di Casa ($15.99): This white wine opened with citrus notes with honeysuckle on the nose. Lots of citrus with lemon on the palate. This had a clean crisp finish.

2011 Seyval Blanc ($14.99): This was not part of the tasting as quantities were limited but I was treated to a sampling of this wine. It opened with citrus with hints of white grape aromas. On the palate I found nectarine and apricot. A nice lemon zest was detected on the finish.

2011 Rosso di Casa ($16.99): A blend of Barbera, Frontenac, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot proved to be a hearty red and reminded me of Grandpa’s wine he used to make so many years ago. This wine had red plum and red cherry aromas with a very subtle blueberry note at the end. I detected a bit of a floral note too. Flavors of cherry, red raspberry and sweet plum preceded a slight white pepper finish. If you waited long enough before taking another sip you get a slight mocha aftertaste on the back palate.

At about this time, Sonia, the owner’s daughter-in-law came in and we both remembered the wine our grandfathers made and it was similar to the Rosso di Casa. This proved to be my favorite wine they had to offer.

2010 Frontenac ($18.99): A light red wine with cherry and bing cherry aromas followed by dark cherry and plum flavors and a hint of European chocolate. This went well with the cheese I had.

2010 Cabernet Franc ($18.99): A medium bodied wine opened with red plum and red currant aromas. Plenty of cherry, plum and chocolate on the palate. This wine paired well with all the food I had in front of me.

2010 Merlot ($18.99): This was an unusual Merlot with aromas that I found amazing. The aromas opened with cherry, red currant, forest floor and black olives, not something I have found a lot of in Merlots so I was mildly surprised with these aromas. The flavor was of dark cherry and after having a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss, the flavor turned into a cherry cordial. It made all the difference in the world.

So, if you want to spend an afternoon at the winery they have plenty of room on the right side of the bar area where you can relax and grab a glass of your favorite Savino Vineyards wine. Not only were the wines tasty and the food great, it was the conversations I had with Lisa, Sandy & Sonia making this a very memorable wine visit and one that I will remember for a long time to come.

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

Rene Barbier Mediterranean White NV

The Rene Barbier Mediterranean White wine is a blend of 40% Xarel.lo, 30% Macabeo, and 30% Parellada, three grape varietals I have never even heard of. So this is new for me. Grown in the Catalunya region of Spain which receives the warm breezes of the Mediterranean Sea and protected by the Pyrenees this wine was a real surprise.

So, here’s the low down – the Xarel.lo is a high acid grape pronounced two ways. One is Za-rel-oh and the other is cha-rel-low, take your pick but I’m presuming this is where the high acidity comes from. Macabeo is pronounced Maca-bay-oh and is one of the most planted grape varietals in Northern Spain. The Parellada grape is a high quality grape resisting rot and disease and is pronounced Pa-ray-yada. 

Okay, on to the tasting notes – you knew I was going to plop it in here somewhere – right? 11.5% alcohol by volume and citrus aromas mixed with orange peel, lemon rind, and pineapple on the nose left a very pleasant memory in the aroma bank. A medley of peach, honey, lemon, Bosch pear, and apricot on the palate. There was more going on here than I thought would be given the $4.99 price tag.

I paired this with a Caesar salad with chunks of chicken and as many veggies as I could fit in the bowl and used balsamic vinegar for the salad dressing.

 

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…

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.

Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery

The tasting room reminded me more of a Spanish style abode than what I’m used to seeing in New England but nonetheless an inviting place to be. Just outside the tasting room and to the right of the parking lot the vineyards beckoned to be viewed, alas with a glass of wine in hand to stroll among the vines enjoying the afternoon.

Paradise Hills charges $6 for the tasting fee and you can purchase their signature wine glass for $5. They also had farm fresh eggs to purchase which is a first for me to see but thought it quite practical seeing as many of the CT wineries were farms before becoming wineries.

Inside the tasting room there was ample room around the wine bar which was a copper hammered top (sorry I didn’t get a picture of this) but seemed to fit the fairly modern decor. In addition to the wine bar there were a number of tables and chairs if you wanted to sit while tasting the wines.

Here are the wines I tasted and was told by the sommelier that they produced their wine Bordeaux style. Sorry for not providing prices.

Washington Trail White: A blend of Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc grapes had apple and citrus notes on the nose with apple and mineral flavors. Too much minerality for me.

Chardonnay: Pear and floral notes opened on the nose in perfect harmony and the flavors were of pear and apple with a buttery finish. There are times I really prefer a buttery Chardonnay and this certainly fit the bill.

For the red wine they provided another wine glass with a larger bowl.

Washington Trail Red: This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chambourcin had black cherry, raspberry, and mocha notes on the nose. Much the same followed on the palate but an added pepper finish rounded out this wine which was very good.

It ended with their dessert wine.

Vino Bianco del Paridiso: Oat, banana, and apricot on the nose with nectarine and peach flavors with a sweet aftertaste but not sugary so it was very pleasant.