Auden’s Bachelorette Wine Tasting!

Wine Institute of New England

would like to thank Corrie Schmitt for inviting us to be a part of
the fabulous bachelorette party she threw for her twin sister, Auden.

CONGRATULATIONS AUDEN!

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Brave New World Wines

Our wine appreciation class series continues at Quattro's Restaurant & Wine Bar with a look at wines in our own backyard. We will explore wines from California to Connecticut, with stops in Oregon, Washington and New York. 

 

May 6th, 2013

6:00-8:00 pm

 

$55.00/person

Quattro's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar

14 Water Street

Guilford, CT 06437

 

To register for this class and for more information:

www.wineinstituteofnewengland.com

or contact us at:

Phone: 860-591-WINE

renee@wineinstituteofnewengland.com

 

* Every participant will receive a coupon entitling them to 50% off the price of a dinner at Quattro's when they buy another at full price.*

Limited to first time students.

That’s Amore! The Wines of Italy

 

That's Amore! The Wines of Italy

Our wine appreciation class series continues at Quattro's Restaurant & Wine Bar with 

a journey to one of the most varied and exciting wine countries in the world ~ Italy.

Come explore what the various regions of Italy have to offer,

from the Veneto to Piemonte to Toscana…and beyond.

Basic wine tasting techniques will also be reviewed.

 

Advance registration required.

Each participant will receive a special coupon good for 1/2 off the price of one dinner at Quattro's

with the purchase of a regularly priced dinner. 

Limited to new students.

 

To sign up for this class and to see our full schedule, click here: 

http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/wine-appreciation-classes/

Become A Wine Expert By June

We are accepting students for 3 more days for our

Spring Certified Specialist of Wine Study Course

Classes begin Monday, March 11th, 2013

If you are in the food and beverage industry and want to bolster your resumé, if you're interested in entering the wine industry, or if you are just passionate about wine and want to learn more, then the Certified Specialist of Wine course is for you. The CSW is an internationally recognized accreditation.

Here are just a few of the careers people pursue with a CSW:

Food and wine writer

Wine expert for a restaurant

Wine store or wine distributor employee

Wine flash website owner

Professional chef

Wine educator

Wine critic

Wine judge

Wine bar owner

Wine enthusiast

Join our class now and become a wine expert by June.

Connecticut Celebrates the End of a Dry Spell

Onyx Spirits Mixes a Batch of Bees Knees

Prohibition ended on this day, December 5, in 1933 when the 18th Amendment was repealed by the passage of the 21st Amendment. I could think of no better way to celebrate the anniversary of this historic event than with some hors d’oeuvres and local moonshine at CPTV’s screening of the documentary Prohibition: Connecticut Goes Dry. The screening was held on November 29th in a room at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford replete with authentic tavern signs. The crowd arrived in good spirits, many donning period costumes such as flapper dresses and fedoras. And speaking of good spirits, Manchester’s own Onyx Spirits was on hand to pour authentic Prohibition era cocktails. The cocktail being served, Bees Knees, was just that – a delectable concoction of moonshine, lemon juice, orange juice and honey.  (see sidebar for more info on local moonshine) 

CPTV spent months soliciting black and white photos and other memorabilia for the documentary from Connecticut residents. In attendance for the screening were many people associated with the making of the film including the grandchildren of two people shown in some of the period footage. Approximately one hour long, the film was fast-paced and fun, while still providing the essential information one would expect of a documentary.  I could not help but smile at the fact that the temperance movement in Connecticut is believed to have begun in Litchfield in 1789 by a group of farmers who banned alcohol while working. Litchfield County is now home to six farm wineries including Connecticut’s oldest winery, Haight-Brown Vineyards, as well as host to the Connecticut Wine Festival. But don’t let this beginning fool you. Connecticut as a whole was far from endorsing temperance and was one of only two states that refused to ratify the amendment. According to the film, the popular thinking at the time was “Work was an effort made between parties.” The film showed scenes of Connecticut residents enjoying themselves in a way that would make the most popular frat houses of today envious. One particularly amusing scene showed several people exiting a home after the men and women had apparently exchanged clothing with each other. One man was being carted off in a wheelbarrow. These types of scenes were sharply juxtaposed with ones showing staunch supporters of temperance such as Presbyterian minister Lyman Beecher and P.T. Barnum.

The documentary touched on several important aspects of this time period, including the relationship between the temperance movement and the women’s movement, chronicling the evolution of the involvement of women throughout the period. Mention was also made of the power of grassroots efforts such as sermons and protests to effectuate change. To illustrate the power these efforts can wield, the film returned briefly to present day Connecticut to show current grassroots activists fighting for GMO labeling with Fairfield Green Food Guide’s Analiese Paik pictured leading the way.

 

Traveling back in time once again, a particularly exciting segment detailed the bootlegging and rum running that occurred as a result of Prohibition. Connecticut’s position along the coastline, as well as its proximity to Boston and New York, made this state the perfect hotbed for these illegal activities, ones that the nascent 5-year old coast guard could not adequately combat. “Rum Row” provided opportunities for those willing to take a small amount of risk with astonishing amounts of money. Whether it was a lack of police power or simply a lack of zeal on the part of the authorities to provide resistance, smugglers and other enterprising business people, such as famous innkeeper Nellie Green, continued to flourish during the Prohibition years earning Connectiuct the reputation of the wettest state in the union. In fact, there was one square block in Hartford that had more saloons on it than the states of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina combined.

 

Connecticut may no longer have the reputation as the biggest party state in the union – let’s face it, it took a long time for grassroots activists to accomplish a repeal of Connecticut’s archaic blue laws banning the sale of alcohol on Sunday– but we can all raise a glass this December 5th in recognition of the end of a dry era, virtual though much of it may have been. Happy Repeal Day, Connecticut. Cheers!

 

Connecticut Moonshine
So what exactly is moonshine? Moonshine is a high proof, unaged liquor made from grains such as corn and was sold illegally in an effort to evade taxes or bans. Often associated with the Prohibition era, moonshine was produced in homemade distilleries under the light of the moon. Drinking the illegal alcohol could be risky as it was often contaminated by the distillery parts, such as car radiators, or made toxic by the addition of substances like embalming fluid. According to their website, Onyx Spirits are the producers of the first and only legal moonshine in Connecticut. Today, free from the constraints of Prohibition, owners Adam and Pete take their time to handcraft small batches of high quality spirits that taste great. So what does it taste like? Onyx Moonshine begins softly, opening up to reveal pronounced vegetal layers that culminate with a hint of birch sap and ends with a supremely smooth finish. Maybe moonshine this good should be illegal. To find out more about local moonshine, visit Onyx Spirits at www.OnyxSpirits.com

 

 

Press Release: Connecticut Wine Festival

 

FOURTH ANNUAL CONNECTICUT WINE FESTIVAL IS “GETTING

BETTER WITH AGE,” SAY PARTICIPATING WINERIES

 

More Music, More Entertainment, and More Wine at the Goshen Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th

 

Farmington, CT (July 18, 2012) –Connecticut wines will be on full display at the fourth annual Connecticut Wine Festival, Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th, at the Goshen Fairgrounds, in Goshen, Connecticut. Featuring some of the finest, award winning local labels, thirteen participating wineries – all members of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association (CVWA) – will be offering samplings of their many wines, while surrounded by music, artisan crafts, and wine lovers from all around the East Coast.

Daily admission to the CT Wine Festival is $25 in advance, available until July 21st at participating CVWA wineries, online, or by phone; $30 at the door.  These tickets include free wine tastings, a commemorative festival wine glass (for the tastings) and a tote bag. Guests under 21 and Designated Drivers can attend for a reduced admission price of $10.  Photo ID with proof of age is required for the wine tasting.  Hours of the Festival are 12:00 Noon to 7:00 PM, Saturday, July 28; and 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM Sunday, July 29.  More information and a complete list of participating wineries can be found at www.ctwine.com.

Among the special events at the Festival is a wine class on Saturday, July 28th, conducted by Renée Allen, founder and Director of the Wine Institute of New England, which promotes wine appreciation and education at every level.  Renée is a Certified Specialist of Wine and a member in good standing of the Society of Wine Educators, the internationally recognized accrediting organization. "We are looking forward to Renée joining us this year and are excited about the wine expertise she brings to the attendees," says Sherrie Palmer, Festival Manager.

 

Connecticut Wines – Winning Friends, Influencing People

Connecticut wines are making their marks in the world and growing in popularity.  Last year’s festival drew a record number of attendees, including one special visitor, Governor Dannel P. Malloy.  This year, a representative from the Governor’s office will be on hand to receive a special “Certificate of Appreciation” for his ongoing support of the local wine industry and its important contribution to the state’s tourism effort. 

“The CVWA is proud to be recognized by Governor Malloy as a contributor to Connecticut tourism through our CT Wine Trail and CT Wine Festival, as well as through the individual efforts of the many participating wineries and vineyards whose award-winning labels are ‘putting Connecticut wines on the world map,’” said George Motel, Festival Chairman and owner of Sunset Meadows Vineyards.  “The Festival is a great place to see what all the excitement is about.  From Chardonnay to Merlot, attendees can taste some of Connecticut’s best wines from 13 participating vineyards.”

 

Purchasing Tickets

Tickets can be purchased in advance until July 21 at: Bishop’s Orchards Vineyards, Gouveia Vineyards, Jones Winery, Hopkins Vineyard, Miranda Vineyard, Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, and Taylor Brooke Winery. Advanced tickets are also available at Adams Hometown Market, a Platinum Sponsor of the Festival.

Proceeds from the Festival will go toward promoting the CT Wine Trail and the Connecticut wine industry.  The CT Wine Trail is a state approved winery and vineyard awareness program that provides visitors with route suggestions to all participating members of the CVWA.  Visitors enjoy special wine tours and tastings, and can have their CT Wine Passport stamped at each winery along the trail for the possibility of winning prizes – all while enjoying the beautiful Connecticut countryside. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit a participating winery or log on to www.ctwine.com.  You can also email info@ctwine.com or call (860) 677-5467.

 

Participating Wineries

The following wineries will be present at the Connecticut Wine Festival.  They are all members of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association, and are dedicated to promoting Connecticut as a wine-producing region.

Bishop’s Orchards Vineyards – Owned by Keith B. Bishop, this unique winery is located in the historic town of Guilford. Winner, Gold Medal, 2010 Grand Harvest Competition; and Gold Medal: 2009 International Eastern Wine.  Log on to: www.bishopsorchardswinery.com/

DiGrazia Vineyards – Founded in 1978 and owned by Paul DiGrazia, DiGrazia Vineyards produces over 15 different wines, ranging from dry to sweet.  Located in Brookfield, DiGrazia is known for offering a wide variety of unique wines, including Connecticut grown pear dessert wines.  Log on to: www.digrazia.com/

Gouveia Vineyards – Owned by Joe and Lucy Gouveia, located in Wallingford, Gouveia offers 11 different wines.  Voted Best Rose in Connecticut 2010 by the Specialty Food Service Awards and Gold Medal Stone House Red winner at the 2008 Big E Wine Competition, Gouveia offers 11 different wines.  Log on to: www.gouveiavineyards.com/awards.html

Hopkins Vineyard – Located in the heart of Litchfield Hills, Hopkins Vineyard has been making wine for over 30 years. With more than eleven different varieties of award winning wines, Hopkins Vineyard has received gold, silver, and bronze medals in National and International competitions, alike.  Log on to: www.hopkinsvineyard.com/

Jonathan Edwards Winery– Located in the quaint village of North Stonington, the winery is owned by the Edwards family. With vineyards in both Connecticut and Napa Valley, it prides itself on having “New England Charm and Napa Style.”  Log on to: www.jedwardswinery.com/

Jones Winery – Spanning 150 years and six generations of the Jones family, owner Jamie Jones carries on the tradition in the White Hills of Shelton. Connecticut Magazine said the Jones Winery had “the Best Connecticut Wine” in 2010 and 2011.  Log on to: www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/

Miranda Vineyard – Owned by Maria and Manny Miranda, Miranda Vineyard uses the perfect blend of Old World wine-making techniques with modern techniques to keep any connoisseur happy.  Gold Medal winner at the 2010 Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition for its Vinho Fino.  Log on to: www.mirandavineyard.com/

Priam Vineyards – Founded in 1998 by Gloria Priam and Gary Crump, Priam Vineyards has quickly become a favorite in New London County.  Producing wines styled after Northern France and Germany, Priam Vineyards’ Late Harvest Riesling was a Double Gold Medal winner at the 2011 International EasternWine Competition.  Log on to: www.priamvineyards.com

Sharpe Hill Vineyard – Located in the historic town of Pomfret, Sharpe Hill Vineyard features a Zagat-rated restaurant and boasts over 250 medals in International tasting awards. The winery is just minutes from the scenic Route 169, as well as the Putnam Antiques District. Log on to: www.sharpehill.com

Stonington Vineyards – Established in 1987 by Nick and Happy Smith, Stonington Vineyards has become known for producing quality, European-style table wines. The winery is best known for its barrel fermented Chardonnays and its proprietary blends Seaport White and Triad Rose.  Log on to: www.stoningtonvineyards.com/

Sunset Meadow Vineyards – Located in the scenic town of Goshen and owned by George and Judy Motel, Sunset Meadow is among New England’s largest producing vineyards. It was voted “New England’s Best Family Winery” by Yankee Magazine and has been featured in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Seven different wines have won Gold medals, including its 2010 Chardonnay, which took home the Gold in the 2012 International Eastern Wine competition. Log on to: www.sunsetmeadowvineyards.com.”

Taylor Brooke Winery – Located in the quiet northeastern part of Connecticut, Taylor Brooke Winery, which started as a hobby, grew into one of Connecticut’s favorite wineries.  Owned by Richard and Linda Auger, Taylor Brooke is winner of Raspberry Rendezvous – 2009 Big E Wine Competition Silver Medal. Log on to: www.taylorbrookewinery.com

White Silo Winery – Known for being a small specialty winery, White Silo was established in 1990 and housed in a 19th century dairy barn.  Owned by the Gorman family, it has received awards such as the Big E: Gold; Silver awards. Log on to: http://whitesilowinery.com/

For more information and to purchase tickets, log on to www.ctwine.com.  You can also email info@ctwine.com or call (860) 677-5467.

 

# # #

 

Editorial Contact:

Mario Almonte

212-616-1190, ext. 267

malmonte@herman-almontepr.com

 

It’s Back…The Connecticut Wine Festival!

 

This just in: The dates for the Fourth Annual Connecticut Wine Festival have been set and tickets are now on sale. WINE had the pleasure of attending this event last year and it was an incredible success. For coverage of last year's event, visit http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/discovering-connecticut-wine-at-the-connecticut-wine-festival/

 

CONNECTICUT WINE FESTIVAL

Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and July 29, 2012

 

You’re sure to “have a grape day” at the Fourth Annual Connecticut Wine Festival, which returns to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Connecticut this summer.  Featuring fine wines, specialty food vendors, artisans, and live music, it is the perfect summer activity for both the amateur and sophisticated wine connoisseur. The festival enjoyed a record number of guests last year, and this year, organizers are promising “more music, more excitement, good food, and lots of great local wines.” Sponsored by the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association, adult guests can sample the finest wines Connecticut has to offer from many of the state's top wineries – all included in their “tasting ticket” price.  They also receive a free tote bag with a commemorative wine glass to use for the tastings. More information and a complete list of participating wineries can be found at www.ctwine.com.

 

DATE: Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th

TIME: Saturday, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

LOCATION: Goshen Fairgrounds, Route 63, Goshen, Connecticut 

 

ADMISSION: $25 in advance at any participating CVWA winery, by phone or online; $30 at the door. Guests under 21 and Designated Drivers can attend for a reduced admission price of $10.

Contact: info@ctwine.com or (860) 677-5467

 

For Some, Every Day is Earth Day

 

This month, while contemplating what Earth Day means to different people, I was struck with the notion that, for biodynamic winemakers, every day is Earth Day. This belief was recently demonstrated when I had the pleasure of meeting Johan Reyneke, a biodynamic winemaker from South Africa. In fact, he claimed to be the only biodynamic winemaker in South Africa. I am an advocate of organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking and am thrilled when I find people committed to producing products farmed with these methods. What pleased me even more were the wines themselves. Fresh, clean, complex without being aggressive – they were the definition of terroir driven wines.

Johan Reyneke, owner of Reyneke Wines, took over farming activities from his mother in 1998 on their family farm, which faces the historic town of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Reyneke began his vineyard using conventional agricultural methods. He soon moved to organic methods, eventually converting completely to biodynamic farming and winemaking methods. It is his belief that biodynamic principles produce high quality wines that are truly terroir specific. Reyneke’s non-interventionist style of winemaking seems to be paying off. His wines have been warmly received, garnering approval from a wide range of critics including Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate.

Mr. Reyneke was pouring two of his wines on the day we met. The first was his 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine had recently received a wine rating of 90 points from both Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. I prefer my Sauvignon Blanc to be a bit more subtle than some of the rather aggressive wines coming out of New Zealand that are so popular now. This wine fit the bill perfectly. More mineralic than fruity, it still showed delightful notes of stone fruits, mostly peach, that were well balanced by the light-handed barrel treatment.

The second wine was Reyneke's 2010 Capstone Red, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. I confess, I am a big cabernet franc fan. Its rustic earthiness reminiscent of mushrooms, tobacco, and wet forest floor is pleasing to my palate. These traits were detectable in this chewy wine, along with notes of vanilla and espresso, figs and a touch of spice. Enjoyable to drink now, this wine will mellow nicely over the next couple of years.

Before taking my leave, Mr. Reyneke presented me with yet one more thing I found delightful – his calling card. Made by Mr. Reyneke with recycled paper, it is embedded with herb seeds. The writing on the card encourages the holder to plant it and grow herbs that can be enjoyed with Reyneke’s wines. I have been thinking of planting it for a month now but I enjoy seeing it and being reminded to pick up another bottle of his well-crafted wine. 

Food, Fads and Fashion at the 2012 Mohegan Sun Winefest

I attended the 2012 Mohegan Sun Winefest early on Sunday hoping to avoid some of the thirsty throngs at this popular wine tasting event. Armed with my stemware, I filed in at 11:00 with other trade and press members and surveyed the room for a plan of attack. I was met with a mouth-watering display of fresh Connecticut grown fruits and vegetables displayed by Sardilli Produce and Dairy, a foretelling of the bounty that lay within.

Sardilli supports locally grown sustainable agriculture, supplying restaurants and institutions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Westchester County, New York.

I delved into my first tasting at a booth across from Sardilli called “PEEL” that was touting fine liqueurs made in Connecticut with fresh fruit. The lemons in the Limoncello may not have been locally grown, but the libation was refreshing, delicious and beautifully bottled just the same.

Refreshing liqueurs made in Connecticut by Peel.

As I moved further into the body of the room, I gazed at the sea of wine distributors hawking their portfolios.  A cursory look revealed that many of these companies were highlighting a current trend I am enjoying, the resurgence of the muscat grape.  Muscat is grown all over the world and is usually easily recognizable by its powerful aroma and grapey flavor. The fourth most planted grape in Italy (known there as moscato), it is widely used for sparkling wines such as Asti Spumante, and many countries use the grape for making sweet dessert wines. Now the muscat grape has come back into favor and can be found in every style from still white to rosé to bubbly. While I typically minimize my dessert wine tasting at events such as these, I was drawn in by a sweet little bottle of Pellegrino 2010 Passito de Pantelleria perched enticingly on the Frederick Wildman table. Made from 100% moscato, the wine was sweet without being syrupy and the stone fruit notes with just a hint of spice left me wanting another taste. However, the rapidly growing sea of sippers forced me to move on. I paused at the table of the highly recognizable brand, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, to pick up a purple-footed key chain and try their new Moscato Spumante, a fun, fruity and creamy sparkler at a good price point. In fact, Barefoot Bubbly is the most awarded California wine brand under $15.

The seductive labels of "Sweet Bitch" wines.

Further exploration of the room revealed another current trend as cleverly named wines reared their naughty heads with labels such as “Sweet Bitch,” “Sassy Bitch,” and “Mommy’s Time Out.” And while these playful names may be no more revealing of the contents within than many of the French labels the uninitiated struggle to interpret, they certainly catch the eye more quickly. I have been seeing more and more of these wine bottles on the shelves that attempt to shock, awe and delight wine buyers with attention grabbing labels. This would account for the multitude of banners that hung like an airborne celebrity A-list around the room. The well-respected names of generations of winemakers are no longer the only way to brand wine. These days, many of the names that are responsible for closing the deal on our wine purchases are recognizable from different areas of our lives – Francis Coppola (movies), Jeff Gordon, (car racing) Ed Hardy (fashion). As much as I enjoy the tattoo-esque designs of Christian Audigier, it may take me a little more time to grow accustomed to the jeans and high school jacket clad Ed Hardy rep at wine shows. One of the more successful fads they have capitalized on is sangria in a bottle. If you’re short on time and fresh fruit, pick one up and bring it along to your next picnic or barbeque.

Fashion Meets Wine at Ed Hardy Wines

Bottles of unoaked varieties, both red and white, abounded. I tried an unoaked chardonnay from the “Simply Naked” line. The idea is to allow the variety’s natural characteristics to emerge unmasked by the flavors that accompany oak aging. I found the chardonnay light and citrusy.

Always on the lookout for wineries embracing biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods, I was pleased to see some of my favorites in attendance. The wines of Grgich Hills Estate made from 366 acres of organically and biodynamically farmed grapes are always a pleasure to taste. Slocum & Sons brought along one of my favorite new discoveries, a tannat from Bodegas Carrau of Uruguay. This winery is doing some wonderfully innovative things with sustainable and organic farming. Their wines made from the lesser-known tannat grape are worthy of exploring. For those seeking something closer to home, the sole representative of the Connecticut wine industry in attendance was Jonathan Edwards Winery. In addition to pouring their Connecticut cabernet franc and chardonnay, this local farm winery was serving up some of their well-known wines made from Napa Valley grapes.

Food tables were set up along the perimeter of the room with pre-purchased food coins required to taste the culinary offerings. I enjoyed tacos from SolToro Tequila Grill and sushi from Feng Asian Bistro. Both were excellent. Although the wine tables seemed to be the main draw, there was no shortage of entertainment for food lovers in the crowd. Over the course of the weekend, a main stage on one side of the room played host to an oyster shucking competition, grape stomp, and celebrity chef demonstrations from such well-known names as Bobby Flay, Daisy Martinez and Todd English. Diehard foodies could sign up for a Celebrity Chef Dine Around on Saturday evening to see their favorite chefs cooking up a storm.

SolToro Tequila Grill

By 12:45 the thirsty throngs had indeed arrived and sipping space was at a premium. I decided to make my way to calmer territory and headed out to Todd English’s Tuscany for a wine seminar given by Aurelie Botton of Marnier Lapostolle. Lapostolle is an organic and biodynamic winery in Chile. Held in the intimate setting of a private dining room, my seminar was attended by 22 guests seated at a banquet table complete with cheese platters, table settings and 4 pre-poured glasses of Lapostolle wine. Lapostolle was founded in Chile in 1994 by Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, the creator of Grand Marnier, and is now run by his great granddaughter, Alexandra. Ms. Botton told the history of the carménère grape in Chile, at one time mistaken for merlot, and how carmenere fell out of favor in its native Bordeaux because there are too many clouds there. Apparently, a large amount of UV rays are required to dissolve the substantial quantity of pyrazine present on the skin of carmenere grapes. The climate, coupled with the fact that carménère was virtually annihilated by phylloxera in France in the 1800’s, has rendered this grape all but extinct in France. Chile on the other hand is the perfect home to this deeply crimson red, smoky, spicy variety with hints of green peppers. In fact, the introduction of carménère vines into Chile predates the phylloxera outbreak in France and therefore Lapostolle’s vines retain their original roots rather than having been grafted onto phylloxera resistant roots, as is the common practice throughout the world today.

As I soaked in the history, I sipped delightful sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and carménère wines. The wines tasted all the better knowing that the vineyards are organic and biodynamic. It is the belief among biodynamic winemakers and their followers that biodynamic viticulture results in a wine that is a truer reflection of the earth in which the grapes are grown as well as of the vines’ surroundings – often referred to as terroir. Ms Botton may have lost a listener or two as she briefly described the preparations and unusual rituals that are the heart of the process, but I soaked that in as well. Some of the best wines I have tasted are created using biodynamic viticulture. For those seminar participants who may not have been buying into the concept, there were still other wonderful and innovative techniques being employed at Lapostolle about which they could get excited such as the use of indigenous yeasts and the introduction in 2005 of their state-of-the-art 100% gravity flow winery, Clos Apalta. With the discussion about the newer winery came the grand finale, a glass of Clos Apalta wine.  This blend of carménère, cabernet sauvignon and merlot is made with whole cluster fermentation, a process similar to carbonic maceration in Bordeaux, and hand-destemmed grapes. The result is magnificent. A frequently awarded wine, Clos Apalta earned a place on Wine Spectator’s 2008 Top 100 list and was named Best New World Winery 2008 by Wine Enthusiast.

The Lapostolle seminar at Todd English's Tuscany.

 

The Mohegan Sun Winefest has something for everyone. Here you can consume delicious food, rub elbows with celebrity chefs, or experience the thrill of a live oyster-shucking contest. Wines can be found in a range of prices beginning with savvy selections for under $10 in the Grand Tasting to some of the finest wines in the world at the Elite Cru Tasting. If wine is not your passion, bourbon and beer tastings can be enjoyed as well. The Grand Tasting is a great way for the uninitiated, truly patient and/or truly thirsty to sample many different wines. For the well seasoned and less patient wine drinkers out there (I consider myself both), the seminars and special events provide more detailed information and the opportunity to engage in more detailed conversations with winemakers and wine educators.

Just pick your poison.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Green WINE Guide 2011

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the holiday season is officially upon us. This year, why not put some teeth in the toast “to your health” and pour some green wines for your celebrations? Organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed wines are great choices for our health and the health of our planet – definitely reasons to celebrate. Below is a list of sixteen of our favorite sparklers, whites, reds and dessert wines in a range of prices.

Wine pouring from bottle

Here's to your health!

 

Champagnes and Sparklers:

Sparkling wines are a wonderful choice to begin any celebration. The bubbles are beautiful and festive and the high acidity helps refresh the palate between bites, making them the perfect companions to assorted canapés. I prefer my bubbly with oysters or cheese, but it goes equally well with sushi, salty foods and fatty foods.

Champagne Fleury Rosé Brut NV, France ($52) – the first and largest biodynamic producer in France, this estate grows pinot noir almost exclusively, producing some wonderful rosé champagnes.

NV Larmandier-Bernier Premier Cru Vertus, France ($39) – biodynamic champagne made with 100% Premier Cru grapes, including a small amount of pinot noir in this otherwise chardonnay dominant area.

Can Vendrell Cava Brut Reserva, Spain ($25) – organically grown grapes with hints of apple, pear and almonds. Made in the style of champagne.

Altana Rosato Frizzante Perlage, Italy ($15) – a pretty sparkler made from 100% cabernet sauvignon organically grown grapes.

 

Still Wines:

Bonterra Vineyards Rosé 2009, Mendocino County, California ($17) – a dry, fruity blend of grenache, zinfandel and sangiovese from this organic estate. Enjoy it with crudités, cheese or poultry.

Montinore Estate Borealis 2010 Willamette Valley, Oregon ($16) – a biodynamically farmed blend of müller-thurgau, riesling, pinot gris, and gewürztraminer that makes the perfect aperitif before a holiday meal. It also pairs beautifully with Asian dishes.

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia 2007 ($62) – another luscious wine from a biodynamic king of chardonnay. This giant would feel right at home in the company of lobster bisque or a rich cream sauce.

Clos de la Coulee de Serrant 2009, France ($85)– Nicolas Joly, one of today’s leading proponents of biodynamic viticulture, has created a luxurious chenin blanc wine from Savennières in the Loire Valley. Rich, creamy and slightly sweet, this would pair well with a gamey bird.

Robert Sinsky Pinot Noir 2009, Los Carneros ($38) – fruit forward and food friendly, this biodynamic silken pinot noir would pair beautifully with holiday ham or salmon.

Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec 2010, Tupungato, Mendoza ($13) – organic grapes are used to produce this dark and spicy wine with flavors of plums and chocolate. Perfect for pairing with meats and sauces.

Bodegas Luzon “Luzon” Jumilla 2009, Spain ($8) – wonderful example of monastrell for the price and organic, too. The perfect accompaniment to grilled pork or herb roasted meats.

Jean-Michel Stephan Cote-Rotie 2009, France ($65) – listed on Wine Spectator’s top 100 of 2011, this natural wine is 90% syrah and 10% viognier. Pairing this with a holiday prime rib would make even the Grinch smile.

Beckmen Vineyards Purisima Mountain Vineyard Grenache 2008, Santa Ynez Valley ($48) – a standout biodynamic estate creating gorgeous Rhone style wines. Bolstered with a modicum of syrah, this blend would be a beautiful bottle to pair with lamb. May I suggest pomegranate mint sauce?

 

Dessert Wines:

Sunset Meadow Vineyards Midnight Ice Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Goshen, CT ($50) – end your meal with a burst of tropical flavors such as lychee, mango and passion fruit with this delicately sweet nectar produced at a sustainably farmed Connecticut winery. Try it with Spanish flan or crème brulee.

Kaori Umeshu Plum Sake Chugoku, Yamaguchi ($36) – infused with organic plums, this plum wine releases beautiful aromas of fruit. Slightly acidic and sweet and perfect served over ice. Vanilla cake or Bananas Foster would show this wine off nicely.

Port Finest Reserve Casal dos Jordoes, Portugal ($32)– a few years ago you would have been hard pressed to find more than one organic port. Now there are several to choose from. Made with organic distilled spirits as well as organic grapes, this port is unfined, unfiltered, and vegan. A decadent end to any meal, sip with a fig, cheese and walnut tart or anything chocolate.