Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rhode Island Wines - Newport Vineyards

It was bound to happen. I love visiting wineries. Rhode Island has vineyards and a winery in Newport.

Therefore, while we were in Rhode Island last weekend, we had to visit the winery--Newport Vineyards which was less than a mile from our hotel.

The tasting room and winery are in a small strip mall with a very nice deli (which served us well for lunch).

For some strange reason, I continue to look for nice red wines in northeastern wineries. It usually doesn't happen. And Newport Vineyard was much the same. The reds were uniformly thin, lacking both body and complexity. I sampled five different reds and afterwards I felt they should have refunded my tasting fee. At one point the pourer asked what I was looking for in a red, and after I explained my perfect red wine he remarked that I should try Napa Valley wines exclusively.

So I was left with the question in my mind--if the winemakers knows the reds are inferior, why grow the grapes and produce red wine?

But hold the presses--because the white wines, and there must be at least twelve of them, were really special. The whites had body, complexity, and varied across much of the white spectrum from light easy drinking Pinot Grigio to the darker and more complex Gew├╝rztraminer with a couple of nicely done Rieslings added in for fun.

So, I heartily recommend stopping at the winery for a tasting, should you happen through Newport. But avoid the reds--drink the whites. And oh yes, we did buy a few wines to bring home with us, too. Don't miss the Hard Apple Cider, either.

Happy drinking!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Consensus Wine Update--Gold Medal Awarded

I wrote a while ago about the Consensus wine from Keswick Vineyards that Chris and I were able to blend last December.

Well, interestingly enough, the story does not end there.

Turns out, the vineyard entered the Consensus into the recent Finger Lakes International Wine Competition a couple weeks ago.

The wine won a Gold Medal!

I mean, I thought it was good--but I was pretty sure I thought it was good because I had a hand in coming up with the blend.

Not so--it really is good!

We received the following congratulatory note in an email from the vineyard the other day:

Congratulations Robert and Christina!
KESWICK ConsensFt AD113025We really do have the best wine club members out there!  Congratulations to all of our members! Your winning Consensus blend from last December was entered into The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and took home a gold.  We couldn't be more proud of it or of you!

If you live in a state where you are lucky enough to be able to have wine shipped to you--I can recommend this wine. Also--the Cabernet Franc, which I tasted at the winery a couple weekends ago is also fabulous--and it won a Gold Medal in the 2011 Virginia Governor's Cup.

The experience of going to the vineyard and creating the wine back in December and watching it as it went through blending, aging, bottling, release and now has become a Gold Medal winner is one that I probably will never be able to repeat--but for me, it truly has brought me to closer to understanding some of the complexities involved in wine making and has been an experience to remember.

Sadly, there were only a limited number of cases produces and I am sure the wine will soon be nothing more than a fond memory--but if I can resist the temptation to drink it all, and save some for a couple of years--this wine will only get better with a little bit of age.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Consensus Wine Released

We have finally obtained the winning wine form the Keswick Vineyards Consensus blending weekend.

I described the process and the weekend in my blog earlier.

This past weekend, Chris and I went to the winery to obtain a few bottles so that we could enjoy the wine that we helped to create since even though the direct shipping bill has passed, it is not in effect yet.

Wine is such a team effort to create. Not just the blending, the part of the team we participated in; but the winemaker had to blend it and it had to be bottled and this was after the grapes were grown and picked and crushed.

We tasted the wine while we were at the winery--and it was every bit as good as we remembered. It should be good for many years to come.

It was exciting to taste the wine as it was poured at the winery for others to buy. They made 245 cases of the wine. A very small and exclusive run.  And they told me at the winery that it was selling very well. Over 30 cases were sold on release weekend--which was the 19th of March.

Ah, the memories! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maryland Wine Bill Passes

Consumers and wine drinkers in Maryland are celebrating the beginning of the end of archaic rules which prohibited legal access to over 95 percent of the wines available in the United States.  The Maryland Legislature, as reported late Friday, passed the long awaited direct wine shipping bill, which while imperfect, will finally allow at least direct shipment of wine from wineries to consumers in the state.

I am excited that my favorite wineries--Keswick in Virginia and Chateau St Jean in Sonoma Valley, California, can finally ship my wines direct to me; but there is still more to do. I still cannot join a retail wine of the month club, nor have wines shipped from retailers.

Why is it important to have wines shipped from retailers?

First, consider this interesting fact that was reported in The Standard Times on November 26, 2005: 95 percent of all wine purchased is consumed within 48 hours.

So, clearly, the idea of ordering wine for expediency or probably even reduced cost is not a factor for direct shipping. It is an issue of access to product. Some wineries do not sell all of their wines on the retail market. I know this for a fact from visiting so many wineries across the United States.

Wine, however, is a world-wide product. Direct shipping of wine from wineries is great for US wine--but how about the South African, or Australian, or you the name it country wines that are not carried by Maryland retailers? I want to support the local retailer, believe me. But the tiered system in Maryland does them a disservice as well and they cannot carry all of the wine available and cannot order the wines I often ask them about.

We, the consumers, should have access to all of the wines available without unreasonable red tape and confusing rules. As I travel the country, I often find wines that I enjoy and want to buy in Maryland. In fact, favorite Chris' Merlot, the Hart & McGarry, is not available in Maryland. That is why we need direct shipping to include the ability to receive wine from retailers.

Retailers in the state feel threatened--but they should see direct shipping as an opportunity--they would be allowed to ship out of state. This then gives them access to compete on a bigger market--especially if they offer a unique or not widely available wine.

Remember, we are looking at 5 percent of the total wine sales here--and there is a good chance the retailers won't even notice the 5 percent because it is possible much of that is already making its way into the state via other means.

And so, I will tip a glass of wine tonight to celebrate success--but continue to push for complete access to the wine available in the world.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 -- Review

This is my first wine review of 2011, and it is also the first time that I will have reviewed a newer vintage of a wine that I previously reviewed.

I reviewed the 2006 vintage of this wine and that review at this link: 2006 MA Cab-Sav. I really enjoyed the 2006 vintage and highly recommended it. I was excited about sampling a bottle of the 2008 vintage.

The 2008 vintage of the wine has a nice deep color, which is very pleasant to experience. It has a nose full of dark berries and cherries with a hint of vanilla for some sweetness. The initial taste confirms the nose--the berries and black cherries are definitely there as well as the vanilla and a hint of tobacco and pepper. The wine has a nice feel in the mouth, silky. The tannins are very light.  The taste, however, did not linger and the wine has no finish. It just ends after the initial excitement of the nose and taste.

I was disappointed with the finish and the overall balance of the wine. There is no complexity to support the taste and the flavors. It is an easy drinking wine, but there are a lot of wines like that for much less cost. I was not convinced that this wine would get any better with age. It doesn't have either the tannins or structure to perform in this manner.

RECOMMENDATION: At about $18 per bottle, I think there are better wines out there to enjoy. This is a nice, easy drinking wine but it lacked complexity and balance.