Wine from Connecticut

Despite having lived in Connecticut for the vast majority of my life, I had never had a chance to taste wine from the state before this Christmas. While spending a lengthy holiday visiting my family, Matt and I decided to hit up a vineyard in the town next to my parents’ house to see what CT wine is all about. Now, I’ve heard of others reporting back on CT wine, even Dr. Debs on the west coast has had some! So it was high time I got my act together.

We went early one morning to visit Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, Connecticut. Chamard is one of the oldest vineyards in CT, and benefits from the cooling effects of Long Island Sound in growing their grapes. They also source some of their fruit from Long Island.

One of the bottles we brought home was a Chamard 2003 Chardonnay American Table Wine. It clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us

On the nose of the wine I found pineapple, toast, cedar, and lemon. The wine was oaked, but that was not the primary aroma at all, which is a very good thing in my opinion. I prefer “naked” chardonnay, but I do believe that oak can be done very well if the winemaker is not heavy handed with it. In the mouth I found apple, pear, and pineapple. Again, the wine had a toasty sense from the oak, but it was just that, toast, with none of the butter slathered on a wood plank feeling that oaked Chardonnay sometimes leans to. The wine was very smooth in the mouth and drinking very well.

We picked up several bottles of this, some Pinot Blanc, and some Rose. Charmard had really pretty grounds, and I would love to return when everything is in bloom!

WBW #43-Round up posted and a Contest!

Joel, of Wine Life Today has posted the round-up from what may shake out as one of my favorite WBW themes in the past year or so since I’ve been participating in WBW. Now, of course, I loved my own theme of Petite Sirah, but I really enjoyed the challenge of thinking about what a wine means to me and why for this WBW. You can read all the details of the round up here, and be sure to click through and read the personal stories that came along with this month’s WBW.

I also wanted to point your attention to El Bloggo Torcido, where once again the Twisted Folks at Twisted Oak are hosting a contest. You may recall this one from last year, the premise is that the readers get the opportunity to write the back label for one of Twisted Oak’s wine bottles! This year it’s for Ruben’s Blend, the details of which you can find here. The deadline is soon, March 18, so pull out those pens and get cracking. Now, I played in this contest last year, and submitted a lovely ditty about a drunkard Miss Muffet and an abused spider….I’m wracking my brain to come up with something even Twisteder, since I wasn’t quite there last year 😉

Wannabe Winos on the Road!

Well, we are headed off to our annual trip to California. I had hoped we were going to be able to visit another part of CA wine country this time, but we’ve decided on one more trip to the Dry Creek/Russian River/Alexander/Anderson Valley area, due to time constraints and a few other factors. Plus, we do really love the area, and it brings back nice memories of our honeymoon.

We will be in the area this Saturday evening through Wednesday morning, so really 3 full days. I’m trying not to plan too much this time, and I’m avoiding making appointments on this trip. Any you would absolutely say are MUST SEEs that don’t require appointments? And if you have any restaurant recommendations in the area, I’d love to hear them! I’m fairly set on stopping in again at Roederer, so we will be up in the Anderson Valley, and I would like to try to run by Bella and David Coffaro again to taste their newer line ups and restock my cellar with some of their offerings. With that said, here’s a list of the places we’ve previously visited:

Alexander Valley Vineyards
David Coffaro
Davis Bynum
De La Montanya
de Lorimier
Dutcher Crossing
Ferrari Carano
Hop Kiln
Michel Schlumberger
Mounts Family
Nelson Family
Robert Young
Yoakim Bridge



It’s not often anyone describes a wine as tasting like grapes. In fact, I’ve heard and read that it’s considered poor form for a wine to taste like grapes. But since it’s made of grapes, it just doesn’t seem wrong to me for wine to actually taste like grapes on occasion, rather than the myriad of other fruits, vegetables, meats, leather, earth, spices, etc., that can be found in wine.

The wine was a 2006 Rapphannock Cellars Norton. We picked this bottle up at Rappahannock Cellars early this winter for about $17.50, it clocked in at 13.3% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

It literally smells like Welch’s Grape juice. I know grape juice is made of Concord grapes, but if I didn’t know this was wine, I would have thought it was Welch’s. In case you don’t know, Norton is a grape that is actually native to North America, and is grown primarily here in Virginia and Missouri, I believe. I’ve seen it at a few vineyards here and I haven’t been such a fan, but I really thought this was a fun version of it. In addition to the grape juice on the nose, I found grape Pixie Stix, so grape juice with a tart, sour note. It tasted exactly the same as it smelled.

Overall I’d describe the wine as adult Welch’s, grape juice with a kick. I really liked the slightly sour note. A fun take on the Norton grape.

My Kind of Blend

The wine was a 2005 Alderbrook Confluence from Dry Creek Valley. It takes two grapes I really like and combines them in one blend, so what’s not to love? The wine is a blend of 60% Zinfandel and 40% Syrah, it has a real cork closure, weighs in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and cost us $24 in a club shipment.

On the nose I got blackberry, currants, spice, pepper,vanilla, and blueberry. I could almost smell the tannins on this one. In the mouth the wine showed blueberry tart, blackberry, and earth. The fruit was really dark on this one, and very tart.

A very tasty blend.

Polls Closed…

a while ago. But like some states, it takes me a while to count votes, even if they are staring me in the face whenever I pull up my blog!

I realized after I posted the poll that I forgot to include Germany as an option, something several people pointed out to me. This was not meant as a slight at all, it was simply a by-product of me not being thorough enough when I created the poll.

Not surprisingly to me, given my personal leaning to the US for most of my wine, 38% of voters (17 votes) chose the US as the country from which most of their wine hails. Coming in second was France with 7 votes and 15% of the vote. Italy and Australia followed closely with 5 votes each. In all 44 voters participated in the poll this go around.

If I do a completely unscientific survey of the wines I’ve blogged about (meaning I quickly added up in my head the ones from the US and the ones from outside the US) about 60% of my wine is from the US with about 25% being from VA, roughly 70% from CA, and 5% from other US states. Roughly 12% of the wine I drink comes from France and 12% more from Italy. After that, the percents are fairly insignificant, with a few bottles from South Africa, Australia, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Chile, Germany, Argentina, Lebanon, Switzerland, and Austria rounding out the remaining 16% of wine I drink.

As always, thanks for participating!

WBC #1 Round up posted and WBC #2 Announced!

Our host for the first edition of the WBC was David of McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail. He chose the book Vino Italiano as a massive tome for our first rendition of the book club, and the turn out was fantastic! 25 people participated and wrote reviews of the book. You can head on over to his blog to read the round up from all of the participants.

Next, the announcement for WBC #2 is up! Our host for the second WBC is Tim of Winecast. Time has chosen a much less daunting task in the form of the book Noble Rot: A Bordeaux Wine Revolution by William Echikson. You can read all the details over here on Winecast, but the long and short of it is: read the book, write a review, and post it on your blog or send it to Tim at by April 29 in time for our next book club meeting.

Now, Noble Rot is less than a third of the size of Vino Italiano, so no excuses about the length this time! Let’s keep the momentum from the first WBC going and get an even bigger turnout next month. Looking forward to reading everyone’s reviews in April! I’ve got a ton of work travel coming up, so this time I shouldn’t be struggling to finish. Many thanks to Dr. Debs for the great idea of a wine book club.

Hiding in the Basement

Sometimes wine just gets lost in my basement. I don’t know how it happens, because I’m fairly vigilant about entering my shipments into CellarTracker as they arrive, but, as you know, the best laid plans….

So that is how it came to be that this bottle of 2004 Alderbrook Chardonnay somehow escaped me. It’s possible it’s been hiding down there for almost 2 years now. I found it the other night when looking for a Zinfandel that I SWORE was down there, but alas, I could not find. Perhaps I have wine elves that move things around just to drive me nuts. Whatever the case may be, this wine had a real cork, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and cost us $14.80 either in a club shipment or at the winery.

On the nose I found apple, pineapple, slight cream, and oak spice. In the mouth, the wine was crisp with a bit of oak. I got flavors of lemon and apple. This was a simple Chardonnay, not too oaky at all, which is good, I don’t much care for the oaky ones, and was an easy wine to drink on a weeknight.

Jessie’s Grove

Note: This will be the first in a series of posts on the wineries I discovered at the D.C. International Wine and Food Festival.

On my second day at the festival, I stopped by the booth for Jessie’s Grove Winery, a family owned winery located in Lodi, CA. I had 3 hours of trade tasting ahead of me, and this was my second stop for the day. Since I was at the festival the moment the doors opened, I felt like I had more leeway on the second day to stop and chat and learn more about the vineyards.

The owner was at the festival by himself pouring the wines and was kind enough to spend quite a while talking with me about his winery, though he told me that his mother is the family historian and has actually written a book about the family and the winery. The family has owned the property since 1858 and has some of the oldest vineyards in the US, with the oldest vines sill producing having been planted in 1889. Talk about a winery that might actually make a claim on “Old Vine” for their labels! They have been farming their land continuously for 5 generations, though they did not begin making their own wine for commercial sale until 1997. In total, Jessie’s Grove boasts 250 acres of grapes and produces 12,000 cases of wine per year. I was able to taste 4 wines at the festival:

2006 Earth Zin and Fire: Retails for $12.99. I got vanilla, cream, berries, blackberries and an aftertaste of maple syrup, the kind you get from Vermont.

2005 Westwind Old Vine Zinfandel: Retails for $24.50 and is made from grapes from 65 year old vines. I found the wine to be spicy, with cherry and raspberry.

2005 Ancient Vine Carignane: Retails for $18.00. The label for this wine was designed by the owner’s mother, and was the original label for all the winery’s products. The wine is made from the vineyards planted in 1889! I found the wine to be smoky, with vanilla toast, currants, and dark red fruit.

2004 Petite Sirah: Retails for $24.50. Creamy, dark fruit, blueberry, smooth and ready to drink.

Two other points of interest: Jessie’s Grove practices sustainable farming and their tasting room is housed in a building constructed in 1890! A very nice family operation, and some of my favorite wines tasted at the festival.

WBW #43-Comfort Wines

First off, a hearty congratulations to our host for this month, Joel, of Wine Life Today. He and his wife welcomed a brand new baby girl to their family last Thursday, so I can only imagine how hectic things are in their house at the moment! But wine life lover that he is, Joel is pushing forward as our host for this month!

WBW was created well over three years ago now, by Lenn of Lenndevours. The idea is that once a month, bloggers and often non bloggers will come together around a wine theme and all drink a bottle that matches the theme criteria and post about it. Every month is hosted by a different blog, whose owner picks the theme and will do a round up of the posts after the event is over.

This month, Joel set us to an interesting and thought provoking theme for me. He asked us to pick a wine that is a comfort wine for us. Something that we love to drink, that lets us relax, and perhaps invokes something in us that makes the wine and experience special.

The theme required a bit of thought on my part. I love wine. All of it, even the bottles that aren’t particularly memorable, or are even bad. I love the ritual of wine, of slicing off the foil, pulling the cork, sniffing the bottle, and pouring the first glass. Having a glass of wine with my dinner is part of of my life, and I often think my meal is not complete without that glass of wine to complement it, and more importantly, to take that glass and finish it as I settle in for the evening before heading to bed. See, we don’t spend much time at home in the evening. Our day begins well before we leave the house at 5 til 7 and we don’t often return until 7pm or later. By the time I get dinner on the table and we sit down, it’s often 8pm or later.

Wine is an almost daily part of our lives, so picking just one that is a comfort wine, that lets us relax, is hard to do. It could literally be any wine in my cellar.

I finally thought, well, what wine evokes good memories for me, puts a smile on my face, and almost always puts me in a good mood? And when I asked myself that, it wasn’t a single wine, but a kind of wine.

Zinfandel. Zinfandel was the first red wine I fell head over heels for. It never fails to entice me with its berries and cream, spice, vanilla, jam, or juice. And it holds a special place in my heart, as the first time I ever had Zinfandel was on our honeymoon in Sonoma. The first Zinfandel I ever had was was from David Coffaro, a winery I hope to return to this spring. That one is long gone, so I thought about another winery from our honeymoon, and from a more recent trip, that also brings an instant smile to my mind.

And that wine comes from Nelson Family Vineyards and is their 2005 Estate Zinfandel. Nelson Vineyards is a great little family run winery where you are more than likely to run into a family member pouring wines in the tasting room. On our honeymoon, we were driving back from Mendocino and Matt said I could pick one winery to stop at that day (it was supposed to be a non-wine day, which it was until that point!). I don’t know what drew me to Nelson, but I quickly put on my blinker and turned down the road leading up to the tasting room. We walked up to the tasting room to find a very enthusiastic winery dog, and the winemaker, Chris Nelson, pouring the wine. I instantly loved the Orange Muscat, and signed us up for the wine club. We have subsequently returned to Nelson Family Vineyards to participate in their Barn Blending Party, where we had an excellent time playing winemaker for the day!

So the wine cost us $18.40 in a club shipment, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.7% alcohol by volume. I don’t so much think the point of this WBW is the tasting notes on the wine, but more the way the wine makes you feel, and why it helps you unwind. But I won’t pass up the opportunity to give you tasting notes! The nose showed fresh berries, spice, and vanilla. It was really juicy. In the mouth dark juicy berries dominated, with more notes of vanilla and allspice. The wine is very approachable now, smooth, juicy, and drinking wonderfully.

And there goes my last bottle of Zinfandel from Nelson Family Vineyards. We are getting a new club shipment in April, so I will look forward to more wines from one of my favorite small family producers. I only wish the barn party this year coincided with Easter again!

Many thanks to Joel for hosting, and I look forward to what everyone decided to open for the WBW. As always, I will post a link to the round up when it’s posted!