The more they stay the same. Only now rather than standing in a fraternity house basement and drinking Boones Farm we are in the wine tasting room at Chamard Vineyards. We still laughed and had a good time but the talk was more about careers, kids and husbands instead of dating and campus gossip (okay there was still some gossip). The wine had changed quite a bit too. Gone was the $1.99 bottle of Snow Creek Berry or Strawberry Hill Boones. Now we were enjoying our $10 tasting of Chardonnay and Merlot.
Located in Clinton Connecticut, Chamard Vineyards planted their first grapes in the spring of 1984. Their first wine, a Chardonnay, was released in 1988. Since then they have expanded to Cabernet, Merlot and some Pinot Noir, which is used primarily for blending. Our wine server explained that the non-estate grapes are sourced from Long Island. Currently the vineyard produces 6,000 cases annually. The vineyard was beautiful especially on a gorgeous fall day.
The tasting room was quite packed when we were there. We waited a bit to get to the bar, but the service was excellent and the atmosphere perfect. The $10 tasting consisted of five wines and we evaluated each. Those that are listed as “Estate” are from grapes grown on the premises. My primary co-taster was Julie, who along with her husband John, has become one of our wine buddies over the past few years.
2005 Estate Reserve Chardonnay – As advertised this has a very beautiful gold color. The aroma was of butter and dried apricots. The group agreed that this was a good “back deck” Chardonnay, meaning it is light and easy to drink. Though not overly memorable on its own, this is an example of a good delicate food pairing wine.
2006 Cabernet Franc – Both Julie and I were surprised by the brick red almost brown color of this wine. It had aromas of dark berries and chocolate and reminded me of a strong stout. This was very hot, almost to the point of overpowering the flavors. The body of the wine was quite thin. After our tasting many of us ordered a glass of the hot mulled wine which was delicious. We were surprised to find out that this was wine was the base for it. Everyone agreed that when used in that manner it was much better.
2006 Merlot – With a wonderful red color and strong aromas of licorice, leather and tobacco this wine appeared promising. The strong tannins and thicker body lived up to the aroma and color. This was a nice table red, but both Julie and I agreed that we would not have guessed it was a Merlot.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – With an aroma of dark cherries and a pleasant amount of spice this was the highlight of the tasting, to which everyone agreed. This would serve as an excellent pairing wine but also had the strength to stand on its own.
Overall this was a nice way to spend a fall day. We finished the outing sitting at a picnic table and talking. With a chill in the air, good friends and a warm glass of mulled wine we could not help but reflect how far we had come, and how much better this was then a fraternity basement and a bottle of Boones.
Aren't girlfriends the greatest? Especially old ones with whom we share history. Margot, this sounds like it was a day to remember. I also appreciate your honest reviews of the wines. I'm growing to be a big appreciator of Cab Franc, and have a harder time finding it as a stand-alone varietal. I can imagine it being good one for the mulling spices. Thanks for that thought.
By the way, you look darling! Love the cap!
My best, Pam
It's been 33 years since college, and I still get together with my sisters...often for wine tasting too. Great post!
Brings back memories. Back in my college sorority days my wine of choice was Italian Swiss Colony Pink Chablis. Wonder if they even make that stuff anymore.
Time spent with sisters is always the best :) We just had our first wedding and man was it a good time.. lots of wine and lots of dancing! I'm pretty sure Jason said you were an ASA?? ME too! Lady bugs are the best!
The funny thing about some of these ladies is that I have known them longer than I have known my wife! Going to a small college I ended up meeting several of them years before I met Margot. Margot and Cheryl actually talked about that this weekend. These ladies have been good to us and being able to call them friends for all this time has been as special as you all can imagine.
@Evan - hopefully Margot will pass along your comment and maybe a cross-chapter ASA connection can be made.
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