Friday, October 14, 2011

Keeping It Local – Three Wines from New Hampshire

Regional Wine Week is in full swing. Dave McIntyre got us rolling with “Why regional wine matters” and the Wine Curmudgeon weighed in with “7 things you need to know about regional wine”. Both articles are excellent introductions to the topic of regional wine, as well as thought provoking for those who continue to expand their knowledge of wines from lesser known wine regions.

Reports from field are coming in from all over the place including quite a few from Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. All the links can be found at the Regional Wine Week link page. My home region New England is represented, although it could be better represented, with the following posts; including three from me:

Glamorous Gourmet Girl, Discovering Massachusetts wines

New England
Ancient Fire wine blog, New England Wine Tasting
Ancient Fire wine blog, New England has unique wine

New Hampshire
Ancient Fire wine blog, What a harvest, Flag Hill Winery

            Vermont Wine Media, Regional wine week

All week I’ve been sharing articles from the New England region in hopes of exposing our unique wine character with the many wine explorers who know nothing of what we do in the region. With about 100 wineries, cider houses and mead makers (New England wine) in the region there is a little bit of a lot of different things to be found here.

Today I am going to present three wines from my home state of New Hampshire. These wines are locally grown and locally made, representing some of the expectations people should have for local New Hampshire wines.

Jewell Towne Vineyards Marechal Foch

Jewell Towne Vineyards is the oldest New Hampshire winery in operation having been found in the early 1990’s by Dr. Peter Oldak, a well known viticulturist and winemaker in the region.

This wine pours a garnet color with medium/low concentration much like a Pinot or Beaujolais. There are raspberries and strawberries in the nose. This Foch is present in the sweet style. When in the region and presented with Foch for tasting it is worthwhile to ask whether it is sweet or dry because both are made here. I don’t have a preference for one or the other, but this style was the first I ever had so there is a sentimental link for me. There is enough acidity to keep the sweetness in check and a bit of structure from the tannins. Foch made in this style makes for a great casual drinker and will also work with slow cooked game meats with spicy or tangy sauces.

LaBelle Winery Granite State Red

Amy LaBelle starting making wine in small batches just as I have been doing for the last 8 years. Her recent success at the LaBelle Winery, a new facility is under construction, is inspiring on those days where my mind drifts off and I think about going into the business myself.

Granite State Red is a blend of 80% New Hampshire grown Marechal Foch and 20% New Hampshire Blueberry wine. The wine is of medium concentration with a deep garnet color. Blueberries come out in the nose and the nose smells a little wild, like a good regional wine can. As opposed to the Foch above, this wine is ever so slightly sweet. There is also structure here from the Foch that is sometimes lacking, especially when it is blended with fruit wines.

Note: I went back for a second tasting and found the bottle to be actively out-gassing, possible from re-fermentation? The sharpness of the CO2 present in the wine was noticeable and off-putting so I had to dispose of the wine. This is an occasional problem with local wines which is unfortunate when trying to convey reasons for interest by others unfamiliar with the wineries. This is the first time wine from this particular winery has done this for me so I hope this won’t dissuade anyone from seeking out the wines.

Flag Hill Winery & Distillery Flag Hill White

Flag Hill Winery is the second oldest in the state and was the source of my first taste of New Hampshire wine. In my post “What a Harvest!” earlier in the week I shared my experience of working harvest at Flag Hill for the first time. I also offer a bit of history of the winery too. It was a record year for harvest and I can’t wait to see how the wines turn out down the line.

Flag Hill White is a very light white wine blend aged in oak. And there is oak. It is in the nose and shows up on the palate. If you don’t like oak in white wine, just click away then. The fruit flavors are citrus and tart white flesh, maybe unripe peach, pear or tart apple.  I also feel like there is a touch of herbs. The acidity is mellow, but present. This wine is smooth and immensely drinkable. This wine would make for a great starter for your next local wine cocktail party!

The Regional Wine Week train keeps rolling and I’m on board for the whole ride. Later today I will post what will likely be my shortest post ever, my entry into the 47 Words on Regional Wine essay (is 47 wordsreally an essay?) contest. Tomorrow I will finish my tour of regional wines with the massive success story in local New Hampshire mead, Moonlight Meadery.



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