Monday, January 27, 2014

Sharpe Hill Vineyards - Classics From Connecticut (CT)

You've heard me go on about Sharpe Hill Vineyard before. Sharpe Hill, the award winning winery of Connecticut's Quiet Corner has received over 250 medals in International tastings and is located in the town of Pomfret - just minutes from scenic Route 169 and from the Putnam Antiques District.

Howard Bursen, a formerly of the Finger Lakes wine region, has worked for more than 20 years  with Sharpe Hill to produce great wines. Sharpe Hill has collected more than 350 awards from national and international competitions.

So, when I was going through Connecticut, much to my wife's chagrin, I was stopping in all manner of wine shops, ferreting out local wines. I wasn't always able to get to the vineyards, which I would most prefer to do. But tasting is believing. From two different stores, I bought two classic varietal wines - Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. However, I must tell you, they have a fabulous restaurant.
Connecticut Magazine’s May cover featured “Fifty Dishes to Try Before you Die” and included the Creole Shrimp entrée served in our Fireside Tavern restaurant. Dining is available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Dining is available by reservation only, and typically fills weeks in advance.And if you can get their in late spring to early fall, there is nothing nicer, than eating there outside if possible!!! I'd always rather go to the winery itself when possible!
The Chardonnay we had on a cold and blustery day, sitting in our farmhouse kitchen. We paired it with a roasted chickens (done with lemon, butter, salt, pepper, and rosemary), with roasted potatoes and squash, and some steamed green beans.

The Burgundy region of France first produced the most famous chardonnays of note, and it is now grown all over the world. America is a formidable grower and maker of Chardonnay. Sharpe Hill's Vineyard Reserve is something very special indeed, and stands out as one of the best in class across the east coast. It is distinctive for it's black label. With dinner we tried the Chardonnay Southeastern New England 2009 in the white label. It was lovely. Big apple and ripe pear are fronted by lovely tropical nose, with mango and apricot, and the wine has a lovely lemony finish. There's a touch of oak there, but it is lovely and complimentary. It doesn't hide this wine. A beautiful finish for a wine that was gorgeous to drink, and went remarkably well with our dinner. Fabulous!

Cabernet Franc is an important red variety in the Bordeaux and Loire regions of France. It has since become a staple of the east coast in general. And Connecticut has grown some very lovely Cabernet Francs, especially recently. This Cabernet Franc Vineyard Reserve 2010 was something we tried several nights or a week later. I had made a big, piping hot pot of pasta, and thought the Cabernet Franc would stand up to the giant mound of black pepper I had dropped in the red sauce - kind of an Arabiata if you will. The Cabernet Franc was lovely. Garnet in color, it was beautiful in the glass. bright cherry on the front. The wine very much had a Loire-ish character. It was light-to-medium bodied red, with wonderful fruit and good acidity - so the fruit lasted a good long time. Nice tannins balanced out the wine. It stood up to the food perfectly - which was a tall order. It was perfect. A very, very nice wine!

Congrats to Howard and the folks at Sharpe Hill!