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A Summary of the 2013 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

wine and rosecliff back

Wine and Rosecliff

At this point we’ve written about the wines and the seminars, and a little bit about the rest, so it seems like time to food 2summarize the 2013 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival with eyes towards next year’s event.  Cheri and I spent the weekend in Newport and attended most of the events.  It was a spectacular three days.  There were many highlights, and a few things to pick on, but not many as it was one of my favorite weekends in a very long time.  We need to thank the Preservation Society again for comping us tickets which let us experience the entire event.  We’re veterans of the Grand Tastings and seminars, but getting to add the Friday night Wine and Rosecliff, as well as a second day of Grand Tasting, made a huge difference.  There is much to see, taste and do.

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Inside the back tent at Rosecliff

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An amazing almost harvest moon

What struck us?  Many things really, including some excellent seminars, a very abundant quantity of food and some nice surprises in wine we were not expecting.  Kicking off the weekend on Friday with a seminar was wonderful, and really started things off in a nice, relaxing way.  Wine and Rosecliff was fun, as there may be nowhere else we’d rather be on a warm evening with a cool ocean breeze and an amazing Harvest Moon rising above the horizon.  Overall the food at Wine and Rosecliff did not really overwhelm us, but there were some real highlights, such as the duck salami from LaBelle Farms, the seafood pot pie and the pan seared pork with root vegetable mash.  Don’t even get started on the Pumpkin Ravioli, which is the first thing Cheri tried and which probably ruined the rest for her as she loved it so much.   The wines Friday night were outstanding, and we found several which surprised us with their quality.  One surprised us with their lack thereof, but maybe that was just a bad bottle.  Still, what a great way to spend an evening.

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At the Antinori seminar

The Grand Tastings were excellent, with a great selection of wine and a large number of food vendors.  Highlights on the food side were the Duck Duck Goose dumplings, the lump crabmeat and of course, the deli slicer in the back corner with the guy slicing incredible Prosciutto di Parma all weekend.  Walk by, raise your hand and a slice of prosciutto appears.  What could be better?  There certainly was a selection, and that was appreciated Sunday as I rolled in late from the “New Collectibles” seminar hungry as a bear and grabbed two Duck Duck Goose dumplings, a pulled pork slider and several mussels on my way to the entrance to kitchen stage to meet Cheri.  Not bad.  For dessert you could grab a Trifle Tiramisu from Plantation Catering or an excellent chocolate panna cotta from Persimmon’s right on the way out.

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Marble House

That brings up the celebrity talent, and Cheri covered the Alex Guarnaschelli cooking demo while I seminar-ed.  She reported that Alex was entertaining and amazingly funny.  It seemed everyone agreed, as I arrived just in time to hear the thunderous applause.  The moderator of the “New Collectibles” seminar, Jordan Mackay, was excellent and helped create a very enjoyable experience.  We bought his book which also looks very good after a quick read of several chapters.  There is certainly no shortage of expert opinion around.

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Cooking fun

We found some new things, like a bunch of whites we really liked (go figure), a new apple cider from Stella Artois, a super Tuscan that blew my mind and a great red from Casey Flat Ranch poured by a wonderful representative who seemed to be enjoying the weekend as much as we were (thanks Brenda!).  We met winemakers, chefs, wine distributors and authors.  This is really what strikes you the most when you think back about the experience – just how nice, approachable, down

Alex cooking

Alex cooking

to earth and friendly pretty much everyone was.  But when you really consider it, why would anyone be anything but happy on such a beautiful weekend in such a beautiful place.

To summarize the wine I would point out the producers that really shined overall for quality across their wines.  These include Ken Forrester, Casey Flat Ranch, Joseph Phelps (even though they did not make our top ten reds their overall portfolio was excellent), Blackbird Vineyards Bespoke Collection, Podere Sapaio and Somerston.  Some of these were pouring $100+ bottles, but try them while you can is our motto.  You can see our top ten red wines here and our top whites here.

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Wine, wine and more wine

For myself and Cheri add in the fact that we stayed in downtown Newport, strolled around the wharves Saturday night, got to have drink at our favorite bar (41 North) and basically did what we love to do all weekend, and it wasn’t half bad.  I could do this again soon.  I could do this again now.  I could do this pretty much all the time.

Yet we will have to wait twelve months to find ourselves back under the tent at

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The Adele Tuner Inn – very nice

Marble House.  Regretful, but sadly unavoidable.  There is a school of thought that says too much of a good thing is bad.  It almost seems like we should be able to test that theory on our own.  We might not agree.

We suggest you pencil in the 2014 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival for next September 19-21 (yes – they’ve picked the dates already).  It will be filled with great wine, good food, good people, some pleasant surprises and some exquisite settings.  It will also be well run, which for these type of things is critically important.  The Preservation Society and their partners know how to do this right by now.  You get to enjoy their experience in creating your experience.

Maybe we’ll see you there next year.  I guarantee we will be there, at least for some of it.

A votre sante!

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