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Another Great Weekend at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

IMG_2490We can now officially put the 2017 Newport Mansions Wine & Food festival in the books, and declare it a full success.  There was some weather to contend with on Thursday and Friday, but overall things worked out rather nicely.  We managed to get to Rosecliff for the Gala on Friday night, both Grand Tastings on the weekend, and two of the seminars as well.  Flat tires, car sick dogs and a fast developing cold threatened to derail the weekend, but we persevered.  We are glad we did.  There were great wines, abundant food choices, the amazing venues that are the Newport Mansions, and the wonderful people in the industry who really make these events special.  On top of that we ended up, through serendipity, at an effectively private seminar with Bertrand Verduzier from Champagne Gosset, where we talked about everything Champagne and actually got to do a little impromptu blending.  It seems something extraordinary happens every year at Newport .

We’ll follow up with articles on that special seminar, the Top Red Wines and Top White Wines from the festival, as well as some of the special things we took away from our three days.  Several producers are certainly worth mentioning here for

Great Chard from Chappellet's Sonoma-Loeb line.

Great Chard from Chappellet’s Sonoma-Loeb line.

their consistently high quality across their range of offerings.  This year they include Ken Forrester, from Stellenbosch, South Africa, whose wines were all outstanding, from the entry level Chenin Blanc to the higher end FMC and Gypsy wines.  We did a feature article on Ken’s wines a while back (which you can read here), and they have only improved, if that is possible.  Everything Justin Vineyards and Winery poured was great.  Also exceptional from start to finish were the wines of Chappellet, including their Sonoma-Loeb label.  You’re going to see the

Great range of values from Martin Ray

Great range of values from Martin Ray

Sonoma-Loeb wines on both Top Ten lists.  Year to year, Chappellet is as consistently good as any winery out there.  One more to mention would be Martin Ray, who presented a line of very reasonably priced wines which were all excellent values.  Sequoia Grove poured just two, but both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon were exceptional.

Our friends at Vinska Klet Goriska Brda, from Slovenia, were there again with their value wines.  One of the lines sports a new label, Villa Brici, but the wine inside is the same high quality and is still a

Unique and wonderful Motnik from Vinska Klet

Unique and wonderful Motnik from Vinska Klet

crazy value.  From them you can also try something different, like Ribolla Gialla, including one vinified almost like an orange wine, infused with smoked herbs, and presenting a bouquet quite unlike anything you’ve ever encountered.  This particular white, called Motnik,  is over $100, but world class and unique.  If you’d like to learn more about Vinska Klet you can read about our winery trip here.

Surprises included a South African winery, which we were not previously familiar with, who had startling good white and red blends under $30.  This was Bosman Family Vineyards from Wellington, who has been supplying vines and cuttings to the industry forever, but only making their own wine since 2007.  They’ve supplied 90% of the rootstock to the entire South African winelands.  We were impressed, both with that and with their wine.

Also surprising, and a producer we found as we were walking out (which always seems to happen here), were the wines from Famiglia Pasqua in the Veneto, who had an unusually treated Garganega (the PassioneSentimento Veneto IGT White) and a crazy good value Amarone.  You’ll see both of those on the top wine lists as well.

IMG_2534

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Food was plentiful indeed, and excellent.  From Spanish meatballs to duck to lots of seafood, we had no problem eating our fill in between the wine.  We have to say the quality and selection of food at this event has really improved in recent years.  Some of our favorites were the Thai lettuce wrap from the Revolving Door, the duck from Brix Restaurant, the Albondigas from Blackstone Catering (who had three excellent dishes) and the truffled corn and blue crab bisque from the Vanderbilt Grill.

We did miss several mainstays on the wine side, who might have had conflicts and hopefully will come back next year.  There was no shortage of excellent wine to be had, however, and you could try several bottles with retail prices above $200 at the events.  The 2010 Pichon Baron (Chateau Pichon-

The first bottle of Halo!

The first bottle of Halo!

Longueville Baron ) was unexpected and very welcome.  It was also delicious.  This was open at the Grand Tastings.  At Rosecliff we had the privilege of sampling the very first bottle of the 2013 Trefethen Halo to be opened outside the winery, and it was spectacular.  Both of these will run you well north of the $200 mark.

The crowds were very manageable on Saturday, and extremely comfortable on Sunday.  Everything seemed to run smoothly.

We’re already planning on next year.  Hopefully we’ll see you there.  In case you’re wondering, the dates next year are September 20-23, 2018.

Much more to come.

A votre santé!

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