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Another Great Weekend of Wine and Food at the Newport Mansions

img_2341This past weekend brought picture perfect weather to New England, and a grateful recipient of that was the 2016 Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival.  Over the course of four days people were treated to some pretty spectacular wines, some creative and delicious food, excellent seminars, cooking demos, grilling demos, more wine and spectacular views.  This is a premier event, and this year was no exception.  Here is a snapshot of what happened, much more will follow including our lists for the Top Ten wines in both the red and white categories.

We started our weekend when I attended two seminars on Friday, one featuring oysters from the Midtown Oyster Bar in Newport paired with white and rose wines.  This was fun, the oysters were excellent, and the wines well matched.  Next I sampled a range of Napa Cabs from the heralded 2013 vintage, and I can pronounce them worthy of the praise.  Mixed in was a mountain site wine from 2011 as well, a tough vintage in Napa and a wine that provided an interesting contrast to the rich 2013s.

Cheri joined me for Wine & Rosecliff on Friday night, which featured premium wines and food offerings at one of the best places we

Mark de Veres presented Mondavi

Mark de Veres presented Mondavi

know of to spend some evening hours.  The weather was perfect.  This year the band was a little more subdued and the music selections more classic, as the event toned down the party atmosphere a notch or two.  We found this to be a good thing, as it was easier to talk to the presenters as well as each other.  It is an elegant, put on your Sunday best and have a good time kind of evening.

On Saturday we began with an absolutely fabulous seminar by Robert Mondavi Winery, presented by Master of Wine Mark de Vere.  This lasted over an hour, and it flew as we were treated to a history of the winery, and of the Mondavi family, accompanied by six wines.  The first was the 2013 Reserve Fume Blanc.  After that came five vintages of Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, dating back to 1976.  Such an event deserves an article all its own, and we will write it up in detail, including tasting notes, in the near future.  This was special.  As Cheri put it, “I could go home happy after just this.”

Lobster mousse and caviar

Lobster mousse and caviar

The rest of Saturday, as well as Sunday afternoon, was spent at the Grand Tastings.  As you entered you were greeted with a glass of Robert Mondavi wine and a tasty treat.  On Sunday it was lobster mousse and caviar!   The tent was set up as usual on the lawn at Marble House, and the people came in droves the first day.  One artifact of this is that the food choices seem a bit lacking on Saturday, as it is just too hard at times to get to them.  We found ourselves with no problem on

Tuna and Radish Taco

Tuna and Radish Taco

Sunday, and Cheri spent an hour or so getting to all the food booths and reviewing the offerings.  This is pretty typical, as Saturday can get a bit crowded and Sunday is much more manageable.  We do think the festival could benefit from a few core food vendors serving pasta plates, or mini-burgers, or something similar which people can keep going to when some carbs or protein is needed between glasses of wine.  The food was quite good however, and varied.

Some of our favorite foods included the Ricotta Gnudi and salad offerings from Earth, the yellowfin tuna on a watermelon radish “tortilla” from Two Ten Oyster Bar & Grill, and the Crabcake Tater Tot from Christies at Forty 1 North.

img_2334For favorite wines we would have to highlight two great bottles from Morgan Winery and the Santa Lucia Highlands, a Pinot Noir and an absolutely killer Syrah.  Joseph Phelps was strong as usual, pouring an excellent Insignia all weekend and the great Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir.  Our favorite Slovenian winery was there, along with some unexpected and excellent wines from Israel.  Royal Wine Corp brought them, and we were blown

2000 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc!

2000 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc!

away.  Wine Spectator recently did a cover story on the Israeli wine industry, and now we know why.  All of these will have wines that find their way onto out Top Ten lists, along with many others.  While the selection was good, we did miss some of the usual Italian and Spanish presenters.  Certainly there were enough to keep you busy,

Crabcake Tater Tots

Crabcake Tater Tots

and more than you could hope to sample in a single Grand Tasting.

We can happily report that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and we certainly did.  This is a great way to spend a weekend, and always one of the best Wine & Food events around.  We can’t wait until next year.

We’ll publish more details, the Top Ten wine lists and a special article on the Mondavi Seminar.   All coming soon.

A votre santé!

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