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Highlights of the 2014 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

Wine-food-glass-logoWe just finished another great weekend in Newport, RI at the 2014 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival.  Once again it did not disappoint, and if possible it was even better than last year.  There was a definite improvement in the seminar locations, and the wine quality across the board was fabulous.  For some reason it

A lively crowd

A lively crowd

seemed the food was also better, and more abundant as well.  We ate, we drank, we learned a lot and still found time to spend with friends both old and new.  This remains one of our very favorite weekends of the year.  Let’s recap some of the highlights.

Larry Stone and Quintessa Barrel Samples

Larry Stone and Quintessa Barrel Samples

The seminars were great, and remain one of the under appreciated aspects of the event.  They ranged from generally informative to very detailed to just plain fun.

Marco and his Salumi slicer

Marco and his Salumi slicer

Lou DiPalo took us around Italy with the help of Marco, the Salumi expert.  Jordan MacKay and Larry Stone discussed what defines balance in a wine, Larry also took us through barrel samples from Quintessa to demonstrate the effect of terroir, something very evident as well in the Kistler Chardonnay seminar presented by Geoff Labitzke.  Finally, Bond’s Bordeaux took us on a rollicking ride through the major regions of Bordeaux and paired them with James Bond actors.  Phillipe was hilarious.  You really should try some of these next year.

Yummy cookies at Rosecliff

Yummy cookies at Rosecliff

Wine and Rosecliff got the weekend off to a great start, with good food and some really excellent wines.  We found Arkenstone and Larkin wines there and they were both eye openers.  The band was a little more contemporary, a little louder and a little more boisterous than last year.  The crowd seemed to respond as the dance floor was jammed all night.  This was a party.

The weekend brought the Grand Tastings, and as usual there was no shortage of fine

Crab claws!

Crab claws!

wine and great food.  Food highlights were the King Crab Claws from Alaska Seafood, the burgers from Piedmontese Beef (which we ate all weekend) and the taco cart from Tallulah’s on Sunday, to name just a few.  I also managed a plateful of oysters from the Matunuck Oyster Bar.  Yum!

Then there was wine, and lots of it.  There was good wine, great wine and a few not

Bond's Bordeaux

Bond’s Bordeaux

so good ones as well.  The higher end of the quality scale was very well represented.  What stood out?  Quite a lot did actually, and we’ll be posting our Top Ten Red and Top Ten White lists soon.

Ready for Sunday

Ready for Sunday

There was stiff competition.  There were new producers and regions to explore, some of which were outstanding and represent great values.  I wish I had an unlimited wine budget, but alas that is not the case.  Many of these will not find their way into our cellar, but a few will.  Here’s a couple of producers who really hit the mark across their wines, and you’ll see all of them represented in the Top Ten lists to follow.

Chappellet – great across the board, with a big range in price.  The Chenin Blanc was outstanding.
Joseph Phelps – no surprise, and another big range in price as they were pouring the $200 Insignia all

A great Pinot Noir

A great Pinot Noir

weekend (you just have to love that).  Their Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir was crazy good.
Hall/Walt – another non-surprise, as they have been consistently excellent for years. A great Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir among others.
Jordan – excellent Chardonnay and then they cheated, as Ashley brought a couple of cases of library wines.  The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon was to die for, although Cheri preferred the 2002.  Two very good friends of ours agreed with me (just saying).
Michael David – we just like everything they make, and I mean everything.  From the more premium Inkblot Cab Franc to the ridiculous value of the 6th Sense Syrah, this is a quality producer, with a sense of humor.
Larkin – wow! What a great Cab Franc and an absolutely classic Cab Sauvignon, among others.

Jordan Library Wines

Jordan Library Wines

Casey Flat Ranch – as usual.  We’ll probably ban them from the Top Ten lists to give everyone else a chance.
Arkenstone – two wines, both outstanding.
Twomey – just excellent, from the Pinot to the Sauvignon Blanc to the Merlot.
J. Lohr – very good across the board, and some of the best values we found all weekend.

There’s a few, and there were more.  There were also some great stories here, and some we’ll follow up on more in depth in future articles.  These include:

Seamus – a great story and a line of excellent wines.  This is a company founded on passion for wine and faith in that dream.  More to come here.
Greek Wines – you talk to Ted Diamantis and taste through the wines he brought and you realize there is something big here.  We’ll do an in depth look at these and some of the major wine producing areas in Greece.
Slovenian Wines – Paul Monte brought the wines from Colliano, and they were excellent and great value

Slovenia?  You bet!

Slovenia? You bet!

wines as well.  From unknown whites to Chardonnay blends to an easy drinking red cuvée, at $15.99 you can’t go wrong.  We’ll try and dig into this as well and give you a broader story of what is going on here.

There was a big chair!

There was a big chair!

There is so much more, and you’ll have to attend next year to really appreciate this event.  Be warned, they sold out almost everything, so plan accordingly and buy your tickets early.  The dates for the 2015 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival are September 25 -27.  If we were in your shoes we’d start thinking about it now.  We’re not in your shoes of course, but we did already book the inn for next year’s festival.  This is a not to be missed event.

Stay tuned for articles on the seminars, some of the stories we mentioned and of course the Top Ten lists.  Coming soon to a blog near you.

A votre sante!

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