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Savor CT 2016 – Another Great Weekend of Wine and Food

savor logo hexLast year the inaugural Savor CT event was held in Hartford, CT and received rave reviews (and not just from us!). They were all justified, and you can read our review of last year’s events by clicking here.  This past weekend the second annual version unfolded, and we were there for everything to see if their standards were still high and their execution still flawless.  They were.  If you have not been to this event and live in the New Savor BOttlesEngland/New York area you should look into it for next year.  What follows is a quick recap, and we will be publishing our Top Ten lists of red and white wines as well as a guest blogger’s in depth review of the exclusive Pappy Van Winkle bourbon tasting that kicked things off on Thursday night.

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Glasses at the ready

Thursday night really was a treat, as five different, very rare, Pappy Van Winkle bourbons were poured for a lucky crowd.  You can read about the bourbons and the event as a whole soon, but suffice it to say it was a great way to start.  The main wine and food experience began Friday night with the first Sip, Savor and Stroll Grand Tasting in the ballroom at the Hartford Civic Center.  If you are a veteran of wine and food events you know they can be crowded affairs, as well as loud, with little chance to really discuss the wine and food you are tasting.   Having to wait three to four people deep at each table also makes trying everything impossible within the time available.  You have to pick and choose.  Lines for restrooms can be challenging, as can finding a place to rest a dirty plate, or to rinse out a glass.  These are the prices we pay for the chance to mingle in nice places and try a bounty of wine, spirits and beer along with culinary feats from local as well as internationally renowned chefs.  Most times it tends to all be worth it.

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The Pappy was pretty amazing

You can throw all that out the window when you go to Savor.  It is unlike any wine and food experience you are likely to have had.  Everything here is first class.  Ticket sales are limited, so you find that the crowds never become a nuisance.  You can get to every table in a timely fashion.  You can spend a few moments discussing the wine with the trade rep, winery rep or winemaker. You can talk to the chef about the dish in your hand.  Strolling about is easy.  Bus tables are located around every corner, so you can drop your plate off and move on.  The staff here is amazing, keeping those trays cleared continuously.  Everything moves in efficient, elegant fashion.

Generally by the time you hit the second half of a tasting the spit buckets start to fill, the water for rinsing glasses starts to dissipate, and the crowds get large, semi-drunk in some cases and unwieldy.  Here you never, and we mean never, see an empty water pitcher.  Buckets are generally empty, leaving you wondering who is doing all of this because they keep themselves very much in the background.  The crowd is orderly, interested, engaged and respectful.

Let’s also mention the things you generally don’t see at all at most events.  Here everything is well spaced and airy.  Beautiful flower arrangements adorn almost every table.  Even the signage is clear, attractive and IMG_2129IMG_2155professionally done.  Water is available at all times, with a large table covered in spring water bottles continuously restocked.  The tasting glass table is also continuously restocked, so if you decide it’s time for a fresh glass you simply go get another one.  By the time you get back the dirty glass you left behind has been whisked away.  The glasses themselves are very high quality, well above the level you get at just about any other event.  There are no logos, just a nice sized, thin rimmed wine glass you’d be happy to take home, but don’t do that here.  If you feel like you’d like to wash your hands after downing a mini burger from Plan B Burger Bar, there is an elegant hand washing station available in many places.

We could go on and on, and actually will in our Top Ten Red and Top Ten White wine lists and reviews. This is a first class event all the way.

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One of many elegant hand washing stations

Everything here is to support the Robert Irvine Foundation, a fantastic charity which addresses the needs of our armed forces veterans, wounded warriors and their families.  We support this charity here on our blog as well as through personal donations.  Chef Irvine uses his international celebrity chef status to bring in great culinary talent to this event.  In his words, the food at Savor is the best at any event like it, and we heartily agree.  It borders on unbelievably good for those of us used to normal standards.  There is great food everywhere, and they keep it coming throughout.  You can visit Chef Irvine’s Foundation website by clicking on the icon at the top left of this page, or by visiting http://www.robertirvinefoundation.org/.

You can experience the same unbelievably high standards at the Saturday afternoon installment of the Sip, IMG_2167Savor and Stroll Grand Tasting.  Saturday night they hold a special event featuring a host of chefs preparing their food and pairing it with wine, as you wander through the ballroom and listen to the sounds of the live band.  The chefs are all there, personally serving their food.  It is unlike anything we have been to before.  It all, just like last year, was fun and first class.  Here are a few highlights.

Wine – as usual it was abundant, and there were wines from all over the world.  Where last year our Top Ten list abounded with more expensive wines, this year it will feature many value priced options.  Some great producers were Charles Krug, Merriam and Fernandez de Pierola.  Vinska Klet Goriska IMG_2097Brda from Slovenia was pouring and received lots of good feedback.  There were many distributor and importer tables with excellent selections.  Spain made a good showing, and you’ll see wines from Rioja and Montsant on the Top Ten lists.  There was also a very strong showing by the whites this year, and a couple of excellent Chablis.  Generally I am pretty close guessing retail on most of the wines, but one Italian Cabernet blew us away when it came in at around $17.  I had guessed $50-$60.  We love it when that happens.

Food – abundant and delicious.  During the tastings one of the staples was the mini burgers from Plan B IMG_2073Burger Bar.  Also great were both dishes from Millwrights, Chef Tyler Anderson’s restaurant.  The grilled carrots with faro really shined.  Thali also served up a tasty dish, a spicy crab cake topped with pickled beets.  There were many others.  The ice cream from Grass Roots Creamery continues to be great.

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This is great IPA

Other Things – at the entrance to the Grand Tastings they set up brewery row, which features about 10 breweries and where you can sample micro-brews, hard ciders and some unusual draughts as well.  We were glad to see old friend Ommegang there, and their new IPA is fantastic.  It’s the color of spun gold, has some amazing fruit and brings the IPA to a higher level.  Bourbon was available in several places, and the Tullamore Dew people were busy pouring.  Their 12 year was excellent, and also makes a great Irish Coffee.  Regular coffee was available throughout as well.  There is a lot going on.

If this sounds good, and it should, then you need to plan to spend some time in Hartford next April.  Chef Irvine will be there with a group of his friends cooking up delicacies.  Vicky Cirilli of Cirilli Associates will put the whole thing together and ensure it’s all perfect.  Wine will flow, great food will be dished out and lots of people will be very happy.  Try and be one of them.  We’ll be there.  This has become one of the must do things on our annual calendar.

You can see more details from this year at the Savor CT webpage at http://www.savorct.com/.  They should have dates out for 2017 soon.

Much more to come.

A votre santé!

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