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Visit to Sharpe Hill Vineyards in Pomfret, CT

CIMG1729This Saturday we went to Sharpe Hill Vineyards in Pomfret, CT.  It’s been a long time since we last visited this winery.  Back in 1999 I was finishing up my MBA and did an industry study of the New England wine industry for my major project.  That of course entailed packing up the kids for a long weekend and touring the New England wineries.  There were a LOT LESS wineries back then, and Sharpe Hill was fairly new.  In general Connecticut had the most and the best, and that might still be true.  Sharpe Hill was good, especially the whites, and we remembered it fondly.  My children didn’t remember as much, except for the Jack Russell Terrier pup the owners had just added to their family, by the name of Bailey.  Bailey was very cute and could jump three feet vertically.  Not bad for a little dog.

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The main building and outdoor eating area

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Part of the vineyard

Sharpe Hill is nestled in the northeast corner of Connecticut.  It’s a quiet area, with a lot of scenic back roads and small towns.  The road to the vineyard is small and windy.  Not much has changed here in the last 14 years, except that the vineyards have expanded a bit and are, of course, much more mature.  When we were first there they were just completing the construction of their restaurant.  Since then it has received much critical acclaim and is hugely successful.  We didn’t have lunch there on this particular day, although I wish we had, as our eventual lunch restaurant was quite poor.  More on that in the next blog.

The tasting choices are 5 wines for $7 or all of them (11 in all, including 2 dessert wines) for $12.  Alex was with us and he and Cheri did the five flight.  I got them all.  It was a beautiful summer day and they had the tasting arranged out on the lawn, under some nice shade trees.  We sat in some comfy chairs and the very nice staff brought our wines to us one at a time.  The staff seemed knowledgeable about the wines, and I was very impressed with our server’s ability to remember exactly where we each were in our tasting list.  She always brought the right bottle.  There are worse ways to spend an hour, that’s for sure.

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Bailey!

The best part really through was when Bailey sort of waddled out into the yard.  I really wasn’t expecting to see her again, but she’s still going strong, although she’s not jumping up and down much anymore though.

As for the wine, well the whites are still leading the way.  Some of the reds are worth considering as well.  The dessert wines really disappointed me, as I had very fond memories of their Late Harvest Vignoles.  Not so much this time.  Here are the wines:

Ballet of Angels – this is their flagship wine, and it has won a gazillion awards over the years.  It’s a proprietary blend that has nice citrus flavors and is always crisp.  This is no different.  This is wine you simply describe as delicious.  It’s $12.75 and we bought two bottles.  Yummy.

2011 American Chardonnay – our server described this as being buttery, but it doesn’t have that heavy, oakey, buttery quality of many oak aged Chards. This was lighter on the oak, and it was really good.  It’s kind of a nice cross between the buttery chardonnays and the unoaked, crisp style (which I tend to like).  It is one of my favorite Chardonnays I’ve ever tried at a northern winery.  It’s $13.99 and we bought some of this as well.

2011 Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay – This really didn’t work for us, especially after the first Chardonnay.  It was lighter, but too light.  It almost tasted watery.  There was no depth to the flavor profile.  At $16.99 I’d stick with the American Chardonnay.

2011 Dry Reisling – this is correctly named, as it is quite dry.  There were some very nice lime/grapefruit/citrus flavors and aromas.  It had good length as well.  I really liked it.  If you like dry reislings, like a German Kabinett, then you’ll like this.  Recommended, and $14.99.  It’s a dry reisling though, don’t expect sweet!

Angelica Rose – this is a fruity rose which is described as sweet.  That’s an overstatement as the wine is really just off dry.  It was very light in body with no core to the fruit flavors.  It sort of baffled me for a while, and I could not really decide if I liked it or not.  If it takes me that long to figure it out, then I really can’t like it all that much.  It just didn’t work for me, but many people will like this.  $12.75.

Red Seraph – here come the reds.  This is a blend of Merlot and St. Croix, and results in a dry red with a little bit of a floral quality.  It’s got excellent length.  The St. Croix gives it a bit of a unique flavor, but overall I am a fan.  I thought it was quite good.  $14.99 and this is one to consider taking home.

2010 Cabernet Franc – the staple of Bordeaux grapes grown in the northeast.  We’ve had truly excellent Cab Francs from New England wineries.  This is not one of them.  There’s a little spice here, but the core is again sort of hollow.  It’s lacking something.  It is, however, very, very long.  I actually enjoyed the wine more after I had finished it.  I would not buy this vintage.  $17.99.

2008 Pinot Noir – now this was good.  There are some earth tones in the flavors and the nose.  It has very nice fruit and good length.  A medium body and a nice all around Pinot.  This should go home with you.  Recommended and $17.99.

2009 St. Croix – entirely crafted from estate grown St. Croix grapes, this is medium bodied with some beautiful fruit, nice length, a little tannin and a dry finish.  It is very enjoyable and would hold up well with hearty food.  Cheri and I both liked it very much.  Also recommended and $17.99.

2008 Select Late Harvest  Copper Amber – from estate Vignoles grapes, this disappointed me.  It is a very unusual amber color, almost looking like a tawny port.  There is some undeniable apricot on the nose and palate.  It again is hollow though, with no flavor core and no length, which is not what I expect in a late harvest dessert wine.  Not a fan of this.  $24.99 for a half bottle.

2008 Pontefract – a Port style dessert wine, with some dark chocolate flavors.  Again, I was not impressed with this.  It quickly turned somewhat bitter and had a less than pleasant aftertaste.  $35.  I have yet to find a good port from a New England Winery – with one exception.  We’ll write that one up later.

In summary: take a ride to Sharpe Hill if you get a chance.  Overall the wines are very good, and the vineyard is beautiful.  If you have time stay for lunch or dinner.  Cheri and I will be taking another ride out in the fall to enjoy their restaurant.  When you’re there say hello to Bailey!

A votre sante!

The particularCIMG1728s:

Sharpe Hill Vineyard

108 Wade Road

Pomfret, CT 06258

860-974-3549

website: http://sharpehill.com/

Tasting hours below:

Tastings

Friday, Saturday, Sunday : 11am – 5pm.

Open year round. No reservation required.

Full Flight Wine Tasting ($12 / person)

  • Includes all our classic and limited production wines.
  • Keep the glass as a souvenir.

5 Wine Sampler ($7 / person.)

  • Taste any 5 wines (excluding Pontefract)
  • Keep the glass as a souvenir.

 

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