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Wines to Look For at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

New Newport LogoAt an event as big as the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival you can’t see and try everything in one Grand Tasting afternoon.  We’ll be there for both Grand Tastings, get in early for the press and media hour, and we still won’t see it all….and there’s two of us.  So what do you do?  The basic answer is whatever you want.  There’s something for everyone, and whether it’s wine, food, beer, cooking demos or just the view from the back of the tent and Cliff Walk you’ll be happy.  Just in case there are a few things you really want to see you had better make a bit of a plan.  Always leave room for wandering and getting side tracked though, that’s frequently when the best stuff happens.  Some of our favorite wines have been discovered on random walks and chance stoppings on our way out.

Realistically if you get there near opening, go to at least one cooking demo, take the time to eat here and there and do get out back to admire the view for a while, you’re probably going to do ten to fifteen of the wine tables max.  There are lots of options here, and fellow wine blogger Frederick Thurber offers some very good advice in his column (to read it click here).  We have our own favorites based on previous experience, and here are some wineries we think you should visit.  Make sure you try something else and something you’ve never heard of – that’s where the great discoveries come from!

Antinori – iconic Italian producer with everything from Chianti to Brunello to Super 1002141935bTuscans.  They make Tignanello, which likely won’t be at the Grand Tasting, but will be at the seminar on Friday!

Arkenstone – small producer who showed a great Sauvignon Blanc last year.

Blackbird – from the Bespoke Collection, Blackbird makes some serious red wines.  Try the Arise.  If they have one of the premium wines out definitely try that.

Chappellet – consistently excellent, they might have their Chenin Blanc.  If they do give it a try.  The 2012 Signature Cabernet is oustanding.

Galerie – a new producer, with winemaker Laura Munoz offering two Sauvignon IMG_1312Blancs and two Cabernets, one each from Knights Valley in Sonoma and one from Napa, highlighting the two areas and their unique characteristics.  She also makes a Riesling we have not tried, but can tell you the rest are definitely worth stopping for.  We’ll be doing a more in-depth review of their Cabs within a few weeks.

Grgich Hills – we just reviewed a Grgich Hills tasting (read about that here) and the wines were outstanding.  Try the Fume Blanc, Chardonnay and the 2012 Cab.  The Zinfandel was very good, and we usually don’t say that.

HALL/WALT – another just amazingly consistent, excellent producer.  All their wines scream quality.

J. Lohr – sounds like a broken record, but here is another consistent favorite.  They have great options across the low to mid price ranges.  Try the Los Osos Merlot.

Joseph Phelps – why?  Because they are also excellent.  They pour their iconic IMG_1305Insignia throughout the weekend.  Maybe my favorite though is the Freestone Sonoma Pinot Noir.

Ken Forrester – it will likely be Ken himself pouring, fresh from flying in from Stellenbosch, South Africa.  He makes excellent wines.  You can read about Ken and his wines in more detail here.  Try the Chenin Blancs!

Larkin – great Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Sean Larkin made our number one wine from last year’s event (the list is here).  He also brought his son’s Cabernet and that was #3.  Sean’s Cab was great as well.  Top end juice here.

Raats – another Stellenbosch winery, Raats Family wines is headed by Bruwer Raats,IMG_1055 who is fanatic about producing the best he possibly can from Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, among others.  His Cab Franc is crazy good.  So are some of his other wines.  Hopefully he’ll be here himself, but that we do not know.

Revana – we tried this at Savor CT last year and were blown away.  Pricey but a great bottle of Cabernet.  Read about that here.

Vinska klet Goriska Brda – a large wine cooperative just over the Italian border into the Brda area of Slovenia, there are some hidden gems here.  I’ll be in Brda for five days in a few weeks, and will have much more to report on the area and its wines.  If they are pouring the Colliano wines, try the Cuvee White – it’s a very complex and delicious white you could substitute for your favorite White Burgundy or California Chardonnay.

There are many more, but these are some of our favorites.  Kistler is also there.  So is

There was a big chair!

There was a big chair!

A beautiful spot.

A beautiful spot.

Twomey and Villa Maria.  It goes on and on.

Do remember to eat along the way.  Fortunately it’s pretty easy as there are bites all over the place.

We’ll see you there.

A votre sante!

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