It has been a long time hasn’t it? Between limited internet, a broken computer, my internship, writing two (very long) papers and general life, this blog had to take a back seat. I could tell you about what I’ve been doing for the past three months, but I’d rather jump right into the thick of things.
So let’s get started.
I’m not in France.
As I type this, I’m in the States visiting my mom and recently engaged my sister. As I had some time after finishing my degree and hadn’t yet met her fiance we all decided it was time to make my way to the States. A big congratulations to her.
Coming to the US again gave me another opportunity… explore New World wines with a more trained palate. When my mom told me she was taking a Friday off from work for us to do something together, I decided that mother-daughter day would involve a wine-tasting.
I searched around for different wineries in the area. There are quite a few around Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut many more than I expected. Not all of them were wineries in my book. Making apple wine and blueberry wine and raspberry wine and grass wine does not qualify you as a winery if you’re just turning the leftovers from local orchards into an alcoholic beverage. I was looking for real wine from real grapes.
I made that last one up, by the way. No one is making grass wine. At least I hope not.
I settled on the Westport Rivers Winery. They have an extensive, award winning wine list, with everything from Champagne method sparklings to fortified dessert wines. After having worked at a winery with a wine list just as vast, including some of the best Crémant de Loire in the region, I was very interested to see what they were coming up with.
Westport Rivers Winery is located in Wesport, Massachusetts. No shock there. They have about 322 acres of vines and everything is grown on the property. They don’t buy from negotiators or import other grapes and so their wine is all local and they can control every step of the process. And they make a fair amount of wine – about 100,000 bottles a year.
What impressed me about their vineyard (we’ll get to the wines in a bit) was just how many different varieties of grapes they have. Your typical American Chardonnay and Pinot noir were representing but they also grow Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Riesling, Muscat and a few I’d never tasted before such as Rkatsiteli and Gruner veltliner. And there was more. Incredible.
They only offer tours on Saturdays, but for $10 one is treated to a tasting of 7 wines. There’s an added perk that you can keep the champagne flute. Glasses are not at the top on my list, but always welcome. Afterward, you are free to wander the grounds and explore the vineyard itself. There’s not much to do other than walk, but Westport Rivers is on a beautiful piece of land in a beautiful location. An almost idyllic farm scene; lush and green with rolling hills and a view of the ocean behind a part in the trees.
We had the added luck of visiting just as they were starting to harvest the grapes. The vines were still ripe, heavy with berries and it was interesting for both me and mom to see the differences in varieties while they are still in grape-form. It was also interesting to see their trellising technique which is slightly different from France.
Seven wines might seem like enough to some people. It was for my mom, but with over 14 wines for sale, it wasn’t for me. I love Rieslings and theirs was not on the traditional tasting list. I asked if I could have a taste and since they already had a bottle open, the woman conducting the tasting agreed. This was quite kind of them as I know how much wine – therefore profit- goes down the drain and down other people’s throats at a tasting bar in the course of a week.
So how were the wines?
Quite good. The sparklings were crisp and vibrant with very lively flavors, reminiscent of Champagne but still with their own New England style. Their whites were dry, fruity, somewhat typical but well crafted and I was particularly fond of their 2012 Cinco Caes: a blend of five different grapes – including Pinot noir – despite it being a white wine. You just don’t get blanc de noir still wines in France.
The 2010 red Pinot Noir was lovely. They don’t make much red as it’s rather difficult to grow the grapes to ripeness, so they like to call it “A Pig’s Flight” in homage to its rarity. This was full of red fruit, some earthiness typical of Pinot noir, but also some spices like nutmeg and cinnamon – strange but again, reminiscent of New England. At least to me. I found it a bit expensive at $30 a bottle, but I guess if it’s rare, one can’t really argue against it.
I’m taking home the 2012 Cinco Caes and the 2011 Chardonnay. The first because I thought it was a very vibrant and fruity wine. Light, but complex and my husband and I will very much enjoy drinking it. The Chardonnay because it’s a classic example of New World Chardonnay and I don’t get to explore and experiment much with it, in France.
Wesport Rivers Winery is doing brisk business. On a Friday afternoon in late September they had what a steady stream of visitors and seemed to be preparing for an event as well. I was pleased to see it. They make quality wines (a little on the expensive side, but still worth it), are located in a beautiful area and are warm and welcoming to their guests. When I come back to the States for the wedding, I would love to visit again with my husband. Definitely worth the trip and the taste.Westport Rivers 417 Hixbridge Rd Westport, MA 508-636-3423