Friday, August 13, 2010

Tasting wine in Newport, RI

Despite the number of times I visited Newport, RI, I haven't  visited the local wineries. This time I had to change my habits, booked a cab and got to Newport Vineyards, the largest in New England. I arrived minutes before the tour at 1pm and the store was buzzing with positive energy, loud laughs and anxious to taste wine visitors. This 60-acre vineyard is family-owned by Paul and John Nunes and produces 20,000 cases of wine a year - a big jump from the mere 2,000 of the early days. Their wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels and the harvest season starts this year the last week of September (due to cooler climate compared to other wine areas).

I tasted their award winning Newport Riesling, with floral and mineral aromas, rather on the sweet side but very pleasant indeed. I also had sips of the Tranquility, a rather unique blend of Gewurztraminer, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot Gris and Riesling. This was the Gold Medal Winner at the Fourth Annual Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, spicy and light, perfect for summer nights as a cocktail but a good pairing with cheese. I was intrigued by the Bellevue Blush rose, a 100% Niagara wine, semi-dry, fruity and grapy. I had two more wines to taste so I went for the Newport Merlot, a rather light red with blackberry flavors and dark-ish color. The Rochambeau was my last choice, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Landot Noir, a very easy to drink spicy red even for the summer.

Without being an expert on RI wines, this first visit was a good start. I am sure more will follow!

For more information visit: Tours start daily at 1pm and 3pm, cost $10 and include a tasting of five wines. You also keep the glass!