“I’m not a connoisseur, but I know what I like,” replied my husband as he sipped the 2013 Merlot, a medium red from Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington, CT. It was early November, sunny and surprisingly warm; a perfect time to take a break from the highly contentious presidential race and have a conversation that didn’t involve WikiLeaks, Anthony Weiner or conspiracy-mongering. We enjoyed a beautiful ride through the back roads of North Stonington, past the meandering stone walls that line the fragments of old farm fields, past the downtown village with remnants of the old mills, to the winery that years ago used to be the Chester Maine farm.
We had decided we would try the Classic Tasting course comprising of 7 of the winery’s classic wines — 4 whites and 3 reds. Our server for the tasting, Dave was a Stonington native, a very affable fellow, who knew the wine well and delightedly shared his knowledge of the wine with us. Dave started us out with the Gewürztraminer, a white wine with a slight sweetness that was also quite refreshing. We then tasted the 2014 Estate varietal Pinot Gris — my favorite. The Pinot Gris had hints of white peach, subtle and not cloyingly sweet. Next came the crisp, soft oaky 2014 Connecticut Chardonnay, and lastly we tasted the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. This was a very bright wine with floral and tropical fruit notes.
We learned that the Estate grapes, grown at Jonathan Edwards, are what make up the Estate wines and they share a bi-coastal relationship with winemakers in Napa Valley, California, allowing their customers to enjoy a variety of terrific wines.
The final part of our tasting were the reds. We started with the Lodi Zinfandel, red raspberry notes and a black pepper finish. I liked the spiciness of this wine that lingered on the tongue. The medium bodied 2013 Merlot, my husband’s favorite, a medium weight, very well-balanced red was next. Finally the 2014 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon had a soft tannic finish with a delicate floral aroma and a hint of blackberry jam.
After our Tasting, we decided to try and take in the last of the day’s warmth and walk along the grape vines. The vines, still holding onto some grapes, were neatly stacked in a row in the old farm fields, bracketed by gorgeous stone walls.
As the night started to softly fade in I thought about my husband’s comment about not being a connoisseur of fine wine, but knowing what he likes. A perfect counter note, I thought, to our current American epic. In wine, there’s always a balance that is trying to be reached between the tannins, sweetness, smokiness, brightness and crispness, and we may not know how it all comes together, but we know what we like. Though, with the upcoming election of the next president, we need to be well-informed, and not just go with what we like. Perhaps this is a perfect time to start drinking!
Featured image by Winter Caplanson. Other photos contributed by author.