The Connecticut Wine Trail: Ninth Stop
Our next stop after leaving Saltwater Vineyards, and our ninth stop overall on Connecticut’s wine t rail, was Stonington Vineyards, situated on about 58 acres of vineyards that are just minutes away from Mystic Seaport, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, and the beaches of Rhode Island.
The winery was constructed by owners Nick and Happy Smith in 1988 using state-of-the-art winemaking technology as well as traditional barrel fermenting methods, and it currently produces seven different wines, five whites, a rose’, and a red. The wine cellars are built into the hillside so that its floor is below grade, ensuring stable cellar temperatures. The winery’s winemaker, Mike McAndrew, follows he French Burgundian winemaking methods, producing fine, European-style wines aged in both French and American oak.
Having already tasted some Stonington Vineyards wines at a friend’s house, we were highly anticipating our visit, and we were not disappointed. The first wine we tried was the 2007 “Sheer” Chardonnay, which is not aged in barrels, allowing the pure, unmasked flavor of the wine to shine through with flavors of ripe apple, mineral and yeast. Next was the 2008 Chardonnay, fermented and aged in oak up to a year. It was more refined than the Sheer Chardonnay, displaying a clean apple character and subtle notes of vanilla on the nose. Our next tasting was the 2008 Vidal Blanc, which is fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral oak barrels for 8 months. There was no doubt that this was a fully dry wine, with citrusy flavors, but it was not one of our favorite wines.
The next two wines turned out to be the stars of the show, hands down. The Seaport White is a proprietary blend that was juicy, refreshing, and extremely easy to drink. It was in an off-dry style, but could have passed for just about any semi-sweet Riesling that we’ve ever had, it was that good. In fact, of all the wines we have tasted up to this point, we would have to rate this one of the very best. Served well chilled, it would be equally at home with a variety of foods or just sipped on the porch on a hot Summer day. The next wine was a real Riesling, and was only a notch below the Seaport White in drinkability. Hand-picked last October, it was cold fermented in stainless steel and displays a delicate balance of pineapple, grapefruit and apricots. One thing about this wine is it is bottled in 500ml bottles, instead of the customary 750ml bottles. This made no difference to us, however, as we ended up buying a bottle of it, as well as a bottle of Seaport White.
The final two wines were the Triad Rose’, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay which gave the wine a peculiarly fruity but spicy flavor; and the Cabernet Franc, which was dry with aromas of berries and currants and hints of tobacco and leather. Although we believe they would be very good wines with food, they were rather harsh by themselves and therefore were not among our favorites.
After the wine tasting, we were treated to a tour of their winemaking facilities, and some people were convinced they saw Jesse James amongst the wine storage tanks! Judge for yourself:
Stonington Vineyards is located at 523 Taugwonk Road in Stonington. The tasting room is open year round, seven days a week from 11 AM to 5 PM. If you’re ever in the Stonington, CT area, Stonington Vineyards should be high on your list of places to visit for an afternoon. Bring a picnic lunch and they’ll supply the nicely chilled wine!
- The Connecticut Wine Trail: Eighth Stop (wallingfordwired.com)
- The Connecticut Wine Trail: Stops Six and Seven (wallingfordwired.com)
- The Connecticut Wine Trail: Fifth Stop (wallingfordwired.com)
- The Connecticut Wine Trail: Fourth Stop (wallingfordwired.com)
- The Connecticut Wine Trail: Third Stop (wallingfordwired.com)