The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Wine Week recap
New wines added to go-to list


 This year’s New Hampshire Wine Week and Winter Wine Spectacular has come and gone but has left me with some new wines to put on my go-to list. 

I did something different this year and did not look over the list of wines ahead of time like I have done in years past. So while I went to the event without a real game plan, this gave me some flexibility and spontaneity. Here are some of the wines I tried, many of which I will purchase in the future. 
At the Rodney Strong table, I had the chance to meet Greg Morthole, winemaker from Rodney Strong and Davis Bynum, after interviewing him via phone in January. There, we tried a few wines including their cabernet, which Greg said is their best-seller. I’d call it their regular cabernet because it isn’t one of their single vineyard ones or anything, but it was anything but boring. I found it to be smooth, rich and pleasant on the palate and finish. I did try one of the single vineyard cabs as well and unfortunately did not write down the name, but would probably still go back to the latter just because I found it so enjoyable. Another plus is the first cab is priced at $21.99. That one is the perfect go to for so many occasions. 
Derek, a friend from the wine business, made a couple of table recommendations, one being Höpler Winery from Austria. There, owner and winemaker Christhof Höpler was pouring wines. I was told to try the Trockenbeerenauslese. I couldn’t pronounce it properly, so I pointed to it and Christhof said its name back to me better than I could ever attempt. Similar to an ice wine, this is one of the sweetest dessert wines in the world, made from ripe grapes that have been affected by fungus, or noble rot. This process gives them heightened sugar content. While this wine is very sweet, I found it smooth and silky. It reminded me of apricot nectar and was very luscious. At $45.99, I would savor every last drop.
Another recommendation was Neal Family Vineyards from Napa Valley, where owner Mark Neal was pouring wines. I had tried several cabs, so I switched things up and tried their petite sirah, which comes from their Rutherford Dust Vineyards. Mark explained that their wines are made in fairly small vintages. For example, they only produced 417 cases of the 2011 vintage of that wine. I always love meeting the owners and winemakers for these reasons. I like hearing their stories and appreciate how much hard work they put into their wines. I did like this wine as well, and would splurge a little to purchase a Neal wine (they range from $20 to $56, with reds being more expensive overall) because I appreciate that they are not mass-produced. 
Francis Ford Coppola had two tables at the event. At the second table, there were two wines from the Director’s Great Movies collection: Wizard of Oz Merlot and King Kong Cabernet Sauvignon. (They also make a Jaws Chardonnay.) I was drawn to the Wizard of Oz label, as this was one of my favorite movies growing up. I usually like merlot, and found this one pleasant and fruit-forward with a long but pleasant finish. These wines would make great gifts for movie fans who are also wine lovers because the bottle is worth saving after the wine is finished. They are priced at $24.99 each. 
I had a hard time picking wines to try at one of the Winebow tables because there were so many Italian wine choices. I settled on Alanera Rosso Veronese IGT. This wine, from the Valpolicella region, is a blend of corvina and rodinella, among several other grapes. I found it smooth, velvety and complex — just the way an Italian wine should be. At $18.99, this wine is a complete steal. Actually, pretty much all the Italian wines at the table were reasonably priced, which is one of my favorite things about Italian wines — there are so many good ones that are affordable. 

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