Connecticut Valley Winery ~ Whites and Specialty Wines

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

In addition to being voted Best Connecticut Small Winery at the Big E competition, Connecticut Valley also won the distinction of being the Sisters of the Connecticut Wine Trail’s favorite winery.  The whole group loved both the winery and the wines – and trust me, they are not an easy group to please!

The tasting menu starts off with the

Chardonnel A hybrid grape, the result of grafting Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc grapes together, the result is a lovely, crisp, refreshing white wine – one of my favorites across the Connecticut wine trail.  Like all of the Connecticut Valley wines, the Chardonnel has only a light touch of oak.  A pale yellow color with a soft, lightly fruity nose with notes of apricot and peach, the wine is soft and silky in the mouth with light notes of peach and bright citrus and a soft buttery finish.  The Chardonnel would pair well with a wide variety of foods, but I prefer it on it’s own – lightly chilled, it’s a perfect wine to relax with at the end of the day.

Dolce Vita An estate-grown Cayuga White, Dolce Vita is proprietor Tony Ferraro’s favorite wine, according to his son, Jason, who was my host for my third and most recent tasting.   The color is an extremely pale straw.  The nose is soft and both fruity and floral with lovely notes of orange blossom.  In the mouth the wine has subtle notes of pineapple and touches of melon.  On my most recent visit, the gentleman next to me during the tasting said he was picking up watermelon.  I took another sip and thought about it and could get just the barest hint of the watermelon he was experiencing, but for me the overall impression was that of pineapple.  Regardless, it is a lovely wine.

The next three wines, the Specialty Wines, are all fruit-infused wines, and as Jason Ferraro described them “the dangerous wines.”  First up is the

Just Peachy 75% Chardonnay and 25% Seyval Blanc infused with a peach essence, the result is a delightful, soft, eminently drinkable table wine.  The color is a soft gold.  The nose is soft and peachy, but not overpoweringly so.  In the mouth, you realize at once this is not a fruit wine – the Chardonnay/Seyval base produces a dry, lightly oaked table wine and the peach essence provides a depth of fruit that blends beautifully with the notes already present in the grapes.  The result is a delightful, not-sticky-sweet, wine that would pair well with spicy dishes, chinese and even pork.

Raspberry Delight Like the Just Peachy, the Raspberry Delight is a white table wine infused with raspberry essence.  The result produces a very pink wine.  The nose is soft raspberry; a more subtle nose than I had anticipated.  In the mouth, the wine is also more subtle than I anticipated.  There are strong raspberry notes, but rather than overpowering the wine, they produce a bright, crisp, tanginess at the start that smooths out to a lightly sweet finish.   I definitely preferred the Just Peachy to the Raspberry Delight, but the Raspberry Delight has it’s charms.

Orange Delight This is vintner Jason Ferraro’s favorite wine, as well as one of my favorites, to my great surprise.  I did not anticipate liking this as much as I did.  As it was being poured and described, I expected the orange to be too strong a flavor, overpowering the wine altogether.  I have never been so pleased to be proved wrong.  A 50/50 combination of Orange Muscat and Vidal Blanc grapes, this is a semi-dry wine.  Like the Dolce Vita, the color is a very pale straw.  The nose is soft with strong notes of orange floral.  In the mouth the orange, rather than being too sweet, has a slightly bitter/tart edge that balances the fruity sweetness and creates some depth and complexity in the wine that is really interesting.  Overall it’s a very different wine, and not the kind of wine people will be on the fence about – you’ll either like or you won’t.  Regional wine judges and critics do like it, and it’s won multiple medals in competitions, including a perfect score at the Fingerlakes Wine Competition.  One judge liked it so much that after the competition, he called the Ferraros directly to tell them how much he loved the wine – now that’s a fan!

Connecticut Valley also produces two sparkling whites:  the first a blend of chardonnel and cayuga and the second a spumanti produced from the orange muscat grapes.  Like all sparkling wines, neither is included on the tasting menu, but I’ve promised myself I’d stop back and pick up a bottle of each.

Next up: The Reds, including the only wine in the Northeast allowed to bill itself as a Chianti.

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