If you’re a fan of Cabernet Franc, as I have become, or just interested in exploring a bit, and you’re in the southern New England area this season, I recommend making a trek over to Taylor Brooke Winery to check out their last vintage of Cabernet Franc. After doing a full evaluation of their vineyards, they decided to take out the Cabernet Franc and replace it with Corot Noir, making this the last vintage they will be producing.
The reds section of the tasting menu kicks off with the Cabernet Franc. Taylor Brooke produces their Cab Franc in the Pinot Noir style, medium bodied and fruity. The color is a medium ruby. The nose is lightly earthy with notes of plum. In the mouth the wine has light cherry notes and a peppery finish. Upon first taste, the wine feels both young and light, however it does open up with subsequent sips. It’s not as robust as the Gouveia and Chamard Cabernet Francs, and fans of the more full-bodied reds of California and Oregon will likely not be won over to Connecticut Cabernet Francs here. However, it’s a nice wine when given a chance, and I anticipate it will improve with a few years of cellaring.
I’m looking forward to Taylor Brooke’s Corot Noir, which they’ll begin producing once they finish the last of the Cabernet Franc. I’ve not found many Corot Noir wines; Land of Nod is the only other winery that comes to mind that produces a Corot Noir wine; other wineries, I suspect use it primarily for blending. It’s not a grape I know much about, and it will be interesting to see what Richard Augur does with it. But more on that in a year or two.
Roseland Red After the Cabernet Franc we moved on to the Roseland Red, a meritage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc is from the Taylor Brooke vineyards, and they bring in the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot as juice from California and Oregon. Made in the Bordeaux-style and aged in Hungarian Oak, this is a really nice wine and my favorite among the Taylor Brooke reds. Also a medium ruby color, the nose is delicate and lightly fruity – an interesting change from the earthy/floral noses of the whites. A light/medium bodied wine with both spice and cherry throughout. The finish is peppery with a hint of smoke and leather from the oak. The wine opens up over multiple tastings and would pair very well with grilled meats and heavier pasta dishes.
Woostock Valley Red The reds finish with Taylor Brooke’s 100% St. Croix wine. While St. Croix is grown all over southern New England and is used by many vineyards in blending, this is only the second 100% St. Croix wine that I’ve found in Connecticut, the other being Maugle Sierra’s which I had tried earlier that morning. If there are other predominately St. Croix wines, they were not called out as such during my tastings. While fruity, Taylor Brooke’s St. Croix is not as fruity as Maugle Sierra’s; like many of their other wines, there are earthy notes that come through the fruit, possibly the differences in terroir between the northeastern hills and the southeastern shoreline. The Woodstock Valley Red is garnet colored with a light nose with pleasantly earthy, grassy notes. In the mouth the wine has bright notes of cherry, although it is not the rich “jammyness” that I found with Maugle Sierra’s. The finish is slightly spicy; I found it hard to pinpoint what I was picking up. It’s not pepper, although it has some of the sharpness of pepper. Indian spices came to mind – perhaps a bit of curry? Still not sure… Also aged in Hungarian Oak, the finish is lightly smoky.
With the reds concluded, I rinsed my glass and prepared for the dessert wines. As regular readers of Vino Verve know, I have a particular weakness for dessert wines. I love that rich silkiness of a good late harvest or ice wine, and am always on the lookout for new wines to add to my collection.
First up was Taylor Brooke’s Late Harvest Riesling. A pale gold color, the nose is delicate with very discernible notes of apricot. The mouth feel is silky and lush, and on the palate the wine is smooth and rich with notes of apricot with a honey finish. There’s a touch of acid on the end which is interesting if unexpected. During the tasting, Linda Augur serves this with chocolate, and the chocolate definitely smooths out that touch of acid, producing a more satisfying experience.
Chocolate Essence One of Taylor Brooke’s most popular wines, if not the most popular wine, they can’t keep this on the shelves. From start to finish it takes a minimum of one year to produce Chocolate Essence, which given its popularity means Richard Augur always has this in production. The wine is a chocolate-infused, port-style wine made from Merlot, which is brought in from Long Island. They add 20 gallons of brandy to 100 gallons of Merlot and then add cocoa bean essence. The result is heavenly… A lovely ruby color which sparkles in the light, the nose has deep rich notes of chocolate, lighter notes of berries and a slight smokiness from the oaking. In the mouth, the wine has bright cherry notes on the front and soft notes of chocolate throughout. The chocolate deepens and is stronger on the finish leaving you with the sensation of just having eaten a really good chocolate covered cherry. It would be excellent on its own, it would pair well with a variety of desserts: fruit and cheese or cheesecake immediately came to mind. Linda Augur also recommends drizzling it over ice cream in place of chocolate sauce. Yum! Once opened it is good for 4-6 months, so you can savor a bottle all summer long.
That concluded the afternoon’s tasting. I will be heading back soon, though, as the second of their seasonal wines was released last week: the St. Croix Rosé.