Logo from Cellardoor Winery's website
I took my time over the tasting menu, and it was hard to settle on just six. Some of the choices I passed up this trip included Celladoor’s Pinot Gris and Syrah, and some interesting red blends. But I decided to go for wines that I, perhaps, don’t encounter quite as frequently, starting with the
Viognier Pale yellow in color, with a lovely, rich honeysuckle nose. In the mouth the wine is dry and crisp with a really nice bite of acid on the finish. Initially the wine is very smooth on the tongue, with light notes of peach in the front. The wine is lightly oaked, providing a slight smokiness that gives it just a bit of bitterness with subsequent sips. The smokiness should mellow slightly when paired with food, and this should be a very versatile wine for pairing.
Cellardoor’s website features a wine & food pairing section, providing some very specific suggestions and featuring recipes for some of those suggestions. For the Viognier, they suggest pairing it with “wild mushroom risotto, mussels in white wine sauce, spicy Thai peanut chicken, or camembert cheese topped with apricot morstada.” An interesting range…
Vino DiVine I only chose 2 whites that afternoon, and for my second selected Cellardoor’s Vidal Blanc, Vino DiVine. The color is also a very pale yellow, although it is slightly darker than the Viognier. The nose surprised me a bit – very light, very subtle with the barest hints of citrus. Unoaked, the wine, while dry, was a bit sweeter than than the Viognier, which is what one would expect from a Vidal Blanc. Citrus notes predominate across the palate with light sweet/tart notes of grapefruit and the rich, but slightly bitter, notes of orange zest/orange pith. There’s a higher level of acid in this wine, and I found it hit the tongue in the middle rather than in the back, where I’m more used to finding it. As a result it gives the wine a bit of tanginess that worked well with the citrus notes. There also were subtle notes of earthiness from some light mineral content that balanced the wine, toning down slightly the brightness of the citrus. A very interesting wine, and of the two whites, my favorite.
Cellardoor’s recommended food pairings include “fresh chilled shrimp dipped in a spicy pepper sauce, lobster salad with a mango dressing, soft goat cheese with tarragon, or fish and chips.”
Prince Valiant My first selection from among the reds was a blend of Zinfandel (46%), Mouvedre (23%), Tempranillo (23%) and Malbec (8%). I was as intrigued by the grape combination as I was caught by the name. The color is a medium purple, and the nose is fruity and lightly peppery. In the mouth, the wine is definitely fruit forward with notes of black raspberry hitting right on the front. There are strong notes of pepper and spice on the finish, and over time the pepper’s heat starts to dominate. I found this to be an interesting wine, and I don’t think a 1 oz tasting does it justice – although one could say that about any wine. But in this case, I think the wine is more complex than I was able to appreciate from just a tasting. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to bring a cooler and ice packs with me on this trip. I think the fact that I was staying overnight threw me, and I didn’t pack as I would for a normal day on the wine trails. As the day was pretty warm, I didn’t want to ruin the wine by buying a bottle only to have to leave it in the car on a hot afternoon, so I’ll just have to make the sacrifice of making another trip to Maine in the future.
Cellardoor’s suggested pairings: bbq pork ribs, aged cheeses, and hard salami.
Artist Series Grenache Each year, Cellardoor crafts one limited edition wine and pairs with a local artist who produces the painting featured on the label for their “Artist Series.” 20% of the proceeds of the sale of this wine is donated to the Bay Chamber Concerts, a music festival and school in nearby Camden, Maine. This year, the Artist Series wine is a double-gold award winning Grenache.
The color is a lovely rich ruby color. The nose is fruity with rich notes of plum and black raspberry. In the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied, smooth on the front and strong tannins on the finish. More lush than the Prince Valiant, the wine opens up in the mouth. There are light berry notes and some earthiness on the front, and smoky pepper on the finish. The heat of the pepper starts at the back of the mouth and actually extends into the chest, and one of the things I noted is that the finish hits the back of the nose as well as the throat. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but I found the wine to be a more fully sensory experience than I often experience. I really liked this wine, and will definitely be going back for seconds, or perhaps ordering a bottle or two from Cellardoor’s website.
Recommended pairings: “rich cheeses, duck, wild game, and salmon.”
Monti al Mare “Mountains & Sea,” my final wine of the day was a Chianti-style blend of Sangiovese (70%), Malbec (24%) and Syrah (6%). The color is a dark, bright ruby, and those is fruity, rich, and lush with notes of black currant. Medium-bodied, the wine has the smoothest finish of the three reds I tasted that afternoon, and lovely notes of dark berries, black cherry and plum. The finish has light notes of pepper which provide a bite of heat, but note enough to overpower the wine or the smoothness of the finish. I liked this wine, and if I had brought a cooler, would definitely have picked up a bottle for more leisurely sampling later. But I still found that Grenache calling to me; I don’t know if I would say it was my favorite of the afternoon, but it was definitely the one I was most intrigued by.
Cellardoor’s suggested food pairings for the Monti al Mare include “baked pasta, herb-encrusted rack of lamb, and aged cheeses.”
With only one selection remaining, I left the reds and moved on to the dessert wines. I’m a sucker for dessert wines, loving their lush, silky sweetness – and if there’s a dessert wine on the menu, it will usually find it’s way onto my tasting menu.
Serendipity Of Cellardoor’s several “Maine-inspired” wines, I opted for a dry Riesling infused with 20% pure Maine maple syrup. To date, or at least as well as I can remember, I have only tried one other maple wine, the Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur which I found at last year’s Vermont Wine Festival. While, obviously not as rich or concentrated as a liqueur, Cellardoor’s Serendipity is a lovely dessert wine. Pale gold in color, the nose is almost vidal-like with a rich, sweetly fruity nose similar to an ice wine. In the mouth, the wine is rich and smooth with a touch of apricot from the riesling balancing the dominant, but not overpowering, note of the maple syrup. The result is very interesting – in my notes, I likened it to fruit pancakes in a glass. Definitely worth inclusion among anyone’s tasting selections.
With my tasting finished, I made a mental note to stop again on a future Maine trip, although perhaps next time at the vineyards themselves.