Ballet of Angels may be Connecticut’s best-selling wine, but both Christy and I found ourselves much more taken with Sharpe Hill’s reds than with any of their whites. First up was their best-selling red,
Red Seraph A blend of Merlot and St. Croix, this is a dry medium-bodied wine that will pair well with a wide variety of foods. The nose is very spicy with notes of pepper and smoke. In the mouth, the wine is smooth with light smoke and notes of dark stone fruits and a spicy finish. The Merlot grapes provide body, while the St. Croix provides a crisp bite at the end which gives the wine some interest. Not my favorite red, but I did like this wine.
Red Seraph 2006 Vintage Merlot Also a blend of Merlot and St. Croix, there is a greater percentage of Merlot in this blend making the wine smoother and richer overall than the Red Seraph. That being said, this was my least favorite of all of the reds. Both in the nose and the mouth I detected notes of cherry, although they are more subtle in the mouth than on the nose. The oak is more subdued producing very light notes of smoke. It’s not a bad wine, but in general I didn’t find it as complex or interesting as the other reds, particularly the next two…
Cabernet Franc 2006 This and the St. Croix 2006 (see below) were hands-down my two favorite wines of the afternoon. I have been finding myself drinking a lot of Cabernet Francs lately, and this was one that made it on my list of “wines to come back for.” Medium-garnet in color, the nose is rich and spicy with interesting notes of tobacco. The mouth feel is lush and silky, and on the palate the wine is smooth with a smokey spiciness that balanced the light fruit notes of dark berries nicely to produce a wine with interesting character and depth. Christy starred this as one of her favorites of the afternoon as well.
St. Croix 2006 100% estate grown, the St. Croix is the second of my two favorite wines of the afternoon. Also a medium garnet color, the St. Croix is a fuller-bodied wine, with a soft, lush mouth feel. The nose is soft with subtle notes of berries which are also detectable on the palate before the wine finishes with intriguing notes of licorice. The licorice provides both a bite and a hint of sweetness that made the wine more interesting. Our host indicated that this wine pairs well with game as well as with more traditional dishes such as beef or lamb. While I really enjoyed this wine, Christy was less impressed, finding a lot of sediment at the bottom of her glass.
That concluded the reds but not the tasting as we cleaned our glasses and settled in to enjoy dessert in the form of the last two wines on the menu.
Select Late Harvest 2006 An estate wine made from 100% Vignole, this is a really, really nice late harvest wine. Rich, lush and sweet, the color is a lovely orange-rose color that catches the light nicely. The nose is subtle with soft notes of fruit which blend nicely in the mouth. No one fruit note is predominant, and the result is a smooth, balanced wine that would be excellent on it’s own or paired with desserts, cheeses or fruits.
Pontefract 2006 This is a port-style dessert wine with rich notes of chocolate in both the nose and the mouth. Very smooth, I found it not as rich as other ports and the mouth feel wasn’t quite as lush as I expect. Made from 100% estate-grown St. Croix grapes, despite being a dessert wine, the Pontefract retains that interesting final bite that one finds so often with St. Croix.
Both the Select Late Harvest and the Pontefract are produced in more limited quantities and neither are available by the case, and the Pontefract is limited to three bottles per customer.
As the tasting ended, we sat back and took stock of the afternoon: the American Chardonnay and the Cabernet Franc were our favorite white and red, and runners-up in the “wines we’d come back for” category also included the Cuvee, the St. Croix, the Red Seraph and both (or either) of the dessert wines.
All in all one of the more successful – and relaxed – Win(e)ding Road afternoons.