Summer Sparkles at Sunset Meadow Vineyards

By Renee B. Allen

Sunset Meadow Vineyards (SMV) in Goshen started summer off with a bang by introducing two new wines to their already impressive lineup. SMV recently took home the 2013 Wine Product of the Year award at the Connecticut Specialty Food Association’s 2013 Product Awards Competition for their intoxicating ice wine, Midnight Ice, as well as placed first in the Blush, Dessert and Dry White Wine categories. Always at the top of my list of wineries to watch, I was only too happy to make the trek to Goshen to sample their new offerings.

SMV Shades of Risqué ~ Since first being introduced to SMV wines, I have wanted to see what talented winemaker and SMV owner George Motel would do with a sparkling wine. I finally got my wish this year with the introduction of their first sparkling wine, Shades of Risqué, and I was not disappointed. While ultimately it is the quality of the wine that makes or breaks the bottle, it is the bottle itself that first draws us in. The label on the bottle housing this new sparkler is pink and flirtatious, and just begging for attention. Motel never skimps on closures and the long silver foil and black faux mushroom cork topping this bottle are no exception. Opening the bottle may not produce the attention grabbing “pop” often associated with Champagne, but the 2.5 atmospheres of pressure contained within produce a delightfully delicate bubble ballet in the style of an Italian frizzante. In the glass, the elegant elixir just a few shades shy of ruby red sparkles like the arils of a pomegranate. The nose is tickled by a hint of ripe berry aromas that are more fully repeated in the first sip. Flavors of field fresh strawberries are held up by a creamy mousse pillow and linger on the tongue for several pleasurable moments, reminiscent of a bowl of perfectly paired strawberries and cream. As it states on the back of the bottle, “More fruity than sweet, this off-dry wine…(is) equally appropriate as an aperitif or paired with a main course. ” I could not have said it better myself. This titillating bubbly is easy to drink and would pair well with many things, including salads, fish and poultry dishes, cheese and charcuterie and, yes, strawberries and cream. Bravo on a sparkling addition to Connecticut wines!

SMV Root 63 ~ Wine drinkers unfamiliar with Connecticut wines are often dismissive of them as being overly sweet. While the majority of local wines are not overly sweet, there certainly are many sweet wines to be found. So it is an unusual occurrence to have patrons actually request the production of a sweet wine from a Connecticut winemaker. But request it of SMV they did. The majority of SMV’s wines fall into the dry and off-dry categories (perhaps one of the reasons I am such a fan). But when customers of SMV clamored for a sweet red wine, Motel obliged them. Well, semi-obliged. Root 63 is SMV’s first semi-sweet red wine that is not a dessert wine. The playful name (SMV is located on Route 63) is appropriate for this rather playful wine which is a proprietary blend of estate-grown red grape varieties. The beautifully designed label includes the Western Connecticut Highlands AVA designation. Although I found the wine to be lacking the complexity characteristic of SMV’s dry red wines, Motel’s ability to produce a well-balanced wine is evident here, too. The straightforward wine is dark pink, almost mauve, and is pleasantly fruity. Motel suggests serving this wine chilled to 51 degrees. An easy summer sipper, Root 63 will undoubtedly please many palates.

Renee B. Allen, Founder and Director of the Wine Institute of New England (WINE) and a Certified Specialist of Wine, is a regular contributor on the topic of local and sustainable wines. WINE’s “Connecticut Corkers”  blog features wineries, winemakers, and wine events throughout the state, with an emphasis on wine education and appreciation.

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