La Belle Winery, Portsmouth and Amherst, NH

 

 

La Belle Winery is one of the bigger and more well known wineries in New Hampshire. They have been officially producing wine since 2012. Their main space is in Amherst, NH where they produce the wine. They also have a Bistro that does lunch and dinner, a large event space and what was their only tasting room, until recently.

 

 

In January of 2018 La Belle Winery opened a Portsmouth, NH tasting room and store. This is not the first time we have seen a winery open a city tasting room location. The tasting room is much closer to us so we went there with Mark’s sister Michelle. We were too busy tasting wine too take many pictures.

 

They do flights of 5 wines for $10 and flights of 10 for $15, at both locations, so we each did a flight of 10.  Between the three of us we tried quite a few different wines.

 

Michelle and Mark

 

Whites

Dry Apple
Dryer than Mark was expecting, even though Dry is in the name. Nice aroma of apples, dry throughout.

 

Seyval Blanc
A crisp wine wine with citrus notes and a clean finish.

 

Dry Pear
Dry and fruity, Marked liked this better than the apple.

 

Granite State White
Described as similar to Chardonnay, oak aged and clean, Megan thought it was just ok, not her style.

 

Gewurztraminer
We all tried this wine. Fruit forward and tropical, and a little on the sweet side. We liked it.

 

Heirloom Apple
Not sweet, but a complex flavor, both Mark and Michelle agreed and liked it.

 

Riesling
Complex and aromatic as they described it, floral and honey notes, on the sweet side but not too sweet.

 

Granite State Apple
Michelle got this and did not like it, and apple wine with maple syrup. Mark agreed it was not a great mix of flavors.

 

Blush

Apple Cranberry
This is 50% apples and 50% cranberries. Perfect blend of these too fruits, not too tart or too sweet, but a little bit of both, pretty tasty.

 

Megan

 

Reds

Dry Blueberry
Another fruit wine Mark picked that was a little too dry for him. Made for wine drinkers who like regular wines and not sweet fruit wines. Drinks like a light Merlot in body and style, really dry.

 

Granite State Red
Megan said it’s a good, easy drinking red with a hint of blueberry. Could see it pairing well with steak and other grilled meats.

 

Americus
Made with New England grapes, rich in tannins, aged on steel then additional aging in oak, Megan did not like this wine as much.

Americus Reserve
They talked Megan into trying this wine even though she didn’t like the last one. Much different flavor aged all in French Oak, amazing what that can do! This one was really good.

 

Petit Verdot
Megan really liked this, bold red with strong floral and fruit notes, her kind of rich red wine.

 

Virginia Mae Sweet Blueberry
A very deep, rich Blueberry flavor, not sweet or syrupy but rich, and very tasty.

 

 

Dessert Wines

Chambourcin
Port style wine, which means it was fortified with Brandy, cherry and chocolate flavors, dark and rich but again not overly sweet which was nice.

 

Red Raspberry
Sweet dessert red that is balanced out nicely by the acidity from fresh raspberries. Smells like raspberries, sweet and a bit tart.

 

Three Kings
Megan said it tastes like jam. Blend of Blueberry, Red Raspberry and Marchol Foch wines.

 

 

They have a pretty decent size bar area, that we didn’t get a picture of. They have a lot of other items in their shop besides wine, but plenty of wine, too!

 

 

 

Wide variety of jams

 

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Bar Harbor Cellars, Bar Harbor, ME

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While on our trip to Bar Harbor with Amanda, we of course we had to stop at Bar Harbor Cellars Winery and Vineyard. They are located just outside the downtown area on Sweet Pea’s Farm. There is a nice, big shop and tasting room as well as a cafe.

 

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Most of their wine is made from grapes they purchase from Europe. They buy just the vintages that they like, so they are getting exactly what they want. The wines are styled after the area the grapes come from. They are sent to Italy and pressed to their specifications, then shipped to Quebec and down to Maine, being kept cold the whole time.

 

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Old fashioned press

 

They ferment with just the natural sugars from the grapes; they do not use any added sugars. They do grow some grapes on site, but not nearly as much as they need. Maine is not the most ideal place to grow grapes.

 

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Our tastings:

Riesling 2013
This was a fairly dry Riesling with a hint of sweetness, and a dry finish.

 

Gewurztraminer 2013
This was a little sweeter than the Riesling, but still fairly dry.

 

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Syrah 2013
This was a bit sweet, a little black cherry flavor. It was good, we all liked this. Would pair well with a bold cheese or chocolate.

 

Pinot Noir 2012
Amanda was the only one to taste this one. She really liked it, light enough for summer, but enough body for the winter, with a smooth taste.

 

Red Zinfandel 2013
Peppery, a real intense wine. Definitely made for having with a meal.

 

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Megan picking out some wine

 

Fruit & Sweet Grape Wines

Apple-Blend
We liked this, a sweet wine, but a good sweet, not overly sweet or sugary tasting, light in body, easy drinking.

 

Cranberry
Strong Cranberry taste, almost taste liked cranberry juice.

 

Black Curant-Apple
Made as a desert wine. 40% apple and 60% black currant. Complex for a fruit wine, lots of interesting flavors. Mark and Amanda liked this, told it goes well with spicy food.

 

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Apple-Raspberry
40% apple and 60% raspberry, Megan described it as jam like.

 

Icewine Cab. France
A rare, red ice wine, made with 2,000 – 3,000 grapes, in each bottle. Sweet, but a complex flavor. Really good, Mark tasted apricot, Megan said Fig, good either way, but more on the expensive side as it is an ice wine.

 

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They have a cool, rustic barn building with all sorts of local treats as well as all their wine for sale. The tasting bar is pretty big with plenty of room at the back of the barn.

 

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There were these really cool fountains outside made from old wine barrels. They are just outside Cafe entrance, which we did not have a chance to eat at.

 

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Megan and Amanda with their wine selections

 

 

Regular Hours

Opened Memorial Day to Columbus Day

10:00 am – 5:00 pm

 

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Our other stops along the way…

Bar Harbor Brewery only 1 mile away.

Tree Spirits Winery and Distillery in Oakland, ME

Dragonfly Winery in Stetson, ME

Oak Pond Brewing Company in Skowhegan, ME

Jewell Town Vineyard, South Hampton NH #44 (a little out of order)

100_1281We recently visited Jewell Towne Vineyard. We decided it was a great idea to go out during a snow storm, which in a way was true. Not that fun to get there (for me, although luckily Mark drove) but once we found Jewell Towne, we were the only ones there. We had just missed two car loads of people. IMG_0269
Jewell Towne is located in South Hampton, New Hampshire and is very close to the Massachusetts border. We were in New Hampshire, and drove through Massachusetts to get there. It is a little difficult to find, so pay attention to their directions as found on their website.100_1280  100_1279   100_1283  100_1282

Time Line:
1982- owners Peter and Brenda planed six grapevines
1990- Jewell Towne was established
1994- Jewell Towne Vineyards became a licensed commercial winery
1998- the winery was built, a 18th century reproduction

Facts:

  • Since they began, Peter has helped other wineries become established in the area, offering his knowledge of viticulture. Peter leads the way for the wine industry for New Hampshire. Peter has also helped with legislation in regards to the the winery industry.
  • Jewell Town is New Hampshire’s oldest winery
  • They have won over 150 medals in national and international competitions
  • Their upstairs art gallery features local artists, as well as Brenda’s work
  • They produce 6 thousand cases of wine every year
  • Their wine can be found in over 150 stores and restaurants in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as well as at many Farmer’s Markets (Portsmouth, Concord, Greenland, Newburyport, Middleton and Gloucester)
  • Their tours as well as their tastings are FREE
  • You won’t find other fruits here- they produce only traditional style wines
  • They currently have 5 acres of grapevines
  • Many grapes they use are grown there, but some are contracted in (due to climate)

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IMG_0271the tasting bar

Our tasting:

Not all wines are open at once. They have a dry-erase board with their current offerings, and you may choose 6IMG_0272

Aurore: hints of green apple, dry

Riesling: hints of honey and orange

Seyval 2012: “off dry” description fit well. Not too fruity, good plum flavor

Vignoles 2012: honey and lemon flavor. Off dry

Traminette: relative of Gewurztraminer. Had a touch of sweetness to it

Steuben: sweet rose with flavors of ripe strawberry and fresh pineapple. yum!

Leon Millot: smooth, off-dry. Light red wine with cherry and black raspberry flavors.

Sparkling Marechal Foch: unintentional (sparkling) wine. Festive flavor. Good for sangria.

Rhapsody in Blue: ice wine. Strong hints of honey. yum!

Everyone there was very friendly. The two women who were working in the tasting room, as well as Peter. It was one of the women’s first day there, but it didn’t show. All were very knowledgeable and friendly. Jewell Towne Vineyard would be a good place to go for those who know their wine, as well as those that are new to wine.

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Want to visit?
Hours of Operation: 
11am – 4pm Wednesday through Friday
11am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday
Be sure to visit their website before you plan your visit
so you don’t get lost!