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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Mill River Winery, Rowley MA

 

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Mill River Winery is located in Rowley on the North Shore of Massachusetts. We had been meaning to stop in here for a while as we had heard many good things. We stopped on the way down into Boston for the Boston Wine Expo preview event.

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They renovated the Dodge’s Cider Mill from the 1890’s. The building has a rustic feel with a mix of original wood, reclaimed, and rustic wood that creates a cool environment for tasting wine.

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They had 2 predesigned flights when we were there, so we both ordered a different one so we could try most of their wines.

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Naked Chardonnay:
aged in stainless steel. Lemon zest and pear aromas. Dry, but not as dry as you expect a Chardonnay to be. Full bodied.

Plum Island White:
Balanced in sweetness. Semi-sweet with pear, citrus and honey aromas. Smooth and easy to drink.

Riesling:
Off dry, slight citrus flavor with a vanilla finish

Barrel Fermented Chardonnay:
Oak aged. Very smooth. Dry. Megan liked the Naked Chardonnay better, but could understand what the draw was for the oaked flavor.

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Plum Island Red:
Berry and light. Tried this wine both chilled and room temperature. Chilled, it took on more white wine/fruit wine characteristics. This wine they tried to model after and Italian style Chianti, so you can drink it throughout the day. 30% white wine, 70% red.

Plum Island Red Dory:
Dry mouth feel. Nice fruit flavor, with the aromas of plums and blackberries, without being overly sweet. 5% white wine. More complex than Plum Island Red.

Plantation Red:
Light in oak flavor. Dry. Well balanced with the aroma of raspberry jam

Pinot Noir:
Light bodied, smooth at first with a bite at the end. Cherry flavor, but not sweet. Megan liked the flavor at the end

Select Cabernet Sauvignon:
Not as dry as we expected. Full bodied. Flavors of chocolate and deep, dark fruit

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Bucket of Fun:
Rose. We both liked this one. At their blending bash, people create different wines and the winner receives a case of wine and their wine is created. This was the winner!

 

It was not busy when we were there, and we received plenty of attention. The server was friendly and knowledgeable about the wine and the winery.

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Before the tasting…

 

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fun chandelier made from wine barrels

They had a cool chandelier made from wine staves. You can see the post and beam construction in the background as well.

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They have a gift shop with locally made jams and all kinds of wine accessories.

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Wine serving tray

 

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A table you can stand around if it is busy

 

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Want to Visit?

Winter hours:
Tasting room open Fri 11 – 7pm, Sat & Sun 11 – 6pm
Tours Sat & Sun at 2 & 4pm.

Prospect Hill Winery, Lebanon ME

IMG_0027[1]We were able to visit Prospect Hill Winery shortly before they closed for the winter.

Prospect Hill Winery is located in Lebanon, Maine, just over the border from Milton, New Hampshire. It is actually easier to get there from Milton than from Lebanon, due to the partially dirt road it is located on. Prospect Hill Winery sits on 54 acres of land, utilizing 2 acres for it’s vineyard at this moment. All of their grapes are French-American hybrids.IMG_0025[1] parking

IMG_0026[1]outside the winery- cute and rustic red grapevinesIMG_0037[1]the red grapevines

IMG_0038[1]the  green grapevines

The winery is run by Richard and Anita, who were both great to meet. They were both very kind people, as well as very knowledgeable about wine. The winery has been open for 5 years, but they have been growing grapes and making wine for 10 years. The first 5 years were used to really experiment with the different grapes, different blends and different flavors. Their winery is considered an Estate Winery, which means:

  • 100% of the wine must be made from grapes grown on the winery/vineyard’s land (or controlled by the winery)
  • The vineyard must be in a viticultural area, and the same AVA boundary as the winery
  • The wine must be fully made on it’s own premises- grapes crushed and fermented, bottled and aged

IMG_0034[1]  IMG_0035[1]The two tasting room tables. We sat at the one Richard is by

They currently make 16 wines from 13 grape varieties. They have a select amount open at a time- they pour a select amount so that they can give a larger pour of 3 sips per taste so that you can truly taste the wine’s flavor.

IMG_0029[1]IMG_0028[1]their complete wine list

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Our Tasting:

White Wines:

Edelweiss: very sweet, citrus-y taste. Similar to a Riesling.

Edelvira: more crisp than Edelweiss. This wine is a blend of Elvira and Edelweiss grapes, creating a pear and apple flavor.

Prospect Hill Winery makes 2 other white wines, Aurore and Prospect Hill White. They are both made in small batches with tropical fruit palate. Both wines were sold out mid-season.

IMG_0033[1] IMG_0032[1]the wines, set up for our tasting

Red Wines: all wines are aged for 18 months

Marechal Foch: fruit red, mellow. An everyday red. Easy red to drink. Not terribly dry.

Sabrevois: Mark said there was a lot going on with the flavors in this wine. Flavors that would compliment steak, but not compete with the flavor. Mark liked the Marechal Foch better.

Sunset Red: a blend of Chancellor (plum flavor, dinner wine) and Frontenac (black cherry flavor). Good wine to age. Really good, this was my favorite so far. We went home with a bottle.

St. Vincent: could chill in the summer for sangria. A more playful sipping wine. Has a strawberry flavor, which is either tart or ripe depending on the season. This 2011 vintage has a ripe strawberry flavor. Mark enjoyed this one.

Two Saints: full flavor, full body while still being fruity. Spicy black pepper flavor at the end.

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Their tasting room also operates as their storage room at this moment, and is kept at a temperature that is good for the wine.

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Want to visit?

Open Memorial Day through December 1st.

Tasting and tours Sundays from 1-5pm

Open for sales year round, call or email in advance

Their wine is also available in select local stores- check out their website to see if you will be passing by one!