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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Furnace Brook Winery at Hilltop Orchards, Richmond, MA

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While out in Western Mass with our friend Bre, we visited Furnace Brook Winery, which is located at the Hilltop Orchard in Richmond, MA. This was actually a place Bre found and wanted to go to because they make their own cider as well as wine.

You can sample any 1 wine for free, or 5 wines for $5, so we all tried some different ones.

White Wines

Pinot Grigio – A crisp, golden white wine, slightly dry.

Riesling – Mark and Megan both liked this. Fruity but not too sweet, nice flavorful balance. We both skipped the Dry Riesling for this one.

Mead – A light, sweet mead with a very strong honey flavor. Honey sourced locally from Westfield, MA.

 

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 Red Wines

Shiraz Special Reserve – Peppery with hints of berry, dry but not overly dry.

Ruby Port – Mark really liked this, very tasty. Bre and Megan both thought it was sweet. It is wine, fortified with Brandy.

 

Sparkling

Blanc de Blancs – Bre tried this, slightly fruity, easy drinking.

Muscato – Very sweet, crisp, a bubbly muscato, Bre and Megan really liked this, we bought a bottle for Mark’s sister Michelle.

 

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Ciders

Johnny Mash Dry Gold – A very dry, but refreshingly clean cider. Made simple on purpose, goes well with anything, for day drinking we were told. Did we give off that vibe?

 

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Cidre Special Reserve – Light and a little sweeter than the Dry Gold, still dry. The apples were fermented whole, with the skins on, in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French Oak barrels.

 

Johnny Mash Hard Cider – Light, slightly sweet, minor oak notes, aged in American Oak, good cider, 6%.

 

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Ice Wine

Berkshire Winter Harvest Ice Wine – Sweet, tasty, a complex cider ice wine. They grind the apples and make juice (cider) they freeze the juice, then remove the nectar and ferment that. It takes about 45 apples per bottle.

 

Hilltop Orchards is one of the largest cider mills in New England. They make cider for lots of other places. They are proud to grow, pick, grind and mash, as well as ferment all their cider onsite.

 

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There are miles of trails on the farm, and they rent snow shoes and cross country ski’s. They get a lot of traffic during the winter, people coming to use the trails and then sample some wine or cider. There was not enough snow when we were there to take advantage of that. Maybe some day… we would definitely visit again if we are in the area.

 

They also use and integrated pest management system, IPM. This means they plan when to spray based on rain, wind, etc, they use the weather to their advantage to keep the apples and grapes and fresh and clean as possible.

 

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Of course we got some Cider Donuts before we left as well.

 

Hours

9:00 – 5:00 Daily, year round

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Expo this weekend- are you going?!

We can’t wait to go to the Boston Wine Expo this weekend. We hope our winners enjoy themselves as well 🙂

Want to know more? Click here for our past experiences:

Press release from the Boston Wine Expo:

“The Boston Wine Expo’s “Grand Tasting”
Select wines and exhibitors join the
25th annual celebration of wine, food and culture

BOSTON, MA – Presented by Boston Guild of Oenophilists, the 25th annual Boston Wine Expo at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, hosted over President’s Day weekend (February 13 and 14), is announcing a sneak peek at some of the most popular wineries and restaurants which will be featured at this year’s Grand Tasting event.

The silver anniversary Grand Tasting gives guests a global adventure in a glass. Whether your palate prefers a full-bodied Pinot Noir, buttery Chardonnay, an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon or a dry Pinot Grigio, the 2016 Boston Wine Expo will bring the biggest, boldest and best flavors from the vine to the Seaport District. Oenophiles will travel through the expansive space – sans passport – swirling and sipping their way to “connoisseur” status while sampling bites from some of the city’s most popular restaurants.

There are hundreds of exhibitors and international producers who will be pouring over 2,000 wines throughout the weekend including: 90 + Cellars; Alexander Valley Vineyards; Banfi Vintners; Beaujolais Villages; Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards; Hope Family Wines; Humboldt Imports; Jackson Family Wines; Languedoc Wines; Rutherford Wine Co.; Ste. Michelle Wine Estates; Vinho Verde; and, Wines from Rioja.

Sip something you like? Attendees can make purchases and have them delivered to their doorstep via Drync, the mobile app that allows you to create your own virtual wine cellar on your Smartphone.

In addition to these renowned labels and exhibitors, local restaurants showcasing their delicious bites throughout the weekend include: 7ate9 Bakery; Athan’s European Bakery; Bertucci’s; Cask ‘n Flagon; Catering by North East of the Border; Compliments Food Co.; Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery; KINGS Bowl America; Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery; Montilio’s Baking Company; Noodle Lab Boston Pennypacker’s Food Truck; Smackadoodles; The Chubby Chickpea; and, The Living Room.

Also along the way there will be dueling Celebrity Chef Stages that will showcase the talents of New England’s most renowned chefs including: Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger; Blue Dragon); Barbara Lynch (No. 9 Park; Sportello; Menton); Chris Coombs (Deuxave; dbar); Daniel Bruce (Meritage Restaurant at the Boston Harbor Hotel); Louis DiBicarri (Tavern Road); Dave Becker (Sweet Basil & Juniper); Mitchell Brumels & Nicholas Foley (Ocean Prime); Annie Copps (Itellibelly.com); Nick Deutmeyer (Post 390); Rachel Klein (RFK Kitchen); Michael Lombardi & Kevin O’Donnell (SRV); Karen Mitchell (The Palm Boston); Brendan Pelley (Pelekasis); and, Michael Scelfo (Aldon & Harlow).

There are educational seminars with nearly 40 topics ranging from food and wine pairings, “The One Hour Wine Expert,” and vertical tasting flights of the world’s most sought-after grapes. For those who love to shop, there will be scores of vendor booths with wine accessories, gourmet foods and even jewelry.

Tickets to the Boston Wine Expo’s “Grand Tasting” are available by visiting: http://www.bostonwineexpo.eventbrite.com.

General Admission ticket prices are as follows: Saturday: $99 per person and Sunday: $89 per person. General admission tickets include entry, a Boston Wine Expo souvenir glass to taste wine samples from over 200 wine producers, complimentary food samples from scores of providers and access to live cooking demonstrations.

VIP Experience ticket prices are as follows: Saturday: $149 per person and Sunday: $139 per person. VIP Experience tickets include easy entry through the VIP entrance, a welcome sparkling wine toast, complimentary private coat check, access to the VIP lounge, an upgraded Boston Wine Expo souvenir glass to taste wine samples from over 200 wine producers, complimentary food samples from scores of providers and access to live cooking demonstrations.

Group tickets are also available, as well as dedicated trade industry hours. Seminars are priced per-class and can be purchased online.

The Boston Wine Expo will take place at The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center on February 13 and 14, 2016, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. This event is reserved for ages 21+. The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center is located at 200 Seaport Boulevard in Boston, MA. For directions and more information, please visit: http://www.seaportboston.com.

ABOUT THE BOSTON WINE EXPO:
Founded in 1991 by the Boston Guild of Oenophilists, the Boston Wine Expo has grown into one of the most well-known and respected wine events in the country. Over $1,400,000 has been donated to local charities by the Guild including Tufts Medical Center’s Summer Camp Program for Children with Disabilities – the major beneficiary. Over 27 local charities have benefited from the Expo over the event’s history. Other organizations that have received considerable funding include the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Pan Mass Challenge and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. For more information, please visit: http://www.wine-expos.com.

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Boston Wine Expo

It’s that time of year again- time for the Boston Wine Expo!
bwebannerWe are very excited to have been invited back as bloggers this year, and can’t wait to see you there! This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Boston Wine Expo, so it is sure to be even bigger and better than ever. To go with the Silver Anniversary theme, they will be showcasing what has happened with wine over the past 25 years, and the
way food and wine are looking to be trending for the next 25.

Over 1,800 wines will be poured from over 200 wineries from around the world. Food samples will be available from Boston area restaurants.

Interested in taking part in a seminar? There are so many to chose from, featuring wine from all over the world; cheese; cider and chocolate. You can learn to taste like a pro, enjoy Buffalo Trace Bourbon, or learn more about food and wine pairing. Want to register for one? Do so here

Please join us on February 13th and 14th at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center: https://bostonwineexpo.eventbrite.com/?discount=BLOGJAN (For $10 off either day at #BWE2016)

Previous visits to the Boston Wine Expo:

Boston Wine Expo, 2014
Boston Wine Expo,2014, Seminar: Love Brews for Cheeses of the Veneto
Boston Wine Expo preview of 2015
Boston Wine Expo, 2015

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

Wicked Wine Fest and Boston Craft Beer Fest, Spring 2015

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We were lucky enough to be asked to attend the Boston Event Guide‘s Wicked Wine Fest and Craft Beer Fest for Spring 2015.
On our way to the Wicked Wine Fest we got this cool picture of the Hancock tower in Boston.

 

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When we entered both the Wicked Wine Fest and the Craft Beer Fest, we were given a map and list of all the wines/beers, as well as a small plastic cup for sampling.

 

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La Perlina Mosacato
We both liked this wine, a good sweet Mosacto.

 

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Truvee – Red Blend
This sounded like an interesting blend, and we enjoyed it.

 

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Ripe Life – Clambake
A good white wine, despite not being sweet. Described as ‘light, crisp, citrusy, unoaked Chardonnay.’

 

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ERA Organic Wines
Syrah
We really liked this, despite not being huge red wine fans. The description was right on, saying it has ‘raspberry and mocha flavors are followed by sweet cigar tobacco and a lightly oaky finish.’

Montepulciano
This was good as well, a little more body to it with notes of ‘black cherry, plum fruits, sweet oak and peppery spice.’

 

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Enjoying the tasting!

 

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Spiked Seltzer
We tried this for the first time last fall at the beer fest. Good tasting seltzer with alcohol in it. They have Lemon Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, and Cranberry for flavors. We like this, a good summer drink, goes down like a Seltzer and not overly sweet like some other summer drinks. We have heard that you can purchase it in Market Basket, so we will be on the lookout.

 

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Probably Megan’s favorite ‘tasting’ of the day, Vino Gelato! This gelato is made from wine and was delicious!

 

Other wines we liked:

Chloe-Chardonnay
Chloe-Red 249

Terlato-Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon

Ruffino-Sparkling Rose

Anderra-Carmenere

 

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Both festivals are held in the Cyclorama. It is a cool atmosphere, and a large circular room, so it works well for a tasting.

 

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The real downfall to the wine event were the sample pours were very small. At most tables we got really just one sip, so it is kind of hard to judge the wine on just a sip. Then, because of the small pours, everyone would get right back in line. So there was a lot of waiting in line and not a lot of sampling.

 

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From the Craft Beer Fest, outside of the Cyclorama, waiting in line, moved pretty quickly.

 

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Down the Road Brewery – Pukwudgie Pale Ale
This is a new brewery in Newton, MA. They say that ‘we want our line of beers to recall the rich history of lagers and ales that is sometimes ignored or forgotten but never out of fashion.’

 

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Stella Artois – Cidre
Pretty good, very light and refreshing.

 

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Urban Farm Fermentory
Dry Cidah and Kombucha from Urban Farm. We like there stuff as well, fresh and mostly dryer ciders.

 

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Megan and Mark at the tasting.

 

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Downeast Cider House
This is our favorite cider we have had. It’s like real apple cider, not a sugary light version.

 

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Cape Ann Brewing Company was there as well!

 

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By Sam Adams, The Vixen and 26.2 were both beers we haven’t had before, they were both pretty good.

 

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Curious Traveler is one of Megan’s favorite summer beers, but we hadn’t tried all that the Travleler Beer Company had made. Now was our opportunity! We tried both Illusive (grapefruit) and Forbidden (apple). Megan liked the Illusive!

 

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Foolproof Brewing Company
We learned about Foolproof at the last tasting, we liked all their beers. They are in Rhode Island, so we can’t wait to visit.

 

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Taylor and Megan enjoying the tasting.

 

 

IMG_2782Iron Duke Brewing- also local! Can’t wait to try them out!

These we just some of the beers we tasted. This was a good event, not too crowded, the lines weren’t very long, a good variety of breweries and beers.

 

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Taylor came in second place in the dance contest. We got a free round of pictures in the photo booth.

 

Want to go next Fall or Spring? Check out Boston Event Guide’s site! They always have something fun going on, including tastings, booze cruises, trips and more! Check them out! Hope to see you there next time!