Monday, February 2, 2009

You Say Foxy. I Say Candy Corn

Before we begin, please press play on the music video below to begin the soundtrack for this post.

Flag Hill Winery & Distillery, Lee NH
We visited another local New England winery over the weekend. Flag Hill has over 20 acres planted to several cold hardy hybrid and native grape varieties. Among them, Seyval, Cayuga, Niagara, Marechal Foch, and Chancellor. Flag Hill also has a cool brand new (but antique looking) brass still where they make their General Stark triple-distilled vodka from New Hampshire apples. They are also getting ready to bottle their first run of barrel-aged apple brandy.

So, getting back to the foxy theme...
We sampled the Niagara Reserve which was our first taste of the Niagara grape. Wow. Talk about your distinctive varietal. As I later tweeted, this wine reminded me of Halloween in olden-day New England. It just has a real harvesty aroma. I guess there is a word for this: Foxy (or in the common vernacular: Foxy mamma jamma). I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what food item it reminded me of--the closest I could come was candy corn.

...and now for something completely different...

There is a lot of Seyval Blanc in New England. If you're going to drink local wines around here, you have to learn to like it. I have come to appreciate the fruit character that can be achieved with this grape in our northern climate.

Flag Hill does theirs differently than Jewell Towne in that they let it see some American White Oak. I generally like a clean steel-fermented Seyval Blanc, but I can still give Flag Hill props for this version. The oak does not mask the fruit and it lends a really nutty component to the palate so you find all kinds of almond notes, running the gamut from toasted almonds, to almond extract, to marzipan. We enjoyed it enough to bring a bottle home ($11.95).

Flag Hill is definitely a New England winery (is there any other kind in New England?). What I mean by that, is they aren't afraid to blend the traditions of wine-making with the traditions of the northeast.

Besides table wines, they are doing fruit wines, Sugar Maple liqueur, apple spirits, and dessert wines. They even produce a red dessert wine blended with maple syrup... I know... We tried it though, and it actually was well done. The off-dry Dechaunac is probably the most marketable of the reds. I actually found their fruit wine quite pleasant. I am not usually a fan of fruit wines. Flag Hill doesn't try to make their's something it's not by making a dry wine from fruit; it is sweet and it tastes like the fruit it is made from.

It's definitely worth the trip to Flag Hill Winery to sample some of the flavors of New England's heritage.


Dirty said...

Dessert wine mixed w/ Maple Syrup? Foxy!!!

Fun post!

Jim said...

If you're a fan of Seyval Blanc, you may want to try the Prairie Fume from Wollersheim Winery in Wisconson. 100% Seyval, and very tasty, IMO.

Lenn Thompson | said...

Ah yes...foxy foxy. As someone who drinks a lot of native stuff from upstate NY, I know it well!

I'd be curious to check out those maple syrup-infused offerings.

Do they do any dry reds?

Taster B said...

Hardy, foxy is one word for it... ;) In their defense: The dessert wine really just has essence of maple. The locals in the tasting room said it was like the smell in a sugar shack...

Lenn, They do have a dry Marechal Foch and dry Chancellor. Not my item though.

Part of the reason you find so many off-dry wines around here: The drys are often just really hard to love.

Taster A said...

In the Atlantic North East, I judge a winery by it's Seyval. If they have a good Seyval, I'll go back. Clinton Vineyards in the Hudson Valley has one of the best. Jewelle Towne Vineyards, (50%in MA, 50% in NH) has stellar, unoaked Seyval.

I'll gladly go back to Flag Hill for a bottle of their white.

Now for maple. I grew up in Vermont. I know a thing or five about maple. When I tried their Maple Liquor, it was like Igo eating Ratatouille. I was transported back to my youth, standing by the arch, smelling the steam boiling up from the pan. We would take a glass and dip a bit of the semi-boiled down sap and let it cool and sip it to keep warm. What can I say, our hostess grew up on a farm that sugared, she understood.

Dirty said...

Reading about the "Sugar Shack" reminded me of this

Ohh Yeah!

Taster B said...

Dude, I wish I'd posted that vid on this post--haha!
Maybe next time. :)