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Port and Snow

Did you know that Friday was Port Day? Thanks to the magic of the Twitterverse and some great people in the wine business, I also received some Port samples to taste for the occasion.

Since we already had plans to head to Killington, Vermont for the weekend, I brought the Port along. Port and snow go so well together!

The drive to Killington was rainy and foggy until we got close to Killington itself and started ascending the mountainous area. It was then that big snowflakes started to fall. Despite the weather when we arrived, it had been foggy and rainy all day, resulting in the slopes being closed down, and also in lots of ice and slush on unplowed roads. Unfortunately, our not-so-trusty GPS led us astray, down a very long driveway, and we got stuck. Not the best way to start the weekend. The homeowner had a plow, but he told us to call AAA. New England hospitality? Perhaps he should add a giant “Private Driveway” sign to the start of his property?

At any rate, after about 35 minutes of spinning wheels and backing down the driveway and zooming back up, we made it to the dry, salted road. My husband the driver for the win!


We arrived at our cozy house to baked ziti and salad and later, Port. I liked this Sandeman 10 year old Tawny Port the best. It exhibited flavors of both dried and ripe fruit with a warm vanilla undertone and a little bit of spice. It went perfectly with Whole Foods two bite brownies. Yes it did.

Sandeman Tawny Port

We spent the evening by the fire sipping Port, and then I had night one of the worst sleep ever.

Luckily, the next day dawned bright but chilly, and we had a leisurely breakfast while looking out over this.


Due to the icy conditions and general lack of desire to ski, a bunch of us decided to go snowshoeing instead. Those of us who needed to rent shoes did so, and we spent about four hours hiking around a pretty difficult terrain. By the time we were done, I had removed layers and was just enjoying the warm winter sun.


Blackberry pictures, unfortunately. . . I have snow shoed in the past with my camera, and it was not fun.


Throughout our hike we went over hills, past a frozen lake, and even saw some adorably furry animals like this pony.


We unstrapped our snowshoes along the way for a quick bite at the Mountain Meadows Lodge. Sweet potato and mushroom soup was just the thing to warm all of us up.

sweet potato and mushroom soup

Après-snowshoe, most of our group took naps, and then we headed to hang out with the skiers at the Lookout. A few pre-dinner beers and some bar food in the very crowded bar, and we headed home for the night, well stocked with some very mediocre Chinese takeout.

We both had another horrible night of sleep, so we ended up not skiing on Sunday and instead, after fluffy pancakes at Blanche and Bill’s, headed home to nap.

Killington is a really fun place, and while the social scene would probably have suited me better five years ago, there are plenty of reasons to return, including dinner at the Killington Ledgewood Yurt.

Vermont still has so much damage from Irene, and I was happy to see businesses booming. If you’re planning a winter trip, Killington is a good place to start!

Special thanks to Killington expert Daisy for all of her recommendations in and around town!

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Tags: Killington, Port, snow, snowshoes, soup, Travel, Vermont, wine, winter

With snow in the forecast for tonight and a week that seems it will never end, I thought a little virtual vacation was in order for this afternoon’s post. After a brief stop in Yountville for some Bouchon Bakery decadence, we started the winding drive North and West to head toward Healdsburg where we would once again be touring one of our wine club wineries, Michel-Schlumberger

One our way through the very quiet and undeveloped Alexander Valley AVA, we decided to make a random stop, as we often do while visiting wine country, at Field Stone Winery

Field Stone

As we parked the car in the small lot, it was impossible to not be enchanted by the wineries’ surroundings. As far as the eye could see, wild chamomile flowers, vineyards ready to awaken for the spring, and rolling green hills filled the space. And it was quiet, very, very quiet.

Field Stone Winery

We made our way up the path to the barrel room and tasting room, passing by a bottling truck that was filling bottles with the latest Field Stone wine. After a friendly welcome from the men working on the truck, we went inside, where we were brought into a small, cozy tasting room.

Field Stone Wines

Field Stone is well known for its hearty reds, and I especially loved the 2008 Vineyard Select Syrah for its rich flavors of spice and black cherry. We also had the opportunity to compare and contrast 2007 and 2008 Vintage Ports

Field Stone port Field Stone

A sip of Port, a bite of dark chocolate, a sip of Port, some more chocolate. . . you know how it goes.

tasting chocolate and port

But again, as much as we loved the reds at Field Stone, we were on a mission to stock up on whites which resulted in the purchase of Field Stone Viognier and Gewurtztraminer. The Gewurtztraminer was perhaps my favorite wine of the day, dry but with some great fruit flavors. As we discussed in the tasting room, it will be the perfect Thai takeout wine. The Viognier was not on the tasting menu, but when I asked to try it, our host happily opened a bottle. Viognier is quickly becoming one of my favorite grapes because of its weight and luscious mouth feel. Just like with my favorite Viognier blend, Sheldon’s La Naris, the Field Stone Viognier is one that you you almost want to swish around in your mouth for awhile before drinking it. Sounds a little odd, but trust me on this. Smile

fields of mustard in the Alexander Valley

As we tasted through the wines, we learned a bit about the property, and our tasting room host encouraged us to go around the back of the building to check out their century-old Petite Syrah vines. Like gnarly little gnomes, these vines have produced quite a bit of fruit and have seen a lot over the years!

Field Stone old vines

Field Stone could appear off the beaten path, but it is really on the way from Napa Valley to Sonoma County if you are traveling North. It was a lovely spot to stop with great staff, delicious wines, and unstoppable views. Go there!

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Tags: Alexander Valley, California, chocolate, Gewurtztraminer, Healdsburg, Port, Sonoma, Syrah, Travel, Viognier, wine, wine tasting, winery

On the outside, it was a blustery, dark, rainy Sunday evening in December. On the inside of Chestnut Hill’s  The Urban Grape, however, the clinking of glasses, chatting of old and new friends, bottles of Champagne, Port, and oysters cozied up the space and quickly made guests oblivious to the inclement weather.

When I heard about this special free tasting via The Urban Grape blog a few weeks ago, I was excited to actually be in town. They have had a variety of weekend events I have missed due to a busy fall travel schedule, but if there was one event to be at it was for oysters and Champagne. Winter is my absolute favorite time of year to sip chilled Champagne and to eat briny oysters. It’s so luxurious and festive!

After meeting friends for wine, mussels, and cheese at Aquitaine, we headed next door to The Urban Grape event. Even though we were on the early side, a small crowd had already formed around the long wooden tasting tables. After hanging our coats on coat racks in the back of the store (A++ for thinking of this!), we scoped out the Neptune Oyster raw bar and decided to return after tasting some Champagne.

Neptune Oyster

Neptune Oyster

Neptune Oyster

The Champagne and Port portions of the event including tasting the following:

  • NV Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs D’Ay, Grand Cru
  • NV Guy Larmandier Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru
  • NV Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Blanc de Blancs, 1er Cru
  • NV Marc Hebrart “Cuvee de Reserve,” 1er Cru
  • NV H. Goutorbe Rose, Grand Cru
  • NV Louis Roederer “Carte Blanche” Extra-Dry
  • Warre’s “Otima” 10 Year Tawny Port
  • Warre’s 2000 Late Bottle Vintage Port

Both TJ Douglass, owner of The Urban Grape and Alicia Towns Franken, a Best of Boston Sommelier were pouring through the entire lineup at separate tables, making sure that lines never really formed. TJ was truly in his element, pouring for dozens of people, telling us about the wines, and somehow remembering where each of us was in the tasting.

Urban Grape Champagne tasting


Rarely do we get to taste through and compare so many Champagnes, and being that bubbly wins over all for me, I loved each of them. My favorite, however, was the citrusy NV Marc Hebrart “Cuvee de Reserve” which was described in the tasting notes as “racy”. Winking smile Maybe it was the weather or the fact that we had a delicious spicy curry for late lunch, but the acidity and bright flavors of this Champagne had me thinking about how it would go well with many of my favorite foods. For $48, it was a pretty good deal as well!

We took a break halfway through the Champagne tasting for some oysters, including my favorites, Island Creeks from Duxbury, topped with mignonette or zesty cocktail sauce.

We finished off the evening tasting two very different Ports. The Warre’s LBV  was what we all expected from a Port, deep red, fruity, and slightly sweet. The Warre’s “Optima 10” Ten Year Old Tawny was light, almost closer to the color of a dark rose wine, not very sweet, and something I could see being a nice summer drink

Urban Grape Port tasting

Before we left we did some shopping for my husband’s team at work and also got a little something for ourselves. Winking smile The Urban Grape has put together some beautiful holiday gifts like this basket below; they really have something for just about anyone’s taste and budget which is why this store continues to impress me.

Urban Grape gift baskets

The whole way home we talked about how much fun the event was: well organized, not too crowded but still with a fun, bustling vibe, a great selection of Champagne and Port, lots of oysters, and a warm and welcoming staff.

Which makes me all the more excited to attend their Christmas party tonight at Ted Baker on Newbury Street! Tis the season for lots of fun!

I have been a bit busy with studying for my wine final exam, visiting family (a new niece will be born today or tomorrow!), and having a bit of fun, but I promise to post the winner of the Kerrygold giveaway by the end of the day tomorrow. Until then, you can still enter and spread the word! And don’t forget about the go2 giveaway if you live in NYC or Boston.

How was your weekend? Did you attend any fun parties or partake in any holiday traditions?

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Tags: champagne, events, Island Creek, Neptune Oyster, oysters, Port, The Urban Grape, wine

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