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Bottled Up!

 

BOTTLED UP!

It is with great excitement that Saltwater Farm Vineyard releases the second vintage of our ‘Gold Arc’ Estate Chardonnay. Although its steel counterpart has been sold out for some time, our 2012 barrel aged ‘Gold Arc’ Chardonnay was recently bottled and is now available in the tasting room.

Aside from the difference in taste, our ‘Gold Arc’ Chardonnay goes through a much different aging process than that of our steel Chardonnay by spending about 12 months aging in French oak prior to bottling. You will taste pear and vanilla qualities unique to its barrel aging with subtle citrus notes reminiscent of our steel Chardonnay. Our wine maker, Gilles Martin, also noted that with time, the wine will “fatten up” and develop more depth and roundness, a characteristic derived from barrel aging.

bottle8Prior to any new release, there is of course, bottling day. It starts off with an early morning wake up call and turns into the vineyard’s equivalent of Santa’s Workshop. Cases of empty wine bottles, rolls of labels and bags of new corks fill the usually tidy hanger, awaiting their turn to be assembled into the cherished final product. To help with this process, we have what I refer to as, the ‘Willy Wonka’ machine (my second favorite to the Everlasting Gobstopper machine). Not only does it fill and cork the bottles, but it also has the capability of labeling and foiling. Although the machine can be somewhat finicky, on a good day we can expect to turn out about 50 cases of wine an hour.

It should be noted that while it sounds somewhat magical, there is a lot of hard work that goes into a bottle of wine aside from the Wonka machine. Having spent a number of years working at Saltwater Farm Vineyard, my awareness of this has only grown with time. For us, bottling our wine is truly the fruition of efforts that span years and countless hours of labor by our hardworking vineyard crew. So next time you open a bottle, think of it as a gift from the vineyard workshop, and take a moment to appreciate not only the taste, but also the craft and energy put into what is inside the bottle.

Cheers to the vineyard crew,

JM

B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill: A Delicious Tradition

 

WE SAY HELLO TO AUTUMN IN THE FORM OF A HUMBLE FRIED GOOD:

…the famous fresh apple cider donut from B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Old Mystic, CT. It can be recognized by its densely soft interior covered in a crunchy cinnamon and sugar exterior that fills your nose and taste buds with everything that feels like Fall. They come like clockwork every year, always fresh and always delicious. If you are lucky, you’ll score one hot off the machine. This family owned business has been churning these delights out for generations along with, you guessed it… all things apple. We’re talking sweet New England cider (try the slushy – another favorite), a variety of hard ciders and apple wines, apple butter and baked goods.

Every year come September, we wait with great anticipation for Clyde’s to open their doors. In fact, those in-the-know become a little jealous to learn that their friends made it there before them. It’s not just Clyde’s seasonal treats that keep us returning year after year, it is also the joyful buzz of the property, a true celebration of New England living. There is a sense of wholesomeness, warmth in your belly, and a grin you can’t seem to wipe from your face. The experience starts with the scent of cider that greets you from the street, and continues around the property where you can crunch, sip, and sample yourself into a Fall frenzy. Many travel near and far to celebrate their own version of the Clyde’s Cider Mill tradition.

So what else makes them so special you wonder?

clydes7

 

The Clyde family has a past full of rich history starting with Benjamin F. Clyde who first purchased the mill in 1898 when his ciders became hugely popular among locals. Just prior to buying the property, Benjamin started his career making hard ciders and vinegars because sweet cider was not yet possible due to lack of refrigeration. It is now the country’s oldest steam-powered apple press; the last of its kind still in operation. In 1994, just shy of its 100th anniversary, it was named by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as one of the few Mechanical Engineering Landmarks worldwide. I wonder what Mr. Clyde would say if he knew of the legacy he left behind? Benjamin’s great-great granddaughter, Kristen, says her favorite part about going to work every day is opening the same cider mill door as her family before her. “He would be proud and amazed at how far his cider mill has taken them,” says Amy.

The ride along the back roads sets the tone for their unassuming location amongst residential homes. Tucked in the back of the property, behind the main house, is an out building where you’ll find the famed press, a little sliver of history in Southeast Connecticut. Stop by on a weekend for a live demonstration and experience a truly extraordinary piece of equipment. You won’t soon forget the sound of this workhorse: massive leather belts hum, gears whir, and steam exhales heavily through her whistle.

After the demonstration, enjoy a complimentary apple wine or hard cider tasting or browse the two on-site shops with local produce and gifts. When you have made your rounds, take a seat and relax on their wraparound porch, catch some of their outdoor entertainment, and stay a while.

Cheers to Mr. Clyde and delicious tradition,
KR

Steel Appeal

STEEL APPEAL

For a couple thousand years, wooden barrels were used almost exclusively for aging wine. And although the emergence of ‘stainless steel’ aging is not new to the wine world, when considering your personal wine preferences it is helpful to know what you are sipping on.

tankHistorically, even white wines that weren’t meant to have any ‘oaky’ characteristics were aged in older, more worn out wooden barrels. Due to a high degree of unpredictability and inconsistency, this practice was abandoned for the use of stainless steel tanks.

The beauty of the stainless steel tanks is they are inherently neutral; they impart no influence on the flavor of the wine, allowing the natural occurring flavors of the grapes to be showcased. This is ideal for white wines in which a fruit forward flavor is desired.  The absence of the oak influence will allow the fruit to shine while maintaining a fresh, crisp quality, resulting in a dry, refreshing white wine. I often refer to our steel aged wines as ‘cocktail’ wines, because they are great for afternoon sipping and do not necessarily need to pair with food to be truly appreciated. That being said, stainless steel aged white wines like our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Rose pair wonderfully with lighter fare including shellfish, goat cheese, and sushi.

By no means is steel aging superior to barrel aging or vice versa. Quality red wines are almost always aged in oak, along with many wonderful white wines. It is truly a case of using the best tool for the job, or in this case, the best vessel.

Cheers to steel,
JM