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Wine Week Events
 
Tuesday, Jan. 22
• Free wine tasting of Cecchi Chianti Classic and Cecchi Litorale Vermentino and a bottle signing with Roland Marandino, wine ambassador from Cecchi Family Estates, at Bedford outlet (Bedford Grove Plaza, 5 Colby Court, Bedford) from 2 to 4 p.m.
• Taste Lange Pinot Noir Williamette Valley and Lange Pinot Noir Three Hills Cuvee with Wendy Lange, winemaker from Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards. Nashua outlet (25 Coliseum Ave., Nashua) Event is free and runs 3 to 4:30 p.m.
• Bill and Betsy Nachbaur, winemakers from Acorn Winery, will host a bottle tasting at the Bedford outlet (Bedford Grove Plaza, 5 Colby Court, Bedford) from 4 to 5 p.m.
 
Wednesday, Jan. 23
 
• Pablo Cuneo, winemaker from Ruca Malen Winery, will be signing bottles and sampling wine at the Hooksett outlet (I-93 Southbound), from 11 a.m. to noon; the Stratham outlet (Kings Highway Plaza, 28B Portsmouth Avenue), from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.; and the Manchester outlet (100 Bicentennial Drive) from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m.
• Cecchi Family Estates Wine Ambassador Roland Marandino, will be tasting the Cecchi Chianti Classic and Checchi Litorale Vermentino and signing bottles at the Concord outlet (50 Storrs St., Concord), from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, and Hooksett outlet (I-93 Northbound) from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m..
• Wendy Lange, winemaker from Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards, will be providing samples of her Pinot Noir Willamette Valley and Pinot Noir Three Hills Cuvee at the Salem outlet (417 South Broadway), from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m; the Manchester outlet (North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive), 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.; and the Bedford outlet (5 Colby Court) from 3 to 4 p.m.
• Carpineto Winemaker Antonio Zaccheo Jr. is hosting his bottle signings and wine tastings at the Plaistow outlet (Market Basket Shopping Plaza, Route 125) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• Clay Brock, director of winemaking from Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, will be at the Nashua outlet (25 Coliseum Ave.) from 1 to 3 p.m.
• Joseph Carr, director from Joseph Carr Wines, is hosting a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the Nahsua outlet (25 Coliseum Ave.) from 3 to 5 p.m.
• Joel Gott Wine’s Joel Gott and Serge Doré Selections’ Serge Doré will be holding a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the Manchester outlet (North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive) from 3 to 5 p.m.
• Michael David Winery winemaker Michael Phillips will be hosting a tasting and signing at the Concord outlet (50 Storrs St.) 3 to 5 p.m.
• President of Winemaking Rob Mondavi, Jr., of Folio Fine Wine Partners, will be hosting a meet and greet and tasting at the Portsmouth outlet (Portsmouth Traffic Circle) from 3 to 5 p.m.
• Merry Edwards, winemaker from Merry Edwards Winery, and RP Imports are hosting a wine tasting and bottle signing at the Nahsua outlet (25 Coliseum Ave.) from 3 to 5 p.m.
• Cellar Notes for Easter Seals, a new event for 2013, brings local distributors together for a VIP reception. Gérard Bertrand of his winery, Clay Brock from Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, Gove Celio from Neal Family Vineyards and Peter Mondavi, Jr. from Charles Krug Winery and Peter Mondavi Family Winery will be hosting a wine tasting, meet and greet and bottle signing. To be held at the Puritan Backroom (245 Hooksett Road, Manchester) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., tickets are $35, order by calling 888-368-8880 or visit eastersealsnh.org.
• The Copper Door (15 Leavy Dr., Bedford) Wine Dinner kicks off with a reception at 6 p.m. Joel Gott, founder and winemaker from Joel Gott Wines, will be hosting. Dinner is $65, first course served at 6:30 p.m. Call 488-2677 for reservations.
• From 6 to 8:30 p.m., O Steaks and Seafood (11 So. Main St., Concord) will host celebrity guest Michael Phillips, co-owner of Michael David Winery, as bartender. Make reservations for dinner at 715-5624 to meet Mr. Phillips and order drinks.
• Mint Bistro’s (1105 Elm St., Manchester) celebrity guest bartender for the evening will be the owner of Cannonball Winery Yoav Gilat. Gilat will be behind the bar from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Reserve a table at 625-6468.
• One of two events going on at LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) is a Single Vineyard Wine Tasting Seminar. Merry Edwards Winery winemaker Merry Edwards will join LaBelle owner and winemaker Amy LaBelle for an exclusive seminar and tasting. Six single vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs will be sampled side by side in a formal sit-down tasting with expert commentary from both winemakers. This event is $75 and limited to 25 participants; wines will be available for purchase at LaBelle Winery on the evening of the seminar only. Runs 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; tickets can be purchased at labellewinerynh.com.
• The East & West Coast Women in Wine Dinner is the second LaBelle event. Merry Edwards and Amy LaBelle host a dinner and tasting focused on award-winning New Hampshire wines from LaBelle Winery alongside the acclaimed California wines from Merry Edwards Winery. Event runs 8 to 10:30 p.m. at LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) and is $95 per person; visit labellewinerynh.com to register.
• Serge Dore, owner of Serge Dore Selections, and Amelie Aubert, winemaker of Vignobles Alain Aubert, are to appear at the Hanover Street Chophouse (149 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-2467.) as guest bartenders from 6 to 8 p.m.
• Napa East Wine Lounge (12 Murphy Drive, Nashua, 595-9463) is hosting Joseph Carr, of Joseph Carr Wines, as guest bartender from 6 to 8 p.m.
 
Thursday, Jan. 24
• Wendy Lange hosts a tasting and signing in Plaistow (Market Basket Shopping Plaza, Route 125) from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and the Concord outlet (50 Storrs St.), 2:30 to 4 p.m.
• Antonio Zaccheo, Jr., Carpineto tasting and signing at Hooksett outlet (I-93 Northbound) from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; the Nashua outlet (269 Daniel Webster Highway), 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m.
• Pablo Cuneo is holding a tasting and signing at the Concord outlet (50 Storrs St.) from 10 to 11 a.m.; the Salem outlet (417 South Broadway) 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and the Bedford outlet (5 Colby Court) 2:30 to 4 p.m.
• Roland Marandino’s tastings and signings are at the Salem outlet (417 South Broadway), from 10 to a.m.; the Manchester outlet (1100 Bicentennial Dr.) noon to 1:30 p.m. and the Nashua (269 Daniel Webster Highway) 2 to 3 p.m.
• Rob Mondavi, Jr., will be at the Manchester Liquor and Wine Outlet (1100 Bicentennial Drive) 2 to 4 p.m.
• Clay Brock is appearing at the Manchester outlet (1100 Bicentennial Dr.) from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the Bedford outlet (5 Colby Court) 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. and the Hooksett outlet (I-93 Northbound) from 3 to 4 p.m.
• Join all the experts for the Wine Week Winter Wine Spectacular for Easter Seals from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Center of New Hampshire Radisson Hotel (700 Elm St., Manchester). This is the premier wine event in the region, and the headline event for Wine Week. Nearly 2,000 quality wines and their makers from all over the world, plus fine food from the area’s best restaurants and chefs. Access to the Grand Tasting ($65) gets participants onto main floor. Full Access ticket ($125) heightens wine experience by including entry to Bellman’s Cellar Select featuring finest selections. Call 888-368-8880 or visit eastersealsnh.org for tickets.
 
Red, White and Green: Wine-lovers go to the grand tasting
For nearly as long as there’s been a Winter Wine Spectacular, we’ve been heading over to the Radisson in Manchester on a cold January night in search of new wines.
 
So how do you get the most of the night (without drinking so much that you can’t remember what you tasted)?
 
• Eat food. Not too much. Mostly cheese and crackers. With apologies to Michael Pollan... While the Spectacular does offer food, this event really is about the wine, so you likely won’t want to spend a lot of time waiting in line for food so eat a little before you come. Get some (some) bread or crackers and some fat (cheeses or nuts) into you before you come and then take breaks in your tasting to grab a few bites here and there. 
• Sip and dump. It’s tempting to suck down the whole pour and ask for more. But resist. For most wines, a deep sniff or two and two small sips is enough to give you a sense of what you’re tasting and whether or not you like it. Don’t worry about offending the person pouring — even if it’s the winemaker. They’d rather deal with a sober person who dumps than someone too drunk to know what they’re tasting.
• Wear dark colors. Some of us are clumsy, some of us get spilled on us by the clumsy person. Whichever category you fall into, this isn’t a bad night for that black dress or those dark navy pants. 
• Sport deep pockets or a small purse. This is a hands-free event. Definitely check your coat, and if you’re concerned about car keys and wallets, wear something with pockets so you don’t have to carry anything. (Remember, you’ll be carrying a wine glass all night and then balancing a small plate with food on the occasions that you get hungry — all while navigating a crowd.)
• Take notes. Pens and programs are usually available at the event ― use them to keep track of your favorites. Or, make it even easier on yourself and use your cell phone to take photos of favorite labels. 
• Spend money. If you have the extra cash to spend, the Spectacular is a great place to pick up some bottles of wine for your sipping enjoyment later this winter ― and, at a discount. The way it works is this: if you find a bottle you love, you can ask the pourer to give you a sticker with the bar code for the wine. At the end of the night, turn in your sheet of stickers (with amounts you want of each wine) to the state Liquor and Wine Outlet representative, who will get the wine shipped to the liquor store of your choice. You pay when you pick up. Buy individual bottles or, if you are in love with a new bottle, cases. Purchase six to 11 bottles and you’ll get a 15-percent discount; 12 or more and you’ll get 20 percent off. 
• Have a plan. If you’re relatively new to wine, try tasting wines a few different examples of the varietals you’re most interested in. Maybe cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, zinfandel, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. These grapes represent a good spread and can give you a sense of what the varietals taste like. Or go for wines that specifically fit with your favorite meals. “What do you have that goes with pizza?” is a great way to get recommendations.
• Deviate from the plan. An odd-sounding white blend, a red from Uruguay, a white from Lebanon — if you see something unusual, stop and take a sip even if it wasn’t part of your “only pinots” plan for the evening.
• Ditch your friends. The tasting covers a huge space. For at least part of the evening, split up with your companions. Then come back together and make recommendations about what your fellow tasters just have to try. Depending on the turnout, it can also be easier to maneuver with just one person. 
• Go out for coffee. The tasting ends at 9 p.m. so head to JD’s Tavern in the Radisson or one of the restaurants on Elm Street to enjoy some coffee and a chance to talk over your finds with friends. 
Check out the “Red, White and Green” column, focusing on finding great bottles of wine for $20 or less, each week in the food section. The column is written by two long-time wine lovers who have different preferences but agree that finding a bargain is half the pleasure of a great bottle.
 
The taste of $100
This cabernet sauvignon costs $20, that one costs $80. What’s the difference, and what do you get for your money?
 
That all depends, said Svetlana Yanushkevich, owner of WineNot in Nashua.
 
“That is the basic difference: good quality at a higher price. But good wine should also bring you to a special place … without buying travel tickets,” she said.
 
For a quality field test, open and pour a bottle of wine in the $10 range, and then do the same for a $60 to $100 bottle, then set them both before you, Yanushkevich said.
 
“Say it’s a Cab. Have a smell of both, and then leave them for 20 to 30 minutes. When you come back, the non-expensive wine will taste and smell the same, but the more expensive should have more layers of complexity. The characteristics of the grapes will come out, chocolate or savory or Mediterranean herbs, or something else,” she said.
 
This “layering” can be achieved by any number of factors. Vineyards, as they age, will produce a much lower yield and smaller berries, but a higher quality of juice. Transportation of grapes from the vineyard to the winery can also damage the skin of grapes, so the closer the two, the higher the quality, Yanushkevich said.
 
“If a village harvests the grapes at the right time, and in the dark, around 3 a.m., there is cold fermentation going on. This process makes for grapes that bring out so many more and diverse flavors as opposed to harvesting during higher temperatures,” she said.
 
Other factors, such as wine aged in French oak barrels, which cost between $800 and $1,000 per barrel, increase quality too, according to Yanushkevich. Other production costs and equipment ― state-of-the-art filtration and brewing equipment ― can also factor into a higher price.
 
“I tend to avoid giant, mass-produced ones. Companies that make them will put out high-end wines, but they still cannot compete with small producers. They may create private or reserve label, but they’re still making 20,000 cases worth, and it’s still too much,” Yanushkevich said.
 
A label is a common way to hike up a price too: big names or big places can go for big bucks. Grapes grow better in certain regions of the world. Wine is healthier from a climate such as Argentina, where it isn’t subjected to the short growing seasons or pesticides of a more rugged place (sorry, New England). A better terroir will yield a better wine, but the resonance of a place like Napa Valley or Bordeaux has weight.
“There are other great areas doing small-yield wines both expensive and in the $15 to $20 region. A $20 bottle of wine from Napa and a $20 Paso Robles cost the same, but the Paso Robles has a better chance of being a much higher quality,” Yanushkevich said. “And southern France has wonderful quality wines for under $15.”
 
The allure of commercialized, beautiful, boutique regions, she added, drives up prices. Countries hold sway too — France and Italy are much more known than, say, Portugal, Argentina or Tasmania. All this hype is further driven by demand for one particular wine that experts might tout in Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and Wine & Spirits Magazine.
 
To avoid the hype, “The most important thing is that a person should look to the style they enjoy. I like pinot noir. I would spend $100 on a quality pinot from Burgundy. But, when it comes to expensive wine, or any wine, never stop asking yourself why it is special,” Yanushkevich said.
 
A case for the under-appreciated wine
While trying a wine from the latest hot region is fun (Croatia! Uruguay!), interesting unfamiliar wines also come from familiar places.
 
Bedford Village Inn Sommelier Jon Carnevale suggests that experimentation is your best bet; just be willing to step outside of your comfort zone.
 
“I don’t necessarily think the best wines are unknown in terms of the region. Good wine doesn’t have to come from far corners of the earth. There are a lot of wines that go grossly underrated even in areas we know well,” he said.
 
Often, the best wines are victim to a poor association. Take Chablis. Hailing from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the Rhone Valley of France, this is Carnevale’s desert-island wine, he said. It is made from Chardonnay, and he finds many people love Chardonnay but hate Chablis, usually because their knowledge of Chablis stops at Franzia’s five-liter box, which is made in California.
 
A lot of the better wines out there are not getting exposure because people can’t understand the labels. “Never judge a book by its cover,” he said.
 
Sweet wines have been victim to bad packaging, he said. They are “one of the most underrated genres in the world,” but now, even sweeter versions of well-known varietals, like Rieslings, are becoming more recognized.
 
Others, like French Sauternes Barsac and Californian Moscatos are “just phenomenal,” Carnevale said.
 
Filippo di Belardino of Banfi Vintners said he expects sweet wines to become more popular in the next few years. 
 
“I think people didn’t like sweet because of the same way some of us don’t want to go to high school reunions. A lot of people were introduced to wine through Twenty Twenty, Blue Nun or Lancers, and then they discovered dry wines and want to forget they ever liked those [fruity] wines,” di Belardino said. “But there’s a new generation of sweet wines coming up, and they’re loving them.”

 

 

Winter Wine Festival
Whetting your taste for wine doesn’t have to end along With Wine week; there are still more events to be had at Wentworth By the Sea’s (588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle) Winter Wine Festival 2013. Beginning on Friday, Feb. 1, the ninth annual celebration kicks off with the Grand Tasting Reception, where hundreds of wines from around the world will be presented with hors d’oeuvres from Seacoast chefs. Four-course grand vintner’s dinners from some of the top wineries around the world will then run until Saturday, March 16. All events begin at 6 p.m. at the hotel; view a complete list or reserve online at winterwinefestival.com or call 422-7322. Highlights include:

• Saturday, Feb. 2, Bogle in Blue Jeans Grand Vintner’s Dinner
• Thursday, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Dinner
• Saturday, Feb. 16, Wild Game Dinner with Atamisque Winery
• Friday, March 1, Sommelier Standoff: Sarah MacKinley vs. Jess Sutton
• Thursday, March 7, Wentworth Beer Dinner, Allagash and Maine Beer Company
• Saturday, March 9, Kendall Jackson Grand Vintner’s Dinner
• Saturday, March 16, Grand Vintner’s Diamond Dinner
 
 




Adventure in a glass
NH celebrates wine season

01/10/13



1/10/2013 - Just in time to warm up the winter nights, New Hampshire will hold its annual Wine Week Monday, Jan. 21, through Sunday, Jan. 27.
 
Wine Week is a celebration of wine, wine-makers and wine-lovers — but it’s not just an event for the oenophile. Whether you have a ‘61 Cheval Blanc in your closet or you’re still trying to decide if you like white or red, Wine Week has events for your sipping pleasure. (And, whether you spent your last dime over the holidays or have saved up for a few big-buck dinners, there are happenings at different price points as well.)
 
Of course, no matter your level of wine geekery, the main event — and the event with something for everyone — is the Winter Wine Spectacular, the Easter Seals of NH’s annual fundraiser, which happens this year on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $65 per person for the tasting featuring nearly 2,000 different wines and are available at nh.easterseals.com. (A $125 ticket gets you into both the grand tasting and the high-end wine tasting in the Bellman’s Cellar Select tasting.)
 
So raise a glass to January. You don’t have to go to Napa, Italy or Argentina — you can have an adventure in wine without leaving the Granite State.
 
10 years of Spectacular
Ten years ago, the Winter Wine Spectacular was a one-night Easter Seals fundraiser that has since spawned a week’s worth of wine-related events. But the Spectacular still stands out as Wine Week’s crown jewel, the encapsulation of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s mission.
 
“Our goal is to get consumers face to face with the producers,”  said Nicole Brassard, director of wine marketing for the liquor commission. “It furthers their wine education, which is important because education is part of the wine industry overall. It’s not a beverage just for an elite group any longer; the wine industry has literally broken down that barrier.”
 
Scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 24, the Spectacular takes place at the Center of New Hampshire Radisson Hotel in Manchester. It is aptly named — the grand tasting features more than 2,000 wines. Spread out over 200 tables, winemakers, vineyard owners, vintners, representatives and distributors from all over the world will pour and talk.
 
“Each and every winemaker has a very unique style and different methods for growing and producing. The Spectacular and other events are a great time to meet them to understand the what and how, and taste their wines alongside seeing their personality come through,” Brassard said.
 
The evening runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets to the Grand Tasting cost $65. For $125, you can get a ticket to the Grand Tasting as well as Bellman’s Cellar Select room, which features premium wines.
 
In addition to wine, area restaurants will serve small one- to three-bite dishes.
 
“New Hampshire is a popular state for wine, and restaurants are certainly a big part of that. The owners themselves get to meet the winemakers too, but also see their consumers coming out and experiencing the wine they serve in a unique way,” Brassard said.
 
Proceeds from the event go to the Easter Seals, an organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities.
 
“Over the nine years, we’ve successfully raised over a million dollars,” said Christine Pederson, director of events for Easter Seals NH. “Originally these were unrestricted funds, but for the past four or five years we’ve spun it in a different direction and focused in on our early-intervention services.”
 
Last year’s event raised $147,000, and this year’s goal is $150,000.
 
“The event is about the wine and the food, but ... it’s also about feeling great helping these children,” she said.
 
Bellman Jewelers, sponsoring the select wine cellar, is holding a drawing for the 10th anniversary, raffling a pair of diamond-stud earrings. They hope to raise $5,000; tickets are $5 apiece and there are only 1,000 of them. Proceeds will go toward a child development center.
 
Attendees can purchase tickets the night of the event, but you do not need a ticket to the Spectacular to win. They are available online through the Easter Seals and at Bellman Jewelers (1650 Elm St., Manchester).
 
The additional fundraiser expands on the original purpose of the Winter Wine Spectacular; likewise, the Spectacular itself was too good for just one night, Brassard said.
 
“Our concept of having winemakers come into New Hampshire exclusively for the Winter Wine Spectacular was good, but we thought that while we have all these people, we should give more access to them and their personalities,” Brassard said.
 
And thus, Wine Week was born.
 
A week of wine
Over the last eight years, Brassard said, restaurants have played a larger role in wine week. Personalities from wine-making regions in Europe, California and beyond will be hosting dinners, tending bar and showcasing their products at wine tastings.
 
On the evening of Jan. 23, representatives from four distributors ― Horizon Beverage Company, MS Walker, RP Imports and Southern Wine & Spirits of New England ― are inviting four experts to the Puritan Backroom in Manchester. Gérard Bertrand of Gérard Bertrand Winery, Clay Brock of Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, Gove Celio from Neal Family Vineyards and Peter Mondavi Jr. from Charles Krug Winery and Peter Mondavi Family Winery will sign bottles and offer samples of their wine. (Tickets cost $35 and are on sale through  the Easter Seals NH website.)
 
“We end up inviting so many winemakers it can be difficult to choose what to do. It seems to get spread pretty thin. Having four winemakers in an intimate setting ... should be an educational, accessible evening,” Brassard said.
 
Throughout the week, winemakers will hold wine tastings and bottle signings at NH Liquor and Wine Outlets throughout the area and serve as guest bartenders at restaurant bars.
 
Those looking to really get to know a winemaker and his wines can check out one of the many wine dinners scheduled throughout the week.
 
Napa East Wine Lounge in Nashua will host three winemakers at two different dinners. On Tuesday, Jan. 22,  Clay Brock of Wild Horse Winery and Carol Shelton of Carol Shelton Wines will be visiting the store-restaurant hybrid. The following day, Joseph Carr of Joseph  Carr Wine, Chris Riendeau, general manager and certified sommelier for Napa East Wine Lounge & Shop, and Napa East Executive Chef Jeff Sesar will be curating a five-course prix fixe menu with a wine pairing for each. 
 
“We really take what’s in season, whatever we can get that is fresh and local, for the dishes. When it comes to the composition that’s going to be on the plate, there are some traditional, hard and fast rules on pairing, but a lot of it’s riffing sometimes, like jazz — sometimes we throw some of those traditional pairings out the window,” Riendeau said.
 
When the food hits the table, each expert will provide his or her take: Brock, the philosophy behind his wine or the growing season or the harvest; Sesar, the food; and Reindeau, the pairing. 
 
“Just a little bit of information. We keep conversation light, not bombard them with a classroom lecture. The most important thing is to leave room for questions; people are ravenous for an understanding about wine,” he said.
 
At the new LaBelle Winery in Amherst, owner Amy LaBelle is hosting Merry Edwards, a California winemaker, to celebrate women in wine.
 
“We’ve been planning for a year for Wine Week, and waiting to see what wine celebrities come to town. When I heard Merry would be here, I jumped at the chance,” LaBelle said. “Merry Edwards is a wine maker I’ve looked up to my whole career.”
 
First, Edwards and LaBelle will be holding an intimate single vineyard tasting of Edwards’ Russian River Valley pinot noirs, followed by a seminar and commentary. A wine to wine comparison of such magnitude, LaBelle said, is an “exceptionally rare opportunity, especially with the winemaker herself.”
 
Directly after, LaBelle Winery will host a wine dinner featuring both Edwards’ and LaBelle’s selections.
 
“We are at two very different places in our wine-making careers, and so are our states,” LaBelle said. “The New Hampshire wine industry is so new, especially compared to California, but now we’re able to compete and draw these kind of celebrities. It’s good for the industry.”
 
Meet the vintner
“I wish I could put my finger on it, but there’s something special about New Hampshire,” said Filippo di Belardino of Banfi Vintners. “There is a lack of arrogance that really appeals to me, a down-to-earth-ness and willingness to learn.”
 
Born in Rome and educated in the states, di Belardino, vice president of Banfi’s Vinum Division, serves as an ambassador for fine wines from Banfi, which is the oldest importer of European wines in the country. At the Winter Wine Spectacular, he will be in the Belleman’s Select Cellar. He’s one of many wine-makers and vineyard representatives who will be in the state to talk wine through the event.
 
“What I do when I first meet wine people is say ‘lets all agree this is liquid entertainment — no snob-ism, no arrogance, it’s only a gift from the earth.’ I think the wine business is exploring flavor, and if one type doesn’t work with the food, don’t panic. Another meal is coming up,” he said.
 
di Belardino treats wine the way that is traditional Europe, “on the table, like a condiment,” he said. Wine is “food that just happens to have a little alcohol in it.”
 
Di Belardino likes the New Hampshire event because  he says he’s looking for consumers to experiment. He’ll be bringing some of Banfi’s best Italian selections, including BelnerO, which he describes as being a beautiful black and intense, deep red (of mostly Sangiovese, according to Banfi’s website) with notes of vanilla, tobacco and coffee.
 
Also heading to Wine Week, from Monterey, Calif., is Gianni Abate of Morgan Winery. He’s been head winemaker there for the past seven years, and in addition to being at the Spectacular, he will be hosting a wine dinner.
 
Abate was educated as a pharmacist.
 
“My brain is very much on the science end of things, all about how things work on a molecular basis, but I found I was a lot happier when I have a little creativity in there. Working in a pharmacy is very cut and dry — winemaking is very different. There is an artsy aspect,” Abate said.
 
When it comes to grape art, it’s “not exactly creating but harnessing of flavors,” Abate said, and he’s had a lot of practice doing so. Therefore, events like wine week are exciting for him because they always attract beginner and novice wine drinkers who want to know more. Tasters tell him their wants, and he tries to direct them to a wine they’ll love.
 
“If I can get to know the area of wine they’re looking for, I can find something for them. Usually I am not totally familiar with what they want, but if I can get an idea of what they’d enjoy it helps. Do they like something white in body? Something heavy? What is it they want? Finding that out is about being approachable,” Abate said. “The most important thing is when you put it in your mouth; if you aren’t drinking wine you enjoy, you shouldn’t be drinking it.”
 





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