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Wine and dine
New wines released at annual dinner

06/19/14
By Stefanie Phillips food@hippopress.com



 A few weeks ago, I attended Hermit Woods Winery’s third annual wine release dinner, which gives guests a chance to try the winery’s newest wines. For the second year in a row, the winery worked with Chef Kevin Halligan of Local Eatery in Laconia to offer a five-course meal, with each course paired with a Hermit Woods wine. 

The event started off with a wine tasting at Hermit Woods’ new location in downtown Meredith. 
“It was a really great opportunity for us to expand into this space,” co-owner Bob Manley said. 
Head winemaker and founder Ken Hardcastle said a fermentable landscape is in the works in front of the winery. 
“We work with materials that grow well here,” he said, noting they source as much as they can from local farms, growers, and in some cases, the wilderness. “We like to get out of the way of the ingredients and let them do their thing.”
First was 2013 Lake House White, a wine that isn’t bottled yet but will be available this summer. This white Burgundy-style wine is made from peaches, rhubarb, quince and rosehips. While that may sound like an unlikely combination for wine, the result is an engaging blend with nice peach flavors and acidity. 
One new vintage this year is 2013 Lake House Red, a pinot noir-style wine Hermit Woods calls “the Burgundy of New Hampshire.” It is made with whole organic blackberries, raspberries, elderberries and wild, low-bush blueberries, but it isn’t sweet. It has a pleasant aroma of blueberries to start, but is rich with slight tannins on the finish. 
In addition to these wines, we sampled 2013 Three Honey Wine, 2013 Petite Blue, Deep Blue out of the tank and 2012 Hermitage. The Hermitage is made with dark fruits that grow best right here in New Hampshire: organic black currants, wild low-bush blueberries and elderberries. You’d probably think this wine was made from grapes only if you were not told otherwise. It is dry but deep, with some developed tannins from barrel aging. 
Following the tasting, we headed to Local Eatery, where we were greeted with a nice cold glass of Hermit Woods Cider. This beverage is only available at Local. It’s not sickly sweet like some ciders; it is dry and smooth, made in the classic style.
Chef Kevin Halligan prepared a five-course meal, matching each dish with a Hermit Woods wine. Last year’s meal was outstanding, and this one was no different. I could probably write an entire column on the meal alone, but here are some of the highlights.
The first course was grilled quail with mixed greens and apple vinaigrette, paired with Crabapple Wine. This is the winery’s most popular wine and maybe its best batch yet. Its tartness went beautifully with the vinaigrette and cut through the greasiness of the quail.
The second course was a diver scallop and sweet potato latke with lemon vinaigrette paired with Kiwi Wine. This wine is made from local kiwi berries, giving it a dry finish and qualities of a riesling or sauvignon blanc. This pairing was excellent and the scallop was delicious.
In the third course, we tried Three Honey Gold, similar to the Three Honey Wine, but barrel-aged to give it more viscosity and depth. Chef Kevin said this was his favorite wine and he paired it with a shrimp and pork skewer. This wine is so rich and smooth. I would have gladly enjoyed more. 
The fourth course was filet mignon, mashed potatoes and asparagus paired with Caracol syrah. This is a deep, dark wine made from Chilean grapes. Hardcastle uses a partial whole cluster ferment, which brings out the character and depth of the grapes. This wine should be decanted before serving and is an ideal pairing for robust meats like filet.
The final course was probably my favorite and the most decadent. Chef Kevin paired chocolate goat cheese cheesecake with Melange, a fruit and honey mead made with whole blueberries, elderberries, blackberries and black currants. This wine is sweet and port-like and went well with the richness and chocolate in the cheesecake. 
Hermit Woods Winery, located at 72 Main St. in Meredith, is open Wednesday and Thursday 1-5 p.m., Friday 1-6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit hermitwoods.com. 
 
As seen in the June 19, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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