“[I]t is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the
man to dancing… it even
tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told.”
~ Homer, The Odyssey
I had the good fortune of joining Keith Castro and Lanai Monahan at the Essex Inn last Thursday for a mid-day bacchanalian adventure. Tasting wines before lunch? Yes. Decadent? Yes. Ill advised? Nooo… Would I do it again? Yes!
With winter [hopefully] lumbering into the home stretch and the promise of spring on the horizon, they have begun planning their wine list for warmer days ahead. Given the opportunity to participate in that decision making, it goes without saying that I leapt at the chance.
Here’s a sneak peak at some of the oenological pleasures you can anticipate in the sunnier, warmer days ahead.
Tasting Wines for Spring & Summer 2014
I’ll try to restrain myself from singing, laughing and dancing. For now, at least. But telling stories is another matter altogether. Please forgive me in advance should I accidentally “blurt out stories better never told.”
During their short tenure as chef and innkeepers of the Essex Inn, Keith and Lanai have impressed us again and again with outstanding food and always warm hospitality. This team’s energy and passion make every visit memorable. They invest a concerted effort to know every customer’s preferences and to custom tailor your dining experience no matter how finicky your needs or preferences.
It bears noting that the wine selection this past autumn and winter has been quite pleasing. Given the team’s quick start, I was impressed with how accurately they matched wines and foods with Essex resident appetites. I mention this simply to assure you that Keith and Lanai’s wine selections do not in any manner depend upon my often whimsical, occasionally esoteric and always subjective tastes. That said, I was honored to be included in the process of evaluating new additions to the wine list for this spring and summer.
Tasting Wines Before Lunch
I joined Lanai and Keith just after 11:00 AM at the Essex Inn. I was introduced to Kelly Newton (Fine Wine Manager from Empire Merchants North) and Daniel Senecal (Empire Merchants North sales rep) who had prepared a table-full of wine recommendations for us to sample in the sun filled front room.
Soft chairs warmed by precocious but powerful sunlight. Sparkling stemware and a parade of intriguing wines. Laughter. Food pairing ideas. Vineyard back stories. More laughter. Like old friends on holiday, we celebrated a pair of playful hours, eventually finding our way toward some exciting wine options for you to enjoy as soon as blustery winter yields to daffodils and cherry blossoms.
Unaccustomed to fermented grape juice so early in the day and feeling all the more decadent since I had overlooked breakfast, I realized it was time for a hardy lunch. If only the Essex Inn were open for lunch. (Rumor has it that Sunday brunch may be in the cards soon… Fingers crossed!)
Wine Tasting Preview
I won’t spoil the suspense by telling which wines will be offered, nor will I influence your experience by sharing my tasting note. But I will give you a glimpse of a few bottles from our wine tasting, and I’ll concede that a couple of these are already resting in my own cellar.
- Saladinin Pilastri Falerio Marche 2012 Italy
- Isabele M Chardonnay 2012 Carneros
- Protea Chenin Blanc 2013 South Africa
- Markus Molitar QbA Riesling 2011
- Etude Rose 2013 Carneros
- Laetitia Limitee Pinot Noir 2011 Arroyo Grande
- Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Jane’s Vineyard 2011 Russian River
- Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon “Classic” 2011 Rapel Valley Chile
- Emblem Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Napa Valley
- Markham 1879 Red Blend 2011 NapaValley
- Marques De Casa Concha Carmenere
See anything familiar? If not, you may get a chance to try them soon. And if you have a personal favorite that is not listed, don’t hesitate to swing by the Essex Inn to let the Keith and Lanai know. Not only will they welcome your feedback, they just might be able to accommodate you.
Wine Tasting Dinner on April 12
There’s no finer way to wrap up a post about tasting wine at the Essex Inn than to announce the first wine dinner. You’ll need to purchase tickets ahead because attendance is limited. On April 12, 2013 Chef Keith Castro and Innkeeper Lanai Monahan will host a five course dinner with wine pairings for $75.00 per person. More details soon.
- Essex Inn’s Room 12 Featured in Strictly Food for Thought (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Inn Takeout (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Inn Welcomes New Chef and Innkeeper (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)