A Day in the Gilded Age Tasting Wine

What does the most perfect setting to taste food and wine look like to you?  Well, for me it would be under a silken white tent with a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Marble House mansion on the other side.  The sun would be shining bright and mixed with the ocean breezes; you could only think it to be the perfect temperature.  Mix in some sailboats out on the horizon and admiring people walking the Cliff Walk and suddenly I was a Vanderbilt.  Yes, on Sunday, I got to know what it would be like to be a shipping and railroad magnate during the Gilded Age relaxing in my backyard while imbibing on scrumptious food and drink.

Marble House

The View

The Newport Mansion’s Food & Wine Festival was this past weekend and while the mansion was closed, we still felt princely.  The restaurants that were present set up a regal feast for everyone.  Some that stood out were the Castle Hill Inn’s sandwich that consisted of a rice bun with lobster salad AND sliced steak.  Finally…someone read my mind.  Hudson Valley’s Foie Gras’ duck bacon, velvety foie gras and duck liver pate were something my taste buds will never forget.

The Chinese Tea House on the lawn

Alexian Pate served a pheasant liver pate with rosemary that was outstanding.  The rosemary was just perfect and balanced out the pheasant pate. The country style Pheasant Rosemary paté offers a unique flavor profile, and a palate combination of spices and port wine, which is highlighted by rosemary herb. These flavors are revealed slowly with each bite, making it an intriguing tasting experience – especially for those who aren’t familiar with paté or the taste of pheasant.

Other highlights in the culinary department are a King Crab Salad, a crab salad that was served with cucumber pearls (cucumber puree with all the air squeezed out-amazing taste).

Now…the wines…

As I gazed out to the Chinese Tea House, I sipped the 2008 vintage of Justin Vineyards “Isosceles,” a Bordeaux blend from (Paso Robles) California modeled after the left bank Bordeaux’s of Margaux and Paulliac.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Isosceles had deep, rich raspberry aromas.  The taste had layers of ripe fruits, brown spice and black currants that only intensified after each sip.

I also had the great pleasure of sipping on some 1999 Nicholas Feuillatte Palmes  d’Or Champagne.  The fine and delicate bubbles opened up to a lively effervescence.  In my glass, there was a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that had aromas of white flower with acacia and honey.  Hints of toffee and anise run through the flavors with coffee, pastry and candied orange peel flavors in this supple Champagne with a smoky note echoing on the finish.  Heavenly delicious and drinking quite well if you can find a bottle of the Palmers d’Or.

The Pinot Noir that stood out in the crowd of fine wines was the Bergstrom Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The rich crimson color emphasized my stately surroundings.  The deep and complex nose was a swirling mixture of toasted bread, incense, Asian spices, blueberry and black cherry, roses, violets, wet volcanic rock and Bresaola (dried beef.)  The flavors were mainly driven by cherry and red rock minerals.  This is one of those wines that can be drunk young or aged.

Overall, this was a spectacular day and I am so glad I took the time to go.  The weather had everyone in a great mood and it seems that the exhibitors were excited to be there as well.  Stella Artois had a tent there and as you can see from my picture below, they were giving us full pourings of beer from Stella Artois, Leffe, and Hoegaarden in glasses to keep.  What a way to refresh my palate after all those red wines.

Claiming my Stella glass

~Cheers!

John

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