CTbites is (in their own words) “a web-based community built by and for people who love food in Connecticut“. It was founded in 2009 by Stephanie Webster, CTbites’ Editor in Chief, and it now includes Executive Editor Amy Kundrat, a dozen contributors and thousands of enthusiastic eaters who mostly gravitate in or around Fairfield County, Connecticut.
CTbites’ editors and contributors aim to scout and share with readers new food-related operations (from restaurants to food stores and farmer’s markets) as well as to try and review every restaurant, diner and dive in Fairfield County for their readers’ benefit.
Unfortunately, Francesca could not make it to the Festival due to an event she had to participate in at our daughter’s school, so I “had to” step up to the plate and go visit the Festival by myself.
The Festival took place at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT, a beautiful recreational space overlooking Long Island Sound, and featured more than 130 food or wine exhibitors, most of whom had stands in the large Culinary Village Tent, which was the epicenter of the Festival, while the others were scattered in a few satellite tents focusing on specific themes or showcasing kitchen appliances.
There were however two additional prominent features: one was a local Maserati dealership’s tent, sporting two brand new sports cars, and the other was the CTbites Blogger Lounge: a tent right by the entrance of the Festival where food and wine bloggers could congregate, attend a program featuring interviews of a number of prominent chefs and of course meet the wonderful people behind CTbites.
In this regard, I had the opportunity to talk to Amy and Stephanie and they are both great – I would add unsurprisingly, considering how much they have achieved in a relatively short period of time. As an added bonus, the CTbites Blogger Lounge offered its visitors excellent, creamy espresso (and being Italian, if I say excellent, I think you should trust me!) provided by Espresso NEAT Cafe in Darien, CT. Make sure to check them out if you are in the area.
During my visit, beside of course hanging out in the Blogger Lounge and checking out the Maserati’s I browsed the main tent, mostly focusing on (I bet you guessed) wine. While of course the Festival was mainly a food event and one that mostly targeted consumers (in other words, it was no Vinitaly International or Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri NYC), there were still a few interesting wine tasting opportunities. These are, in a nutshell, those that struck me the most:
Nantucket Vineyard: I had been interested in checking them out for a while, primarily because I love the island. The winery was founded in 1981 on Nantucket by Dean and Melissa Long and nowadays it sources most of the grapes they use for making their wines from Yacama Valley in Washington State. I had the opportunity to taste their Chardonnay, which was quite pleasing: lean, citrus-y with hints of grapefruit and only slightly oaked (it ages one year in French oak), which for me is a definite plus. All in all, an easy to drink, refreshing Chardonnay. I also tasted their Sailor’s Delight, a Merlot and Syrah blend that ages for 18 months in French oak. This wine didn’t quite work for me, as I found it quite thin and bland, with red fruit aromas and an acidic edge that in my view threw it a little bit off balance.
WineWise: this is a wine store that just recently opened in Greenwich and features a whole array of wines, from entry-level ones to top wines that they hold in a dedicated space known as “the vault”. Among other wines, I had the opportunity to taste a very pleasant Martinez Lacuesta Rioja Gran Reserva 2004, with a nice nose of leather, cocoa and cherry, and a nicely balanced structure. The wine retails for $37, which in my view is a bit on the high side for a wine that sure is good, but is in a price range that offers several very solid alternatives to compete with.
Quintessential Wines: This importer and distributor showcased a selection of wines from their portfolio. I tasted a few, and the one that impressed me most was an organic Matetic Casablanca EQ “Coastal” Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Chile: a great, typical nose for the variety, with intense aromas of grapefruit, citrus, “cat pee” (if you like Sauvignon Blanc, you most likely know what I am talking about) and nettle, with crisp citrus-y and mineral flavors, complemented by a lively acidity. Very pleasant, considering also its appealing $20 price point.
TMRW: This acronym stands for the quite cheesy name “The Most Romantic Wine“, a collection of VQA Canadian icewines made from selected wineries (Caroline Cellars, Cornerstone and King’s Court) and distributed by Icewines Exclusive. The collection comprises a range of ten different alternatives, varying by grape variety and by originating winery. The wines come in half-bottle size (375 ml) and are made from grapes grown in Canada’s Niagara peninsula (in the province of Ontario) that are hand-harvested at night when the temperatures lower to 18F/-8C or below. I have been able to taste a few, including a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Franc and a Vidal, but my personal favorite was the Caroline Cellars Riesling VQA Icewine 2008: liquid gold with intense aromas of peach, dried apricot, white flowers and a touch of tangerine, followed by sweet mouth flavors of dried apricot, pear and hints of honey, counterbalanced however by good acidity that kept the wine alive. To me, it has been a pleasant discovery.
Although there were many more interesting stands and exhibitors at the Festival, it is time to wrap things up: I enjoyed attending the Greenwich 2013 Wine+Food Festival as well as the opportunity to mingle with the CTbites team at their Blogger Lounge – thank you, Amy, for the kind invitation. If you live in or near Fairfield county, consider visiting the Festival next year and by all means if you are not familiar with CTbites yet, check them out online and consider signing up for their newsletter and invites to cool culinary happenings.
Disclaimer: CTbites kindly provided a pass to the Festival. The opinions about the Festival, the exhibitors and CTbites are solely my own.