Our next stop on the New Hampshire Wine Tour is LaBelle Winery in Amherst.
LaBelle is one of the top producers of New Hampshire wine. The winery offers endless services in addition to their wine production. From tastings, vineyard tours, to LaBelle wine clubs, private events and weddings, to The Bistro, LaBelle University, and special event nights like Paint & Create workshops, LaBelle is truly a booming tourism and entertainment hub.
The vibe was much different here at LaBelle. The words that came to mind were “commercialized” and “chaotic.” As a developed and successful destination for weddings and wine, this place is always busy whether it’s because of a private event or their luxury bistro. While we were there, we were in the middle of a wedding and separate bachelorette party, so the result was that the experience didn’t seem very personal or intimate for us.
During our visit we checked out their tasting bar and gift shop that was filled with all sorts of goodies to try, taste, and of course buy. Open all day, the tasting bar offers a pricier experience than most other wineries we have visited and will visit. Starting at $8 for 5 wines and $13 for 10 wines. We went big with the 10 wines and tried an assortment of dry, semi-sweet, and dessert wines.
Come along for the tasting and we will show you!
The gorgeous views from The Bistro’s patio terrace.
The tasting happened inside at the bar, but it was too busy for us to manage to take some quick snaps. (We also felt very rushed by the bartenders serving us the samples, so we didn’t want to hang about inside too long.)
But here is what we tried inside…
Dry Pear: The humble pear expresses itself with elegance and crisp acidity in this dry, fragrant wine filled with soft fruit and floral tones. Not too sour or sweet, very light, and perfect to enjoy on a scorching summer’s day or night. (My favorite, and pictured above.)
Dry Riesling: Made in Alsatian style, (from Alsace, France) this dry and crisp wine compliments a variety of foods and will make you reconsider your potential dislike towards rieslings, especially sweet ones. With the mild flavor not being too sweet or strong, it cleansed the palate with salt/sweet fruit flavors.
Seyval Blanc Winemaker’s Reserve: This white is bottled and aged for two years in oak. Super dry, with punchy kicks of fruit, it goes well with food such as seafood or creamy pasta dishes. It reminded me of a very distinct flavor, subtle hints of shaved parmesan cheese and an overwhelming Welch’s white grape juice taste.
Granite State White: In addition to the Seyval and their Chardonnay, this wine is also oak-aged with a strong buttery finish. I could smell old cheese, old produce, old Italian basement (yes, I could smell my old Florence apartment), old wood, it was super damp and quite obvious this had been aged in barrels. After the first sip, I could grasp at some caramel flavors and remnants of an ash tray. (Definitely not one of my favorites.)
Granite State Red: This was a fun wine to taste. Aged in French oak, this is one of LaBelle’s most popular red wines, however I wasn’t much of a fan of it. Baby powder, tennis shoes, a grandmother’s ancient perfume, and astringent tones were the only thing I could smell. I was repulsed, either from sensory memories or just the composition of the wine.
Dry Blueberry: Made with local blueberries and aged in French oak, this wine is similar to a Merlot in body and style. Earthy, potpourri, and fragrances of lotion all made the wine smooth and easy to drink.
Red Alchemy: This dinner wine is a blend of three red grapes, and is another crowd-pleaser from LaBelle. Full of mild fruits, spices, and wood smells, it’s truly not too light nor too heavy, but at the same time it’s a very safe choice that isn’t very memorable. It’s warm, comforting, and easy to drink, but there isn’t too much to think about – which at times is nice.
Americus: Filled with black pepper tones, this is a great red wine to go with your summer grilling. Salt, garlic, ash, charcoal, and steak seasoning were all things I tasted. (However, it wasn’t as good as Zorvino’s.)
Out of personal preference, I skipped over their Semi-Sweet Wines like Gewürztraminer, Sweet Riesling, Cranberry Fruit Wine, Granite State Apple, and a few more… and went straight to their Dessert Wines.
Dulce: A spiced dessert wine with overflowing tones of maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla. It basically smelled like a cinnamon bun – which was amazing. I couldn’t drink a lot of it, really the sample size was all I needed.
Chambourcin: Fortified with apple brandy, this dessert wine was filled with chocolate and cherry tones. Boy, was it a strong and overpowering wine, I could taste spices, brandy, and an old musty basement. Dulce was more enjoyable, Tom had to finish this one off for me.
After our tasting inside, we enjoyed a light lunch outside on their patio.
I got a glass of the Dry Pear, it was perfect on the hot day and actually my favorite from the 10 we tried.
We snacked on The Bistro’s Artisan Cheese & Charcuterie Slate. A chef’s selection of artisan cheeses and cured meats, candied nuts (which I loved), crackers & The Winemaker’s Kitchen jam (also incredible).
After our small lunch we took in the views of the vines and explored a little more.
LaBelle was overall a good time. I do wish they would focus more of their business model around the actual wine and less on image. The environment and aesthetics were perfectly manicured, while the wine and atmosphere was mediocre. We did love our lunch with the view, and I could see myself drinking another glass of the Dry Pear in the near future….
See for yourself and let me know what you think!
Monday & Tuesday, 11am-3pm
(Guided Tours: Saturday & Sunday, 12pm-5pm)