The Cellar: Westport Rivers Vineyard + Winery
Saturday, October 13, 2012
The last stop on the Coastal Wine Trail brought me to the beautiful family owned and operated farm that is Westport Rivers. The original 40-acre Estate was planted in 1986 with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Since then, additional vines have been planted; today the combined acreage is more than 80, spread over 12 different vineyard blocks. While Chardonnay and Pinot Noir remain the majority of the crop, other varietals have since made their appearance including Pinot Gris, Muscat and the ancient Georgian vinifera varietal Rkatsiteli (try pronouncing that three times fast!).
At Westport Rivers Winemaker Bill Russell make a lot of different Estate wines including white, rosés and reds. He also makes a lot of different styles of wines including aperitifs, still wines, slightly sparkling to fully sparkling. They even make some fortified wines and a luxury Vermouth made from more than 15 native herbs and plants. All that being said, what Westport is most famous for is its vintage sparkling wine program.
Bill is minimalistic in his approach. His wines are all about reflecting what goes on in the vineyard. Bill’s job is simple, according to himself: don’t mess up the delicate flavors vineyard manager (and brother) Rob has worked so hard to develop. This is one of the reasons why you won’t find one new oak barrel anywhere in the winery. If and when neutral oak is used it is done so carefully so as to not infringe on the fruit.
All of Westport’s bubbles are made the labor intensive ‘Traditional Method’ where the second fermentation (the fermentation that gives the wines its bubbles) takes place inside each individual bottle. After this secondary fermentation is complete, the wine is then left to age on the dead yeast cells for a number of years. The long interaction between the wine and the yeast sediment (known as sur-lie aging) softens the wine, adds a creamy texture as well as the yeasty and toasty notes that quality bubbles are known for.
The 2011 Chardonnay
These are some well-made wines that are distributed in Rhode Island, as well as in Massachusetts. Be sure to check out Westport Rivers’ website for upcoming events, which includes the Annual Open House on November 24th. Westport Rivers is open for tastings Monday through Saturday and for tours on Saturdays. 417 Hixbridge Road in Westport, MA. Phone: 508-636-3423
Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at [email protected]. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook and sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.
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