Some of our friends in Connecticut don’t realize that in their own backyard, they can find gourmet food and drink that rivals what they are used to buying from other coasts and other countries. It isn’t uncommon to find maple syrup from Vermont in a Woodbury family’s pantry. Granted, it may be more convenient to get all your grocery shopping done in one stop, but there’s nothing like covering your pancakes with syrup fresh from your neighbor’s tree. As for chocolates — well, never mind chocolates. Take wine. Isn’t the art of winemaking better left to the easygoing residents of places like northern California, where the sun shines on the grapevines all year long?
Certainly not! Those who have followed the state’s Wine Trail can attest that these New England hills, soil, and seasons produce a manner of wine that is Connecticut’s own, and one that we can be proud of. If you’d like to try one of the best examples of Connecticut wine, we at Plum Brook Chocolate suggest that you take a drive through the rolling hills of southern Litchfield County — beautiful even in winter, when the bare trees and old stone walls are powdered with snow — to Hopkins Vineyard in New Preston, located on the north side of Lake Waramaug. Tastings take place in the vineyard’s antique barn, at a cozy bar overlooking a panoramic view of the surrounding highlands. For $7.50, you can try seven of the vineyard’s award-winning wines, including the delightfully crisp “Duet,” a blend of Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc, the smooth, semi-sweet Peach Wine, and my favorite, the Cabernet Franc: rich, earthy, and deeply satisfying.
We have had the pleasure of working with winemaker Jim Baker and winery manager Rachel Greklek on creating a Cabernet truffle made with this sumptuous wine. Jim and Rachel could not be friendlier taste-testers. After working with them, I recognized that their perfectionist determination and keen attention to the details of flavor and texture help explain why Hopkins wines are so good. We have worked hard to perfect a truffle that will be worthy of their Cab Franc, using the best chocolate that we can find — a Valrhona Grand Cru — and are especially proud of the result!
Our new Cabernet truffle is available in sampler boxes just in time for Valentine’s Day. Speaking of the holiday, our friends at Hopkins are hosting special wine tastings accompanied by an artisan food platter (featuring our chocolates) and live music next Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, the 14th through 16th. If you’re looking for an extra special Valentine’s Day evening, check it out! For more information, visit the vineyard’s website.