January 24, 2008

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Tasting Season
How the state turned an annual fundraiser into a week of wine
By Susan Ware food@hippopress.com

Benjamin Franklin once said that “wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.”

If you are a wine drinker, the events of the next month are going to make you very happy.

The Easter Seal’s Winter Wine Spectacular, an annual fundraiser now in its fifth year, has exploded in popularity (every year it seems to sell out earlier and earlier, despite a $55 per person ticket price. This year the event — which fills the main ballrooms of the Radisson Hotel and takes over the just-off-the-lobby dining room with its “Cellar Select” room (to the tune of an extra $45 for wine lovers) — runs in collaboration with the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission’s Wine Week 2008. At the same time, over on the Seacoast, Wentworth by the Sea is hosting its own Winter Wine Festival. Representing more than two weeks of tastings, special dinners and more, these events put the wines offered by the state in the spotlight of the foodie community.

“Wine Week has grown tremendously, and I think that is because the consumers have fully embraced wine and want these types of events,” said Nicole Brassard, the wine buyer for the state and one of the organizers of Wine Week.

Both events have grown over the past couple of years. The wine dinners now include many winemakers who are happy to make the trek east in the dead of winter to the wide variety of events — a well-run goliath of a tasting to benefit Easter Seals; posh wine dinners in candlelit restaurants with winemakers; free wine-tastings and bottle-signings in state liquor stores.

The idea of a wine week had been batted around by the state liquor commissioners for a while, Brassard said, but it was the success of the Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular that made them stop talking about it and start putting an event together.

“The Easter Seals event made it easy for us to build Wine Week around. They do an amazing job with that tasting — it is well run and a true tasting, not a slosh fest like some other tastings have become,” Brassard said.

Last year was a turning point for Wine Week. Brassard had started aggressively requesting that wine brokers get winemakers to come visit that week, the liquor commission sent personal invitations west to all the players, and Brassard talked up the event all year to visiting wine luminaries.

The result set the bar for future Wine Weeks. It seemed like most the folks behind the tables pouring during the Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular were either vineyard owners or winemakers — something that five years ago would have been unheard of in New Hampshire.

“Wine has less of a snobby reputation than it used to. It seems like it has become completely approachable, people aren’t afraid to say that they don’t know about a varietal or that they will laughed at if they mispronounce something. It has become unpretentious as more people reach out and drink wine,” Brassard said.

Michele Duval, the executive director of the Winter Wine Festival at Wentworth by the Sea, feels that the wine scene in New Hampshire has undergone a huge transformation over the past five years.

“Not only is the wine scene changing, it is improving. People in general are really into wine. Americans have finally embraced wine as the adult beverage of choice,” Duval said.

The Winter Wine Festival is now in its fourth year and Duval says that this past summer people started calling about the festival’s schedule.

“Wine events in this state notoriously sell out, so people now know to get their tickets early, so they start calling six months out,” she said.

While the events will sell out — the Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular sold out six weeks before the event — there are so many options that if you plan, you can participate.

“Our vision for Wine Week is to be something for everyone. We want everyone to be able to participate. It is not all about $100 events,” Brassard said.

As the event grows, Brassard says to expect more tastings with winemakers and vineyard owners in the state liquor stores and greater restaurant participation on a variety of levels. In future years, some will host wine dinners; others may offer a special selection of priced-by-the-glass pours for Wine Week which consumers will then find on sale in the state liquor stores that week, she said.

Q&A with Amanda Cramer
From St. Paul’s to Paso Robles

Amanda Cramer, the celebrated winemaker from the new Niner Wine Estates in Paso Robles, Calif., grew up in Manchester and graduated from St. Paul’s School in Concord. Her father, Calvin Cramer, still lives in the city and serves as chairman on the police commission.

Cramer will be heading to New Hampshire later this month to participate in Wine Week and the Winter Wine Festival. She took time to tell me about her transition from high school math teacher to California winemaker, her vision for Niner Wine Estates and the plans she and her grape-growing husband have.

Did you grow up in a family of wine drinkers?
[laughs] My parents drank wine, but not as much as the average California family does. We didn’t have wine with every meal or anything like that.

How did you make the leap from high school math teacher to winemaker?
I was a senior at Cornell, in the college of Arts and Sciences. Although I was majoring in math, I was able to take courses in the other areas of the college, which included hotel management. As you can imagine, the Introduction to Wine and Spirits class was very popular, so I took it my senior year. Honestly, I was fascinated by the wine-making process. When I graduated, I started teaching high school math, but I had my summers free, so I took chemistry courses. Eventually I moved to California and enrolled at the University of California-Davis to study enology and viticulture.

That is quite a leap.
Although I loved teaching, and I love teenagers and high school math — it was always one of my favorite subjects — I felt strongly that it wasn’t my true calling. When I left I told my students that they had driven me to drink and that I was heading to California to make my own wine [laughs].

Was it tough to gain experience in the wine industry?
Not really. While I studied at Davis, I worked harvest somewhere in California, which is August through November. I also worked in the southern hemisphere, in Chile and Australia, because that harvest is February through April. People always need extra help during harvest so they are willing to hire from all over. The experience was invaluable.

Niner Wine Estates is slated to open in 2009. How is that going?
We are supposed to break ground in three months. We have a rainy season now that we are waiting out. Our new building is big and complicated, so it will take 12 to 14 months to complete. We are also waiting on permitting. I love it, though; the design is innovative.

What will the winery look like?
It is actually three buildings: a tasting-hospitality building; a small winery — which we were forced to do by county codes because the winery can’t be too far from the tasting room. It is kooky, but since we had to do it, we are using it to its best possible uses. I call it the show and tell winery — it appeals to my teaching instincts. The third building is production. It is a large building — we are building to suit our final capacity, rather than building small with the intention of expanding later on. We anticipate that it will be eight to ten years before we reach capacity, but this is easier than trying to build again later ….

What sort of innovations are being incorporated?
Mainly with the production building. First, everything will be inside. You won’t see tanks or anything outside, nothing, which is unusual. The building is being built into the side of a hill, so it is on two levels. This is important because we are able to receive fruit without pumping. We will be able to crush and convey right into a tank rather than pump through pipes. When a grape is crushed, the skins, seeds and juices are called “must.” Typically must is pumped through pipes in single-level buildings. The problem with this is that must pipes are notoriously hard to clean — they have corners and all sorts of things. Also, pumping is tough on the must because there is so much force involved. I am thrilled with this new design because I am a sanitation nut and this avoids the whole must pipe issue ... the entire process is gentler on the skins and seed, which will result in a better product in the end.

What can we look for from Niner right now?
We are bottling ’06 in May. Look for all of the wines we have been producing — cab, merlot, barbera and a syrah, plus much more. The Fog Catcher may get changed up for ’06, and I may add a petite syrah, but I won’t know until the process gets going whether the blend is up to snuff. Last year I planned on a petite syrah, but I didn’t feel that it was quite where I wanted it to be, so we sold it off. It has to be yummy, or I don’t want it.

Do you drink a lot of wine at home?
[laughs] We used to, but since we had our son, things are different. We aren’t lushes, but we do drink our share, especially with food. It is different now that we have Tomas. My husband, Mauricio Marchant, is a winemaker and vineyard manager at Arroyo Robles, so wine is a big part of our lives.

What is it like being so entrenched in wine as a family?
This past harvest was very hard on us. Mauricio talks about when our son, who is almost two, gets into the wine business, but I don’t think he will. I think he’ll hate the wine business because it took his parents away for such long stretches in such an extreme fashion.

Do you and your husband plan on doing something together?
[laughs] We do. Owning a winery is extremely expensive unless you are independently wealthy, the cost is prohibitive, so that is out of the question. We plan on producing our own label, and as winemakers we are fortunate. Most vineyard owners do not want their winemaker having their own label on the side; they feel that it will compete with their wines. I disagree, I think it is the opposite, I think it invigorates the winemaker, which is reflected in all his or her work. Mr. Niner understands this and has said that we can produce our wine at Niner as long as it doesn’t compete.

This is exciting. What are your plans?
We have a grape at Bootjack, a vineyard owned by Niner, that we have an affinity for. It is the carmenere. Traditionally from Bordeaux, it is now typically only planted in Chile. I can’t tell you the name of our label, though; we haven’t registered it yet and someone may steal it [laughs].

Weeks of wine
Here is the latest list of wine events. More events may be added (along with more details on dinners) so check back with www.nh.gov/liquor/wineweekstoreevents.shtml and www.winterwinefestival.com. Some restaurants have their own phone lists regarding details and events will sell out so call as soon as possible.

Friday, Jan. 18
• Kickoff of the Winter Wine Festival at Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle, 422-7322, www.winterwinefestival.com. The evening will feature a grand tasting reception, with dancing to Ben Baldwin and the Big Notes, 7 to 9:30 p.m. This is the opening event of the fourth annual Winter Wine Festival at Wentworth by the Sea and the tasting will include hundreds of labels and wine and a dozen chefs from hot Seacoast restaurants. Tickets cost $69.95, plus tax and gratuity. Restaurants include Latitudes Restaurant, Wentworth by the Sea, Plum Island Grille, Brazo, Black Trumpet Bistro, Orchard Street Chop Shop, Library Restaurant, Popovers, Green Monkey, Massimo’s, 100 Club, Ten Center Street, and Cafe Mediterreaneo.

Saturday, Jan. 19
• Chef Chris Prosperi of Metro Bis in Simbury, Conn., will bring his flair with food to the all ‘Tre Bicchieri’ Italian wine dinner. The New York Times declared the bistro “worth a detour” and Prosperi will serve up a four-course dinner. The coveted Tre Bicchieri, or Three Glass award, is conferred each year by Vina d’Italia on Italy’s best wines: more than 90 expert tasters, divided into 30 commissions, taste 25,000 wines each year from each of Italy’s wine-producing regions. Italian wine expert Riccardo Legnaro visits from Rome to lead this dinner where food and wine are expertly matched. Reception at 6 p.m., canapés and dinner at 7 p.m. Cost $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle, 422-7322, www.winterwinefestival.com.

Thursday, Jan. 24
• Learn more about the family that changed the wine world with its revolutionary concept of functional stemare at this Riedel glass demonstration. The Riedels were the first in history to recognize the effect of a glass’s shape on the experience of drinking wine. Doug Cohn of Riedel and Sheilah Reynolds of Vineyard Brands will lead this informal seminar with a demonstration through a flight of four wines in stemware from the Vinum Series. See for yourself how the correct choice of glass enhances the flavors of the wine. The Riedel glassware is yours to keep. $39.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle, 422-7322, www.winterwinefestival.com.

Friday, Jan. 25
• Dinner with Terrazas de los Andes and Cheval des Andes. In the 1950s, Moët & Chandon sent its chief winemaker to Latin America to investigate the potential for producing world-class luxury wines. Impressed with the unique snow-fed, high-elevation vineyards, they decided to launch their first vineyards ever outside of France. Terrazas de los Andes has become a specialist of super-premium wines, carefully matching each varietal to the ideal altitude. In 1999, Terrazas de los Andes mountain terroir attracted the prestigious Château Cheval Blanc from Bordeaux, the Argentine winery’s partner in a New World Grand Cru: Cheval des Andes, an intriguing fusion of talents and winemaking cultures. Manuel Louzada, a winemaker from Argentina, will lead the dinner. Wine reception at 6 p.m., four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Cost is $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle, 422-7322, www.winterwinefestival.com.

Saturday, Jan. 26
• Southern New Hampshire University and Sandy Block, Master of Wine and Vice President of Beverage Operations for Legal Seafoods, are hosting a dinner on emerging culinary trends. The four-course dinner will be prepared by culinary students at the Southern New Hampshire University Hospitality Building, 2500 North River Road, Manchester. Tickets cost $120 per person and include gift certificates (valued at $100) for lunch and dinner at the Hospitality Center Restaurant. The dinner benefits hospitality and culinary management programs at the university. Call 629-4618 or e-mail John Knorr at j.knorr@snhu.edu for more information on this event. For a peek at the menu, visit www.snhu.edu/7115.asp.

• Frank Rein, owner of Flag Hill Winery, www.flaghillwinery.com, is hosting an evening of fine dining, wine tasting and education for the wine novice or the aficionado at the winery, 297 North River Road, Lee. The evening will begin with introductory wine tasting tips, wine history and facts, and an interactive discussion and question session. There will be a five-course dinner at 6 p.m., with each course being paired with an appropriate Flag Hill wine, plus a tour through the wine cellar and vault and then to the distillery. The cost is $75 per person. For reservations, contact Heather Houle at heather@flaghill.com or call 659-2949.

Saturday, Jan. 26
• Discover artisanal sake with this sushi, sake and tempura dinner at Latitudes Restaurant, hosted by chef John Critchley of Island Creek Oysters. Sip premium sakes with poetic names like Star Filled Sky and Moon on the Water. Wentworth by the Sea’s chef Ken Shimer will prepare an elaborate tempura station with lobster, shrimp, chicken, beef, vegetables and a myriad of sauce accompaniments along with Chef Critchley’s tiny jewel-like mouthfuls of sushi, sashimi and maki. Event begins at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $84.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Visit www.prestosell.com.

Monday, Jan. 28
• Farnum Hill Ciders (www.farnumhillciders.com) and the Portsmouth Brewery (www.portsmouthbrewery.com) host a cider social from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for an evening of food, drink and conversation. Farnum Hill’s cidermaker, Steve Wood, will be on hand with famed Portsmouth brewer Tod Mott to talk about cider making in New Hampshire. Call 252-0737 or 431-1115.

• Winemaker Joel Peterson from Ravenswood Winery hosts a four-course dinner at Wentworth by the Sea. Referred to as the Zen Master of Zin, Peterson is credited with making Zinfandel the runaway phenomenon that it is today. The wine reception begins at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. that will feature unique handcrafted wines that are limited in production and availability. Cost is $99.95 plus tax and gratuity per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 422-7322.

Tuesday, Jan. 29
• This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be served by Michael Mondavi. Martignetti Companies of New Hampshire and Michael Mondavi, founder of Folio Wine Company, will be guest bartender for Tuesday Night Wine Flight Night at Michael Timothy’s Bistro in Nashua. Call 595-9334 for information.

• Gianni Abate of Morgan Winery hosts a wine dinner at Z Food & Drink, 860 Elm St., Manchester. Call 629-9383.

• In case you missed the dinner on the Seacoast, Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery will be at CR Sparks in Bedford. Referred to as the Zen-Master of Zin, Peterson is credited with making Zinfandel the runaway phenomenon that it is today. Call 647-7275.

• Wine tasting and bottle signing at New Hampshire State Liquor Store #34, 417 South Broadway, Salem, with Peter Merriam of Merriam Vineyards from 4 to 6 p.m.

• Banfi Italian wine seminar with Philip diBelardino, Vice President of Fine Wines from Banfi Vintners, who is often described as a stand-up comedian passing himself off as a wine connoisseur. This will be an informative seminar with one of the gems of the wine industry; he will pour and discuss six classic Italian wines with cheese and desserts at the Wentworth by the Sea. The seminar begins at 6 p.m. Cost is $29.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle, 422-7322, www.winterwinefestival.com.

Wednesday, Jan. 30
• Adelsheim Vineyards is holding a wine dinner at the New London Inn, 353 Main St., New London. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Call 526-2791. Reservations are required.

• Wine tasting featuring Joel Peterson from Ravenswood Winery and Peter Merriam of Merriam Vineyards, Bryan Page of Page Wine Cellars, Steve MacRostie of MacRostie Winery, Gianni Abate of Morgan Winery and Mark Neal of Neal Family Vineyards at New Hampshire State Liquor Store #69, 27 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, from 4 to 7 p.m.

• Wines from Roussilon-France will be featured at a wine dinner at the Black Trumpet, 29 Ceres St., Portsmouth. Call 431-0887. Tickets cost $90 and reservations are required. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m.

• Taittinger Champagne will host a champagne dinner at the Centennial Inn in Concord. Call 227-9008.

• Philip diBelardino, Vice President of Fine Wines from Banfi Vintners, hosts a wine dinner at Cartelli’s Bar and Grill, 446 Central Ave., Dover, 750-4002.

• Damaris Colhoun, granddaughter of Damaris Colhoun, founder/owner of Landmark Vineyards will be hosting a wine dinner at Lago Trattoria Route 1, NH 25, Meredith. Call 279-2253 for information.

• Tom Leonardini Jr. of Whitehall Lane Winery hosts a wine dinner at the Bedford Village Inn, Bedford. Call 472-2001.

• Michael Mondavi, founder of Folio Wine Partners, hosts a wine dinner at Wentworth by the Sea. Michael is the eldest son of legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi, and his award-winning wines from California and Italy will be showcased at this event. The cost is $134.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Call 422-7322 for information. Folio Wine Partners is a newly formed company created by Michael Mondavi. Wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by a four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit wwww.winterwinefestival.com.

• CR Sparks, 18 Kilton Road, Bedford, hosts a wine dinner featuring Mark Neal of Neal Vineyards, Peter Merriam of Merriam Vineyards and Bryan Page of Page Wine Cellars. Call 647-7275.

• Amanda Cramer, winemaker from Niner Winem, and Joe Carr, an award-winning Sommelier from Joseph Carr Wine, host a wine dinner at Commercial Street Fishery, 33 South Commercial St., Manchester. Call 296-0706.

Thursday, Jan. 31
• Easter Seals is hosting a Winter Wine Spectacular Event at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester from 6 to 9 p.m. This event year’s event is sold out. This will be the largest wine tasting north of Boston, with more than 1,200 quality wines and fine foods from the area’s best restaurants, plus special appearances by Michael Mondavi and Kate MacMurray along with other wine world personalities. Mark your calendar for next year.

Friday, Feb. 1
• Winemaker, Malcol Selby from Dynamite Vineyards hosts a wine dinner at the Brookstone Grill, 14 Route 111, Derry. Tickets cost $65 plus tax and tip. Call 328-9250 for reservations. Dinner begins at 7 p.m.

• New Hampshire natives Mary Dumont and Amanda Cramer team up to bring you a dinner of New England flavors. Mary Dumont, chef of Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge and named by Food and Wine Magazine as one of America’s Best New Chefs in 2006, will pair a menu to these award-winning wines from Niner Wine Estates, a new up and coming winery located in Paso Robles, Calif., presented by winemaker Amanda Cramer. Wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by a four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Cost is $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Saturday, Feb. 2
• Self-proclaimed ‘Zin pimp’ Bill Grant of Four Vines specializes in old vine Zinfandel, eclectic Rhônes and Spanish varietals plus Naked Chardonnay. Janell Dusi is digging up her heritage and the roots of her family’s 80-year-old Zinfandel vineyard in Paso Robles and creating a fabulous Zinfandel Port that carries the essence of that distinct “Dusi Fruit.” The dinner will be led by Christian Tietje, winemaker at Four Vines Winery and Dusi. Wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Call 422-7322 for information. Cost is $109.95 plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Friday, Feb. 8
• Justin Wangler, chef at Kendall-Jackson Winery, and Wentworth by the Seas’s own award-winning Executive Chef Dan Dumont will each prepare a course expressing their interpretation of the flavors found in the wine, presented by Kendall-Jackson’s master winemaker, Randy Ullom. Many will be rare wines previously not available in the area. Guests will cast ballots for the preparation they most prefer. Two long tables set for 60 people each. Wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Cost is $124.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Saturday, Feb. 9
• Rene Schlatter, owner of Merryvale Winery, will host a four-course dinner at Wentworth by the Sea. Merryvale Winery is a family-owned historic Napa Valley winery with a goal to craft elegant, complex world-class wines in the finest European style. Cost is $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Wednesday, Feb. 14
• Veuve Clicquot Champagne dinner hosted by Master of Wine Charles Thomas Curtis. Wentworth by the Sea executive chef Dan Dumont will prepare a four-course dinner matched to the Veuve Clicquot Champagne collection. Reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Cost is $124.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Saturday, Feb. 23
• Dinner with Michael Martini, third-generation winemaker from Louis M. Martini Winery. The Martini family came to Napa Valley more than 70 years ago to follow its passion to produce world-class Cabernet Sauvignons. Come and share stories with the founder’s grandson and enjoy some of the finest old-vintage Cabernet Sauvignons that California has to offer. Wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by a four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Cost is $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Sunday, Feb. 24
• Master of Wine Bill Nesto and David Campbell of Ceres St. Wine Merchants will feature Burgundy’s fraternal twins: the Cote de Nuits and the Cote de Beaune. Nesto will take you on a verbal, visual, and vinous tour of Burgundy’s two similar but different selves. Learn, see and taste the difference between the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune. Event is at 6 p.m., with limited seating; cost is $49.95 per person plus tax and gratuity.
Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Thursday, Feb. 28
• Opus One Vertical Tasting. Born from the partnership of Robert Mondavi Winery and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, this was the first joint venture between a European and California winery and America’s first ultra-premium wine. At this event you will taste five vintages, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003, of this very limited-supply wine, some released from the winery just for this event. Led by France Posener of Opus One, guests will also be joined by a local cheese maker. The tasting begins at 6 p.m., with limited seating.  $174.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Friday, Feb. 29
• Dinner with Domaine Chandon and the award-winning chefs of Arrows Restaurant, named one of the 50 best restaurants in America by Gourmet Magazine. Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, nominated by the James Beard Foundation for Best Chefs in the Northeast, will bring their passion for natural ingredients and inventive style to a menu paired with wines from this great California producer. Ellen Flora, senior wine ambassador for Domaine Chandon, will be here from California to lead us through the portfolio. Reception at 6 p.m. followed by a four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Cost is $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.

Saturday, March 1
• Trimbach Winery dinner with Jean Trimbach and chef Phelps Dieck of Green Monkey and Brazo, both in Portsmouth. Trimbach Wine Estates began making wines in Alsace, France, in 1626. The family tradition has been proudly maintained from father to son through 12 generations of great wine-makers. Chef Phelps Dieck is the chef and owner of two of the hottest restaurants in Portsmouth. Her Pan-Asian cuisine will be a great match for these rich full wines of intense fruit and crisp acidity. Cost is $109.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Wentworth by the Sea, 588 Wentworth Road, Newcastle. Call 422-7322 or visit www.winterwinefestival.com.