Friday, October 9, 2009

Travessia Urban Winery: Buy Local

Not all wineries are located in the countryside. In fact, there is a growing movement toward urban wineries, wineries located in the heart of the city. In Massachusetts, one such urban winery, located in downtown New Bedford, is Travessia Urban Winery. From the outside, you may not even realize it is a winery but once you step inside, then you can see the reality. And you definitely should make the effort to visit Travessia.

I led a group of the North Shore Winers to the winery for a private tasting and tour. It was my first time at the winery though I had previously met Marco Montez, the owner and wine maker. Marco is a great guy, personable, down-to-earth and very passionate. Everyone in my group really liked him and we all had a great time at the winery.

The winery is open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday, from Noon to 6pm. Pictured above is their tasting table, where you can taste their latest wines. The winery is rather modest in size, but homey in its style. Tastings are only $5 and you get the $5 back if you buy some wine.

To the left and behind the tasting table, you can see the tanks where the wines are made, as well as the barrels where the wine may age. It is a self-contained area, obviously limited in the amount of wine that can be produced. So, it remains an artisan operation.
Above, you can see Marco as he leads our tasting. Marco only uses grapes grown in Massachusetts, generally grapes from the Running Brook’s Westport and Dartmouth vineyards. On the table above, you can see four grape clusters, including Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. Marco picked those grapes on the morning of our tasting and we were even able to taste the grapes. Marco's passion is most evident in the quality of his wines.

The 2007 Unoaked Chardonnay ($14) is probably my favorite of the Travessia wines. It is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and aged entirely in stainless steel tank. This wine is crisp and clean with delicious fruit flavors, especially citrus. Absolutely delicious and refreshing. This is a wine to enjoy with or without food. Everyone else enjoyed this wine very much, though sadly the wine was sold out.

If you prefer a little oak, then maybe you'll enjoy the 2007 Oaked Chardonnay ($16) whch sees about 6 months in French oak, 50% new. It is creamier with a light buttery taste, but the oak is subdued. This is not the overly-oaked California chardonnay which is often reviled. I prefer the unoaked version, but that is merely a matter of personal preference. I still liked this wine, but just not as much as the unoaked one.

The 2007 Semi-Sweet Vidal Blanc ($13) is made from 100% Vidal Blanc. I enjoyed this wine as it was not too sweet, just a mild sweetness with excellent citrus flavors and plenty of acidity. This is the type of wine that pairs so well with spicy Asian food. I think about drinking this with Thai delivery, a spicy Chicken Kapow dish. It is also a wine that will be popular with many people who prefer their wine to have a light sweetness, like some of my family.

The 2008 Semi-Sweet Vidal Blanc has not been bottled yet but we got to taste a sample from the tank. It is off dry, with a very aromatic, floral nose. It was crisp, even a bit effervescent, with nice fruit flavors, especially some pineapple. This wine definitely has plenty of potential.

I have to admit that I disliked the 2007 Rose ($14) when I first tasted it several months ago. But that was shortly after it had been bottled. This time, I very much enjoyed the wine. It is a secret blend of three wines, red and white, so it is not a traditionally made Rose. It is definitely more Old World in style, dry, with subtle red fruit flavors, bits of strawberry.

The 2007 Sweet Vidal Blanc ($15) is sweet but not syrupy. Apricot, pineapple, and honey flavors sure to please. A fine dessert wine, with just enough acidity, which should go well with any fruit dessert.

Overall, you will find excellent value wines at Travessia. Though these are all small production, some as little as 50 cases, they still are very reasonably priced. Plus, they are locally produced from local grapes. Who would have though such good wines could be made in Massachusetts? Marco is working hard to produce good wines, and he is succeeding at his efforts. Over time, I am sure the wines will even get better and better.

If you are in the area, stop by the winery and taste their wines. Or take a ride down to New Bedford just to check out this place. Or order some of their wines to try them. You won't regret it.
760 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA
Phone: 774-929-6534


Couves said...

Marco is a great guy and it’s good to see a Portuguese American make a go at this business. About half the population of the South Coast is Portuguese and if you drive around the neighborhoods, you will see many grape arbors for their homemade wine. So there is a real small-scale winemaking tradition in the area, even if it is in wines of a different style than what Marco is going for. Marco told me that they have had successful Alvarinho plantings in Dartmouth, so the real Portuguese magic may be yet to come from Travessia. Of course for Marco, it’s all about the wine, and you’re right - the unoaked chard it great!

Richard Auffrey said...

I would love to see some Alvarinho wines be made in MA. I really enjoy both the Spanish and Portuguese wines made from that grape.