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Top vintners flock to N.H. for Wine Week events

Wine bottle 2

Wine bottle 2

Seeing Merry Edwards or Amy LaBelle or even Robert Mondavi walking down a red carpet might not set anyone atwitter with recognition. But taste the crispness of an LaBelle fruit wine or the complexity of an Edwards pinot or a full-bodied Mondavi red, and you know they’re stars.

And they are just some of the wine celebrities lending their names, time, talent and wine to the state’s Super Bowl of Vino: New Hampshire Wine Week 2013. The event runs from Jan. 21 to 27.

“It is happening throughout southern New Hampshire and the Seacoast,” said Nicole Brassard, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. “People can go and meet these wine personalities, and there are lots of them. . . . Because of our consumer interest, and in wanting to meet these people and wanting to participate in these events, (we) have made a mark in this industry. And that’s why it’s easy for me to get these people to come to New Hampshire in January.”

This is the eighth annual wine week, and Brassard said with each one the commission tries to bring the world of wines to New Hampshire in a way that’s accessible to both connoisseurs and novices.

This year, like the others, each wine outlet in the state will host events that include tastings and bottle signings.

Among the highlights of the week will be a dinner and tasting seminar Wednesday hosted by Amy LaBelle at LaBelle Winery in Amherst and featuring Merry Edwards, owner and winemaker for Merry Edwards Winery. Edwards will discuss six pinot noirs during a ticketed seminar that night from 6:30 to 7:30 at LaBelle’s newly built facility in Amherst. The dinner, also ticketed, follows at 8:30 p.m.

“She might just be the best woman winemaker in the country,” LaBelle said. “I can’t wait to meet her. She is certainly someone I’ve emulated in my career; and I’m in the beginning stages and she’s been making wine for 40 years.”

Other wine celebrities in attendance that week will be Rob Mondavi Jr., president of winemaking at Folio Fine Wine Partners. The Mondavi family is one of the biggest names in wine. Joel Gott, founder and winemaker for Joel Gott Wines, will also be on hand to chat.

Another highlight of the week will “Cellar Notes,” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Puritan Backroom Conference Center in Manchester, featuring four elite winemakers for an educational tasting, reception and bottle-signing. On hand will be Gérard Bertrand from Gérard Bertrand Winery, Clay Brock from Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, Gove Celio from Neal Family Vineyards, and Peter Mondavi, Jr. from Charles Krug Winery-Peter Mondavi Family Winery. Any wine tasted at the event can be purchased.

Wine Week “highlights the fact that we can stand toe to toe with the wineries around the world,” LaBelle said. “It’s wonderful to have that opportunity.”

The high point of the week is the 10th annual Winter Wine Spectacular, the proceeds which benefit Easter Seals. Held next Thurday, at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester from 6 to 9 p.m., nearly 2,000 varieties of wine will be on hand for sampling.

The largest wine tasting event in Northern New England, the 2013 Winter Wine Spectacular will host wine experts including Wendy Lange of Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards, Gianni Abate of Morgan Winery and Antonio Zaccheo Jr. of Carpineto among others.

Helping to create and air of elegance for the evening, guests will sip their wine from a souvenir Riedel Crystal glass. A limited number of guests can get a full access pass to the evening, which includes a Grand Tasting and dinner along with entrance into the Bellman Jeweler’s Cellar Select room featuring exceptional wine selections. The full access pass also entitles the bearer to entry into a chance to win $1,000 jewelry door prize. These folks can also enter a raffle for a pair of diamond stud earrings. The night is rounded out by a Grand Silent Auction.

Proceeds from the event benefit young children through the state Easter Seals program. Easter Seals provide services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.

Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $65 per person, and full access tickets to both the Grand Tasting and the Bellman’s Cellar Select are $125 per person. For tickets, visit or call 1-888-368-8880.

For a full list of Wine Week events, go to

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