Lincolnville wine and dine

I sipped and nibbled my way through Lincolnville the other evening, beginning at the Cellardoor Winery for wine and cheese. Cellardoor is actually Maine’s oldest vineyard–not winery, Bartlett Maine Estate, a producer of fruit wines, holds that distinction.

Tucked in the folds of the rolling hills, just inland of Lincolnville Beach, Cellardoor occupies a farmhouse and barn overlooking six acres of grapes. Inside the barn, the retail shop offers free tastings, and you can pick up cheeses and other munchies for an impromptu picnic. on the back deck.

On the night I visited, owners Bettina Doulton and John Tynan were offering tastings not only of their wines, but also of Maine’s Hahn’s End cheeses paired against cheeses “from away.” Hahn’s End stood up to the test. As for the wines, Cellardoor produces about 18. I tasted a couple of different whites, including the chardonnay and a barrel tasting made easy by a way-cool in-barn silo siphon.

Cellardoor also has a demonstration kitchen, and it plans to open a cafe. Plan ahead and visit on Oct. 18, 2008, during Cellardoor’s second annual Romp & Stomp Harvest Festival. By the way, Cellardoor is just one stop on the new Maine Wine Trail.

From the winery, it was onto The Youngtown Inn, where chef Manuel Mercier draws on his Parisian heritage and European training to create sophisticated French-inspired fare served in a country-elegant setting. My surf and turf paired a lobster tail with filet, both butter soft and delicious. Both the mashed potatoes and the butter served with the roll were enhanced with truffle flavoring–just a tad, but enough to make a difference. Service was excellent. Now this was a group function, so the menu was limited, but the chef’s ability to put out perfectly cooked, tender, and moist lobster paired with equally tender and juicy filet for a group numbering close to 60 was impressive.

From there, we went to Cellardoor Winery’s Rockport shop for a dessert wine sampling paired with after-dinner sweets. Now one thing to note: Even if you’re not a fan of wines, this shop (and the one at the winery) has some of the most creative gifts I’ve seen anywhere. There’s one very savvy buyer here, who has a keen eye for distinctive, fun and useful items. I could easily do all my holiday shopping here.

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