New York Wines

2009 Macari Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

This time last year I was in Long Island Wine Country with Megan, enjoying some great wine and food, visiting with friends and making new ones. Since we aren’t in Long Island this year I decided to open some wine from the region to help relive the memories from last year. We have lots of red wine in the cellar from that trip, but we were making Indian food last night and I needed a white. I perused around and found the ’09 Macari Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($23). (Check out my post “From Poop to Juice” on our visit to Macari Vineyards last year)

My Tasting Notes…

Nose: pear, citrus, grapefruit, fresh cut grass, slate

Taste: sweet pea, lemon zest, minerality, green apple, grapefruit

Mouthfeel: smooth and crisp with racy acidity on the back of the palate

Finish: medium in length with lingering notes of citrus and sweet pea

Final Thoughts….

This is a very nice and complex Sauvignon Blanc that reminds me of a combination of ones from New Zealand and Touraine. You have great fruit forward nature of New Zealand and the racy acidity and minerality of Touraine. In addition it was a great pairing for the Indian food which was Channa Masala and Palak Aloo.

Cheers!

 

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Categories: $20-$30, New York Wines, sauvignon blanc, wine review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Getting down with some Finger Lakes Gewürz’!

In a little more than three hours I will participating in another Twitter Taste Live event sponsored by Finger Lakes Wine Country and The New York Cork Report. This time the feature grape is Gewürztraminer, one of my favorites. I love examples from Washington State & Alsace, but have only had a handful of New York ones that I honestly don’t remember. Looking for the Finger Lakes to bring it tonight with some Gewürz goodness!  Thinking I’ll be pairing them with some cheese, either a Roquefort or the classic love of Gewürz, Mr. Muenster.

A few of my local tweeps will be joining me @dasjorge, @thegoodwineguru, @berylliumblonde & @voxinferior and hopefully a couple of others.

Here is the lineup of what we are tasting…

Keuka Spring Vineyard, 2008 Gewurztraminer  (Click here for tasting notes in PDF)
Sheldrake Point Vineyard, 2008 Gewurztraminer (Click here for tasting notes in PDF)
Lakewood Vineyards, 2007 Gewurztraminer (Click here for tasting notes in PDF)
Red Newt Wine Cellars, 2007 Gewurztraminer, Sawmill Creek Vineyards (Click here for tasting notes in PDF)

Follow the action on the Finger Lakes TTL site, and/or follow the hashtags #FLXWINE & #TTL on twitter tonight starting at 8pm Eastern.

Cheers!

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Sippin’ on Finger Lakes Bubbly

Last night I had the opportunity to participate in a Taste Live event, focusing on four sparkling wines from the Finger Lakes. Not knowing what to expect as I haven’t had any bubblies from the region, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and price points of what we tasted.

I tasted with friend and co-work Robin (@RobinMountjoy) and fellow blogger George (@thegoodwineguru) and his wife April (@BerylliumBlonde).

What we tasted an my notes –

2002 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs (90% Chardonnay & 10% Pinot Blanc) – interesting nose – yeasty, a bit earthy, pear cider; palate of pear, fuji apple, touch of sourdough; nice mouthfeel – zippy acidity right across the mid palate – prickly bubbles; lacked strength in the finish though.

Goose Watch Pinot Noir Brut Rose (79% Pinot Noir, 21% Chardonnay) – nice light salmon color; the nose gave a good fake out of sweet red fruit that jumped out of the glass and led to a dry palate of watermelon, strawberry, banana peel and citrus “pith”; finish better than the first but still could have used a little umph

2002 Glenora Brut (54% Pinot Noir, 46% Chardonnay) nose of burnt apple pie with hints of that aroma on the palate combined with a weird metallic/aluminum offnote surrounded by hazelnut, lemon zest and apple core; chalky and slightly bitter on the finish

Lucas Vineyards (100% Cayuga White) – very nice complex nose of brie cheese & apples, with a drizzle of honey and weird note of baby powder; mealy apple, ripe fruit and yeasty components on the palate; less acidity in this one compared to the Chateau Frank

My order which was pretty unanimous between the group was Goose Watch Brut Rose 1st, with a tie for 2nd between the Chateau Frank and Lucas, and 4th to the Glenora Brut. Most surprised by the Lucas made from 100% Cayuga White, in my initial reading of the spec sheets I thought this one would be last – was definitely wrong on that one.

Cheers to Morgen McLaughlin of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism and Lenn Thompson of The New York Cork Report for setting this up and including me.

Categories: New York Wines, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Mudd West Vineyard

2008 Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Mudd West Vineyard

Wine Information –

Region: North Fork, Long Island
Vineyard: Mudd West
Grapes: Tocai Friulano
Price: $24

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: citrus, asparagus, cut grass, hay, cornstalk
Taste: honeydew melon, lemon zest, tangerine, mineral/slate
Mouthfeel: racy acidity, zippy, med body
Finish: long fruity – zippy acidity remains on the palate

More fruit than a lot of the Tocai Friulanos that I have had from Italy, but contains the same racy acidity and mineral overtones.  Awesome effort, and a nice wine for a grape that is rarely planted in the US, much less in New York state.

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Back to Roanoke Vineyards

Our first visit to Roanoke Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island was during Taste Camp 2009 last May when we tasted with owner/vineyard manager Richard Pisacano. (on the first visit post there is a video of Richard giving a good history of Roanoke) We had a fantastic time and used our visit to Long Island in October to revisit them and taste through the rest of their portfolio. We met up with Adam Ehmer aka @oldgrimy and he tasted us through about 7 wines including a few unreleased wines, in decanters labeled with masking tape. The experience was also paired with a nice cheeseboard and baguette. I don’t remember what cheeses they were, but the complimented the wines nicely – and helped keep the palate from getting fatigued.

….on to the wines!

2008 Rose (cab sauv, cab franc, merlot, 25% Chardonnay): lot of strawberry and watermelon on the nose with similar palate including hints of fresh hay and raspberry. Full body and crisp.

2008 Chardonnay (84% in stainless, 16% oak aged blended in): very tropical in nature, very fruity almost “sweet”. Bit of citrus in the mid-palate with hay and mineral notes leading to a clean finish.

2007 Marco Tulio (50% Cab Sauv, 50% Cab Franc, splash of Merlot – 12 months in oak): bright fruit leading off with black currant and boysenberry both on the nose and palate. Great layers of tobacco, leather and hazelnut with interesting touch of lavender towards the finish. Full bodied with rich leathery tannins.

2006 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc (92% cab franc, 8% merlot – 20 months in 50% new French oak): dark ripe fruit flavors, blackberry, black currant and baking spices dominating the nose. Similar fruit on the palate, but more red fruit coming through predominately raspberry with notes of cooked greens. Full body.

2006 “Blend One” (80% Cab Sauv, didn’t write down the rest of the blend): black fruit and earthiness on the nose. Leather, blackberry, mocha and coffee bean on the palate with an crazy note of mint chutney at the finish. Lovely flavor profile but felt a bit light/thin in the mid – palate.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (88% Cab Sauv, 9% Cab Franc, 3% Merlot): the aromatics greet you with black cherry, and boysenberry with dark chocolate interlaced. Full bodied palate with blackberry, eucalyptus and cardamom. Still young – think it will drink better down the road – huge tannins.

2007 Cabernet Franc (94% cab franc, 6% merlot): old world style, with red cherry, red currant and hints of earthy barnyard notes on the nose. More red currant on the palate with bing cherry, red clay and spice box flavors continuing through the finish. Still a baby (wasn’t released at time of sample) with huge tannins and great acid backbone – age worthy Cabernet Franc.

After tasting, Adam poured us a glass of our choice (cab franc for me) and took us on a tour of the vineyard. Sampling a few grapes here and there we walked up and down the vines, dodging the always startling blast from the bird deterring air cannons. It was the last tasting of our 2nd day in Long Island and a great finish to the day to say the least. I hope to get some of the ’07 Cabernet Franc before it runs out now that it is released but I did bring home some of my other favorites including the Gabby’s Cab Franc and the Marco Tulio. Both are resting nicely down in the cellar – I’ll try to hold on to them as long as possible, it’ll will be fun to see these guys age.

My first tasting of a Roanoke wine was at the first Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) in October ’08 at an after hours tasting of New York wines provided by Lenn Thompson of The New York Cork Report. After meeting Adam he let me know that I was quoted on their release flyer for the ’06 Cabernet Franc, the wine that I had tasted at the WBC.

Here’s what I thought of it —

Having only had one or two unmemorable New York wines (before) I was excited to get the opportunity to taste a good sampling from the state. Being from Virginia where Cabernet Franc does extremely well I was most eager to see how New York compared. I have to say that I was impressed with the unhampered expression of the varietal. (The winemakers) aren’t trying to make a Cabernet Sauvignon from Cabernet Franc. The one that stuck out in my radar the most was 2006 Roanoke Vineyards Cabernet Franc from Long Island. Nice bright red fruit aromas on the nose laced with a touch of wet earth followed by raspberry-cherry and the tell tale raw green pepper flavors.

As you can tell, I’ve been a fan of their wines since my first tasting and couple that with a first class tasting room experience, I will definitely return the next time I am in Long Island.

Thanks to Adam for the great time – hope to visit again soon.

Cheers!

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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Nautique “Esprit de Rouge”

Nautique is a second label of Peconic Bay winery on the North Fork of Long Island, a little more value oriented brand meant for every day consumption. Currently they make a “Esprit de Rouge” and an “Esprit de Blanc”, and we picked up both during our visit to Long Island back in October.

2007 Nautique “Esprit de Rouge”

Wine Information –

Region: North Fork, Long Island

Grapes: 95% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc

Oak Program: Info not available, although based on the taste I was assume neutral or 2nd/3rd use barrels for a short time

Price: $16

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: cherry, raspberry, cola

Taste: black cherry, vanilla, licorice

Mouthfeel: medium body, with velvety but structured tannins

Finish: medium in length and fruity

Nice everyday wine that is ready to drink young, and went great with our pizza. Nothing too complex about the wine, but I believe that is how it was “built” and what it was meant to be. Lots and lots of cherry, with hints of cola and licorice to balance out the fruitiness. This wine has a decent distribution on the East Coast so if you live in NY, NJ, and CT – you should be able to find it.

Cheers!

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Another winning Cabernet Franc from the North Fork


On a slightly chilly rainy October day in Cutchogue, New York Megan and I made our way into the tasting room at Peconic Bay Winery. This was our first visit to the winery and we were shown a great time by Pascal Zugmeyer, Hospitality Director and Jim Silver, General Manager. We tasted through the entire lineup of Peconic wines, including their new more value based line Nautique. On the day I felt the 2007 Cabernet Franc ($22) was the winning wine for me with a very close second being the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (75% Cab, 25% Merlot). On a non wine related note, the bathrooms at Peconic have the coolest hand dryers I have ever seen, the Dyson Airblade, very energy efficient and dries your hands in like 2 seconds.

A couple of nights ago I broke open the 2007 Cabernet Franc for dinner, and again it did not disappoint. Here’s what I thought…

nose: red currant, roast beef, brussel sprouts, brown sugar

taste: fennel, raspberry, red currant, cherry and oak

mouthfeel: medium to full body – a bit spicy, good acid and young yet approachable tannins

finish: fairly long – leaving red fruit and green veggies on the palate

As you can see from the notes, lots of green veggies and meaty, earthy herb notes on the nose and palate of this wine. Don’t let that discourage you as it is not “green” in anyway. Very well put together and excitingly zippy with it’s bright acidity. There was something slightly off on the palate for me that I couldn’t identify, but wasn’t strong enough to affect the overall perception.

Look for future notes on the Cabernet Sauvignon, although it may be a while since it needs a bit of time in the cellar.

Cheers!



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Back to Shinn Vineyards – more than a winery

During our recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, we had the pleasure of staying at the Shinn Vineyards Farmhouse B&B. Following a fabulous lunch at Shinn during Taste Camp back in May, Megan and I agreed that we MUST come back and stay at Shinn—six months later, here we were!

shinn_cabernetfranc

Cabernet Franc Grapes

We visited Shinn during harvest, so it was a lot of fun to see (and taste) all the action while we were there. Each morning we took a long jog along their country road lined with vines, while tractors and field hands (and birds and bees) buzzed back and forth between vineyards. Then we returned to the house to enjoy a cup of hot coffee while wandering lazily through Shinn’s vineyards, snacking on nearly ripe grapes. We also spent the mornings watching grapes get sorted and crushed on the crush pad, tasting fresh juice, chatting with their winemaker Anthony Nappa, and generally getting in the way.

Once we had worked up on appetite, we had the pleasure of an amazing breakfast prepared by owner David Page, a former professional chef. We had everything from homemade fruit smoothies to leek and mushroom risotto topped with a fried duck egg. Needless to say, these scrumptious breakfasts got our wine tasting days started on the right foot.

shinn_winery

sampling '09 juice in the winery

Our tasting at Shinn began in the vineyard with owners Barbara and David. During the walk we learned more about their growing techniques while we sampled Cab Franc and Merlot grapes fresh from the vine. When fellow bloggers Lenn Thompson and Michael Gorton Jr. arrived, we headed into the winery with David and Anthony to sample their current works in progress. We tasted some of the ’09 juice that had already come in, including the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc. I was most impressed with the Pinot Blanc, which was produced as a wild ferment. It was wonderfully crisp, beautiful citrus with touches of petrol – very reminiscent of an Alsatian style.

shinn_library

In the "library" tasting back vintages

Tasting raw wine is a treat in itself, but we had the additional treat of sitting in the Shinn “library” and tasting some back vintage wines with the gang:

07 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion – lots of white tea, fully body and tropical fruit, with the addition of a nice briney, mineral quality.

04 Cabernet Franc – raspberry reduction on the nose with lots of cedar and spice, slight floral note on the palate with raspberry, green bean, cassis and a hint of brett(??). Very well integrated tannins and acid – beautiful.

05 Cabernet Sauvignon – lots of cherry, raspberry and red currant. Still a young with beautiful leather tannins and loads of ripe fruit

06 Cabernet Sauvignon – dark fruit with a great black tea component, black currant and nice earthy quality. Smooth and silky, a bit more “ready” than the ’05, hint of mint/eucalyptus on the back of the palate

07 Malbec – roasted chestnut, cocoa, black fruit with fairly racy acidity. Full bodied, young and vibrant.

David was also nice enough to pull out a 95 Cabernet Sauvignon from Bedell Cellars – barnyard and earth, leather, dark fruit and cedar. Ripe plum and blackberry. Still very big tannins and “spicy” acidity.

shinn_davidJohn

David and I in the vineyard

I appreciate Shinn’s wines not only for how they taste, but also for how they are made—hand-crafted, and with a dedication to sustainable vineyard practices. David, Barbara and Anthony take a very holistic approach to “wine growing.” Megan did a great post on Shinn after our visit during Taste Camp–here is an excerpt:

Shinn Estate Vineyards has embraced biodynamic principles, and continues to strive for complete sustainability. Shinn uses extensive cover cropping to maximize soil nutrition, to prevent erosion and to encourage biodiversity. They use solar panels to partially power their farmhouse and winery. They also work closely with Cornell University to explore the benefits and risks of various sustainable viticultural techniques and chemical alternatives, and thus contribute to both the knowledge of the field and to others in the region who are struggling with similar challenges.”

Over the next couple of days we sampled Shinn’s regular tasting room lineup — I will give you a tour of those wines in a future post.

Thanks to David, Barbara and Anthony for showing us a great time.

Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, winery review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

From Poop to Juice

We sat in a van surrounded by large piles of poop, food waste and fish heads, while seagulls circled hungrily above. While some may see a garbage dump, others see a nutrient-rich (and highly coveted) compost pile and a key ingredient to fine wine production. We have visited many wineries and vineyards over the years, though we have never encountered such a monstrous pile of poop as that which resides on the Macari Vineyard site on the North Fork of Long Island, NY. (Don’t worry, this is nowhere near the tasting room!)

macaribluffs

As we rode around the vineyard property (all 500+ acres; 220 under vine) with Alexandra (“Alex”) Macari, we learned of some of the Native American heritage the land holds, and the deep rooted respect for the soil. We also learned about the Macaris’ long-term efforts to be biodynamic and organic (at least to the extent possible) to nurture healthy and vibrant grape vines. Alex pointed to a wooded lot which holds hundreds of buried cow horns, a method for making natural fertilizing teas. She pointed to a contraption in the center of the vineyard which focuses positive energy into the soil. She drove us to the bluffs which overlook the Long Island Sound at the rear of the Macari property- an important source of cleansing breezes. And as we made our way back from the vineyard to the tasting room, we passed the animal paddocks housing steer, chickens, goats, and more – important sources for their homemade fertilizer.

It is important to note that, while Macari does follow many/all of the biodymanic farming practices, they are also very sensitive to the common exploitation of those terms. Macari admits that at times conventional chemical sprays are necessary, and as a result they avoid formally (or even informally) labeling their wines as biodynamic or organic.

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After our tour around the property, Alex saddled up to the tasting bar with us and poured through their current lineup. Joining us for our tasting was one of Macari’s primary winemakers, Paula from Chile.  On the whole, we were impressed with consistent quality of the wines, not to say we loved every one, but the winemaking style was clean and unobtrusive.

On to the wines…

2008 Sauvignon Blanc – $22.99 – beautifully tropical nose, with a touch of “sweet” grapefruit on the front of the palate, followed by a bit of peach and Asian Pear. Great acid, clean finish!

2007 Estate Chardonnay – $18.99 – (stainless steel) apple, pear, hay field – beautifully round mid palate, crisp acidity with “mineral” finish. Clean and dry

2009 Early Wine – lots of green fruit, touch of sweetness which was surprising because of the bone dry finish. Appley aftertaste.

2007 Reserve Chardonnay -$22.99 – (12 mos. French Oak) hint of vanilla and baking spice, lemon custard, Asian Pear and hay. Full body, very well balanced.

2008 Rose – $14.99 – (45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 14% Cab. Sauv, 7% Pinot Noir, 4% Malbec) bright red fruit with an interesting fresh cut hay note on the nose, with watermelon and pomegranate notes on the palate

Collina 48 Merlot – $12.99 – (3% Cab Franc) spicy with black fruit and leather notes, medium body with a soft velvety finish.

2004 Merlot Reserve – $35.99 – earthiness & black pepper, black cherry, black currant and boysenberry with hints of wet cedar. Full body, great tannins – very nice.

2007 Syrah – $34.99 – huge fruit up front, most dark with a hint of red currant shining through, black pepper, tar and graphite, all rounding out the mix. Very full body, kept expanding on the palate.

2007 Malbec – great cola and raisin on the nose, very cherry filled, but slightly “green” tasting and floral towards the finish.

2007 Dos Aguas – $26.99 – (45% Cab Sauv, 36% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc, 4% Malbec) tobacco on the nose with black fruit and mint. Red currant, green bean, pipe tobacco and blackberry on the palate. Silky but rich tannins

2004 Bergen Road – $42.99 – (42% Merlot, 29% Cab Sauv, 24% Malbec, 5% Petite Verdot) – cocoa, mint, “sweet” black fruit, tobacco leaf (raw). Beautiful acid and tannin integration.

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macarilunch_2

Alex and Joe Macari

 

After tasting we took a walk through the tank and barrel rooms with with Alex and Paula, and even saw a little fruit being pressed. Following the tour, we were honored to join Alex, and her husband Joe, and their biodynamics manager for lunch. They prepared an amazing lunch for us– a huge vegetarian spread, including a second course of pasta and a cheese course to finish it off. It was great to sit and talk with Joe and Alex and learn more about them, their family, and their wines. Thanks to them both for showing us a great time.

Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, winery review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Sparkling House in Long Island?

Yes it’s true there is a sparkling house on the North Fork of Long Island. Not that making sparkling on the North Fork is odd, there are actually a lot of good Method Champenoise sparklers being made on the island. The fact that they employ a sparkling only model is the odd/brave part. We visited Sparkling Pointe about 4 hours after they opened there doors this past Sunday and were greeted by a sparkling white facility complete with a VIP room with bubble chandeliers and an elevator (it was required for code). The idea of a sparkling only winery isn’t new, many reside in California (Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Chandon) it is just a new concept for the East coast.

sparklingpoint_tomcynthia

We met with owners Tom and Cynthia Rosicki as they gave us the grand tour or their new facility, and tasted us on their wines. Wine maker Gilles Martin makes three different sparklers, a Brut, a Rose (Topaz Imperial), and Brut Seduction (an aged cuvee).

rosebottleshotMy Tasting Notes –

2005 Brut ($29) – baking biscuits, apple pie, sweet toast, and hazelnut. Full body, nice tight bubbles.

2005 Topaz Imperial ($33) (52% Chardonnay/48% Chardonnay) – black cherry, toast, dough, very tight bubbles. Full body with hints of strawberry and watermelon.

2000 Brut Selection ($50) – slight hints of wax on the nose with beautiful apple and pear, hints of summer hay, and toasted almonds. Creamy mid-palate, and extremely long finish.

I was super impressed with the selections but Sparkling Pointe doesn’t need my accolades as they have won many of their own. The beautiful setting and the wonderful bubbly are a great addition to the North Fork wine community, I wish Tom and Cynthia all the best in their sparkling endeavor.

Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, winery review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Drinking the Macari Sette

So last night for dinner I went to my sample rack to catch up on some things and pulled out the Macari Vineyards Sette ($17) from the North Fork of Long Island. It intrigued me because it was non-vintage (or at least not labeled) and no grapes were listed. So before whipping out the laptop to look up this wine I tasted it, and guessed that it must be predominately Cabernet Franc. Well I was right, it is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot, as well as a new wine for Macari.

Unfortunately the information on the Macari website is limited as far as vinification and doesn’t go much further than the blend of grapes. Quick background info on Macari –

Macari is on the cutting edge of viticulture and is dedicated to a more natural approach to winemaking. Joseph Macari, Jr. is recognized as a pioneer in the movement towards organic and sustainable farming on Long Island, employing principles of biodynamic farming since the vineyard’s first plantings. Extensive soil preparation, rich composts, careful cover cropping and a consideration to wildlife and terrain makes Macari’s 180 planted acres stand out from the rest. Taking into account the health of the environment as a whole, and moving away from the harmful effects of pesticides to a more natural and meticulous caretaking of the soil and plants, ultimately yields premium wines.”

macarisetteMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: mocha, plum, black cherry, red currant, thyme

Taste: red cherry, red currant, leather, oak, raspberry

Mouthfeel: spicy with velvety tannins, medium to full bodied with racy acidity

Finish: long in length with a great amount of fruit

I was quite impressed with the wine, it was varietally correct, extremely balanced and also good. Not a bad combination for $17. My only negative comment on the wine would be the presence of oak toward the back of the palate. I don’t mind oak or it’s derivatives in a wine, but for some reason this was coming off as more of a plywood taste. It was over bearing so it didn’t take away from the rest of the great flavors I was picking up.

Cheers!

Categories: $10-$20, New York Wines, wine review | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Full Redux of Night 1 of Taste Camp East 2009

rob_raphaelAfter the first night of Taste Camp, I put up a quick post about the evening and mentioned one of my favorites of the evening the 2000 Wolffer Estate Selection Merlot. That Merlot was also poured during the great 5 course dinner that we enjoyed. As each of the wines were poured, representatives of the wineries got up and gave a quick rundown of what we had in our glasses. The wines poured for dinner and featured in the video were the 2006 Raphael Sauvignon Blanc, 2004 Clovis Point Merlot, 2000 Wolffer Estate Selection Merlot, 2004 Sherwood House Cabernet Franc, 1997 Pellegrini Vineyard Vintners Pride Merlot, Pellegrini Vineyard “Finale”. For some reason I didn’t have a video of Raphael talking about their Sauvignon Blanc so they aren’t featured in the video.

thegang_raphaelAll of the wineries that are listed above, also provided verticals of several of their Merlots prior to starting dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t move quickly enough and didn’t get a chance to taste the Pellegrini Vineyards wine, except for at dinner. As well we were treated to tasting a vertical of the Merliance wines, from the Long Island Merlot Alliance. Merliance is a unique blend made of 100% Merlot varietal grown on Long Island and made exclusively by the members of the Long Island Merlot Alliance, all 5 of which were represented at Raphael and listed above.

As mentioned earlier the 2000 Wolffer Merlot was my favorite on the evening but there were quite a few close runner-ups.

2005 Merliance Merlot

nose: cedar, bananas foster, black cherry

taste: brussel sprouts, red currant, plum

mouthfeel: medium body, nice acidity

finish: long and fruity

2004 Sherwood House Cabernet Franc

nose: plum, black cherry, black tea

taste: plum, green bean, black peppercorns

mouthfeel: medium to full body, leathery tannins

finish: firm tannnins, fairly long in length

Of the wines that I didn’t favor, I found similar “green”, stem like qualities with slight plastic and chemical off notes. This wasn’t held by one particular winery as these traits were seen across the board on the wines I didn’t like. As I said in yesterday’s post these are off notes that I find in wines that I don’t like here in Virginia as well. It would be interesting to do some sort of study to find out if there is a larger geographical terroir as the Virginia and Long Island landscape are so different.

Check back soon for more notes on day 2 of our visit to wineries on the North Fork of Long Island.


Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp | 2 Comments

Taste Camp East 2009 – Long Island Impressions

tastecamplogoIn case you hadn’t noticed, Anything Wine was in Long Island this past weekend for the first of hopefully many “Taste Camp East”s (2010 is tentatively planned for the Finger Lakes and 2011 in Virginia). The first annual event was dedicated to Long Island wine country and was spearheaded by New York wine guy Lenn Thompson of LennDevours. In addition to reconnecting with all of my blogger buddies and meeting some new ones, I discovered a “new” wine region, which made some great and surprising first impressions on me.

Megan and I had no idea what to expect as we made our way up the North Fork of Long Island to our hotel in Greenport. We were delightfully surprised by the cuteness of the landscape as we were suddenly surrounded by vineyards and farms. The flat, vine-dotted landscape reminded me of the Niagara Peninsula wine region which I visited a few years back.

Over the next few days I’ll be putting up some posts with individual tasting notes and some videos and pictures from the weekend’s tastings, but this post is intended to summarize my overall impressions of the region.

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Camaraderie – Several times as we drove from winery to winery, Megan and I reflected on the obvious camaraderie that we felt and saw between the vintners in the region. Perhaps because of the small size of the region, the relative youth of the wine industry there, and the unique challenges that wineries face in the region, the vintners really seemed to learn from each other and to leverage others’ knowledge and experiences, successes and failures. I think this is a must in a burgeoning wine region and is something I have seen in my explorations here in Virginia as well.

Price – I am sure I will not be the only Taste Camper to mention price after this weekend’s festivities, so I will be brief. As here in Virginia, price is always a point of discussion when it comes to the QPR of LI wines, and this is something I have discussed with Lenn several times. Although I was impressed by the quality of the many of the wines I tasted, it was hard for me to warrant the many $40+ price tags that these wines garnished. That being said, I did buy several bottles, two of which were $50 and $100, and we did taste several fabulous wines that were under the $20 price point.

Long Island vs. Virginia – I am a big proponent of Virginia wines and have some favorites from the region that I think deserve accolades against some of the top wineries in the country. With that being said, I think the overall quality of what we tasted in LI was slightly higher, on average, than what I taste in Virginia. Obviously that average is slightly skewed because Lenn, I’m sure, had us taste the best of what the region had to offer. An interesting observation was that when I didn’t like a wine that I tasted this weekend, it had similar aromatic and taste faults to those that I sometimes find in Virginia wines. Specifically slightly oxidized notes, chemical/metallic aftertaste and the over use of oak, the last of which isn’t held by Virginia alone.

Passion – WOW! The LI winemakers’ extreme passion and enthusiasm for viticulture and enology was truly palpable. It was really exhilarating, and added an invaluable component to my tasting experience.

Thanks again to all the Long Island Wineries that made us feel at home, poured hundreds of wines for us, and opened my eyes to what this region has to offer. Check back soon to see all of my tasting notes and more pictures and videos from the weekend.

Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Taste Camp Day 2 – Lunch at Shinn Estate Vineyards

tastecamplogoOn day 2 of Taste Camp East 2009 (really the 1st full day) we had a flurry of tasting appointments that took us up and down the North Fork of Long Island. I will be updating the blogosphere with my dozens of pages of tasting notes in the days to come but I wanted to put up a quick video of Barbara and Dave from Shinn Estate Vineyards where we had lunch and tasted wines from many other surrounding vineyards.

After lunch and before the “trade” style tasting in the Shinn barrel room, Dave and Barbara took us out to their vineyard and gave a great talk on their philosophy of biodynamic and sustainable viticulture.

Check back soon for more of that I thought about the Shinn wines and others from day 2 of Taste Camp.

Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp | 1 Comment

My First 2008 Wine of 2008

In its 6th vintage of their Early Wine, Macari Vineyards taps into their Austrian heritage to produce this Chardonnay that is bottled and released within a month and a half of harvest.  Macari Vineyards, established in 1995 and located on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island has 180 acres of vines on their 500 acre estate. Growing a bit of everything, it looks like their primary wine focus is on Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

 

earlywine_backlabelThe 2008 Early Wine Chardonnay ($16) is as I said a quick to market wine similar to Beaujolais Nouveau.  The 2008 was harvested on September 9th, bottled on October 16th and released on October 23rd. The result is an “interesting” Chardonnay that if I had tasted blind would have thought it to be a Sauvignon Blanc. It is a very refreshing wine with sharp acidity and a slight effervescence on the tongue that would be a great summertime sipper. Unfortunately it is meant to be drank early, so summertime is about 8 months out for this wines prime. Luckily it was an unusually warm day in Richmond last night so it felt a bit like summer.

 

 

earlywine_frontlabelMy Tasting Notes –

Nose – Fresh cut grass, citrus, pear, a touch of honey, and something tropical that I couldn’t put my finger on

Taste – Tropical fruit, hay, citrus and a splash of Granny Smith apple

Mouthfeel – very crisp with slight effervescence on the tongue

Finish – longer than expected, I would say medium length, with mineral and tropical notes lingering

 

The wine had a nice tartness to it and seemed to have a bit of residual sugar that evened that out a bit. The website for Macari didn’t have the specs on the wine so I am not sure if I am correct on my R.S. assumption. At a case production of a little over 1700 cases, Macari says this sells out fast upon release and seeing this in your local grocery story is probably unlikely unless you live in the New York area. Actually this wine may only be available at the winery but don’t quote me on that.

 

Thanks to Macari for sending me a bottle as I wouldn’t have been able to try it otherwise.

 

Cheers.

Categories: $10-$20, New York Wines | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments