By Lenn Thompson, Editor and Publisher
Obviously I'm a bit behind with this post, given that we're well into May now, but I wanted to write a quick post about the wines I chose for April's shipment of the New York Cork Club. Both were a little difficult to get our hands on, so I'm extra proud of the choices.
First is Keuka Lake Vineyards 2007 Reserve Vignoles ($19), just the kind of wine that you're not going to get in any other wine club. First, Vignoles is hybrid grape. Unfortunately, most wine 'experts' ignore hybrids. Second, it's a (almost) dry rendition (most of the Vignoles with any sort of pedigree is used in dessert and ice-style wines).
It pours a pale yellow and the nose is rich and fruity with intense ripe (almost over-ripe) pear aromas mingling with those of musk melon and peach skin. A faint, distant note of gravelly minerals never really stepped forward, but really added to the complexity.
Medium-to-full bodied, the palate is similarly ripe and intense. The musk melon flavors come first, with the pear flavors emerging more on the mid-palate. The naturally bright acidity of Vignoles is there every step of the way, from the attack all the way through to a long, peachy finish that ends with a flavor that reminds me of the way my parents old gravel driveway smelled after a summer rain storm.
This is a wine that I'd love to pour for anybody who scoffs at the ability of crosses and hybrids to make delicious, balanced wines. And this was the LAST CASE available at the winery. It was hand delivered to the Brooklyn store a couple weeks ago by the winery's owner.
Our second wine is one that we actually received before it was even released, Raphael 2008 Naturale ($20), a blend of 60% chardonnay, 30% sauvignon blanc and 10% semillon. It's named Naturale because it's winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich's forray into natural winemaking. It was made with wild yeasts, without fining or filtering, and only a touch of SO2 at bottling. It even has a bit of residual C02 in it that tickles the nose and tingles the tongue. That slight frizzante is a remnant of fermenation and Rich think it will disipate within a couple months.
The nose, especially once the froth subsides and the wine warms to cellar temperature, is complex and intricate with aromas of ripe Gala apples, apple blossom, roasted nuts, sweet herbs, lemon zest and toasty yeast.
Medium bodied, it's much more citrusy on the palate, with the apple taking a step back, and basil-like herbs, nuts and a subtle minerally note. This wine is impeccably balanced — creamy on the mid-palate yet featuring lively acidity. The oak (20% was fermented in new oak, the rest in stainless) accents rather than dominates. And, the finish is long with a little yeasty-leesy spiciness.