By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Here is just a glimpse of what the NYCR editors and contributors drank last week, and what happens when we did:

PhotoEvan Dawson: Inglenook 1976 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 48 and La Rioja Alta 1985
Gran Reserva 904

I feel that it's my
responsibility to keep up the quality of the What We Drank section, so I
plundered two of my best bottles. 

that's not exactly true — we all enjoy a range of wine and beer. But
this past week brought a very special dinner and two fascinating mature
bottles. The Inglenook could have been mistaken for mature Bordeaux in a
blind setting, so classic were the aromas of truffle and tobacco. After
the moist cork disintegrated we had expected something along the lines
of vinegar, but it was a beauty. 

And imagine —
1976 was a drought year with low yields and extremely concentrated
berries in Napa. And yet
the alcohol was only 13.5%!

The Rioja was my
wife's choice for wine of the night. It was an aromatic blitzkrieg of
hallmark Tempranillio earthiness (not brettiness) woven into rich
raisins. Very cool stuff.

Both of these wines
could have been shot. The dinner and conversation were so good that we
would have had a wonderful time without the wine, but their vitality
etched some unforgettable moments.

P6090002 Julia Burke:
Eveningside Vineyards 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

I tasted this wine
for the first time in tank over the winter. Four months later and
countless sauvignon blancs later (I'm on a bit of an sauvignon blanc kick these days)
I was anxious to try it again and compare it to the southern hemisphere
examples I've been drinking.

It's extremely clean with very little sulfur
perception on the nose, especially considering its youth. Gorgeous
floral notes (think clover and dandelion, not potpourri) along with
lime, fresh-cut grass, and gooseberry complete the sauvignon blanc profile with a
sense of cleanliness, friendliness, and the fresh smell of early

Acidity from the grape rather than from tartaric
acid is an asset I don't take lightly these days, and this wine boasts
an outstanding balance of natural acid and a faint perception of
residual sugar (about 2%). I like the sweetness; the fullness of the
palate suits this style of SB without making it overtly fruity. A finish
of lime zest completes this lovely, easygoing wine. 

Winemakers have told me that sauvignon blanc is a favorite grape
to experiment with because there are many stylistic options and they can
see the results fairly quickly. There's room for many styles in
the world, to be sure, but it's clear that the Niagara Escarpment offers
potential for a more subtle version of this tangy grape.

6a00d8341d0dbb53ef0111688f8ae9970c-800wi Bryan Calandrelli:
Channing Daughters Winery 2006 Envelope

It’s rare that a visit with my
friends on Long Island doesn’t lead to a visit to the North Fork for
some winery action. Well, it turns out I didn’t make it out there this
weekend but luckily a bottle in my friends wine stash was exciting
enough to make up for the lack of wine country moments.
Channing Daughters is one fascinating winery I’ve yet to visit.
After having several of their wines and hearing so much about their
philosophy I never turn down an opportunity to try their stuff. Their
2006 Envelope is in a league of its own in terms of wine style. This
blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Gewurtztraminer was de-stemmed and
fermented on the skins before 13 months in Slovenian and French oak.
Right off the bat, the intense orange color of this wine pointed to
how unique it really is. Aromas of mandarin orange, apricot, hazelnut,
honey and wild flowers are just some of the notes I picked up in the
short time the wine remained in my glass. Full and fleshy on the palate
there’s some serious weight here.
This wine sparked some interesting conversation among my friends
and that’s not always easy to do with just one bottle. It may be just
one of a few bottles that can make me forget I didn’t get out to wine
country when I had a chance.

Untitled-1 Lenn Thompson:
Roanoke Vineyards 2009 DeRosa Rose

As any parent will tell you, having kids changes your life permanently. And while I have yet to discover anything better than fatherhood, it is still nice when Nena and I can capture a bit of our pre-parenthood lives.

Yesterday, after bottling some Belgian pale ale with friends in Riverhead, we met up with our wives and families at Roanoke Vineyards for lunch (after a quick stop at the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck). Sitting out on the lawn, nibbling on cheese and sipping their newly released rose while Jackson played with some other children in and around the cabernet franc vines, we were able to close our eyes for just a moment and relax with great friends.

Of course then Jackson came running over with wielding a vine cutting like a lightsaber, wanting one or all of us to chase him through the vineyard. We did, of course, sustained by the strawberry, passion fruit and citrus character of the rose, with great acidity, subtle richness and a bit less residual sugar than past releases. It really hit the spot and helped make for an incredible Sunday afternoon.

It was hot, but windy,

IMAG0259 Tom Mansell:
Sangaria Chu Hi Mitsu Kikuchi

According to Google Translate…

"Reproduce the taste of coffee in Kansai, Osaka-born
extremely well received, "Chu ー speak Yuju Mitsu" is a new appearance
to drinking! From being mixed with the exquisite balance of fruit and
milk of five minutes, taste indescribably mellow flavor. Drinking and
drunk driving while intoxicated – under 20 is prohibited by law. *
Drinking during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it may adversely affect
fetal development in infants. – Drinking a moderate amount
Kokorogakemashou [loosely translated: be aware of moderation].

Juice (orange, apple, pineapple, peaches, bananas), alcohol brewery
[brewer's alcohol], dairy products, coconut oil, eggs, sugar,
stabilizer (soy polysaccharide), spices, acidic ingredients, vitamin

My partner-in-science Richard Pliny
brought some of this back from his recent trip to Guam. It's kind of
like a piña colada, with an additional huge banana and coconut aroma
that reminded me of nigori sake.

IMAG0260The mouthfeel is creamy to the point
that the 4% alcohol is imperceptible. Brewer's alcohol is the same
stuff that they use to fortify honjozo- and ginjo-style sake, so this
is basically a canned cocktail.

Not sure where they came up with the "coffee" descriptor, as there is
none to be found here. Could be a translation hiccup. Also, I agree
that it's mellow, but certainly not indescribably so. Sangaria makes
other products that can be found in the lower 48, most notably the
marble-sealed Ramune sodas that you can get at Japanese restaurants.

So… if you're in Guam or Japan… and can read hiragana… then try
to find this, I guess?

05_sly_dog_bottle_master Ralph DiGennaro:
Sly Dog Cellars 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

For those who love discovering affordable everyday drinking California cabs that aren’t intense fruit bombs, taste more like overripe merlot or something akin to cheap Chianti, I would recommend the artisanal Sly Dog Cellars 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $14.99).

Made with fruit from the Red Hills region of Lake County in Napa, an area often lauded for its loam-rich, rocky soil that produces small yet concentrated berries, this is a medium-bodied claret with pronounced raspberry and ripe plum flavors, that evolve into hints of coffee bean and vanilla.

The finish is medium in length but tails out with cedary, dark chocolate nuances. I uncorked this feisty claret about four hours before actually drinking it. Curious complexity and finesse for a wine this inexpensive.