This is a sampling of what our editors and contributors have been drinking.
Amy Zavatto: Eve’s Cidery “Bittersweet”
Call me trendy: Tried Eve’s Cider’s “Bittersweet” at Brooklyn Oenology and walked out of there with a bottle. If this is what cider can be, sign me up — zippy, snappy apple nose.
On the palate, the dry, crisp mouthfeel fills out mid-palate into something juicier and fresh; truly the flavor of just-picked sweet-tart apple, but right before it could go over the top, the flavors reign themselves in, leaving you with a bone-dry finish. Roast pork loin, please.
Mark Grimaldi: Brick House Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir “Select”
Brick House is a certified biodynamic winery (and has been for over 20 years now) in the Willamette Valley of Oregon on the Chehalem ridge. It’s a winery that flies under the radar. They don’t care about submitting wines for scores, or making flashy wines to please whatever style or trend is hip. They just strive to make classic, pure, unadulterated pinot noir in an Old World style.
Once a year this wine is released, and I don’t think it is even released every year. It’s the entry-level wine of their portfolio, which consists of a handful of different vineyard, block, and clone (chardonnay and pinot) bottlings. Oregon certainly has it’s own style of pinot, and is very vintage driven. The pinots can be very ripe and out of balance, bordering on sometimes over extracted depending on the vintage and also producer, and they can also often be thin and green. Their are a handful of producers that you can trust to always make a good wine every vintage, and Brick House is one of them.
This wine’s color in the glass is ruby red, and it’s cloudy, as they do not fine or filter. On the nose I pick up a subtle creamy strawberry and cherry note with earth and sweet tobacco — those inherent qualities that unadulterated pinots from cooler climates seem to give off. On the palate it’s bright, with tart red cherry up front leading to a creamier, slightly richer mid-palate and a nice balanced finish. At first, it leads off making me think it’s going to be very acid-driven, but that sweeter pinot fruit kicks in almost immediately and rounds it out. This is one of the better “Selects” I have had. If you like delicate, elegant pinot then search this one out. If you like your pinots to be big and rich, it probably isn’t for you.
Oh, and one of the reasons I love this wine, is because it makes the wifey happy! Once a year I get that “ohhh Brick House” comment from her when I bring it home. I asked her why she liked this wine today and she said, “um, well, because it’s a wine that I can remember the first time I had it (we were out to at dinner, the night we went to see The Felice Brothers) and I think because it’s kinda “Burgundian” not an over-powering pinot. I guess in my brother, Gabe’s terms it’s got a good “chart line”, it’s smooth, tastes good as soon as it enters and finishes different than how it started.” Women naturally have great palates in my opinion, and she basically nails it here in a lot less words than I did. It’s memorable, smooth, elegant, and complete.
Todd Trzaskos: Fat Barrel 2007 Pinot Noir
For the third year running, we participated in the New England Foundation for the Animals benefit golf tournament scramble. The White River Valley Golf Club has been working constantly at rebuilding after the high water mark from tropical storm Irene turned the entire course into a twelve-foot deep lake. The annual benefit raises money to help veterinarians provide care to the animal friends of folks who have fallen on hard times, and would otherwise have to make a financial choice between important care and euthanasia.
After a very dry summer, we have been getting our share of rain, mother nature shared generously during the game, making for a wet and challenging round. An unprecedented six teams tied for first place, hitting par, and winners were chosen based on best scores on highest handicap holes. Our three person team came in third, and won four bottles of the negociant sourced Fat Barrel Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007. Basking in the fleeting glory, I opened one before dinner, and found it to be a simple straightforward wine. New World-y on the nose with vanilla and ripe cherry notes, soft on the palate with some hints of cranberry and earthiness. Serviceable enough after a chilly wet day, but lacking a bit in the acidity we like. Had it with kielbasa, saurkraut, and pureed butternut squash. While up to par for the sausage and squash, it crumbled under the pressure of the kraut, and left only the barest hint of fruit, wrapped around a fresh sawn two-by-four. Lesson learned for this round.
David Flaherty: Chateau de Monrepos, 2009, Bordeaux
I don’t normally buy Bordeaux at the wine shop. In fact, it’s taken me a while to come around to the fact that are lots of great value, tasty wines from the region, and not every winemaker drives a Mercedes and lives on a compound worthy of a Bond villian’s evil sanctum. But am I wrong to have this impression? Show me one more Bordeaux marketing campaign celebrating the “luxury lifestyle” and I will gag myself with a silver spoon. But the reality is, it’s a huge wine region and there are many great deals to be had. This is one of them.
With a quote taped to the bottle by the owner that said, “The best, most affordable Bordeaux I’ve ever come across,” I couldn’t say no. Seeing zero oak, this ’09 is ready for drinking, and tasty guzzling at that. Cherries, raspberries, and leather notes on the nose, the wine sang with balance and softness. And for $12, that’s a nice ticket price to the ballet.
Evan Dawson: Corison 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
At this moment in Napa’s wine history, this is the producer most celebrated for adhering to old-school methods. Cathy Corison has become a kind of icon for the low-alcohol movement; that makes her a very important person in American wine. There is pressure for her wines to be great.
I drink bubbly from all regions. I do not discriminate against tiny little bubbles that tickle your tongue when sipped from flutes (or at my house, juice tumblers to protect against guests from my tendencies towards smashing glasses.)
Make fun of Schramsberg all you want. The first glass is refreshing and delicious and so is the last. Maybe I’ll invite you over for some.