Last night marked a historic moment in the short history of Brooklyn Winery. Framed by a timely election-themed backdrop, the first red wine grapes that entered the facility — still a construction site in 2010 — made their public debut as finished wines. The new portfolio of wines were unveiled as part of an exclusive sneak peek for “friends of the winery” — investors, neighbors and the like.
The wines, like politicians, weren’t shy. Winemaker Conor McCormack deemed them “big reds,” and they lived up to their billings.
The “candidates” were each introduced by pre-recorded stump speeches — humorous videos that extolled the platforms and values of each wine :
Brooklyn Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winery co-owner Brian Leventhal shared an interesting story behind this wine. Brooklyn Winery usually only deals in fresh fruit. However, they bought these cabernet sauvignon grapes — perfectly de-stemmed and frozen –- at a bargain price, with a prestigious Coombsville (Napa) pedigree to boot. After defrosting, the grapes were pressed and then spent 22 months in 80% neutral, 20% new American oak.
Surprisingly fruit-forward (I was convinced that merlot was involved, but it’s not) with the characteristic cabernet tannic structure, it’s a great food wine with lots of fresh blackberry flavor and baking spices that hit high on the roof of the back palate. 14.4% alcohol. David Colston’s buckwheat crepes filled with orange-glazed duck rocked.
Brooklyn Winery 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel (93% Zinfandel, 7% Petit Syrah)
Characteristic of Lodi Zinfandel, jammy red fruit notes and baking spice dominate the nose. While registering at a whopping 15.5% alcohol, the wine wasn’t “hot.” Well-paired with lamb tartare over eggplant (and a touch of garlic).
Brooklyn Winery 2010 North Fork Blend (81% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc)
Call me sentimental, but I like to root for the underdog. This North Fork wine spent 20 months in a mix of oak (17% new French, 3% new American and 80% neutral oak). It’s a leaner, more rustic wine than its California counterparts, with a well-integrated combination of the pleasant “greenness” of cabernet franc with the properly-ripened fruit-forwardness of merlot. It suited the seasonally-appropriate chestnut chanterelle pomegranate soup.
As of 10 p.m. Thursday, the online race was neck-to-neck between the three wines, all of which retail for roughly $30. The wines will be released to the general public on October 25, and wine aficionados can cast yet another vote this season by visiting www.winerace.com.