Posts Written OnJanuary 2013

Ice-Cider-frozen-apples

Slyboro Cider House lies in Washington County, right on the border of Vermont, and about an hour and a half drive straight north of Albany. Working the land of Hick’s Orchard (New York’s oldest “U-Pick” orchard, operating for more than 100 years), owner Dan Wilson and his team began tinkering with hard cider around 2001. Soon after those first early attempts, they met with the Cornell enology department and began getting serious; by better understanding fermentation, they were able to begin discerning the individual characteristics of the apple varieties on their farm. Not long after, during a fateful, summer trip to Quebec,…

Photo courtesy of Sheldrake Point Vineyards

Bob Madill, general manager at Sheldrake Point Vineyards,  does not necessarily agree with the way I describe his feelings on pinot, but I’ll stand by it: I think he’s had a change of heart. The question is, why? Back in 2008, Madill and I had a discussion about pinot and how it grows in the Finger Lakes. I don’t have detailed notes of that conversation, but I can clearly remember Bob’s skepticism about pinot’s future here. He’s a Burgundy lover, and someone who appreciates the subtleties and complexities of pinot noir. Could you really expect to make complex, nuanced pinot,…

arrowhead-spring-2010-pinot-noir

Think that pinot noir that retails for under $20 isn’t very good? Get yourself a bottle of Arrowhead Spring Vineyard 2010 Piont Noir ($18) and unlearn that widely held belief. Just-crushed raspberries and pomegranate fruit dominate the nose and tell you what’s coming on the ripe, concentrated palate — more raspberry and pomegranate with chalky, gently grippy tannins and fresh acidity. With some time open, a faint spicy, Dr. Pepper-esque note steps forward a half step. It’s not complex or a wine to age for 10-15 years, but it’s satisfying and delicious. Producer: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards AVA: Niagara Escarpment ABV: 13.6% Price: $18* (3…

sheldrake-2009-pinot-noir

When I asked winemaker Dave Breeden to tell me about Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2009 “BLK 3″ Pinot Noir ($30 at release, now sold out) – the first vintage of a new vineyard-designated pinot — he didn’t have much he could tell me. “I can’t claim any credit at all for that wine — it’s entirely a project of Bob Madill, both in the vineyard and winery,” he said in an email. Madill is of course the winery’s general manager, and he describes the BLK3 project as his “way of returning to my early days in the Ontario wine industry.” He was curious…

local-wines-banner

After spending the late morning in Greenport on Sunday — riding the carousel and getting our son Jackson out onto the ice for the first time — my family and I stopped at Bonnie Jean’s in Southold for lunch. Bonnie Jean’s might seem like little more than another Long Island diner, but it is a new favorite for its affordability, its family-friendliness and for the homemade flourishes across the menu. The restaurant now has a beer and wine license after operating for a time as a BYOB. It would have been easy for owner Jennilee Morris to offer cheap, not-very-good wines chosen by a…

Mitchell as a puppy

The last drops quivered, and resisted their fall, from the bottle’s lip towards the glass. I heard the words in my head again:   “This, too, shall pass.”  This ancient axiom has shadowed my consciousness for longer than I can recall, and in that moment, I was bathed in its radiant — if painful — veracity.  It is not every day that I feel compelled to pull a special bottle from the cellar, and for the first time, it was a choice that I wished I did not have to make. We have a very modestly sized wine cellar, constructed…

Photo Courtesy of Long Island Wine Council

  This year Long Island wine is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first vinifera grape plantings by Louisa and Alex Hargrave that kicked off the Long Island wine region.  As one who arrived very late to Long Island Wine some ten years ago, my perspective is somewhat different than that of the wine professionals and writers who have watched the evolution of wine making on Long Island over the past 40 years and the establishment of a solid wine region that today is acknowledged as producing both outstanding and unique wines. Although I was raised and educated in Northeastern Pennsylvania,…

The Brown Hound Bistro in Naples, NY | Photo courtesy of VisitFingerLakes.org

You have probably found yourself in a restaurant rut at some point or another. You want to head out for dinner, and you cycle through the same short list of usual restaurant options. They’re your favorites for a reason, but you get to wondering: Is there anything new that we haven’t tried yet? Is there anything we’ve been meaning to try for a while, but haven’t? How do you break out of that rut? Sometimes it’s about abandoning comfort for a little risk. In the case of a recent Finger Lakes visit, it was simply about making time to visit…

surge-protector

Beer people are cool. Beer people are fun. And at heart, they are some of the best people out there. When Hurricane Sandy struck, Barrier Brewing Co. in Oceanside on the south shore of Long Island on October 28 sustained damage to the tune of $100,000. And guess who showed up to help. Eight neighboring Long Island breweries and distributor Clare Rose got together a month later to brew Surge Protector, a collaborative IPA benefiting Barrier Brewing and others affected by Sandy. Each brewer donated a different ingredient and brainstormed about style and recipes. Upon realizing I would be on vacation for the beer’s release, I started contacting the…

mattebella-nv-famiglia-red

Say what you will about Long Island wine prices, but I’ve recently tasted at least three reds for under $20 that I’d happily drink any day of the week, including this blend of merlot and cabernet franc – Mattebella Vineyards NV Famiglia Red ($17). Clean, ripe-but-not-over-ripe fruit — primarily black cherry and plum, is accented on the nose by a light sprinkling of spice and leaf tobacco. Lean and lively, the focused, medium-bodied palate shows similar fruit qualities as well as well-integrated lighter tannins, table-friendly acidity and a low oak footprint. There is a charming purity of fruit here that…