Posts Written OnJune 2013

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When someone asked me recently if I’d ever tasted Leo Family Wines 2007 Red ($40), I scoured this site for my review… and couldn’t find one. Anywhere. The answer is yes — I’ve had this wine numerous times, the first being a BYOB dinner I organized for a group of industry friends years ago, well before the wine was released (or even labeled). But, I’m not always as organized as I’d like to think, and apparently I never actually published a review. Black and blue fruits dominate the nose with notes of violets, graphite, cured meat and savory herbs. Ripe and concentrated — without being over the top — the full-bodied palate is polished but still displays a sense of place. Black and blue fruits are joined by mocha, warm, savory spice and graphite. With medium-intense tannins that are rounded at the edges, this wine is showing well now in…

Wine Cellar

If you already own the wine cellar of your dreams, you can stop reading. I suspect that very few people will stop reading on this basis. While this subject has been blogged about and written about quite often, I think that’s because so few of us have exactly what we want in the cellar (or basement, really). Many of us are in a continual pursuit of trying to build the ultimate cellar, whether that be physical construction, its contents, or both. No matter where you are in your level of collecting maturity, most of us could easily find an area of our cellar where we would like to improve. My story is just one lover’s approach to building a cellar, but Lenn and Evan pushed me to share my experience. Personally, I’ve had a wine collection ranging from 10 to 30 cases in inventory for about the last ten years.…

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For the second year in a row the six members of the Long Island Merlot Alliance hired a noted Bordeaux oenologist, this time Stéphane Toutoundji,  to visit each member vineyard, winery and lab. He arrived on Monday, June 3. The Alliance is comprised of six local producers — Clovis Point in Jamesport, McCall Wines in Cutchogue, Raphael in Peconic, Sherwood House Vineyards in Jamesport, T’Jara Vineyards in Mattituck and Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. Toutoundji has been making wine since 1988 and once was a student of the famous oenoligist, Michel Rolland. In 2002 Stéphane purchased half of the wine lab, Filles Pauquet in Libourne. Today he consults with almost 300 properties — mainly in France —  but also in countries such as Portugal and Turkey. This was Stéphane’s first visit to Long Island and his first time tasting Long Island wines. I had the opportunity to sit down with Stéphane on the…

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In the final days of his life, when 53-year-old Paul Wellington didn’t have the strength to feed himself, Tom Higgins would make the drive over and offer to hold Paul’s bowl, or spoon. Or his hand. Higgins had become a close friend of Paul Wellington and his wife, Carol Prendergast-Wellington. Wellington was the skilled grower and vineyard manager at acclaimed Hobbit Hollow Vineyard on Skaneateles Lake. At first, Higgins loved the fruit. In the end, Higgins loved the man. Wellington passed away on May 15 after a rather lengthy battle with brain cancer. His death is a blow to the Finger Lakes wine industry, particularly in light of the high standards he brought to work each day. By now it’s cliche to say that “no one thought it could be done,” but when it comes to Wellington’s work, it’s just about true. Skaneateles has never been a hotbed of Finger…

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Here is a sampling of what our editors and contributors were drinking last week: Len Dest: Anton Bauer 2012 Gmörk Vineyard Gruner Veltliner Grüner veltliner is the signature grape of Austria and the best wines are made from the fruit from the vineyards in hills of Wagram wine region in Northeastern Austria. Located North of Vienna along the banks of the Danube the Wagram wine region is a massive plateau with south-facing terrain, named after the Wogenrain, a bank of the Danube River. The area has a generally mild climate with significant diurnal temperature swings during the growing season which contributes to the grüner veltliner grapes producing highly aromatic wines. In 2001, the leading wineries of the Wagram wine-growing area united as the “Weingüter Wagram” to cooperate in making the wines of the region better known. Anton Bauer is a fourth-generation winemaker with a reputation for making outstanding traditional-styled Grüner Veltliner…

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If you like balanced, low-alcohol riesling affected by botrytis — also known as noble rot — Boundary Breaks Vineyard 2011 No. 198 Reserve Riesling ($30) is a fine example. I do like those types of wines, by the way. Nuanced and highly aromatic, the nose offers layers of honey, herbs, candied orange peel, citrus blossoms, ripe peach and golden raspberries. Sweet but balanced, the palate isn’t quite as complex as the nose showing peach, apricot chutney, citrus zest and just a hint of wet stone minerality. The finish lingers nicely and shows decent focus. A touch more verve would elevate this wine, but it still shows good balance. Producer: Boundary Breaks Vineyard AVA: Finger Lakes ABV: 8.9% RS: 5.7% Price: $30* | Buy now from Empire State Cellars (3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)

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Tonight, I’m excited to announce the menu, pricing and how to make reservations for our “Drink New York” dinner in a few weeks. Chef Lia Fallon has come up with an inventive menu that I think is going to showcase the wines exceedingly well — all for $85 plus tax and gratuity. We only have around 40 seats for this dinner, so if you’d like to join us, please call the restaurant at (631) 284-9300 to reserve your spot. Welcome Reception Raw Bar Shrimp Cocktail, Clams and Oysters on the Half Shell, Calamari Salad Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2010 “Naked” Chardonnay Amuse Heirloom Beets Lemon oil, grapefruit, blue cheese, oatmeal crumbs First Caramelized Frog Legs Thai Chili Sauce, Kaffir Lime and Ginger Jus, Coconut Foam Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2010 Reserve Chardonnay Second Smoked Berkshire Pork Belly Creamy Polenta, Crispy Leeks and Sweet Potatoes Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir  Third Lamb Loin…

LISW-membership

On Thursday, June 6,  Bedell Cellars hosted a celebration of the first anniversary of an important new project in Long Island wine country — Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW). It is the first certified sustainable program for eastern U.S. vineyards, and covers the “North Fork of Long Island” and “The Hamptons, Long Island, New York” AVAs. This not-for-profit organization was conceived in April of last year when Rich Olsen-Harbich (Bedell Cellars), Barbara Shinn (Shinn Estate Vineyards), Larry Perrine (Channing Daughters Winery), and Jim Thompson (Martha Clara Vineyards) set out to establish a list of guidelines for implementing sustainable practices in local vineyards. \Upon completing the founding document, they realized that if four industry veterans from four very different producers could agree on a single set of standards, it was possible for all of Long Island’s vineyards to embrace such a program. This may be your first time hearing about LISW — because it has been…

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Far from your neighbor’s cheap pinot grigio, Lenz Winery 2010 Pinot Gris ($25), shows off the ripeness of the 2010 growing season in its intensity. Apple and musk melon aromas are accented by notes of white flowers and a drizzle of honey. The dry, medium-bodied palate is fruity up front, showing sweet, concentrated apple and pear flavors again accented by honey and subtle spice. Gentle creaminess on the mid-palate is quickly sliced through by fresh, citrusy acidity that carries through on the medium-length finish. Producer: Lenz Winery AVA: North Fork of Long Island ABV: 12.5% Price: $25* (2.5 out of 5, Average-to-Very Good)      

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One hallmark of a grape well suited to a region is how it performs in non-ideal growing seasons. This Silver Thread Vineyard 2011 Pinot Noir ($22) is the forth or fifth 2011 Finger Lakes pinot noir to impress. Maybe those focusing on it really are onto something. Red cherry, raw button mushroom and dried orange peel aromas are joined by a dusting of baking spice on a pretty, edging on sultry, nose. Light bodied but anything but dilute. the palate is fresh with crunchy red fruits, subtle spice and an earthy edge. The finish isn’t long, but it doesn’t drop off quickly either. Best of all, this wine improved on days two and three, stretching out a bit and showing a bit more complexity. Producer: Silver Thread Vineyard AVA: Finger Lakes ABV: 12.4% Price: $24 | Buy Now from Empire State Cellars (3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)