Diversity. That’s my one-word summary for May’s Empire State Cellars Wine Club selections — which really are a celebration of New York’s wine diversity.
It would be easy to pick four Finger Lakes rieslings every month, add a couple Long Island merlots, a cab franc and a pinot and call it a day. And there are enough good wines to do that, but that’s not nearly as fun as exploring the hidden corners of New York’s wine regions. Look for some even more hard-to-get wines in upcoming shipments, but it starts this month.
We did include a couple rieslings, but also a super-small production rose and a funky skin-fermented sauvignon blanc made by a renowned California winemaker from Long Island fruit. On the red side of things, new vinteages of some old favorite are back but we’re also sending you a long sold-out, small-production malbec.
As always, I hope you enjoy the wines as much as I have. Feedback is always welcome.
Treleaven Wines 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling: I’m not making a judgement with this statement, but Finger Lakes riesling prices seem to be on the rise. This peachy, floral riesling brings a little gritty pear and a little clover honey — all with mouth-watering acidity that balances subtle sweetness well. And it’s one of the better values I’ve tasted this spring.
Anthony Nappa Wines 2013 Bordo: Winemaker Anthony Nappa’s stripped down rendition of cabernet franc is always a favorite at my house. The ripeness of the vintage is on display here, but there’s no doubt that this is cab franc because of its herbal vein and fleeting note of roasted poblano.
“Getting to Know New York” Wines
Bellwether Wines 2013 Rose of Pinot Noir: Winemaker Kris Matthewson only made 96 cases of this balanced, textural wonder of a rose. We were lucky to get enough for the club, but we did. Cliche or not, this is spring in a bottle — but would be just as delicious in the fall (Thanksgiving?) or mid-winter with some roasted root vegetables.
Silver Thread Vineyard 2012 Blackbird: Every time that I want to write off Bordeaux-grape wines from the Finger Lakes, one sneaks up on me. This is a standout for its freshness and savory umami edge.
“New York Wine Trail” Wines
Hermann J. Wiemer 2012 Reserve Dry Riesling: It’s easy to pick Wiemer wines. Fred Merwarth makes many of the state’s best rieslings. Meticulous viticulture combines with a deft hand in the cellar to create what may be one of his best, from what may go down as a classic vintage.
Bedell Cellars 2012 Malbec: I don’t have the exact dates, but it sure seems like this wine sold out (mostly to Bedell’s wine club) before it was even released. Aged in stainless steel and neutral oak, there aren’t any pesky wood or toast flavors to get in the way of beautiful aromas and flavors of plum, violet, cherry and peppery spice.
Red Hook Wines 2010 “Die Welt Des Mondes” Sauvignon Blanc: I can only take partial credit for this find — though I did have final say. ESC general manager Evan Ducz opened this wine for a small group of us at a recent tasting I hosted at the shop. Almost before I swallowed I asked if we could get enough for the club. Luckily, he was able to. It’s so unique — not quite an orange wine, but you’re not going to find typical sauvignon blanc flavors here — but also silky and delicious.
Macari Vineyards 2010 Bergen Road: When Macari makes Bergen Road — they don’t every year — you can trust that the wine is something special. This blend of 56% merlot, 26% cabernet sauvignon, 13% cabernet franc, 3% malbec and 2% petit verdot is concentrated and rich with dark cherry and blackberry fruit but also shows the complexity and nuance that are the hallmark of Long Island’s best blends.
Note: Our executive editor Lenn Thompson curates the selections for the Empire State Cellars Wine Club. If you aren’t familiar with the club, you can learn more here.