Without writing a long essay about what it actually costs to grow grapes and eventually make a bottle of wine that can be sold – many of the things that go into wine are very expensive, and in New York, they are even more expensive on Long Island. Land and labor are the big ones.
Why do I bring this up? Well, this month’s selections are both from Long Island, a rarity given the constraints (<$50 plus shipping for two bottles) of this club. It may never happen again, but considering that I live just a short drive from Long Island wine country, I’m always looking for great wines produced by the home team.
Both are wines that I’ve enjoyed vintage-after-vintage for years at this point, but I can honestly suggest that these may be the best editions of each. Both are fresh, pure and exceedingly drinkable the day you get them. No need for aging. In fact, I think both are best consumed within a year.
First up this month in Macari Vineyards 2015 “Early Wine” Chardonnay. Yes, that isn’t a typo. I said 2015. Originally inspired by the jungwein (young wine) of Macari’s consulting winemaker Helmut Gangl’s homeland, Austria — where they are often served shortly after harvest — it’s meant as a celebration of the season and harvest. For me, it’s always the first bottled taste of the new vintage.
For this year’s edition, the grapes picked on September 8. The wine was bottled on October 30. Head winemaker Kelly Urbanik Koch let the fermentation go just a bit longer this year, so it is distinctly drier than last year’s bottling. Stil it’s fruity-fresh with juicy citrus and fresh, floral aromas and flavors. There is subtle sweetness here too, but plenty of crunchy acid to balance it.
A lot of people drink it cold right from the fridge, but I like it a bit warmer, which allows the fruit and floral notes a chance to stretch their legs. The finish ends with a drying citrus zest note that begs for food, and another sip. I’ve long said that it’s the best use going of Long Island chardonnay fruit. It’s still true.
My second pick this month is Anthony Nappa Wines 2014 “Bordo” Cabernet Franc. Nappa first made his mark in New York at Shinn Estate Vineyards and then got perhaps more attention for the white pinot noir – which he calls Anomaly — he has made for several years under his eponymous private label. He’s now the head winemaker at Raphael on the North Fork, where the focus is merlot and sauvignon blanc. As good as those wines can be, he seems to have an affinity for cabernet franc as well.
Made without oak barrels or added yeasts, this is North Fork cabernet franc in its purest, wildest form. There’s the brambly blackberry and raspberry character here, but there is also the unmistakable streak of herbal notes that Nappa often describes as “tomato leaf.” If you’re used to oaky, polished modern cabernet franc – that is often over-ripe – that may not sound appealing, but if you like your reds on the savory, food-friendly side, this one will wow you. If it were from the Loire Valley, no one would question the green edge. I don’t either. I embrace it.
If you haven’t yet, sign up today… Join Now on The Cellar d’Or Website