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Macari Vineyards 2014 “Life Force” Sauvignon Blanc

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(Photo via northforker.com) You can see a story I’ve written about Macari Vineyards’ use of concrete egg-shaped fermentation vessels later this month in the winter Long Island Wine Press — but in the meantime, I can tell you about a wine made using one of the two eggs found in the cellar right behind the tasting room bar: Macari Vineyards 2014 “Lifeforce” Sauvignon Blanc ($27). Of what is planted today, sauvignon blanc is clearly the white wine grape most important to Long Island’s future as a wine region. There’s more chardonnay in the ground, but more doesn’t mean better. Sauvignon blanc take well to our…

Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling

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Dry riesling (that is actually dry — but that’s another topic for another day) is harder to make that many people realize. Without careful, thoughtful decisions in the vineyard and in the cellar, you can be left with that I always refer to as “lemon water” — shrill, acidic wines that have a pithy, often-bitter citrus note but little else in terms of flavor or concentration. With Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling ($16) winemaker Dave Breeden shows his deft touch. Aromas of lemon-lime, dried pineapple and just a bit of peach lead into a palate that is crackling with acidity…

Southold Farm + Cellar 2014 “Counting Stars” Sparkling Petit Verdot

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With Southold Farm + Cellars 2014 “Counting Stars” ($28) — a sparkling red wine made from 100% petit verdot grapes — co-owner and winemaker Regan Meador has created what might be the most food-versatile wine available on Long Island today. That’s not a declaration that I take lightly, either. A lot of people thought he was a little crazy (maybe he is) for making sparkling wine from petit verdot — a late-ripening variety most often used to add color, tannin and acid to red wine blends — but ultimately, it’s petit verdot’s character that makes this wine such a great complement to so…

Pellegrini Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

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Pellegrini Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($25), one of Zander Hargrave’s first releases as winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards — a job he took over just before the 2014 harvest — offer a bit of Long Island wine’s past, its present and it’s future. The Hargrave name goes back as far as Long Island wine history can go. Zander’s parents, Louisa and Alex Hargrave, founded Hargrave Vineyard, Long Island’s first commercial winery, in 1973, and Zander’s uncle, Charlie Hargrave, has been a vineyard manager on the North Fork for more than a decade. In 2011 Zander was hired as assistant winemaker at the now-closed…

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2013 Josef Vineyard Riesling

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It’s easy to get complacent when you taste a lot of Finger Lakes riesling — overall quality has risen to the point that even producers that historically fell below the median are now making wines I’m happy to drink. It’s almost to the point that one can take for granted that Finger Lakes riesling is going to deliver. Then you taste a wine like Hermann J. Wiemer 2013 Josef Vineyard Riesling ($39) and you’re reminded just how high the ceiling is for Finger Lakes riesling. The Josef Vineyard, located 10 miles north of the winery, is just south of the better-known Magdalena Vineyard.…

Lieb Cellars 2014 Reserve Pinot Blanc

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You won’t find a lot of pinot blanc here on Long Island but the best-known producer is Lieb Cellars where, legend has it, it was once thought to be chardonnay. Thankfully it’s not treated like most chardonnay in the cellar. It doesn’t see a splinter of oak during or after fermentation and the result is bright and citrusy with aromas of lemon zest and pulp, red grapefruit, lemon verbena and sea breeze. Juicy and even more saline and minerally on the palate, it’s crisp, dry and needs food to sing. Focused citrus flavors turn a bit more floral as the wine…

Shinn Estate Vineyards 2014 “Mojo” Cabernet Franc

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I don’t want to jinx it, but it seems like Long Island winemakers have largely moved beyond the days of treating cabernet franc like cabernet sauvignon. Most winemakers really scaled back the amount of new oak they are using and are allowing cabernet franc be cabernet franc. They aren’t trying to beat all of the “green” out of the variety as often and as a result very few wood-and-chocolate-and-vanilla-dominated cabernet francs have crossed my tasting table over the past year. A handful of wineries put out unoaked versions now, and Shinn Estate Vineyards — long growers and makers of some of the best local…

Lieb Cellars 2013 Reserve Sparkling Rose

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When a winery adds a new wine to its portfolio, I’m always curious how that happens. What’s the thought process? Is it to meet a real or perceived customer demand? Is it because there is some extra fruit that isn’t accounted for? So I asked Lieb Cellars general manager Ami Opisso how Lieb Cellars 2013 Reserve Sparkling Rose ($35) made its way into the winery’s portfolio. She told me “The simple answer is that we’ve been making what we like to drink.” It’s hard to argue with that thought process. Each summer, the Lieb management team gets together — before…

Billsboro Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc

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Billsboro Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc ($25) is ripe and fruit-forward on the nose with cherry and plum aromas that stay this side of jammy and accents of tobacco, baking spice and dried herbs. The first sip is a bit disjointed and almost comes across as hot (an indicator of higher alcohol that isn’t balanced) but with some air that fades and this medium-bodied, ripe-but-not-too-ripe red settles in with red and black fruit notes that are tinged by toasty vanilla oak-born spice and a bit of brown sugar. Structure is provided by juicy acidity rather than the tannins, which are soft and rounded. On…

Roanoke Vineyards 2014 “NoFi” Rose

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  There have been a lot of rosé reviews on the site this week. That may seem odd if you treat rosé simply as a summer sipper. At NYCR global headquarters, rosé is a year-round libation. We just drink different examples this time of year. Now that the weather has cooled, I find myself using my oven more, and whether I’m roasting a chicken, roasting some winter squash or cooking a pork shoulder for 10 hours like I did last weekend, richer, fuller-bodied rosés really fit the bill. They have enough weight to stand up flavor-wise, but are still fresh, with that lively…