By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

For this, our first WWD of the new year, we have one old old bottle, and a few value wines that were enjoyed over the holidays. For me, my drinking over the last week has been mostly local, so those notes will be published as stand-alone and "Tasting Table" posts.

Crozes_89 Evan Dawson: Alain Graillot 1989 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude

In a blind setting, this wine convinced the table it was a syrah — likely from the northern Rhone. But more experienced tasters were pegging it at 15 years old, and if you follow Northern Rhone winemaking, you know that Crozes-Hermitage is rather the lesser star of the region. In other words, no one was expecting this, and especially because the wine was an elegant beauty.

It was straightforward and mature, giving off secondary characteristics that had held up impressively.

It's a big, big stretch to connect a Northern Rhone appellation to the Finger Lakes, but I'm going to try. You see, someone recently asked how long the very best 2007 Finger Lakes reds might age (the example offered was Ravines Meritage).

My answer: We can't possibly know. Occasionally we'll luck into a late 1980s Finger Lakes red that is somehow still alive, but I haven't found much that is still singing. But a lot has changed in our young region.

What's the drinking window for the very best local reds? I wish I knew, but I'll be experimenting as time goes by.

Does that mean we're anything like Crozes-Hermitage? Nope. But like this surprising bottle, still holding up and showing well two decades on, there might be surprises to uncover here. It will simply take time and patience to make such discoveries, if they exist at all.

Relax RieslingJason Feulner: Relax Riesling

Relax ALREADY! At only 9% alcohol this Mosel riesling isn't going to
insist upon relaxation via drunken stupor, but I hardly missed the
extra kick.

Apple dominated the semi-dry/semi-sweet composition, the
acidity nicely backing the spritzy finish with just a hint of

The residual sugar left over from fermentation integrated itself nicely
with the flavor components. I tend to like my rieslings a little more
dry, but in this case the lightness of the Mosel proved itself to be
adequate for an affordable, fun sipper.

At $10, this is the type of
stuff parties should be made of (yes, I'm calling you out, you
mass-produced, overripe oak bombs!). With just a hint of both sweetness
and complexity, I'd consider this as a go-to for pleasing a random

G-and-mJulia Burke: G&M Machmer Bechtheimer Stein Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2006

 My family's favorite Indian restaurant serves up phenomenal northern Indian and Pakistani entrees, fluffy naan and roti, tasty appetizers — and a horrendous wine list.

Fortunately, the owner is aware of this, and he allows BYOB wine and beer with no corkage fee. So when I met my family for dinner there on Saturday, my mom had brought along a bottle of her favorite Indian food wine: Gewurztraminer.

This one was sweeter than expected, with a delicate nose of apricot, toasted straw, and a light touch of vanilla and spice — a bit more understated than most of the gewurztraminers I've had.

The acidity was decent, with no oily characteristics, and to balance the moderate sweetness I ordered my tandoori chicken a little spicier than usual.

At $12 this was a good choice for the occasion, refreshing and pleasant.


SaladiniRossoPiceno_2006Bryan Calandrelli: Saladini Pilastri 2006 Rosso Piceno Superiore Montetinello

There are some wines that get tagged as everyday wines based on price, quaffability and versatility. When I first started drinking wine everyday I would always count on a Montepulciano D¹Abruzzo to quench my daily thirst for dry reds. The 1.5L bottles were never all that complex, but they were good enough to drink with dinner or just sip over the course of an evening.

After several years of supporting the red wine industry I learned enough to know that the red blends of Le Marche can bring complexity and value by blending two grapes from the region.

This Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno Montetinello 2006 is a blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese which is pretty much standard for Rosso Piceno.

It pours ruby red in color with aromas of plum, sour cherry, vanilla and toast. I also picked up some forest notes that I can only relate to evergreen trees. Perfectly medium-bodied, this wine had fine tannins and balanced acidity.

Clearly old world in style, I love the oak treatment in wines like this. It's balance and rusticity make it a good buy at $10.

Limb and life Kevin Burns:
Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada Limb and Life

A last minute trip to Manhattan with friends meant only one thing — I get to stop by Rattle N' Hum. 

Rattle N' Hum is quite possibly my favorite beer bar in the city and this trip allowed me to try a rare brew that I have been hunting after for quite some time.

Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head brewed sister collaboration beers in 2009. These beers, Life & Limb and Limb & Life, created quite a splash in the craft beer world.

I was lucky enough to try Limb and Life, a 4.8% ABV American Brown Ale on tap.  The beer is malty on the nose and first sip with some light sweetness. The mid-palate is mellow and the finish is hoppy. Overall, a very mild beer especially for a Dogfish brew.