This is a (small) sampling of what our editors were drinking last week…

Bedell-02merlot Lenn Thompson: Bedell Cellars 2002 Merlot

This mature local merlot — from a surprisingly under-hyped vintage — showed very well at my birthday dinner last Friday at Fifth Season in Port Jefferson (a restaurant that use to be in local wine country but moved to the tourist town a few years ago).

There was still nice fruit intensity, but the mushroomy, dusty chocolate and faintly herbal secondary characters — and enough structure to maybe age another few years — were the real stars with my waygu burger with bacon and cheddar.

Even if only one of my dining companions drank it with me, it was a great way to celebrate… especially because of Fifth Season's BYO policy — if it's a local wine, the corkage fee is waived.

I actually just heard about this policy recently and I'm glad I did. We'll be back, with more local wine in tow.

As for the wine itself, they are actually selling it right now in the Bedell tasting room as a library selection.


Frwchard Julia Burke: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay

This weekend I celebrated the end of my alcohol detox with a day of winery visits in Niagara.

Though I enjoyed several great local wines (and meads), the highlight was Arrowhead Spring's new 2009 chardonnay. For a winemaker who seems to be the "chard whisperer" to declare this one, from a supposedly tough vintage, the best he's ever made is no joke, and I had to agree as I sipped this luscious wine.

The nose is quite restrained with barely a whisper of oak; instead, it's fierce citrus with just a hint of creaminess on the background, like a meringue cake topped with orange and lemon zest.

But on the palate, the velvety-smoothness kicks in full throttle for a gorgeous combination of clean fruit, whipped butter, and razor-sharp acid. First as an aperitif, then with vineyard manager Robin Ross's apple crisp for dessert, this was a tremendous wine and a great reminder of winemaker Duncan Ross's affinity for the variety.