The January shipment of the Empire State Cellars Wine Club won’t ship for a few weeks, but — as always — I’m excited to share the selections with you.

If you’re not familiar with the club, you can learn more here.

“Hello New York” Wines

Macari Vineyards 2012 “Early Wine” Chardonnay: In the same vein as Beaujolais Nouveau — but local and far better. This off-dry wine is super crisp with pear, apple and light floral notes. Make sure that you drink it before March to enjoy it at its fresh best

Paumanok Vineyards 2010 Festival Red: This blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and just a little bit of petit verdot is one of the great values in New York wine — especially if you’re a cabernet franc fanatic like I am. The 18% cab franc here brings a delicious herbal savoriness.

“Getting to Know New York” Wines

Shaw Vineyards 2008 Riesling: This was a surprise standout in a recent tasting. Extended lees contact brings a roundness to the mouthfeel, which pairs with snappy acidity and classic Finger Lakes flavors of lime, peach and slate.

Forge Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir: Forge has made waves with it’s neutral-oak aged riesling — but this pure, expressive pinot noir might be even better thanks to top-flight vineyard sources and meticulous work in those vineyards. It’s a steal for the money.

“New York Wine Trail” Wines

Bedell Cellars 2010 Taste White: This steel-fermented blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, gewürztraminer and viognier is fermented with ambient yeasts and shows the ripeness of the 2010 vintage — but without any heat or flabbiness. I dig it for its floral edge.

Peconic Bay Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc: Sometimes Long Island cabernet franc loses its cabernet franc-ness — its soul — in the hot vintages and ends up tasting like just another red. Not so here. Sure, there is plenty of fruit and structure, but that savory, earthy edge remains to remind you what grape this is.

“Excelsior” Wines

Sparkling Pointe 2003 Brut Seduction: Winemaker Gilles Martin makes so many wonderful sparklers, but this flagship is always a stunner. Rich and mouth-filling, it’s got the earthy, bisquity, nutty funkiness that I love. You could save this for a celebration, or make any night an event by opening it.

McCall Wines 2007 Ben’s Blend: Named for Ben Sisson, a friend and local vineyard manager who was taken from us too soon, this Bordeaux-style blend is ripe, bordering on opulent, but stays balanced with well-integrated tannins and nice acidity. And, with a few extra years of bottle age, it’s singing right now (but will evolve for years to come).

If you haven’t signed up for the club yet, fear not. You can still get in on this first shipment. Email Katherine Jaeger, Manager of Wine Clubs, at and she will take good care of you. And remember, you can customize your club to include just red or whites wines too if you’d like.