Lenn Thompson: Cornell Baker Farm 2012 La Crosse
One of the pleasures of having Todd Trzaskos on the staff has been enjoying some of his homemade wines — often made with some interesting and new-to-me grapes grown in the North Country of New York.  Take this 2012 La Cross grown at Cornell’s Baker Farm test vineyard.

I didn’t know anything about the grape until I was sharing my impressions with Todd. I noted a ‘slightly seyval blanc-y note’ as the wine warmed and he then informed me that seyval is one of its parents (it’s a hybrid developed in the 1970s). It’s an early ripener and is cold hardy to -25° F. I’ve ready a few short pieces online this morning about it and many compare it to riesling — but to me this was more sauvignon blanc-like in it’s lemon-melon-green herb profile.

Driven by electric acidity, I actually drank it after I had already started eating — after a couple other wines left me bored. It woke up my palate and worked quite well with our vegetarian meal.

Tracy Weiss: Strawberry Pimm’s Cup
While I’m honored to be the “chief wino” among my group of friends, I’m sometimes lost when houseguests need a change of pace. Why would one need something in a glass other than wine? There are enough options within the grape family, damn it! However, a hostess must give the people what they want….and my boozehounds clamor for, well…booze.

Seeking a refreshment to provide a nice buzz but still appeal to my need for balance and acidity, we looked to Strawberry Pimm’s Cup from this month’s edition of Saveur. Using the last of the North Fork strawberry crop as the base, we experimented with this combo featuring Pimm’s Cup (the spicy sweet liqueur imported from the UK and super popular with chicks who wear fedoras.) Ginger Ale (only Canada Dry will do) kept things light and dry without an overwhelming ginger flavor and a surprise jolt from Balsamic Vinegar kept the cocktail firmly in the savory category despite the sweetness from the fruit. As the Cutchogue King Cullen isn’t fancy enough for kaffir lime leaves (Really magazine editors? Like that’s an easy get across the country?), we added fresh lime juice for more acid and whatever Hendricks’s Gin was left in the bottle from the night before because we’re drunks.

Crowd Pleasing. Summer Sipping with a little kick.

Katie Myers: Mount Pleasant 2006 Hunter Valley Semillon
I’m in Australia this week, and amidst a sea of high-alcohol bombs, I have found a few winners. This 2006 Hunter Valley Semillon from Mount Pleasant clocked in at 10.5% and was a refreshing, sophisticated and elegant gem.

The “Anne,” as it’s called, was reductive upon opening (yes, it’s under screw cap) even after seven years in bottle. But given a bit of time in the glass and oxygen exposure, she opened up and you could smell the characteristic slate and straw, and taste through the layers of flavor. Interestingly, a colleague told me that years ago, this was actually called Hunter Valley Riesling until about 20 years ago, when they discovered it wasn’t actually Riesling at all, but Semillon.

With the emergence of Semillon as a single variety in some of the edgy new California wines like Dirty and Rowdy, is this a harbinger of an opportunity for a new variety in the Finger Lakes?

Michael Gorton: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2010 Syrah
On Thursday, we put together a “New York Drinks New York” Dinner with Arrowhead Spring Vineyards from Lockport, NY.  It was held at the Riverhead Project and the dinner was prepared by their new executive chef Lia Fallon.

When Lenn and I sat down to go over the wines and assemble the menu with Lia we all felt that the 2010 Syrah stood out above the others and it was calling for a hearty meat offering. We thought beef, or bison, or venison but in the end we decided upon lamb loin. It’s a big wine and we wanted to show how the wine would complement the food.  Lia did that perfectly.

The syrah packed with fruit up front, think blackberry, currant and black cherry.  Also dusted with of black pepper, smoke, sweet vanilla and cedar.  Fresh and vibrant acidity made this a perfect match for Lia’s rare lamb loin that melted in your mouth.

Before this night, some would question syrah from New York, but up in the Niagara Escarpment Duncan and Robin Ross, the co-owners of Arrowhead Springs Vineyards have found a way to make it happen. I don’t think there are questions anymore and some of us still want some more lamb loin.

Len Dest: Ptujska Klet Pullus 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Stajerska, Slovenia
We are taking a wine tour vacation of Slovenia, Croatia, and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Northeastern Italy this Autumn and so we are sampling wines from these regions as we find them. Sauvignon blanc grapes from France were introduced into the Slovenian region in the late 1800s and it has become a major white grape variety along with more traditional white grapes; pinot grigio, pinot blanc, muscat and gewürztraminer.

The Ptuj wine cellar (Ptujska Klet) was founded in 1239, and is the oldest Slovenian wine producer with the oldest wine producing heritage in the country. The terroir and the vineyards surrounding Ptuj offer outstanding conditions for producing distinctive wines. All grapes are hand harvested and sorted. The winemakers of the Ptujska Klet produce wines using both traditional and modern methods but always making the wine with a natural touch, focusing on the characteristics of the grape variety. Pullus is one of the brands of Ptujska Klet with wines that are particularly focused on the aromas and flavors of the grape varieties.

The Pullus 2012 sauvignon blanc is blended from fruit from two hillside vineyards (Haloze and Srednje Slovenske) around the city of Ptuj in the Lower Styria (Štajerska) region in Northeastern Slovenia. The harvest of 2012 was one of the best experienced in the region in recent years. All the hand-picked grapes are macerated for 8 to 24 hours, with stainless steel tank fermentation, and with 100% aging on the lees.

The wine is very light straw colored, with aromas of tropical fruit aromas as well as the classic grapefruit aroma and with a hint of green pepper. The wine is medium bodied with a well rounded balance of relatively high alcohol (13.5%) level, hefty acidity resulting in a wine that is mostly dry with some small amount of residual sugar.

This a very appealing sauvignon blanc, at the same time nothing like a New Zealand or Loire Valley sauvignon blanc, but more like a great pinot blanc, with the characteristic aromas and flavors of sauvignon blanc.

This is both a great sipping wine as well as a great food wine with summer vegetables, pastas, seafood and white meats. .