Editor’s Note: We’ve taken a bit of a break from WWD of late, but the team has requested that we bring it back — so we are. Contributing Editor Todd Trzaskos will be running this feature going forward. Thanks, Todd!

Michael Gorton Jr.: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers CROM  (Double IPA)
Lenn and I decided we needed a beer night.   We were going to hit up a local joint that has been doing well after it had some tough reviews when it first opened.  But alas, they were closed.  So we settled, if you wanna say, on another craft beer joint in the neighborhood.   Decent bar food, great craft beers on tap and occasionally you will find Heady Topper hidden behind the bar.

I tasted through a few pints, building my palate and tolerance for a special certain double IPA from Rocky Point Artisan Brewers.   Their first official IPA release, CROM.  I started with a delicious pale ale from Firestone Walker “31” which drank like a sessionable ipa.  Next up was Sofie from Goose Island, a classic.

But on the next one, I hit a pot hole. Samuel Adams Rebel IPA.  Great tap handle, some decent buzz on social media, but a complete disappointment for those who like hops.

There was no hop profile, not a zip of bitterness and if left a malty sweetness.  It was like drinking decaf coffee.  Every reason you drink coffee is stripped away.   On Rebel IPA, the hops were stripped.  The name and packaging do not live up to the product. I am so glad that I had not one but two pints of CROM following to get me back on track and made the night more enjoyable.

Gibson Campbell: 2011 Clos La Coutale
Like many of my cohorts here at the NYCR, I favor cool climate wines over wines produced in hotter regions.  This allows for more nuance and balance over higher alcohol levels and extraction.  The Clos La Coutale, produced by Philippe Bernede, is a blend of mostly Malbec and a small amount of Merlot.  The vineyard is located in Cahors, France – the birthplace of Malbec.  Malbec grown here can exhibit a vastly different flavor profile and structure than its South American counterpart.  The nose opens up with Spruce, black-pepper, blackcurrant and a hint of vanilla.  There is a faint green stemmy note that emerges, telling of the wine’s cool climate upbringing.  This was in a desirable level, adding complexity rather than showing under-ripeness(which can smell like broccoli).  The palate shows a jamminess up front that is quickly curbed by a gritty tannin that coats the mouth.  Through its taught structure, a load of cassis, plum and cinnamon shine.  Rather than a plump fat finish that you might taste in widely available Argentine Malbec, the Cahors is racy, tart, and balanced.  The tannins were still a bit too firm (which I like) suggesting the wine would benefit from another year or four in the cellar.  So next time you see that Merlot out of Virginia, or Chardonnay from New Zealand, check it out.

Katie Pizzuto: La Lecciaia Brunello 2007
Finished off a bottle of Brunello that I was actually pretty “meh” about.  2007 La Lecciaia. Let it decant for over an hour so it would open up, and though it had the blasts of mushroom, tobacco and leather that I love in Brunellos, it just didn’t move me like it apparently moved Suckling to a 95 pt score. I should have known better though….when the hell do I agree with Suckling? A bit too one-note for me. Perhaps I’m too old-school at this point, and these Super Tuscans just aren’t my bag. I will say though, that for the price tag ($25) which is about $10 cheaper than everywhere else, it was worth it.

Paul Zorovich: Dr. Konstantin Frank 2010 Pinot Blanc
We picked this up a month or so ago, and it’s been terrific over the past couple of days.  I’m usually not all that into the pinots (blanc, gris, noir) but you drink what’s there and this was there.  The usual citrus isn’t overpowering.  Once we get up to Penn Yan permanently we’ll get more.  A value at 15 bucks a bottle.

Jim Silver: Peconic Bay Lowerre Family Estate 2007
It’s a little surreal sitting in a cabin – my pied a terre in Santa Cruz, CA with this bottle of Peconic Bay Lowerre Family Estate 2007.  You can see in the picture this is a hard living, hard traveling bottle.  It’s a good reminder that there’s a really good set of reasons why the best wines belong in heavy glass, sealed with long corks.  It’s not an ego trip, at least traditionally.  For a wine to survive the long haul, the many years of storage, movement, and otherwise occasional mistreatment it really pays for the glass to be thick and the closure to be secure.  Fluctuations in temperature and exposure to light are mostly mitigated by the armor of heavy glass – at least in theory.  Well, this particular bottle made it many thousands of miles only to be consumed on the side of a mountain facing the Pacific with a plate of whole wheat pasta and organic tomato sauce.  It did not disappoint.  Frankly, seriously, it was way better than I expected.  This 07 is particularly deep and complex with rich and round black fruits – clay, pomegranate, herbs and stones; warm brick, cedar closet, wet leaves, tobacco box, sweet plum compote, blackberry pie crust, warm earth and long, long flavors of pecans, plywood, buttered linzer torte and kirsch.  Quite honestly, I hope you have this wine.  It is remarkable and a major achievement for the region that NYCR called the wine of the year in 2011.  It is astounding.  I have three more bottles but I only wish I had thirty more.

Todd Trzaskos: Prince Michel Virginia Viognier NV
Second day open, revisiting a Prince Michel Viognier NV that my colleague from work grabbed at a Walmart while visiting family in VA .  It’s pretty darned bright and cheery, tropical and creamy with a meringue component that almost comes across as candied honeydew rind. Not a knockout, but hard not to like…and if this is a simple, inexpensive VA wine, then it’s a good reminder that there is plenty more to explore.  I have been intrigued by VA wines since #Wine Blogger’s Conference 2011, and have gone from pleasantly surprised to eagerly expectant based on what I’ve tasted.  Unfortunately there is no clear wholesale presence here in the far northeast. I think I may have depleted the last of my stores from Old Virginia,  and it may be time to saddle up for a resupply trip, or peruse the web for an interstate shipment.

Bryan Calandrelli: Ransom Gewurztraminer Grappa
Any Oregon action I get in my life has been limited to entry level pinot noir and the occasional pinot gris. It’s that lack of diversity that inhibits my immersion into the nuance Oregon’s wine culture, and that’s way a taste of Oregon-crafted Gewurztraminer grappa was so satisfying yesterday. I don’t find grappa to be charming in any aromatic sense so when I got a whiff of this one that actually resembled something made from grapes, I was surprised. Comments like “Wow” and “This doesn’t smell like paint remover” echoed throughout the room. On the palate where I usually expect just burning sensations, there was certainly some flavor and some texture, providing a rare taste of the region for this east coaster.