When a winery adds a new wine to its portfolio, I’m always curious how that happens. What’s the thought process? Is it to meet a real or perceived customer demand? Is it because there is some extra fruit that isn’t accounted for?

So I asked Lieb Cellars general manager Ami Opisso how Lieb Cellars 2013 Reserve Sparkling Rose ($35) made its way into the winery’s portfolio. She told me “The simple answer is that we’ve been making what we like to drink.”

It’s hard to argue with that thought process.

Each summer, the Lieb management team gets together — before harvest begins — for a meeting to discuss the portfolio and what non-Lieb wines they are enjoying most. “More than a few of us were obsessing over rose champagnes and Russell Hearn (Lieb’s winemaker) was confident he could make a good one with our pinot noir and chardonnay fruit, so off we went!” she said.


Made with 66% chardonnay and 33% pinot noir and using Methode Champenoise – the method used in the Champagne region of France – this is a bright, focused sparkler that really excels at the dinner table.

Delicately colored – more copper than pink, really – its bubbles are fine and persistent. Aromas of white cherry and cranberry are accented by subtle yeasty, nutty notes.

The first sip packs a citrusy, focused punch – a laser beam of acidity that will cut through fatty or rich foods. Nearly bone dry, any residual sugar ends up bringing weight rather than actual sweetness. Red fruits – mostly cherry and cranberry again – dominate with citrus notes and a faint hint of blanched almond.

It’s not the most complex sparkling wine in the world, but it’s satisfying and delicious – it would be at home with a platter of varied cheeses, with simply prepared Peconic Bay scallops (they are in season now!) or with fried chicken.

Note: This wine was also my northforker.com wine of the week for the week of October 1, 2015

Producer: Lieb Cellars
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Blend: 66% chardonnay, 33% pinot noir
Production: 500 cases
Price: $35 (sample)

(3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)