A Decade or More Later? It’s No Problem for These Long Island Red Wines

Originally Published on The Cork Report

Wine has many components that offer pleasure to the drinker. There is the simple pleasure found in the indulgence of fruit and texture that is wine. Then comes the layer of complexity – a drink that offers a chance to pause and observe. The next layer is that of knowledge – of terroir, vintage and variety. And finally – the layer of storytelling. 

To me, a wine with age has that final stage. It can tell the story not only of its own making, but also of the years that it spent carefully cellared away. When I open a well-aged bottle with friends, I recall when it was bought, where and why. 

Call me sentimental, I will gladly take it as a compliment. 

Thus, when I was invited by Paul Brady of New York Wine and Grapes Foundation to taste an array of wines with a decade or more of age from Long Island was extremely exciting to me. I was looking forward to seeing how they have developed, and was pleasantly surprised – as the majority of the wines showed that Long Island does indeed produce age-worthy red wines, wines that benefit from the cellar and become the storied gems that I, personally, seek out. But first things first. We met on a Monday afternoon at Craft’s newly renovated private room. We were welcomed in by Paul and Brooks Frasier, Craft’s Beverage Director. With the large open kitchen and a bar, it is a cozy, cool space, and the food was simply fantastic, as always. The duck was fantastic, but the octopus stole my heart. Perfectly tender, with the spicy and savory notes and matched by the creamy chickpeas. One wouldn’t immediately think of octopus with aged red wines, but the combination of savory herbs and spices made it an excellent pairing. 


2010 Lieb Cellars Cabernet Franc North Fork:
Dark red berry on the nose, with time - mint, hint of cedar and tobacco. On the palate - ripe soft red cherry, rich chocolate note leaning to a hint of balsamic touch toward the finish. With the 60/40 % of French to Hungarian oak and 15% new - I would say that the oak is well balanced here. It adds a richness to the palate and some spice to nose and finish but never takes over. While I would think this is a good time to drink the wine, there is no hurry. Secondary notes are well balanced by the primary fruit. Powerful red wine, but retaining cool climate markers that keeps it fresh. 

2010 Suhru Wines New York State North Fork Red Blend:
The wine (a mainly Bordeaux blend, with a small percentage of Syrah) opens with black cherry and cedar, adding notes of herbs and spice. The palate is generous, with plush dark cherry and hints of savory tones showing development. The oak is well managed though quite present here, adding a velvety texture to the tannin. The hint of warms leads to a savory and juicy finish. Definitely drinking well now - and opening up in the glass. 

2010 Bedell Artist Series Taste Red, North Fork:
A unique blend of Merlot and Syrah (60%/20%, with 12% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Malbec), it showed as a dark and powerful wine, with blackberry joining the sweet cherry tones on the nose. Richer palate, plusher oak and fruit, but with a bright note to keep it fresh. Tannins are quite resolved, adding to the texture but not intruding. Otherwise, no signs of age - perhaps the most age-worthy wine in the flight. Sweet ripe fruit in the mid, balanced by the power of the finish keep one coming back to the glass. 


2010 Macari Vineyards “Bergen Road”, North Fork:
This Bordeaux Blend (56% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 2% Petite Verdot) was easily one of my favorite wines of the day. Having tasted this wine 6 months ago - I must say it has not moved much. The hint of savory notes on the nose are the only indicators of age. Rich ripe plum, spice and herb on the nose. Mid is quite ripe - black cherry, plum and blackberry, but the earthier tones and the structure keep the wine quite fresh. The finish is long, with savory herb and juicy black fruit. This wine needs a lot more time to get to its peak - I would give it at least 5 years but i can see it showing at peak long after that. Simply excellent. 

2010 Channing Daughters Petit Verdot Long Island :
the wine opened funky and earthy on the nose, showing leather and tertiary development. With time - showing balsamic notes as well. The palate was fresher, with tangy red fruit, herb and surprising tannin (well - partially surprising knowing that this is PV). Mainly red fruit on the palate, with a nice texture and a medium long tangy finish. This was the most developed wine from the 2010 group 

2007 Lenz Merlot Old Vines, North Fork:
Savory, with rich herb and cherry tones. The nose shows mainly secondary notes, but quite compelling and the fruit balances out the spice and smoke. The palate shows ripe cherry, with leather and savory herb. With time - the wine began to show a note of plum and sweet dry cherries. While clearly in its drinking window, it is balances and retains fruit as well as structure. Quite classic and classy. 


2005 Paumanok Assemblage, North Fork:
This is Paumanok’s signature Bordeaux Blend (44% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot), I have consumed my share of these over the years, and it was a pleasure to have it out of magnum - and with winery storage to boot. Still showing young, with bright cherry, red fruit, hints of herb and tobacco. The palate is classic, mineral and acid driven but with great cherry and raspberry tones. Still has a lovely tannic grip, and the tangy finish is quite refreshing. An excellent showing. 

2001 Wölffer Estate Merlot 1er Cru, South Fork:
The grapes were picked very late – on October 31! Moreover, this small cuvee (142 cases) was aged in 100% new oak. The wine was fully resolved, but showing well for its age. Nose was herb, cedar and leather. The palate is light, with red fruit and bright, crunchy acidity balanced by the structure. Savory tones rounded out the finish - very enjoyable. 

2001 Palmer Vineyards Merlot, North Fork:
Absolute surprise of the tasting - this was the “regular” Merlot from Palmer Vineyards - not the reserve. And yet, it showed quite well, an elegant, refreshing example of a well-aged, cool climate red wine. Still well structured, with fresh acidity, red fruit and a zip of spice. The crunchy red berry follows through to the finish. Perhaps lacking a bit of intensity - but not at all tired. 

In the end, several conclusions could be drawn. First and foremost, 2010 was a fantastic vintage for Long Island wine, producing bottles that will likely effortlessly age another decade. I will be on the lookout for more of these wines, as well as from other recent excellent vintages. 

Overall, the wines showed well, with the cool climate red fruit showing more clearly with age, but also retaining the signature freshness that makes these wines such excellent pairing with the fresher, acid-driven modern cuisine. They paired well with both the octopus and the duck dishes – and I must praise the team of Craft for an excellent meal. The octopus was perfectly grilled, with just the right amount of char and yet, soft and luxurious. The duck… was perfect. The breast, cooked medium rare with crispy skin and the leg confit, perfectly tender. I also want to thank Paul Brady and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation for the opportunity to taste these wines – and yes, please, how about a few flight of aged white wines as well? After the 2009 Riesling Kareem Massoud opened this summer, I would be intrigued to try more!  

Raw Wine NYC 2019

Raw Wine was back in New York this week - and I was glad to be there! Knockdown Center is a perfect venue - with more then enough room even for the New York crowd. Here are just a few of my favorite moments and impressions from the fair.

  Abe Schoener of The Scholium Project  

Nicola Adamo and Guido Grillo of Elios

Gvantsa Abuladze and Shalva Tevdoradze of Baia’s wine and Zurab Kviriashvili of Zurab Kviriashvili Vineyards

Nate Ready of Hiyu Wine Farm - one of his delicious blends. 

But my absolute favorite part of the fair is the Speakers Corner - and the incredible interviews and tastings that allow for a deeper understand of Natural Wine and its direction. 

Hybrid grapes are not new to someone from New York State - we grow our share of them both in the Hudson Valley and in the Finger Lakes. But the perspective brought to the topic by Alice Feiring, and the panelists (Lewis Dickson of La Cruz de Comal, Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista Farm & Winery and Ryan Stirm of Stirm Wine Company) was illuminating. What position will these grapes have in the future? The answer is still open for debate.

I was able to attend three “Natural Wine Legends” Seminars. The first was Celebrating the Life of Stefano Bellotti of Cascina degli Ulivi. Stefano’s daughter, Ilaria Bellotti discussed her father and his legacy with Alessandro Trezza of Have & Meyer. We had the opportunity to look back and taste four of his wines, each pairing a decade apart. It was an impressive showing indeed!

A man that requires absolutely no introduction - Saša Radikon. His humor and knowledge, balanced by the excellent questions put forth by Sam Benrubi, quick had the room in stitches. We tasted the wines back to the original 1995 vintage, and ageless would be an understatement for them. Especially the powerful. textured Ribolla, as even the 1999 vintage showed young and the 2004 was simply stunning. 

The last of the three “Natural Wine Legends” tastings i attended was with the humble and soft-spoken master of Barbera - Lorenzo Corino. He brought a special treat with him - a wine he made at 19, his first vintage - 1967 Barbera ‘Bricco’. And what a stunning wine - with notes of toast and sweet spices on the nose, but a freshness and vibrancy of fruit and herbs on the palate. His vineyard first approach and insight into the history of wine-making and agriculture was absolutely fascinating - and though provoking. 

Lastly, the conversation on Biodynamics and its home - Austria, with three Austrian winemakers (Eduard Tscheppe-Eselböck, Matthias Hager and Johannes Zillinger), lead by Amanda Smeltz (of the incomparable Estela). The focus was on the practice and the theory of Biodynamic farming - from their three quite different perspectives. 

Thank you again, to the Raw Wine and Heritage Radio Crew for the wonderful work!

A Week In Ireland - The Majestic Emerald Isle!

Ireland has always been on my “must visit” list - rolling hills, clashing waves and a pretty cool summer climate (we usually end up traveling in August due to my teaching schedule). It quickly moved up the list after we spent a few days in Dublin for a friend’s wedding several years ago. I absolutely loved the people, the relaxed atmosphere and yes, the food. We began our trip in Dublin, our hub as I decided not to drive this time around (although I would absolutely advise getting a car - and will do so next time). Instead we took day-trips, both on the DART and the tour buses. A quick note of tours - they are well priced, organized and absolutely easy to book. The main negative though is timing - a bus means that everything takes longer and thus, there is much less time for exploring.     

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Dublin is unimaginable without St. Patrick’s Cathedral, especially for me - since I teach Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” almost every semester. It is a majestic building - well worth the visit - and the gardens are a perfect place for a break after. 

There is much to see inside, but I couldn’t get enough of these amazing stained-glass windows. These are not original, but put up in the late 19th and early 20th century. Yet they are absolutely stunning. 

We then walked over to Dublin Castle - to learn more of the city’s history, going back to the Viking Settlement known as Duiblinn (or “Black Pool”). There are still stones from the original Viking walls under the Castle, and you can see them during the tour. 

A short walk to the east, and you find yourself on the Trinity College campus. See the Book of Kells in the Library, or just to walk through its historic lanes. My advise would be to either book a ticket for the Library ahead, or come early in the morning.

Cliffs of Moher are a top attraction, and even though it is a bit of a trek from Dublin, they are well worth it. 

Because of the long drive from Dublin to the Cliffs, most bus tours make a stop along the way. Our tour stopped at a sheep farm to watch how the shepherd dogs gather and move flocks in the hills.

We opted to take the boat tour of the Cliffs in addition to walking along them. 

The power of the Cliffs is on full display from the water.

Back on land. we made our way to the edge of the Cliffs, along with many other visitors.

Even though there are a lot of tourists here, there is enough beauty to go around. If only we had more time to explore!

Our other long bus tour was to Northern Ireland, which included a visit to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

It is a wild, rocky coast. And the tour describes several legendary and scientific explanations for the unusual geological formations in the area.

The bridge itself is really not as scary as it seems, but it allows one to get a good glimpse of Scotland across the sea. 

North Atlantic coast is beautiful and wild. And alive with many bird species. 

We then dove into ancient history of Ireland with a visit to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange Passage Tomb. The ancient earthworks of the Hill of Tara can be seen above.

The Newgrange Passage tomb is older than the Pyramids of Egypt. It is built out of large stones that had to be moved for miles. We still know very little of its original use and intent, but it is constructed in such a way as to allow the sunlight to enter the tomb on the morning of the winter solstice. 

It is an impressive earth and stone construction, made of 200,000 tonnes of rock and other materials. 

On the next morning we drove through Wicklow Mountains to our next destination. 

It was a bright morning and the wild flowers, mixed in with the grasses, made for a spectacular view. 

We were headed to the historic Glendalough, where St, Kevin founded a monastic settlement in the 6th century. 

The round bell-tower can be seen for miles, perhaps a landmark for those seeking the settlement. 

We finished the day with a visit to Powerscourt Gardens. 

We took the DART from Dublin to Howth - a lovely fishing village on a peninsula just North of Dublin. Get some fresh seafood for lunch after the walk!

The Howth Cliff walk, a short stroll away from the station, takes the hiker along the eastern edge of the peninsula and allows views onto the Dublin bay, the city and even the Wicklow mountains beyond. It was one of our favorite moments of the trip.

On our last day in Ireland, we took the DART all the way to the south, to Bray. A small coastal town, with a population that commutes to Dublin. It has a long boardwalk along the beach, and a walk through the cliffs. 

An easier walk takes the hikers from Bray to Greystones (the next town on the coast), but we chose to head to the top of the cliffs - to the Cross. The hike is much more difficult, but the views are absolutely worth it! I hope you enjoyed this brief photo essay. 

Using Format