In Pictures: 2018 NY Drinks NY

2018 NY Drinks NY

Originally Published by The Cork Report

This was my first time attending the NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting, and I was quite excited, with my Nikon and a 50mm lens ready. I knew I would get to see familiar faces, and try excellent new vintages, but I was also on the lookout for things I have yet to try, new people, new vineyards, and even new appellations.

Where did I start…? I confess – I love seeing friendly faces. Thus, I made a beeline to the Macari table to see Kelly Koch. There were several intriguing wines to try – but I was really looking forward to the “Lifeforce” lineup, fermented in concrete “egg-shaped” tanks. The “Lifeforce Sauvignon Blanc 2016” showed rich, tropical notes on the nose, quite unusual for the cooler climate of Long Island, but the middle brought us back, with its cool, bright citrus and lightness. The wines was quite intriguing on the palate already and the hint of soft creamy touches in the mid would, in my mind, pair well with richer fish and poultry dishes.

Another wine that must be mentioned – is the Macari Rose. Yes – a rose note from me, unusual already. But this was a unique wine – a blend of Malbec, Petite Verdot and Pinot Noir. The wine showed quite impressive floral notes already- with spring flowers and bright herbal touches, the mid was full of cranberry notes with bright acidity, and refreshing red berry finish. This wine screams summer – even on a cold winter day.

I really enjoyed the “Dos Aquas” 2013, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Named for the two “waters” of Long Island, and hailing from the excellent 2013 vintage, the wine showed excellent black fruit, iron and tobacco leaf on the nose, with a solid, bright mid-palate, hints of ripe sweet tannin and savory herb. While ready to drink, I could see aging this for a few years as well.

I have written already about my love for the work Kareem is putting in at Paumanok. The lineup is a solid endorsement of both the winemaker and the region – from the sparkling wine and to the single vineyard reds. It is hard to choose a favorite – though the “Minimalist” wines have been most intriguing to me as of late. But then again – what is summer on North Fork without Paumanok Chenin? And we all know how well the Assemblage can age… just take them all.

Talking about great lineups, have you tried the wines of Hermann J. Wiemer yet? No? Start at the top… by shaking hands with Oskar Bynke of course! And if that smile doesn’t convince you, I just heard they disgorged a 2015 Riesling Brut Sekt.

Often the “House White” gets overlooked, but don’t miss this beauty. The “Field White” is 45% Gruner Veltliner, 30% Riesling and 25% Chardonnay and the sweet, bright tropical fruit offer immediate pleasure. Honeyed and rich in the mid, with a hint of sweetness toward the back… the South may have sweet tea…but I will have a glass of this instead please…

On a more serious note, buy the 2016 Riesling Reserve Dry and put it away for a few years. While it is already pretty, with white peach, and bright, crisp mid, a bit of time will allow the hint of apricot on the back to come out, and the minerality will be fused with the autumnal fruit.

I remember having Standing Stone “Ice-wines” years ago, in fact, the 2001 was a favorite of mine. But that was another time. Now, with Jessica Johnson as the winemaker, Standing Stone is making a comeback. The 2017 Rose, made from 100% Saperavi is not a shy wine. Mineral, acid driven and bright are the words that come to mind, with cranberry and sorrel in the mid, it is a refreshing take on a Rose.

I really enjoyed the 2017 Standing Stone Gewurztraminer, and not only because it takes bravery to grow this finicky, thin-skinned grape. The wines showed all the typical aromas of the grape, with lychee and rose-water leading the way, but what impressed me more was the bright mineral mid, full of peaches and mirabelle plums. While totally dry, it showed a slight hint of sweetness toward the finish, to round it off.

I was glad to see Lisa Hallgren of Ravines Wine Cellars as well – we had a wonderful tasting with her and her husband last summer and I was excited to try the wines again since the ones I bought are resting in storage. The 2015 White Springs Riesling is easily my favorite, showing drier today than it did six months ago, but with that same sexy ripe peach and mineral. But the 2014 Maximilien impressed as well, with a nose of ripe red and black fruit, hint of beets, and a serious mid of savory herb and power.

I was surprised while tasting the 2014 Ravines Pinot Noir, to see how earthy and dark the fruit was. Delicious now, it is a cooler, tart cherry and forest floor kind of wine. Quite delicious.

One of the people on my “must meet list” was Miguel Martin of Palmer Vineyards. I obviously wanted to try the Albarino (see below) but I have heard good things about the wines overall. The freshness of the Rose and the tropical power of the Sauvignon Blanc made me think that a visit to the winery is absolutely in order.

The 2017 Albariño was delicious, no questions about it, sweet tropical fruit on the nose, bright green apple and mineral in the mid, wait … how is the glass empty already?

If I was to ask about an age-worthy Long Island Merlot, what answer would I expect? Lenz. And the Merlot is good, in this case it was the 2014 Estate Selection, which is a 92% Merlot blend with hints of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Serious, savory and age-worthy. But the 2013 Gewurztraminer surprised me more, made in an almost Alsace style, weightier, drier and, while less aromatic, more powerful and richer in the mid. This is a serious white wine!

Forgive my ignorance, but I have not had any serious wine from the Hudson River Region; or rather not until this tasting. A few sips and swirls with Matthew Spaccarelli of Fjord Vineyards and I was interested in hearing more (and seeing more – once the new tasting room opens this summer). The 2017 Rose, while a bit subdued on the nose, was bright and happy in the mid and the Cabernet Franc showed pretty red fruit, ripe with a streak of minerality, though on the cooler side. I cannot wait to taste more.

One of the biggest surprises from the tasting was this beauty – 2017 Fjord Vineyards Albariño. Recently bottled, it was still shy on the nose but with a bit of agitation started to show the sweet tropical fruit. The mid was wonderful already – light and bright citrus fruit, great depth with mineral and spicy notes coming in toward the back and a nice dry finish. Delicious!

Barbaresco/Barolo Dinner

Our plan was to enjoy wines of Piedmont in a more organized manner - to dive a bit deeper. And who better to do this than close friends. 

We began with the Produttori. The ‘74 spent most of the evening in the running for WOTN. perfectly resolved, it opened with notes of oyster shell, but soon showed more floral, with roses and herbs and perhaps thyme and mint. Mid was bright, with lovely cherry and earthy notes, hint of spice, elegant - one would almost think of burgundy. long delicious finish.  

The ‘82 was unfortunatery off. Dominated by soy and plum notes with a hint of spice. mid was lacking fruit and severely outclassed by the ‘74. 

The 2001 was in many ways similar to the ‘74, earthy and bright on the nose, with red berries and even cranberry in the mid. with time the fruit took a darker turn - toward plum. still quite tannic and the structure, while not obtrusive, is very evident. great potential and already a pleasure.

The ‘01 Brunate was such a pleasure. surely very young, but it was elegant, with silkier structure than the Produttori, sweet core of red cherry and blackberry toward the back. tangy and spicy on the finish - the tannins did dry the mouth a bit. I found this less offensive than others though - especially with food.

The 2011 showed the lightness and easy-going nature of the vintage, roses, strawberry jam and delicious bright acids, even if lacking power and stucture. quite delicious and it felt ready even knowing it’s youth. 

the 2006 was a different beast altogether… WOTN even at this stage - brooding sexy monster - with elegance and grace hard to fathom in a powerful wine. savory herbs, red and black cherry, well balanced already but surely in need of more time… simply a stunning wine.

Local salumi and home made pasta… that is truly heaven.

A Few Thoughts from the Skurnik Tasting

Just a few photos and thoughts from the gigantic and always impressive Skurnik Portfolio tasting in New York

An incredible tasting of Skurnik Wines portfolio today. Always great to see New York well represented by Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. And the Reserve Dry Riesling is one of my favorites. The 2016 shows a richer side of FLX Riesling, placing this bottle closer to a halb-trocken in style. Rich yellow peach nose, sweet hint of orchard fruit in the mid and a ripe citrus finish. Hints of spice and ginger developing - but I am certain there will be more with time. The 2016 HJW Riesling was surely showing young but the ripe notes of orange and apricot on the nose, were followed by a power and minerality of the mid. This will need a few years to blossom - but the long tart finish and the beautiful fruit will make this wine hard to put away. I really enjoy the chance to chat with the team as well. I was glad to meet with Jenny and Theresa as well as to see Oskar Bynke. Cannot wait to catch up in the FLX this July, perhaps with a glass or…three? 

Another standout from the portfolio - the Mullineux Family Wines from Swartland, South Africa impressed with the mineral character of both the whites and the reds. My personal favorite was the “Schist” Syrah, which showed both the cooler climate nature, with lovely red fruit and savory herbs, as well as the power and the mineral quality. It was a pleasure to meet Nicola Tipping and discuss the region and its history with her. Oh… and then there was the incredible dessert wine - from chenin died on straw mats… that was simply stunning. 

I was really glad to meet Louisa D. Spencer of Farnum Hill Cider. I am starting to drink and appreciate cider more, and these were outstanding. Talking to Louisa about the cider and it emergence in the market was quite enlightening. While the sparkling and the semi-dry ciders were delicious - the Extra Dry showed the complexity I was looking for - refreshing and bright, it showed excellent sour/sweet notes and the earthy, complex aromatics that added to the experience. With a long tart finish - this cider could stand up to any meal. My favorite was the Kingston Black extra dry cider. Yeasty, with a hint of smoke and cantaloupe. Wine-like middle of bright acid and tropical fruit. Really excellent. I hope to get the chance to visit NH and Poverty Lane Orchards in the near future. 

It was a true pleasure to taste with Melissa Madden of Good Life Farm-Kite & String Cider The lineup showed the passion of the team as well an interest in innovative approaches. I really enjoyed the Cazenovia for its pure, bright citrus notes and a tropical, ripe core of fruit in the mid. If refreshing sparkler is what you seek - this one is it. The “Rose” was a unique one indeed - a cider with 18% fresh Riesling juice and 10% Marechal Foch. Notes of peaches and strawberries mixed together with citrus and a lovely rich but light mid. plush, happy summer sipper. The Northern Spy was delicious, with the floral and tropical touches over a riper, richer mid. Lightly sweet, with lemon curd and roses, it finishes with a prickle of citrus and a softer finish. The Ice cider was stunning - deep apricot and rich honey tones with a bright mid showing sweet and sour fruit. Excellent indeed.

How can anyone not fall in love with traditional Rioja? the 2013 Vina Real Reserva surely needs time but what a beauty! Juicy sweet cherry, with tart red berries, showing some oak at this point but a few years in the cellar would help it integrate nicely. The 2010 Gran Reserva Imperial is a powerhouse built for decades. muscular, tannic and filled with cool ripe fruit. Will be stunning - if one has the patience.

I was delighted to get the chance to meet and speak to Rafael Momene about these beautiful wines. While most people recognize the “890” and the “904” - we spoke about the over-performing underdog - the Reserva Vina Ardanza. Its amazing power to age and ridiculously affordable price. Both, the 2000 and the 2008 Vina Ardanza did not disappoint. The 2000 showed secondary notes, clearly more ready to drink, soft, plush wine with great fruit and power. The 2008 was lighter, more cherry-forward and more elegant but with a good sweet core of fruit. 2004 was an excellent vintage in Rioja, and this Gran Reserva “890” is a great example of the vintage. Rich, plush tannins, bright acidity acting as a foil to the powerful fruit and oak. this is a classic in the making.

I have been enjoying the wines of Paolo Scavino for years now, especially thanks to Eric Guido’s influence and generosity. It was great to meet Elisa Scavino and speak about the wines and the vintage. The Langhe Nebiolo from the 2016 vintage was an immediate standout - more serious that one would expect, with rich chewy fruit and a great balance… hmm I think i need a few of these while the big boys are aging. If I had to choose just one of the three 2014 Baroli…I would take all three. the floral rustic Monvigliero, the riper, richer Ambrogio…or the powerhouse of the Carobric… how does one choose? The 2011’s are coming into their own and the Scavino was a good example - savory herbs, classic cherry fruit and bright core. delicious.

I was excited to try the new vintage of the Azienda Agricola Sottimano wines. I am a big fan of these wines - from the Dolcetto and to the big boy Barbaresco. It was a pleasure to meet Elena in person, and talk about these wines. Today, I was surprised by the Barbera ‘Pairolero’ - with its bright fruit, sexy savory mid and long finish. The Cotta and the Pajore were the unsurprising stars. The elegant and floral Pajore, with the earthy, savory and powerful Cotta… hard to choose just one…and why would I?

Another first for me - meeting Silvia in person and discussing the power of the amazing Altare wines. Big, bright fruit, with a balance and acidity to support it was a common note. The 2014 Barolos showed class and structure that will reward patience. The ripe power of the Arborina was balanced by the acidity and structure. The 2012 Cerretta showed elegance and lovely bright fruit.

My “how have I not tried this yet?” Moment at the tasting came courtesy of Onabay Vineyards, and especially their Cabernet Franc wines. Both Cabernet Franc wines were absolute stars, showing power and concentration rare in the cool climate wines of Long Island, but without any loss of character. Though rounder and plusher, the wines showed excellent acidity and structure. The 2013 Night Heron was a real standout - more classically built, with tobacco leaf over the red fruit. Young for its age, it showed great aging potential. Merlot can really shine in LI, and the 2013 Great Blue Heron is another excellent example of that. Mid of sour cherry, serious wine with a good grip to it. well structured without any under-ripe notes. The wine should age well short term and be an excellent companion for a hearty steak. It was a pleasure to speak to both John Leo and Brad Anderson about the vines and the challenges of LI wine-making. Very excited to try more!

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