Open That Bottle Night

2006_CdBMeritageFor our first trip to the North Fork of Long Island we attended Wine Camp. With each winery, that you visit, you learn a different aspect of the wine business; from the owners or winemakers. A very personal and hands-on approach, we blended wine at one, pruned vines at another and learned alot about the region and it’s wines. It was a very special experience. And on the last night we celebrated with a wine/food pairing at Castello di Borghese.

The owners, Marco and Ann Marie Borghese were gracious hosts and true ambassadors for the wine region.

One of the rewards, of Wine Camp, is a mixed case from each of the participating wineries, including two bottles from Borghese.

Over the years we enjoyed these wines, for special occasions, and each time it brought back great memories. Continue reading

Thanksgiving wines! It’s that time of year, again…

Tomatoes shriveled on the vine

Thanksgiving is one of the toughest meals to pair with a single wine. At a traditional meal you have savory elements (stuffing/gravy), and sweet elements (cranberry dressing), as well as a good amount of fat (flavor) but also delicate white meat.

In addition, throw in some items that are hard to pair with anything (Brussels sprouts, turnips) and you have a challenge on your hand.

 Challenge accepted!

First off, Thanksgiving is really about your loved ones, around the table, and you should serve wines that your family/friends enjoy drinking.  Secondly, the food is really the star, and in my opinion wines should take a backseat.

 Safe Bets for Thanksgiving if you can only serve ONE wine… Continue reading

#Super Bowl XLVII- BEER vs. WINE

I rarely drink wine at live sporting events.
Wine doesn’t taste great in plastic bottles and cups.  And it just doesn’t feel right.

In the privacy of your home you should drink what you want, but wines are sometimes a better match with food. Try it for yourself, beer vs. wine,  with your favorite Super Bowl dishes.

 If you normally drink lager beer…

(Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois), you are drinking beers that are light bodied, bright and crisp.

Similar white wines would be Pinot Grigio (from Northern Italy), or Sauvignon Blanc (try the Loire Valley, French version). Drink with Chips and Dip!

If you want to try some reds look for low tannin, fresh acid wines like Barbera or Beaujolais (not Nouveau, please). Great with Doritos!

Summer ale (Sam Adams) or Belgian White (Blue Moon) is your thing?

Try white wines with more aromatics like Albariño (Rías Baixas, Spain) or Torrontés (Argentina).

For a slightly more aromatic red you may like a chilled Tempranillo (Rioja/Ribera del Duero), or unoaked Sangiovese.
All great with nachos or chili!

Hefeweizen (wheat) beer fan?

For whites, try Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France. Gewürz (guh-vorts) for short, is spicy and can be dry, or have a little sweetness. Perfect with asian flavored chicken wings.

Another option is Zweigelt, a funky, spicy, but floral red from Austria.

IPA (hop) head?

You might want to try the New Zealand (Marlborough) style of Sauvignon Blanc, grassy with Juicy Fruit (the gum) flavors. Another white wine option is Chenin Blanc (French, not South African) if you want a fuller bodied wine.

“Go to” reds could include Cabernet Franc or Carmenere from Chile.
Also great with chili!

For traditional Ales/Stoudts…

Since they are full bodied there are only a few whites for you, Viognier (northern Rhone, France) or oaked Chardonnay (Burgundy, France).

On the red side, go big or go home! You would probably enjoy full bodied reds like Aglianico (Italy) or Australian Shiraz.
Save these wines for the main course…

For some of my other “Super Bowl” favorites see previous recommendations:

Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLVI

 

As always, please let me know what you think…

​For Rosè Lovers Only

On a recent wine trip to the North Fork of Long Island we discovered a fantastic new (to us) winery, Croteaux Vineyards.

Unlike many of the other wineries in the area they do not allow larger groups (more than 8), and do not accept limos, buses, taxis, or any hired car services.

These ‘rules’ provide for a calm, relaxing vibe to sit back and enjoy delicious Rosè-only, wine.

Even though Rosè is generally given its own category, it is technically a very light Red wine.

All of the Rosès at Croteaux Vineyard are made as the final product. As they say, “Rosè on Purpose!”

This distinguishes their wines, from the majority of Rosès, which are often made as a by-product of  red wine production using the saignée (pronounced ‘sonyay’) method, which means to “bleed off”.

Basically the red wine maker has a big vat of grape juice and skins that they leave fermenting together to make a darker colored and more flavorful wine. They remove some of the liquid to let the remaining liquid and skins become more concentrated.

Normally what is removed becomes Rosè wine.

NOT so at Croteaux, where they grow Cabernet Franc and  Merlot specifically for the beautifully colored wines, of various styles, to be enjoyed by all.

The Wine Menu

Not to be outdone by the wines, the packaging of EVERYTHING- from the logo and their colors, to the bottle labels, t-shirts, and garden outside, is trendy and elegant.

Next time you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend you visit and buy someone special a gift here. Since they are fairly small production you probably won’t find them anywhere else.

I plan on making  Croteaux Vineyards  a regular stop to sip and chill…

Tolerant Taster approved!

 

 

 

 

July 4th- A NY State of Mind…Summer Wines

To celebrate July 4th, or any hot summer day, I recommend drinking American beer/wine. Our economy needs it!

Here are a few of my “local favorites”; all wines from the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

Riesling (Dry)- Paumanok 2007- $22

From the producer:
“Aromas of lime, green apple, lilies, lilac and other white flowers and a hint of ginger. Bone dry with flavors of lime, green apple, white apricot and intense acidity.”

Paumanok also makes a nice Chenin Blanc as as well- $25

 

Sauvignon Blanc (NICOLA’S CUVEE)- McCall 2010- $24 (pictured)

The wine had just been bottled and they didn’t have labels yet but I convinced the winemaker to let me buy it. He improvised and “created” a label from an existing Chardonnay label. Gotta love it.

 From the producer:
“Crisp and elegantly refined with minerality reminiscent of Loire Valley’s classic Sancerre. This low production wine offers exceptional quality which may prove to be the best vintage ever for Long Island wine. A must with local shellfish.”

 

Rosé- Wölffer Estate 2010- $20

From the producer:
“The floral aroma hints of a freshly cut wildflower field. The mouth is filled with fresh berries and a note of wild strawberries.”

Drinks like a glass of Summer!

 

Chardonnay:
Shinn Vineyards 2010- $20

Shinn is working toward becoming the first Long Island winery to be certified Organic. They are doing all the right things, in the vineyard, and in the production of their wines.

 From the producer:
“This unwood style Chardonnay showcases bright mineral characters washed in exotic fruit and gentle mouthwatering acidity. A long 8 month post fermentation lees contact adds spicy overtones and silky texture while pear and tropical flavors give way to a polished finish.”

 

Chardonnay Lenz Old Vines 2008- $25…but you need to be a Wine Club member (I am)

From the producer:
“The Old Vines style is intended to emphasize fruit intensity, balance and elegance.  We use very limited barrel fermentation and oak-aging tends to be ‘neutral,’ meaning we only use older barrels that allow the wine to achieve greater complexity and flavor concentration but leave less of an oak fingerprint on the wine.  Old Vines Chardonnay is focused on flavors of apple and pear with notes of fig.”

 

A note of caution: The North Fork of Long Island isn’t well known for making great wines, but they do, and they often sell out of everything they make. However, Long Island has difficult growing conditions for wine grapes and the wine quality can vary from year to year. The wines that I tasted with the producers and am drinking now are from 2007/2010 vintages which were both excellent. Some are still available in stores.

The latest vintage, 2011 was NOT a year that I can recommend yet as I have heard that it was a difficult vintage (Hurricane Irene) and I have not tried any of them.

American Thanksgiving wines- “Red”, White, and Orange?

Everbody has their opinions about which are the “best” wines for the Thanksgiving table. I love Old World wines (Spain, Italy, Germany, France) but this is an American Holiday, so my choices for Thanksgiving are usually all-American.

All of this years interesting selections came from a recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

THE “RED”
2010 Shinn Vineyards- Anomaly. White Pinot Noir? Yes, you can make a white wine from a red grape. Just like champagne the reason this wine is not red is because the juice is not fermented with the skins (which would give the wine a pink/red color).
http://www.lenndevours.com/2009/05/anthony-nappa-wines-2008-anomaly-.html

THE WHITE
2007 Lenz Winery- Gewürtztraminer- often referred to as Gewürz which means “spice”. It is a pink-red grape which produces a white wine that goes great with white meats, like turkey, as well as Asian food!
http://www.lenzwine.com/Home.htm

THE ORANGE
2010 Channing Daughters, Ramato- “Orange Wine”-made from Pinot Grigio or “Gray Pinot”- wines produced from this grape vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. All grape juice is clear, but this particular wine is called “orange” due to the color it picks up from from being kept in contact with the skins.
https://www.channingdaughters.com/wine_order/index.php#2010%20Ramato

By the way, the “best” Thanksgiving wine is whatever is on the table with family, friends and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

What adult loves a big pile of leaves…Cabernet Franc anyone?

This weekend I traveled to the North Fork Wine Trail but when I returned home I needed to clean up  the many scattered leaves that are a constant reminder that winter is soon approaching.

The smell of the leaves swirling in the fall wind took me back to the vineyards and tasting Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Franc is native to Bordeaux, France. Generally it is used as a blending grape along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  But in some areas of the Right Bank of France (Pomeral and St. Emilion) along with the Loire Valley, they use Cabernet Franc to make a single varietal wine.

These wines have aromas of fall leaves, potting soil, wet bark as well as tea, and some other spices. If you have ever stuck your head into a damp pile of raked leaves you will recognize the scent.

Cabernet Franc is called by many names: Bouchy (in the Southwest of France), Bretton, in the Loire Valley, and Bouchet on the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

The grape has more recently found a home on Long Island where the conditions are well suited for growing single varietals that share the same woodsy components of the French wines.

Cabernet Franc actually crossed with Sauvignon Blanc, to create Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is lighter in tannin and color (pigment) than Cabernet Sauvignon. The lower tannin makes it is easier to drink on it’s own, yet it is also very food-friendly, easily pairing with a number of fall dishes like roasted butternut squash or pumpkin soup.

 

Some of my favorites producers of Cabernet Franc in New York :

Castello di Borghese

Shinn Vineyards

Paumanok

If you would like to try an example of a French Cab Franc, Bourgueil Nuits d`Ivresse Breton is an easy drinking excellent value from the Loire Valley. The name of the wine translates into “Drunken Nights”.