The New York Cork Report Tasting Table — April 17, 2012


By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

I keep trying to retire the "Tasting Table" series, but my recently chaotic day job along with the all-consuming reality of an infant and a 5-year old have once again reminded me that no matter how obsessed I am with local wines, beers etc. and this website -- it's still a hobby. Add to that the fact that we'll be cutting over to our new site design and platform soon (maybe even next week) and Tasting Table remains a valuable tool. I'd like to start things off at the new site fresh. Tasting Table will not be a part of the new NYCR, but it will be here. At least one more time.

As always, these are wines that crossed the NYCR tasting table at some point recently but for one reason or another, will not be reviewed in standalone posts. The notes are more or less straight from my notebook.

3Atwater Estate Vineyards 2009 Riewurz ($18): Blend of 60% gewurzt, 40% riesling. Gingery nose with rose petals, grapefruit and lime. Medium-light body that starts out very gewurzt-y but finish is all riesling. Good balance, but lacks a bit of focus. Unique and tasty. Long finish of apple, peach and lime.


Atwater Estate Vineyards 2010 Dry Riesling ($16): Green apple, sweet lime and a little fennel frond on the nose. Feather light palate with more apple-lime flavors with notes of peach, fennel and slate. Good acidity and a dry finish that lingers gently.

2-halfBillsboro Winery 2010 Pinot Gris ($17): Grapefruit, citrus blossom and sweet apricot on a medium-light nose. Candied lemon leads the way with peach and light floral flavors beneath. Show a little of the RS (1.2%) on mid-palate but mostly dry on the finish. Good acidity but somewhat short finish.

2-halfBillsboro Winery 2010 Riesling ($16): Tangerine, grapefruit and pineapple on the nose. Grapefruit and orange peel flavors on the palate with slightly tropical hints. Shows RS (2.3%) but isn't cloying. Citrusy acidity brings balance. Somewhat showy style.

4Grapes of Roth 2005 Merlot ($50): Nose of licorice, black cherry, leaf tobacco and pencil shavings/graphite. Ripe but not jammy, showing mixed cherry/cherry pit and tobacco flavors. Medium bodied with medium-intense tannins that are well integrated. Graphite/rocky finish that is long and shows a bit of dried herb as well.

3Hudson-Chatham Winery 2010 Casscles Vineyard Reserve Baco Noir ($24): Sour cherry, cranberry, toasty oak, black pepper and vanilla on the nose. Medium body with lively acidity. Crunchy red fruit with black pepper and earth. Juice mid-palate but perhaps a bit short on the finish.

3Hudson-Chatham Winery 2010 Field Stone Baco Noir ($30): Dark fruit -- black cherry and plum -- with mustard seed, violets and curry spice. Soft and lush with forward fruit, low tannins and just enough acidity. Plum, juicy and fruity. Long finish with subtle vanilla character.

3Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2010 Round Rock Riesling ($20): Minerally, slate-y nose with hints of yellow apple, lemon balm and tonic water. Generous palate with solid focus. Citrus and herbs mingle with pear and light peach flavors. Light RS brings weight. A bit more acidity would elevate.

3Millbrook Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc ($18): Plum, blackberry, vanilla, dried leaves and brown spices on the nose. Medium body with plum and blackberry fruit flavors. Medium tannins that are well incorporated. Finish is of medium length with a hint of toasted, slightly bitter oak.

2-halfMillbrook Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir ($18): Nose of macerated strawberries, black cherry and button mushroom. Toasty, bitter oak a bit too heavy on top of dark, intense cherry flavors and big, dry tannins.

3Millbrook Vineyards 2010 Tocai Friulano ($16): Clementines, persimmon, melon and peach aromas on a very fruity nose. Melange of peach, orange, lemon and pear on the palate. Fresh acidity that lingers. Simple and fruity, but also quite tasty.

1-halfPalaia Vineyards 2007 Traminette ($15): Very floral on the nose with slightly foxy aromas I don't usually find in traminette. One-note floral flavors with a bit of RS and not enough acidity. Ends up being soft and a bit watery on the finish.

3Pindar Vineyards 2010 Viognier ($25): The nose shows just-cut melon, honeysuckle, spiced peach tea and subtle nuttiness. Sweet melon, spice and honeysuckle on the palate with a squirt of juicy citrus and spiced nuts. Very ripe on the mid-palate and the oak is restrained. Finish is a bit hot, but a note of hay is interesting at the end.

2-halfRaphael 2010 First Label Sauvignon Blanc ($26): Lemon, green apple and kiwi fruit aromas with honey and blanched almond notes. Fuller bodied and very citrusy. Bit lean on flavor but good balance. Slight saline quality to finish, that turns just a bit bitter.

3Red Tail Ridge Winery 2010 Semi-Sweet Riesling ($14): Apricot -- fresh and dried -- with hints of mango and lime on the nose. Friendly style with gobs of sweet, juicy fruit -- apricot, peach and pineapple. Rich mid-palate but nice cut of acidity on the finish to bring just enough focus. Finish is pretty long.

3Roanoke Vineyards 2010 "The Wild" Chardonnay ($20): Light vanilla over top of peach, apple and high-toned herbs. Medium body with butterscotch and ripe, juicy fruit. Medium-long finish with nice acidity and balance. Appetite-whetting finisih with pineapple and Asian pear notes.

3-halfSherwood House Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay ($30): Pure pear aromas accented by vanilla, toasty oak and roasted hazelnuts. Round, opulent palate with nice, integrated acidity to keep it balanced. Pear and toffee flavors lead into more nuts and vanilla. Long finish with crisp apple and a bit of lemon zest at the very end.

3Shinn Estate Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($41): Blueberry and cassis aromas mingle with notes of smoked meat, chicory coffee and dark chocolate. Hefty and slightly hot (15.4%) on the palate, showing fruit that edges on over-ripe but holds on, with chocolate, coffee and oak notes. Ripe, slightly edgy tannins provide structure. After a few hours open, a pretty minty note emerges.

3Shinn Estate Vineyards 2010 Haven ($36): 84% sauvignon blanc with 16% semillon. Complex nose of melon, fig, nutty oak, dried apricot and golden raisin. Rich and dry on the palate, it shows dried fruit and nut flavors layered on top of melon and peach. A bit more acidity would help enliven the palate.

3Wolffer Estate Vineyards 2008 "Caya" Cabernet Franc ($40): Cherries, tobacco, sweet cedar and green peppercorn aromas lead into medium-light body with similar flavors with caramel added. Lacks fruit just a bit, but well made.

2-halfZugibe Vineyards 2008 Dry Riesling ($13): Citrus and petrol aromas dominate. Not big on flavor -- again mostly citrus and petrol. Dry with very good acidity and focus. Right on the edge of the "citrus water" style of dry riesling.

3Zugibe Vineyards 2009 Late Harvest Riesling ($22): Honey, botrytis and pineapple on the nose. Shows its RS, but finishes nearly dry. Very botrytis driven with secondary flavors of apricot, peach and pineapple. Long finish with orange and spice. Want a bit more acid and perhaps a bit mature for a 2009, but delicious.


Zugibe Vineyards 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling ($13): Nose shows citrus and apricot with hints of petrol. Palate is peachy but not intense, with light layers of lime and honey. Off-dry with good-no-great acidity.

Empire State Cellars Wine Club: May 2012 Selections

By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Esc-clubThe May shipment of the Empire State Cellars Wine Club won't ship for a few weeks, but from now on, we're going to announce the selecitons at least a few weeks beforehand. That way, if you're not already a member but want the wines, you'll have time to join!

If you're not familiar with the club, you can learn more here.

"Hello New York" Wines

Channing Daughters Winery 2010 Scuttlhole Chardonnay: I prefer my chardonnay unadorned and clean -- usually the less oak the better. Winemaker Chris Tracy makes an array of chardonnays, but this one is my favorites -- all steel with ample fruit, a minerally vein and juicy acidity.

Medolla Vineyards 2007 Merlot: You may not know this one-wine winery, but Medolla is a name to know when it comes to value merlot on Long Island. Pure and expressive, this merlot is ripe, but not too ripe, showing restrained oak and good length with gently grippy tannins.

"Getting to Know New York" Wines

Lieb Family Cellars 2010 10th Anniversary Pinot Blanc: Complex with layers of almond, white pepper and candied orange peel sprinkled over juicy pears, this wine -- made for the first time to celebrate the winery's 10th anniversary -- balances richness with juicy acidity, resulting in a beautiful mouthfeel.

Lenz Winery 2007 Estate Selection Merlot: Eric Fry's winemaking is decidedly low-tech, and that hands-off approach lets this wine shine. Plump and juicy -- with little noticeable oak -- this is a wine that over-delivers with it's aromas and of red and black cherry, plums and a bit of blueberry compote. 

"New York Wine Trail" Wines

Paumanok Vineyards 2011 Chenin Blanc: The Massoud family has a cult following for this wine, one that expresses vintage variation as much as any on Long Island. While the 2010 was rich with sweet tropical fruit, this edition is more citrusy and saline with hints of melon. Local oysters dream about this wine.

Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2010 Syrah: Think Rhone rather than Australia with this wine from Niagara. Though young -- an hour or two in a decanter, or a few years in your cellar wouldn't hurt -- it shows beautiful, rich fruit, peppery spice and the kind of heft you want to heartier meals.

"Excelsior" Wines

Anthony Road Wine Company 2009 Martini-Reinhardt Selection Riesling: Really only available in the Anthony Road tasting room, we were able to procure a small parcel of this pure, complex and lengthy riesling that is absolutely delicious today but will reward those patient enough to cellar it. Simply stunning.

The Grapes of Roth 2005 Merlot: Veteran winemaker Roman Roth's personal label built its reputation on merlot. This elegant, nuanced merlot comes from Sam McCullough's vineyard and features cherry, licorice, tobacco, subtle dried herbs and graphite aromas and flavors. Again -- you can drink it today or park it in your cellar.

If you haven't signed up for the club yet, fear not. You can still get in on this first shipment. Email Katherine Jaeger, Manager of Wine Clubs, at and she will take good care of you. And remember, you can customize your club to include just red or whites wines too if you'd like.

Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Nine Barrels Merlot

By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor


With so many communication channels at our finger tips these days (Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.) it feels like I'm discussing local wines with people almost constantly. 

It's fun, but I've noticed something recently -- great vintages can cause an interesting side effect. The other, 'non-great' vintages can very easily be looked down upon or ignored altogehter.

2007 and 2010 were among the best vintages ever for Long Island. We all know that by now. But, because many 2007 reds have come and gone, and 2010 reds are trickling into the marketplace, it's almost like 2008 and 2009 didn't happen.

Don't make that mistake. The 2008 and 2009 growing years both presented their own unique challenges to local growers and winemakers, but most years do. And any region's best producers will make quality wine consistently in even the more challenging vintages. 

Take this Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot ($43) for instance. Following the ripe 2007 year, many consider 2008 to be underripe. Not so.

The nose is dominated by dark fruit -- think blackberry, cassis and black cherry -- chocolate and toasty oak. There is a peppery edge too, but it's black pepper, not green.

That spicy, peppery quality is even more pronouned on the medium-bodied palate, layered with fruit flavors of plum, black cherry and blackberry. The oak is a bit too evident for me right now -- in a raw, barrel sort of way -- but given the slightly chewy tannins, this wine has a chance to develop and integrate over the next several years. Showing decent length now, the finish is a bit bacony as well.

Looking at my tasting notebook, the last thing I wrote for this wine was "Definitely re-taste in a year." Of course, knowing how rabid Shinn's fans are, I may not get to do that unless I buy it now.

Producer: Shinn Estate Vineyards 
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13.7%
Cases: 225
Price: $43*


(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

(*Ratings Guide)



Merlot Bud Break at Shinn Estate Vineyards (April 6, 2012)


Photo courtesy of Shinn Estate Vineyards

By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

What was mere speculation and conjecture just a few weeks ago is now a reality on the North Fork. 

Shinn Estate Vineyards' David Page sent me this photo this morning of bud break in their estate merlot vineyard, marking what appears to be the earliest bud break Long Island wine country has ever seen. The grape-growing process is a marathon, not a sprint, but the North Fork is certainly out of the gate early. 

Now local growers get to stress over nighttime low temperatures for the next month or so, hoping to avoid crippling frosts that could decimate their crops.

Hopefully we'll get some more bud break pictures from across the state as it happens. Stay tuned.

Bedell Cellars 2010 Syrah

By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Bedell-2010-syrahWinemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich did some things differently during his first crush at Bedell Cellars in 2010. He brought his ambient yeast fermentations, of course, but he also made a couple blends by co-fermenting the grapes -- making his blending decisions from the outset.

Bedell Cellars 2010 Syrah ($50) is one of those wines, made with 90% syrah and 10% viognier in the model of the Northern Rhone. 

That squirt of viognier is most apparently on a pretty, effusive nose that shows melon and honeysuckle aromas layered over fresh red berries, plums and a combination of earthy cumin and coriander. The distinct black pepper aromas found in most local syrah are but a mere shadow here -- there, but lurking in the background.

Earthy and savory, the somewhat juicy, medium-bodied palate delivers crunchy red fruit -- think red cherry and cranberry -- with a bit more pepper showing next to subtle floral qualities. The medium-length finish shows more of that earthy-spicy combination. 

I find myself wanting perhaps a bit more structure, but there is enough acidity to frame the flavors and keep it all together. 

Producer: Bedell Cellars 
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13%
Cases: 150
Price: $50*


(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

(*Ratings Guide)



Gerry Hayden Named James Beard Award "Best Chef, Northeast" Finalist

Gerry-haydenBy Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

For the second year in row, Chef Gerry Hayden of The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island is a finalist in the James Beard Foundation Awards as "Best Chef, Northeast."

He's one of five finalists for the award, up against Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa in Boston, Tim Cushman of O Ya in Boston, Matthew and Kate Jennings of La Laiterie in Providence, and Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, Conn.

Almost upon opening, NFT has been where Nena and I dine on our splurge nights.We've never had anything but an outstanding meal and experience.

Good luck chef!

Red Newt Cellars 2008 Glacier Ridge Vineyards Merlot

By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Red-newt-glaciers-ridge-merlot-2008Living on Long Island, I drink a fair amount of merlot. It's every where you look in wine country -- literally and figuratively. I don't need to look north to the Finger Lakes for merlot. And honestly, I don't. Merlot is well down the list of what I'm looking for in the Finger Lakes.

In fact, it's probably not on the list at all.

That brings us to Red Newt Cellars 2008 Glaciers Ridge Vineyards Merlot ($45), a wine that I decided to write up for Wine Blogging Wednesday #75, hosted by Joe Roberts of 1WineDude.

The theme? "Singles Night" -- focusing on single-vineyard wines.

Just a handful of years ago, I wouldn't have had that many options for single-vineyard wines in New York. But that's all changed in recent years, with Red Newt embracing it as much as anyone.

That all being said -- $45 merlot? From the Finger Lakes? From 2008 -- a cooler year?

Yes. Believe it. I don't know Glaciers Ridge Vineyards well, but clearly they have a special site on their hands.

The complex nose show blackberry, black cherry and plum fruit with a sprinkling of cardamom, sumac, black pepper and apparent but not over-whelming smoky oak that hints at both vanilla and chocolate.

Medium-to-full bodied, the palate shows unusual concentration for this grape in this region, and balances intensity and richness with lively freshness, showing ripe, bright berry and plum fruit with nuances of spice, tarragon and violets. Medium-light tannins are velvety and smooth, framing the flavors nicely.

The oak is there, sure, but it's pretty well integrated, only peeking out alone and a bit raw just a bit on the finish.

I haven't tasted every merlot from the Finger Lakes, but it's difficult to imagine one that is much better than this one. Very well done.

Producer: Red Newt Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 13.7%  
Price: $45*


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

(Ratings Guide)