Anthony Nappa Frizzante 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013- It’s so hot today even the bottle is sweating!

It’s hot. It’s humid. I want something light and refreshing that will cool me off and relax me, not that I’m that un-relaxed. Enter Anthony Nappa’s sparkling Frizzante. A member of their wine club, this was a new one that came in our latest shipment that we haven’t seen until now. I’m sure you’ve read about Anthony Nappa in the blog before. He’s the creator of the Winemaker’s Studio on the North Fork of Long Island. I’m a fan of many of their wines, and was pleased to receive another I haven’t yet tried. I don’t drink sparkling wine regularly, as it goes to my head a bit quickly. But right now, it fits the bill, and is tasty with some cheese and crackers.

It is a blend of Pinot Noir (78%), Riesling (10%) and Gewürztraminer (12%). It’s made by a secondary fermentation in bottle and aged on the lees to add depth and body like a Champagne. It’s not filtered so does give a slightly cloudy appearance but keeping on the lees is to it’s benefit. It’s dry but has many of the aromas you’d expect in the Riesling and Gewürz like flowers, peach, and apricot and these continue on the palate. It goes for $20 and can be easily found in the NYC metro area. Bottoms up!

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North Fork, Old and New

North Fork Long Island Wines

North Fork Long Island Wines

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went back to the North Fork of Long Island to celebrate another anniversary. We tried a new B&B just outside the seaside town of Greenport which we became enamored with on previous visits. We stopped at some favorites wineries we’ve visited since we began exploring the region, and ventured out to some new wineries on the scene. Without going into too much repeat detail on visits already documented on this blog, I will name drop the old favorites we re-visited:

Croteaux (home to nothing but great rosés), Lieb Cellars (for some more Bridge Lane Chardonnay-natch), One Woman (great Grüner Veltliner) and ordered some of our favorite Anthony Nappa wines while dining at Noah’s in Greenport and A-mano in Mattituck.

And now on to the new!

Kontokosta Winery

Kontokosta Winery

The first stop was Kontokosta, started by brothers Michael and Constantine Kontokosta. Owners of local inns in Greenport and Aqueboque, the brothers took an interest in winemaking as a result of the locale and, I would assume, their Greek backround. The first vines were planted between 2002 and 2004 with the first wines produced in 2006. With no formal winemaking training, the first wines and the art of winemaking was taught to Michael by Peconic Bay founder and Ackerly Vineyards’ Ray Blum until his passing in 2007. Eric Fry from Lenz helped with the next few vintages at his winery, and Gilles Martin of Sparkling Pointe is currently winemaking consultant and assisted on the 2012 vintage. They sell some of their fruit to other local wineries, and some of the wines are made from the fruit of other local vineyards (including a tribute to Ray Blum from Ackerly Pond), rounding out a nice current line of 8 wines.

It is a stunning state-of-the-art winery replete with modern architecture and sound-side views.There is no detail missing here. The winery building is made with 90% recycled steel and wood and is powered by a giant windmill on the property, with an energy and environmental award to show for it. It is elegant and high-class yet surrounded by beautiful vineyards and a short walk to the northern coast of Long Island with commanding views of Connecticut across the sound.

Duck Walk Pinot Meunier 2010

Duck Walk Pinot Meunier 2010

The rosé and the Cabernet Sauvignon were favorites of mine and I brought one of each home and enjoyed them recently.  Their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc won Best of Class and Double Gold at the International East Meets West Wine Challenge. We enjoyed that one as well. While Chardonnay shows well in the region, they specialize in Loire grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc which also do well here and they do not make a Chardonnay.  If you want their wines, you will have to go to the winery to purchase them.

After a visit to Croteaux, we also made it to Duck Walk North, the other Duck Walk being on the South Fork. We enjoyed many of their wines but the most interesting to me was the Pinot Meunier. This you may know as one of the three grapes used in the production of Champagne and other fine sparkling wines. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the others, and in varying combinations including just the red grapes (blanc de noir) or just Chardonnay (blanc de blanc). Pinot Meunier is a grape I’ve never had on its own before, and you know I can’t resist a new wine experience. It pours out a bright ruby red of medium body. Blackberry, bramble and oak fill the nose and continue on the palate. The tannins were firm but not harsh. A pleasant red wine and a fortunate discovery, as no one else on the east coast makes a Pinot Meunier on its own.

Goose at the Old Field

Goose at the Old Field

Next stop was The Old Field. We tried the first day we were there but they weren’t open (weekends only it turns out) so we were pleased when we tried again that it was open and went in for a visit. This is really an old farm, and is still occupied by numerous chickens, turkeys, and a curious goose, who enjoyed staring at us through the tasting barn window as we tasted through their wines poured by our host and family winemaker Perry. Maybe the goose is a Cabernet Franc fan? We enjoyed their wines and the conversation with Perry and some other customers who we saw earlier in the day at Croteaux.

There was none of the Pinot Noir to be had that day but we did enjoy the wines we tasted, particularly the Cacklin’ rosé, Cabernet Franc and Commander Perry Merlot. This winery’s vines go right down to the water and a private beach, and the space is available for weddings. The property’s documented history goes back to the 1600s and has been in the family’s ownership for 95 years. The first vines were planted there in 1974 and bio-dynamic and organic practices are used, with the chickens providing extra natural fertilizer as well as eggs. Everything is done by hand, from harvesting to labeling each bottle.

Wines on Tap at Martha Clara

Wines on Tap at Martha Clara

We finished the weekend with a visit to Martha Clara Vineyards, owned and operated by the Entenmanns, just across from their family farm. This potato farm was purchased in 1978 to raise thoroughbreds after Robert Entenmann sold off the family bakery business.  In 1995 he caught on to the local vinifera craze and began planting what would become 100 acres of vines.  He named it after his mother, Martha Clara Entenmann.

The tasting room was a beautiful building adorned with large scale classic movie posters, several tasting tables, a private tasting room for events, a gift shop and a large gathering space for snacking while enjoying newly purchased wines. Also to note is all their wines were on tap! They have a new winemaker and the wines were definitely showing well. I was pleased to find the Pinot Noir more developed and ripe than many from the region, and bought myself a bottle. And the nose on that Pinot pleased as well, so you know I was happy.

Finding Devotion in the Cold and in Wine

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

This is my entry in the monthly wine writing challenge (#MWWC7). If you like it, go over to their website and vote for it.  And please take time to enjoy my fellow wine-bloggers’ wonderful entries as well. And now…

While I’ve truly enjoyed both of the wines below in this cold snap, they share some common threads and inspire my own story on the theme of devotion, this month’s topic, chosen by last month’s winner, SAHMmelier. I’ve been enjoying reading all the entries from my fellow wine bloggers.

The last 3 weeks have brought epic amounts of snow to my front door. This has had some negative implications. To name a few: back-breaking shoveling, dangerous driving and lots of cold. But also, some positives such as ski trips, extra days spent home with family, and time and reason to open some additional wines and catch up with my reading on my favorite subject.

Land of Nod Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

I wrote up our visit to this rustic Connecticut family winery about 18 months ago and briefly mentioned my enjoyment of this wine among the several tasted. You can read that here. I don’t know what took me so long to open the bottle I brought home. Maybe just that I was collecting so many more and determined to visit as many wineries and try as many different wines as possible since then. I’d say mission accomplished. There it was sitting on my smaller rack, and I was craving something sweet with a little heat for a night cap. As soon as I opened it, it brought back the pleasant recollection of that first tasting.  On the nose, this wine IS a dessert in itself. Rich cocoa notes paired with aromatic raspberry fruit waft from the glass, as well as obvious alcohol. At 17% abv, it’s no lightweight. Yet everything was so smoothly integrated, and I found myself not needing any actual dessert to accompany it, though I did pair it with one or two Valentine’s chocolates to much success.

Land of Nod Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

Land of Nod Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

I then returned to more of the wine itself, as it was fitting my mood precisely. And, that kick from the alcohol certainly kept me warm and cozy.  I shared some with the family and everyone agreed this is a delicious little gem from the northwest corner of our state. I pass there often on my way to hike or ski the beautiful Berkshires and Appalachians, and I will be stopping in again for more. A nationally recognized bicentennial family farm going back to before the American Revolution, I would surmise the Adam family are well-devoted to agriculture and their surroundings, and the wines are just another successful side of their endeavors with a passion that shows in the product. At the time I don’t think I knew that I’d have fallen even deeper for the subject and craft that is wine, but that devotion is alive and well today, and even stronger.

2011 Corvallis Cellars Pinot Noir

While Pinot Noir isn’t normally the big winter-warming red one would reach for in the cold, I can’t keep away from this grape, and recently just about everything I’ve been eating has been a better pairing with Pinot Noir than a big red like Cabernet. Make it a Willamette Pinot and well, I succumb to it’s allure. And, being wine, it warms me up just fine, even at 13% abv. This Corvallis Pinot Noir came from a local shop and while not a 90+ point example with a price tag to match, I can’t justify that cost for everyday drinking. I love finding values for my daily sips and this one that my wife brought home does a nice job of exemplifying the style in the region on a budget. A little less rich in fruit and spice and a shorter finish than the top dogs in the region, but enough to enjoy with a good meal, and thereafter. Definitely a value at $16.

2011 Corvallis Cellars Pinot Noir

2011 Corvallis Cellars Pinot Noir

This of course brings me to my own steadfast devotion to Pinot Noir, and those from this region in Oregon that started my full-blown enthusiasm for the wine world.  I have my father-in-law to thank for those six bottles of Patton Valley Pinot Noir he sent me for Christmas in 2010. At that time I had only interviewed for my first career in the wine business. And here I am today, fully entrenched in the field, or should I say vineyard. A few months later while studying for the first of my WSET certifications offered at my new wine job, I began this blog to further my own education, and share my stories and learning in the process.  My first blog entry was a Pinot Noir, my last entry was a Pinot Noir, and here we are again. I imagine there’s many in between. In everyday application, I tell my customers my stories, and my devotion to it, and pass on that enthusiasm in the process, hopefully making new fans of the grape and the region. I have many more in my cellar that I’m saving for a special occasion. And my eyes light up every time I discover a new one.

I have also been using this extra time to finally get through the majority of my latest wine-read, Neil Rosenthal’s “Reflections of a Wine Merchant.” There’s nothing more exciting and educational for me than first-hand accounts of another wine lover who has devoted his life to the subject and turned that passion into a career. Meeting and courting vignerons both world-recognized and virtually unknown, and the ups and downs of each journey to their cellars and the business made or lost in each experience makes for an eye-opening read. I recently enjoyed Lawrence Osborne’s own memoir on the subject, “The Accidental Connoisseur” (which I very much see myself as). I look forward to my next adventure, with Kermit Lynch’s “Adventures on the Wine Route“.  Throw in all the trades I keep on top of, tasting, collecting and cataloging my own cellar, and sharing my experiences with you all here, and its just a wonderful way for me to also try and inspire devotion in you, my readers. And there is so much more to come.

Cheers!

Laurel Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir

Laurel Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir

Laurel Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir

If you know me you know I worship Pinot Noir. And if you know me well, you know I love Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. And since those wines sent me into a full-on frenzy of tasting Pinots from around the world over the following years, I discovered many other regions where they were producing amazing results (Burgundy aside). The region this one is from may be an obvious one to many a Pinot-lover, but for me all of this discovery happened more recently. Lately I’ve really been honing in on a second-favorite region for Pinot Noir, California’s Russian River Valley (though Carneros is not far behind). While I’m plotting my first Rochioli purchase, I drink a lot of this stuff and I need something a little more friendly to my budget.  Enter this lovely Laurel Cellars Pinot Noir. My colleague at work lives nearby and so we frequent the same shops. You know, for when I need something not from my company’s line… She recommended this one knowing my love for the grape, and this bottle I’m reviewing is actually my second. I drank the first one before I got around to writing about it. Again, I am down to the end of this bottle and just making absolutely sure I get to it this time. But that in itself is compliment enough.

On the nose there is smoky cedar, wild red berries and some leather and even a gamey meat note.. pancetta maybe? On the palate, there is cherry pie, wild raspberry, white pepper and more wood. The fruit is ripe yet expressive and complex, the acids and tannins very well-integrated, and the body and finish a happy medium. It is developed even more today, the third day since I opened it. A lovely wine and the reason why these never last in my house. Abv is 13.5 pct, and at $20, a great value to get such a delicious example of what’s being done in this region.

Roger Champault Cote de Champtin Sancerre Rouge 2007

Roger Champault Cote de Champtin Sancerre Rouge 2007

Roger Champault Cote de Champtin Sancerre Rouge 2007

I’m a bit ashamed. I am a Pinot Noir enthusiast, yet I have never had one of these. In fact, despite learning about red Sancerre in class, I guess I was way too hung up on my favorite Willamette Valley, Oregon and Russian River Valley, California Pinots to give much thought to others for some time. And while there’s nothing wrong with having favorites and I do enjoy a nice aged Burgundy from time to time, I tend to like my Pinots fairly young and racy. But like most I have for too long equated Sancerre with its more famous white wine. Frankly I completely overlooked this option even though Sancerre has quite a long history making red wines as well. In fact, it was known for light-bodied easy-drinking reds long before the famous herbaceous white came to aquire so much fame and fortune. And from my favorite grape, no less. While these reds and rosés make up only about 20% of the wine production here, the results are no less tasty. And it finally got its due in the AOC world, even if after white Sancerre achieved it.

Ruby-garnet in appearance, and leaning more towards garnet on the rim from some good aging, this wine has a beautiful nose. Seductive, even. You get the rich red fruit, you get the oak, you get the spice…. in a magnificent whiff. Ahh Pinot Noir, my mistress… Where the hell has red Sancerre been all my life. I could even forget getting the white Sancerre wrong on a certain blind tasting. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it was sour grapes after that (yuk yuk). But damn if blind tasting isn’t hard.  We all know that. And I beat myself up, only to miss a chance to love Sancerre again – until now.  (Don’t get me wrong, I still like the white one.)

On the palate, the bright red berry fruit comes back for another swing, along with some cloves, a little white pepper and beautifully-integrated acidity. A nice light body and a fruity, spicy finish. This is a luscious wine. I am enamored. I can see this as a perfect Thankgsiving turkey companion… and maybe some sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts? — yes, yes and yes. It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but it’s drinking beautifully on its own.

Its always such a pleasure to open a wine and say my god that is exactly what I needed just now. I wish I had opened it with a friend. Well, maybe. This affair might go on all night, until its over. While not the most complex Pinot in the world, I’m not always looking for that.  It brings the same refreshing brightness and acidity as its white cousin, in a whole new way. And there is a good earthy note in there as any Pinot should have.  With such fruit and acidity in perfect balance, this could definitely lie down for a little while longer, though I don’t know it that’s really the style or aim here.  But I do think this entry stands as a fitting eulogy for this bottle. A steal at $16.

Evening Land ‘Celebration’ Gamay Noir Beaujolais-Villages 2009

Evening Land 2009 'Celebration' Gamay Noir Beaujolais-Villages

Evening Land 2009 ‘Celebration’ Gamay Noir Beaujolais-Villages

A few weeks ago I wrote about a nice Julienas Beaujolais Cru that I had. And gave a little lesson. Do you remember? If not, you can brush up here. Based on that wine, I know 2009 was a good year here. And it’s still summer, and these wines are a great red for the hot weather, which is hovering in the high 90s and up all week. You can serve them a little cooler and they will be refreshing yet still complex and satisfying.

In Beaujolais-Villages wines, the grape might be Gamay, but the winemaking methods and intended flavor is more along the lines of red Burgundy (Pinot Noir). What’s interesting about this one to me is that it’s made by an American producer who also has vineyards in my beloved Willamette Valley, Oregon (including one in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA) and Edna Valley and Sonoma Coast, California. Willamette is where my favorite Pinot Noir is made and Edna Valley is producing some amazing wines as well as Sonoma. So this producer is a win-win for me to discover. The wines from their various international vineyards range from $22.50 for an Oregon Pinot Noir to $150 for a Clos Veugot Grand Cru. In fact they have many great Burgundies on their website that have me equally intrigued and a bit excited. Pouilly-Fuisse, Romanee-Conti, Meursault, and Côtes-de-Nuit Villages are just some of the French wines they produce.

To quote: “Evening Land Vineyards produces terroir-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, France, and the three great growing regions of the American West.

While the Gamay for this wine was actually grown, vinified and bottled in Beaujolais-Villages, they also make a Gamay Noir grown and made in their Eola-Amity Hills vineyards. I would love to, and likely will do a side-by-side comparison of the terroir at work.

This wine poured a deep ruby in the glass and on the nose were bounds of red fruit – strawberry, cherry, and baking spice from a little time in French oak to round it out. A bit of white pepper also adds to the complexity. For a moment this truly smells like a Burgundy Pinot Noir. On the palate were more of the bright fruit and spices, well-balanced acidity and a lush body. And here’s where you get into the true Gamay… a low-tannin, easy drinking beauty. At four years old, this is a good age for a nice Gamay.

This wine currently averages around $17 online but thanks to another great deal from Last Bottle Wines, I paid $12 each and got free shipping because my co-workers and I ordered 6 altogether to waive the shipping. Thank you again Last Bottle for introducing me to another great wine.

Go drool over their selections too at http://www.eveninglandvineyards.com/.

Finger Lakes Recap – Day 1: Ravines Winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Heron Hill Winery

Watkins Glen State Park, Seneca Lake NY

Watkins Glen State Park, Seneca Lake NY

Well after nearly making it up here to visit wineries last summer, we (my wife and I that is) finally succeeded and day 1 was excellent. After a delicious home-cooked meal at the lovely B&B we are staying at, The 1922 Starkey House, we headed for a morning hike through the incredible gorge at Watkins Glen State Park, at the southern end of Lake Seneca. 800 stairs, 700 vertical feet and 1.6 miles up through the winding trail that follows the deep gorge was definitely enough to get our thirst on. I really recommend you visit and do the hike.

On we went to our first winery, Ravines, in Hammondsport on the eastern side of Keuka lake. I had their Pinot Noir last fall when I saw it in a local wine section of our new wine shop in town. I had even written a tasting note to put on the blog but I believe this was right before I went to the Harvest festival and then Bordeaux so it got lost in the excitement. So I picked up another bottle, so that perhaps this time I will get around to it.

We did a tasting through five of their wines, which cost us only $2. The winery building is set up off the road on a hill so the view from the tasting room overlooks the slopes below and the entire Keuka lake and the slopes leading uphill on the other side. The 2012 Dry Riesling was quite nice, and the 2011 Cabernet Franc as well, but our favorite, and maybe it had something to do with the bright sun and hot temperatures was the 2012 Dry Pinot Rosé. It is made in the saignée method and has nice aromas of strawberry and a medium body. The dry Provence style is really the preference in this family so this fit the bill and was just $14.95.

Ravines Winery 2012 Dry Pinot Rosé and 2010 Pinot Noir

Ravines Winery 2012 Dry Pinot Rosé and 2010 Pinot Noir

We also bought two local cheeses and some crackers and went out to the tables and chairs on the lawn in front to enjoy the rosé and our snack. Sitting under the umbrella, with the delicious wine and cheese, overlooking the lake was a great way to start our winery visits.

After a 30 minute drive around the southern tip and up the western coast of the lake we arrived at the one and only Dr. Konstantin Frank winery. If you are not familiar, Dr. Frank was a German man who came here in the early 1950s after running large vineyards in Ukraine and lecturing on viticulture and agronomy, in hopes of making wine in the USA.

He was the first to push for growing vinifera vines in this area, though many thought he was crazy trying to do that in the harsh northern climate. While the region was known for only local varieties that could handle the cold, he excelled at cold-climate wines and knew the region had potential to make great vinifera wines as well. He also recognized the similarities to the Mosel region of his native Germany and the moderating effects of the lakes and the ideal growing conditions of the slopes that surrounded them. He got a job at the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment station at the head of Lake Seneca and began to put word out. He finally got the attention of Dr. Charles Fournier, former winemaker of Veuve Cliquot fame who was now making Gold Seal Champagne in New York. He realized Dr. Frank might be on to something and made him his director of research. With his help, eventually Dr. Frank proved that it could be done, and the region is now known for quality in several vinifera wines, particularly Riesling.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Hammondsport NY

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Hammondsport NY

We were told that these vineyards also had the oldest plantings of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir, but I don’t know if they meant in this area or in this country.  Their tasting room also overlooks the lake, but from the other side. We got a good view of where we were at Ravines just before. Their FREE tasting took you through about 5 rounds of wines, with one sweeter option and one drier option from which you could choose. It worked out perfectly having my wife with me as we could each get one and try both. We started with two “Chateau Frank” sparkling wines – one a sweeter Sekt (German) style, and one a drier French style, both made in the traditional method. I preferred the Sekt, called “Célebre” which costs $20.95.

We then went through a Pinot Gris, Semi-dry Riesling, a Muscat Ottonel, reserve Gewürztraminer and a “Rkatsiteli,” which is one of the world’s oldest vinifera varieties originating in Georgia (the country, not the US state) and dating back to about 3,000 BC. It is a bone dry white that is very popular in Russia. Of all the whites, the Semi-Dry Riesling, the Dry Riesling and the Muscat Ottonel stood out, with excellent quality and richness in the case of the Muscat.

The reds we tried included a few from their “Salmon Run” line as well as a few of their estate Dr. Konstantin Frank wines. The Salmon Run wines are less expensive wines made from local fruit but not their estate.  The Salmon Run “Coho Red” was a light, sweet and fruity Gamay-based wine that would be nice for a beach wine but not my preference for much else. I did enjoy their 2010 estate Merlot and 2010 Cabernet Franc.

Just some of many medals awarded to Dr. Frank wines

Just some of many medals awarded to Dr. Frank wines

Dr. Frank’s original home and winery next door to the tasting room is a lovely stone house covered in vines (not grape vines) and its cellar are where their wines are still aged today.  We left with a full case of wine, and a few other nice souvenirs. They have the most amount of medals in the region. You can see some of those in the photo on the right.

Our last winery stop was at Heron Hill Winery.  This is just south of Dr. Franks and is situated higher up on the slopes, with vineyards stretching far below down to the lake edge. Their tasting room was voted one of the most spectacular in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine. It was a beautiful day for wine tasting and to celebrate our independence and the tasting room was full.

View of Keuka Lake and Heron Hill Vineyards

View of Keuka Lake and Heron Hill Vineyards

We managed to get spots and tried 6 wines each.  Our favorites were their 2011 Muscat, their 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling, the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc, and their 2011 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc dessert wine, which was lush and rich and not too cloying at all. We bought one of each of these. We also enjoyed a nice meal at their café, and the incredible view below.