By Sasha Smith, NYC Correspondent
So my plan was to use this week’s class—North America, minus California—as a jumping off point to talk about my visit to the North Fork over the weekend. Because surely we were going to taste a NY wine in class, right? Right?
There was an Oregon Pinot Noir that I liked quite a bit, intrigued by the potpourri-meets-wet-leaves nose. A spicy, cheap Petite Sirah from Baja was more than drinkable. A luscious Inniskillin ice wine was much, much more than that. Andrew Will’s 2004 Champoux, a well-structured Bordeaux blend, made me wish I had been more aggressive about selling their wines when I worked retail. (Although expensive Washington State wine is not easy to move.)
I was mystified by the Gruet in the line up. First and foremost, sparkling wine won’t be on the exam. And second, it was presented as an oddity, as if this good value, dependent sparkler weren’t served at every other holiday/birthday/office party. (Clearly my instructor and I run in different social circles.)
The most baffling wine of all was a Chardonnay from, of all places, Connecticut. It was not good. Disjointed, with oak that was out of proportion to the rest of the wine, it was one bizarre bottle. Still, I have to give it to the producers. It takes some kind of intestinal fortitude to make wine in Connecticut.
And…that was it. No New York wine. The instructor said she didn’t have time to find a something in time for our class. I sympathize, to a degree — finding a NY wine at a NYC wine store can be regrettably difficult — but seriously. Even if I weren’t so rah-rah about the New York wine industry, I’d still think diploma students should be required to taste at least one wine from their closest wine-producing region. The fine folks at the WSET, the UK-based organization that administers the exam, must agree with me, considering that British wine is on our syllabus, for God’s sake. Looking on the bright side, our instructor was very upbeat about the New York wine industry, Long Island in particular, but it would have been much better to have something in the glass to give credence to her optimism.
So, long story short, I have no way to seamlessly segue into my weekend on the North Fork. Not sure what I can’t say that Lenn hasn’t already covered, although I did get a sneak peek at some of The Old Field’s 2005 Pinot Noir, which I’m pretty sure Mr. Thompson has not tasted. I liked the bright, clear fruit and look forward to picking up a bottle when it becomes available. We took a tour of Shinn and got to check out the five acres of vines they recently planted, including some Pinot Blanc, a new variety for them. At Lenn’s insistence (and he was right to insist), I bought a bottle of Roanoke Vineyards’ 2004 Merlot, which I’m going to open for my some of my classmates—I just refuse to accept that we will not taste New York wines.