Most winemakers talk about how their wines are "made in the vineyard" and about how they let the grapes make the decisions for them in the winery. Not all of them actually practice what they preach though. Some local winemakers seem to impose their will on their wines, regardless of vintage. Having a consistent "house style" is one thing, but sometimes you need to take a step back and not overwhelm the fruit.
Eric Fry, winemaker at Lenz Winery, is one winemaker who follows the fruit's lead. In the best vintages, he goes for it, making some of Long Island's best wines. But in cooler years, he takes a step back and makes simpler, softer wines that are still delicious. Best of all, Lenz prices these cooler-year wines very well.
Lenz Winery's 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) is a prime example. Cabernet doesn't always reach its ripeness potential on Long Island, even in the best years. 2004 was a relatively cool year, so the ripeness just wasn't there. But, rather than try to make a 'reserve' wine, Fry made this easy drinking, every day-style red.
Many cabernet lovers may not recoginize this as cabernet. It's light with cherry, strawberry and vanilla aromas on the nose. Soft and a bit juicy on the attack, the palate brings simple cherry and cranberry flavors with understated toasty oak and light tannins. The finish is medium-short with hints strawberry.
Producer: Lenz Winery
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Rating: (2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)
Every time I drink a cabernet franc like this, I wonder how I had never heard of this beautiful, wonderful grape until I moved to Long Island almost a decade ago. To think, I could have been drinking cab franc back in grad school, wen was drinking super-fruity chardonnay and shiraz from Australia.
Oh wait, maybe that's the problem, I was drinking those mass-produced, one-dimensional wines. I probably wouldn't have appreciated cab franc for all of it's non-fruity characteristics.
This Clovis Point Winery 2005 Cabernet Franc ($25) is probably a wine I wouldn't have enjoyed back in my Black Opal and Blue Marlin days, but it's a wine that I impressed me in a blind tasting of local reds a few weeks ago.
While not 100% cabernet franc, it's close, with only 2.5% cabernet sauvignon blended in. Medium ruby red in the glass, sure, there's fruit on the nose, mainly black cherry, but what I like best about this wine are the very aromas I would have hated in grad school -- tobacco leaf, savory herbs and Brussels sprouts.
The medium-bodied palate is a bit fruitier than the nose, showing ripe cherry and blackberry. Those herbal flavors are there though, in the background. Gentle, ripe tannins provide just enough structure and the finish is medium-long with a distinct earthy-tobacco note at the end.
This is a cabernet franc-lovers cabernet franc. It wasn't bludgeoned with oak. The non-fruit character wasn't stripped out. They haven't tried to make it something that it's not. I appreciate that.
It's not often that I discuss my complete and utter devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers here on LENNDEVOURS, but with the Super Bowl just a few days away, I thought it time to discuss my food- and wine-related plans for the big game.
I am extremely superstitious when it comes to the Steelers. I wear the exact same clothes for every game and have forced my wife and son to do the same. I drink beer out of a Steelers glass during the games (and only during the games).
For the playoffs, I take my lunacy to the next level. This year, I'm growing a playoff beard. This is the longest I've gone without carving out my goatee in my entire life. It itches and I don't like it much -- and to say that Nena hates it would be akin to me saying that I hate the Ravens. But, I can stick it out a few more days for my team.
Over the course of the playoffs, we've eaten several Pittsburgh-centric foods, including Roethlisburgers and pierogies. When we played San Diego, I outlawed all West Coast beers from the house (including my beloved Stone IPA).
For the Super Bowl, we'll be noshing on one of the best-known Pittsburgh foods: Primanti Brothers Sandwiches. No, I'm not having them flown in (I did think about it). Instead, we'll be recreating these iconic sandwiches ourselves, most likely featuring pastrami and turkey. And, because my parents will be in town tomorrow and Saturday for Jackson's 2nd birthday party, I'm 'importing' some of the best beer from Pittsburgh, Penn Pilsner. It's going to cost me at least a case of New York wine, but it will be well worth it. My father drives a hard bargain.
What's outlawed this week? Any and all southwestern food. That means you won't see any tortilla chips, salsa or quacamole. And no one is clamoring for Arizona beer or wine anyway, are they?
And before I wrap up this post, let me point you to a video that you just have to check out:
I'm not a big cocktail or spirit guy (though I do enjoy a little Bourbon with some regularlity). No, when I'm not drinking wine, beer is what you'll find in my glass most often. I probably drink as much beers as I do wine actually, because:
My beer knowledge pales in comparison to what I know about wine, and that's okay with me. In some ways, I prefer it that way. But, the geek (and my beer-loving buddy Woody) seem to be changing that. I used to be into only one or two styles of beer, but little-by-little, I'm learning to appreciate and even like most any style.
All that said, my go-to favorite is still India Pale Ale (IPA). I'm a 'hop head' which is interesting, because I know several winemakers who are as well.
Many of my favorite IPAs come from the West Coast from brewers like Stone, Green Flash and Bear Republic. That doesn't mean that the "drink local" guy behind this blog doesn't like local beers -- especially this new find from upstate New York.
I actually had never heard of Brown's Brewing Company until a recent trip to visit my in-laws outside of Albany. We found a great beer shop that had quite a few beers from Brown's, which is just one town over in Troy.
I didn't actually take notes (that's one of the reasons I like drinking beer, remember?) so I don't have full notes, but this is a well-balanced IPA that really shows great balance between malty, fruity richness and citrusy-evergreen hoppiness. The six pack that I bought didn't last long, and I plan to buy more when we go upstate again.
And, I think I'm going to start taking notes when I drink beer. I just can't help myself.
By Jason Feulner, Finger Lakes Correspondent
The Wine Grape Task Force formed last year under the Department of Agriculture and Markets released its report in December (warning: the online format is bit cumbersome to read). The task force lays out an interesting set of recommendations but there remain some lingering questions about implementation.
The report is comprehensive and seems to address many of the general concerns of the wine and grape-growing industries in New York State. It is obvious that many of those in attendance were well-versed, industry experts. Unfortunately, addressing concerns and solving problems are entirely different activities.
As I inferred in a post when the task force was formed, no matter what one writes in a report with the best of intentions, government and bureaucracy stand in the way of getting things done unless the proper stars are aligned. Some of the recommendations could be implemented with minor adjustments to enforcement of existing policies. Many others will require some real changes at several intersecting agencies.
The varied collection of interests that form this task force may be a strength in terms of lobbying for these changes. Concurrently, one of the weaknesses of such a group is that each member has a different set of needs in terms of business and geography. It may be easier to satisfy one constituency which has better representation, lobbying, or even a problem that has a ready-made solution, while other more difficult problems persist in other areas.
One of the elements of the report that will have to be reconsidered is its reliance on the state's ability to push economic development through specific agencies that would likely coordinate with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. Since the release of the report, the state has been hit with considerable fiscal problems, threatening the existence of the NYWGF as well as the multitude of state programs that provided extra cash for all kinds of unique projects.
This report resembles an interesting perspective on the nature of the New York wine industry. Part of it looks to the future, hoping for an industry less encumbered by antiquated state regulations. At the same time, part of the report wants to rely on the past cadre of state agencies and programs that have tried to promote New York's industries in a centralized manner for decades, with arguably mixed success.
Recent events seem to indicate that the state may be unable to play as big a hand in industry and economic development. As for the future of the New York wine industry, I wish the task force luck as they begin to engage the specific recommendations found within their report, although its unclear if the task force can or will advocate for specific reommendations now that the report has been released.
I haven't done a great job writing about it lately, but Wine Blogging Wednesday is still rolling along. In fact, we're coming up on the 54th edition. It never ceases to amaze me that the little virtual wine tasting event I created over four years ago is still going and is still so popular.
February's edition will be hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, David McDuff of McDuff's Food & Wine Trail.
The theme is one that I'm looking forward to as well: A Passion for Piedmont.
I have to admit, I don't know a whole lot about the wines of that region in Italy, so this will be a fun edition of WBW for me. David offers a brief run-down saying:
While there are some fine white wines made in the region – from Gavi di Gavi to Roero Arneis to Moscato d’Asti – there’s no denying that Piedmont is red wine country. The Nebbiolo-based wines of Barolo and Barbaresco may steal the thunder. But it’s the wines made from Piedmont’s other two primary varieties – Barbera and Dolcetto – that appear most often on the Piedmontese table. Less common regional specialties like Freisa, Grignolino and Brachetto add local color and help to make Piedmont one of Italy’s most diverse wine zones.
Join us on February 18!
I was thinking this morning about how wineries (and to a certain extent wine writers) talk about wine. You always hear about whether or not a wine was fermented in an oak barrel, and if so, what type of oak and how many times its been used. Quite often, you'll also hear about clonal selection and even rootstock.
But for some reason, yeast strain is almost never talked about. The only time you even hear about yeast is if a winery is using naturally occurring yeasts to ferment a particular wine. And yet, the yeast strain a winemaker uses has a great impact on the flavors in the wine. This just struck me as interesting. Perhaps the average drinker just doesn't want to think about yeast?
Anyway, when I tasted the wines of Onabay Vineyards a couple weeks ago, my favorite of their all-chardonnay white lineup was their Onabay Vineyards’ 2006 “Wild Ferment” Chardonnay ($25) which, as the name implies, was fermented using naturally occurring yeasts.
White flowers, ripe Bartlett pear and a light sprinkling of baking spice mingle on the nose before giving way to elegant tree fruit, spice and candied lemon peel flavors on the palate. This wine is well balanced with acidity and has a long finished that tastes of baked pear and toffee.
Please join me in welcoming the New York Wine & Culinary Center as LENNDEVOURS' newest sponsor.
The tasting room at the NYWCC is one of the few (if not the only) place in the state where you can taste the best wines, beers and harvest juices all in one location. I haven't been to the Center yet, but I'm hoping to get there during my time in the Finger Lakes next month.
I'm happy to have them sign on as a new site sponsor for 2009. Check out their current tasting menu.
By Melissa Dobson, Finger Lakes News Correspondent
Mention ice wine and most everyone thinks of Canada and the Niagara Ice Wine Festival held each year in Niagara-On-The-Lake, now in its 14th year. Although Niagara On-the-Lake, Ontario may be the first region to come to mind, New York's producers are looking to show off their offerings and educate wine lovers on the distinctiveness of their ice wines during the first New York Ice Wine Festival being held at Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport, NY just outside of Rochester.
Kicking off on February 8, 2009 and running through the month of February, the New York Ice Wine Festival provides an opportunity to taste and get-to-know some of the top ice wines in New York State, specifically those from Casa Larga, Hunt Country Vineyards and Sheldrake Point Vineyards. Although best-known for riesling, cabernet franc and merlot, many in the industry have identified a real opportunity for the New York wine industry in their ice wines.
As Lenn mentioned previously, recent accolades include Best Dessert Wine trophy for Casa Larga's 2005 Fiori Vidal Ice Wine at the 2008 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London and a score of 90-points by James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator for Standing Stone Vineyards 2007 Vidal Ice Wine.
Highlights of the festival include:
One last reason to attend -- to support your local wineries and contribute to the economy of New York State.
The wake for Ben Sisson will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, January 27, at De Friest - Grattan Funeral Home, located at 51400 Route 25, Southold, NY from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
A memorial service will also be held at the First Universalist Church of Southold, on Wednesday, January 28 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that friends honor Ben's memory through contributions to a memorial fund in support of his family.
Gifts can be made to:
Friends of the Sisson Family
c/o Suffolk County National Bank
P.O. Box 702
Cutchogue, NY 11935
2005 Finger Lakes reds continue to show well in my weekly tastings. Of course, no one expects the region's reds to push the aromatic whites into the background, but it is clear that, in hot years anyway, elegant, balanced reds are possible.
Standing Stone Vineyards' 2005 Pinnacle ($23) is a Bordeaux-style blend (or Meritage if you will) made with 89% cabernet sauvignon, 8% cabernet franc and 3% merlot. In the glass, it shows nice extraction and is a rich crimson-violet color.
The nose is intense with Bing cherries, caramel-vanilla and hints of oak. The palate is lush with bright cherry flavors -- fresh, stewed and candied -- and oak-imparted flavors of vanilla and Werther's Originals candy. It could use a bit more structure, but for drinking today, there's just enough. The tannins are well-integrated and the finish lingers a bit with an interesting herbal note.
The flavors are a little straight forward, but this is still one of the best cabernet-based wines I've tasted from the Finger Lakes.
Producer: Standing Stone Vineyards
AVA: Finger Lakes
Rating: (2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)
By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Correspondent
Last week, Dave Wiemann, the vineyard manager of Sheldrake Point Vineyard on Cayuga Lake, conducted a test to find out if the viciously cold temperatures had destroyed buds on his vines. He went to the coldest part of Sheldrake Point's 43 acres and cut ten canes of Riesling. He soaked the canes in water for 48 hours, then cut the buds. He was hoping to see green -- a sign that the buds were still alive and well. He feared he could see the deadly black that signals a victory for the weather.
The buds were green.
"Any damage so far is minimal," Dave said. "They've hung in there well. Riesling buds are acclimated to ten degrees below zero, and our vineyard saw a range of zero degrees to about five below."
The arctic air that swept New York state last week was just a shade warmer than many forecasters expected, which was just enough to protect most buds. "We saw just a bit more cloud cover than we figured to see," said meteorologist Stacey Pensgen of the ABC News affiliate in Rochester. "Those extra clouds offered just enough of a blanket to keep temperatures above zero most of the time."
Wiemann explained that his more sensitive vines -- Gewürztraminer, pinot noir, and other red varieties -- are located in the warmer, more protected spots in Sheldrake Point's vineyards. He didn't find it necessary to test them for damage.
Other wineries expect similar results across the Finger Lakes. Winemakers and growers on Seneca and Keuka Lakes say the bud damage is likely to be minimal, though the growers that haven't tested the buds won't know for sure until the weather warms up.
"It could have been worse," Wiemann said. "We're very pleased with what we're seeing in the vineyard right now."
It is with deep sadness that I write this post today. Another member of the Long Island wine community has left us long before his time. I certainly hope its the last such post I need to write for some time.
Ben Sisson, a friend and frequent commenter here on LENNDEVOURS passed away yesterday. Most recently, Ben was vineyard manager for McCall Vineyards in Cutchogue after many years at Raphael.
Over the several years that I knew Ben, he taught me a lot both about growing grapes on Long Island and about the industry itself. He was quick to chime in on even the most controversial posts and set me straight more than a couple times. He always told it like it was, and I respected him for it.
The last time I saw Ben, we spent several minutes talking about fishing, the growing season and also fatherhood.
He was a loving, devoted father and husband and will be missed by all. I know that I'll miss him.
The local wine community has had far too much heartache this winter.
If you don't like cabernet franc, you might be reading the wrong blog. And sure, for a long time I didn't have a lot of great things to say about Finger Lakes region reds, but a few have impressed me of late, including this one, Hunt Country Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Franc ($22).
The summer of 2005 brought about great ripeness in vineyards throughout New York and that ripe fruit is on display here. The nose is bright and enticing, mixing strawberry and cherry fruit with black pepper, sweet herbs, and just a little vanilla.
Bing cherry flavors, with more black pepper, and spices, burst on the attack. This is a cab franc with a bit more structure than you might expect, but I like it. This is a wine that will improve with short-term aging (the synthetic cork is the limiting factor here). The herb component from the nose is more subtle on the palate, lingering the background, but peeking through on the medium-length finish.
I'd be curious to have tasted this wine with a little less barrel influence (it spent a year aging in new oak), just to get a truer expression of the fruit, but the oak isn't overwhelming at all. A really nice example of what the Finger Lakes can produce in a warm year.
It's sold out, but I was able to get my hands on some for the New York Cork Club January shipment, which will ship early next week.
Producer: Hunt Country Vineyards
AVA: Finger Lakes
Rating: (3 out of 5 | Recommended)
Onabay Vineyards 2006 "Night Heron" Merlot ($25) is a blend of 86% merlot, 9% cabernet franc and 5% syrah. That syrah worried me a bit because Long Island syrah, particularly in a cooler year like 2006, doesn't often impress..
But I had no reason for concern. I like this wine quite a bit.
A nicely extracted medium-dark garnet, the nose offers nice dark fruit aromas of black cherry, black berry and even a little blueberry, accented by basil, thyme and a little smokiness.
That same dark fruit character, black cherry and black raspberry this time, leads on an elegant, medium-bodied palate. Secondary flavors of herbs, mocha and subtle graphite -- especially on the long finish -- add layers of complexity. The tannins are of medium-intensity, but well integrated. They bring grip but don't overwhelm or punish the palate.
This is a well-priced, delicious merlot that represents Long Island's unique terroir extremely well.
The Hudson River Valley is a sometimes-forgotten wine region in New York, often losing out to Long Island and the Finger Lakes for the attention of writers and much of the wine-drinking populace. But there is an emerging group of quality-focused producers in the region. One winery making some very good wines is Benmarl Winery, which boasts what may be the oldest vineyard in the United States, dating back to the 1770s.
Today, we sit down with Benmarl's winemaker, Kristop Brown, to learn a bit more about him.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
That is a difficult question to answer because, like many Americans, my earliest memories of drinking included 'wine products' like Boone's Farm, which I now know to be a 'malted beverage.'
So I will skip over these
memories and fast forward to the year 2000. My wife and I (girlfriend
back then) enjoyed a bottle of Elderton shiraz at my parents cabin in Phoenicia by candle light. I don't remember the vintage but at the time the $30
price tag meant I was trying to impress.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
Working at Millbrook Winery in 2003 was the experience that opened my eyes to the wine industry. I was able to taste not only the Millbrook wines but also the wines from owner John Dyson's other ventures (Villa Pillo in Tuscany and Williams Selyem in the Russian River Valley). A year later I was working under Eric Miller at Benmarl (the current winemaker at Chaddsford Winery) as the assistant winemaker.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
I'm going to jump ahead to the 2008 vintage because most of my favorite 2007s are sold out. We are making our first cabernet franc this year from Hudson River Region grapes and although the release date is probably not for another year I am already excited about it. It has such silky, spicy fruit and nice mouth feel. We are aging it in four-year old French oak barrels so there is no interference from the wood.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the Hudson Valley wine community?
I was surprised at how dedicated the wineries are to making regional wines despite the lack of attention the Hudson Valley receives compared to other wine regions in New York.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
Cheap Burgundy and Belgian ales.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just
can't make yourself enjoy?
I don't enjoy red wine with cheese although I'm sure there's a perfect pairing I haven't tried.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
Drinking Baco Noir on the hillside here at Benmarl with friends and family at around dusk. The winery overlooks the Hudson River and some of the old Baco vines planted years ago. You really feel the history of the place and of the Hudson Valley.
Several New York wines have received impressive accolades in recent weeks. So, just in case you missed it:
Miles Wine Cellars, a small, family-run winery located on the western shore of Seneca Lake, is one of the rare finger Lakes wineries that focuses on red wines, rather than the racy, aromatic whites that the region is known for. Pinot noir, cabernet franc and a merlot-cabernet franc blend dominate the portfolio of wines that are made by Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards.
This Miles Wine Cellars 2006 Cabernet Franc ($22) was fermented in Hungarian oak and has an interesting, oak-inflected nose of smoke, grilled herbs and fresh red cherries.
Soft, flavorful and medium bodied, red cherry flavors are joined by smoky, almost bacony, flavors, and subtle hints of herbs and tobacco. The oak influence is significant but not overwhelming. The tannins are low and so is the acid, leaving it a bit soft and lacking structure.
Producer: Miles Wine Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
Rating: (2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)
By Bryan Callandrelli, Niagara Correspondent
This year’s Niagara region ice wine harvest is underway, with three local wineries braving temperatures that barely broke single digits (windchills were well below zero) to collect those precious frozen grapes during seemingly perfect harvest conditions. The harvest window this year was a long one, as frigid temperatures have lingered in the region for several days.
Niagara Landing in Cambria, Schulze Vineyards & Winery in Burt and Leonard Oakes Winery in Medina all had crews out last week collecting either Vidal or Catawba grapes. Domenic Carisetti, winemaker/consultant for all three wineries, was busy overseeing the pressing of the fruit.
This season’s addition of the Catawba grape for ice wine is a bit of a surprise if you are used to the usual suspects of Vidal blanc, riesling, gewurtztraminer and cabernet franc, but Catawba still has a following in the region with locals. Many other wineries in the region have plans for ice wine in the future, but most of them are still working with young vines that they do not want to over stress by leaving fruit on any longer than needed.
In Ontario, some wineries owe up to 20% of their revenue to ice wine sales and the Niagara USA region is increasing its investment in the business. With recent acclaim from magazines like Wine Spectator giving scores of up to 94 points for Ontario producers and 90 points for our own Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, it’s obvious that ice wine can be provide a fast track to world wide recognition of Niagara wines. This year’s harvest just reinforces that the region is as close to perfection as a region can be for this decadent dessert wine.
Pompous Ass and Red Cat aside, New York doesn't have many "critter wines" in its state-wide portfolio. You know critter wines -- the ones with cute little animals on the labels that are clearly targeted at younger drinkers.
Instead, you see quite a few labels with various vehicles on them, including labels for Bedells Main Road line (which feature a red pickup truck), Castello di Borghese's house wines (which also have pickups on them) and the Scooter Wines from Villa Bellangelo, which are described as "sweet and friendly."
Friendly is in the eye (and palate) of the beholder, but this wine is definitely sweet, with 7.5% residual sugar. It's made with the Niagara grape and it is similar to other Niagara-based wines I've had from the region.
The nose overflows with sweet honeysuckle aromas with that "foxy" character so common in Vitis lambrusca grapes. It's hard to describe but it almost smells like smoky rubber to me.
It's medium bodied and decidedly sweet, with more honeysuckle, honeyed melon flavors, and more of that rubber character. The finish is short and ends on a surprisingly sour note.
I know that there is an entire segment of the wine-drinking population that will probably love this wine (along with Pink Scooter, a blend of Catawba and Vincent, and Blue Scooter, blend of riesling and Cayuga), but I'm just not in that segment.
As you can see, Jackson (who is wearing a Terrible Towel as a cape by the way) is very excited that the Steelers are going the Super Bowl, which happens to the be day after his 2nd birthday.
I'll be calling the boys in black and gold this week, asking that the give Jackson a win for his birthday. Seems a fair request.
Okay, I'm late Wine Blogging Wednesday #53, hosted by El Jefe from El Bloggo Torcido. Sue me.
But, at least I'm still taking part, albeit a few days late. I had to because this theme, wines with breakfast, is one of the most unique we've had in the 4+ years of WBW. Of course, anyone who knows Jefe won't be surprised that he is the mastermind behind an off-the-wall theme.
Wine with breakfast, you say? He took us even one step further...outlawing sparkling, rose and sweet wines. We had to pick a dry red or dry white.
He did cut us a bit of a break though... we didn't need to actually drink the wine at breakfast time, just with breakfast foods.
So, I cooked up a gruyere-Canadian bacon frittata (with lots of caramelized onion) and pondered my options. I didn't ponder for long though. I knew where I was going... my GTG (that's go-to grape), riesling. Sorry for the Rachel Ray moment, there.
McGregor Vineayrd 2007 Dry Riesling ($23) went reasonably well, although Nena didn't think it worked as well as I did. The nose was much more floral that I expected, with Key lime blossom the primary aroma with wet slate, lime zest and faint peach aromas in the background.
The reason I go to riesling when I'm in doubt is the racy acidity that good ones feature -- and this one has it in spades. Lime and peach mingle on a medium-light bodied palate cut by electric acidity. The finish is long and minerally with a tart apricot note on the very finish. Nena likes a bit more peach and tropical fruit in her Finger Lakes riesling, but I enjoyed this one. I think its best days are ahead of it though. The acid will settle down and integrate a bit more.
How about the pairing? It was okay. I enjoy riesling enough that it will "work" for me most of the time (unless we're talking rare-cooked steak). The acidity was great with the rich eggs and the light fruit flavors actually played nicely with the smoky-salty pork. The floral component is what kept this from being a great match, though.
Thanks for hosting, Jefe and thanks for the great theme. I think I'll stick to green tea, or better yet, a good German-made Hefe Weizen for breakfast going forward though.
The newest member of the LENNDEVOURS kitchen staff made cupcakes today with a little help from the head pastry chef, who also happens to be his mommy.
You might notice the pre-packaged cake mix in the foreground. Fear not: for his birthday at the end of the month, the cupcakes will be from scratch. But for the decorating test run, convenience won the day.
This kid LOVES to help in the kitchen. I wonder where he gets that from. We can only hope he's a big-time chef one day so we can get lots of comped meals.
Long Island cabernet can be a not-very-tasty proposition. As consistently as vineyard managers can ripen merlot on this overgrown sand bar, cabernet does so just as inconsistently. Often, it doesn't ripen fully at all, leading to wines with overwhelming green flavors that are almost unrecognizable as cabernet sauvignon.
As you might expect, a lot of this under-ripe cabernet ends up blended into other wines to mask its faults or is used to make rose or blush wines.
Even at its best, Long Island cabernet sauvignon bears little, if any, resemblance to the hulking, muscular wines of Napa or Sonoma. Instead, they are a little like left bank Bordeaux, only more fruit forward and much more approachable in their youth.
There are two keys to finding good local cabernet sauvignon. First, seek out wines from hotter, longer growing seasons. 2005 was one such year. Next, consider the vineyard location. Typically, the western-most vineyards on the North Fork are able to squeeze out a bit more ripeness, even in cooler years.
This Martha Clara Vineyards 2005 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) has both factors working in its favor.
It's 92% cabernet sauvignon and 8% petite verdot, and while the nose is a bit taut upon opening, with a little time to breath, sweet oak and vanilla aromas joined by those of raspberry jam, cherry pie and black pepper emerge.
Medium-to-full bodied, the flavors range from crushed raspberries and sweet cherry candy to thyme, toasted marshmallows and spicy oak. Substantial, but rounded, tannins provide good structure that indicates good ageability. The winery even suggests 7-10 years.
If you're drinking it now, enjoy it with a well-marbled piece of beef.