Happy Labor Day, everyone. We hope this long weekend meant lots of delicious, locally focused meals and drinks.
It would appear that only Evan and I are chiming in with What We Drank this week, but coincidentally, we both picked local wines (a rarity) and both happen to be from the 2001 vintage.
Evan Dawson: Miles Wine Cellars 2001 Milestone
You've had that feeling before. That moment when you grab a bottle of wine from your cellar and say, "Where the heck did THIS come from?" My wife and I have no idea where we got this bottle of '01 Milestone, which is a blend of 50% cab franc and 50% merlot. It's made by Fox Run winemaker Peter Bell, just up the road from Miles.
Given the fact that this wine was eight years old, our expectations were low. They needn't have been. Tasted blind, I absolutely would have said this was a 2005 California Merlot from an old-school style producer. Seriously. There's no browning on the edges, no brown fruit or takeover by secondary flavors, no oxidation. And to see a Finger Lakes wine clock in at 13.8 ABV, well, I had to call Peter Bell. He explained that 2001 was a hot, dry year -- not quite as extreme as 2007, but very nice for ripening reds. And then he checked the books... and found the merlot rolled in at 25 brix! That explains a lot -- and helps explain why our "Where is THIS from" moment became a "What a nice surprise!" moment.
Lenn Thompson: Peconic Bay Winery 2001 Oregon Hills Merlot
I'm lucky guy. I get to taste a lot more New York wines than most people, usually just before or upon their release. There is one downside though. With so many wines to taste all the time, I don't always get to go back to wines as they near or reach their peak.
Luckily, a few New York wineries are able to hold back some more mature wines and still pour them in their tasting room. And I'm not talking about older wines that remain in the tasting room because they aren't very good and no one is buying them.
This merlot (with 25% cabernet sauvignon) was released in late 2007, and two years later, it's never tasted better than it did yesterday when we visited the winery, where it's still available -- for a bit longer anyway. They only have two cases left.
Full bodied, and supremely smooth, the tannins have incorporated themselves into this wine beautifully. Ripe blackberry and plum flavors are accented by earthy dark chocolate, spice and hints of tobacco.
I have one bottle left in my cellar. Probably not for long.