As always, a diverse group of libations from our editors and contributors.
Let's talk a bit about acidity. I often hear people who drink warm-climate wines profess their love for acidity and balance, and yet when they drink New York wines they tend to remark on the crackling acidity as if it's too much to handle.
I think there's a good chance that they're simply not accustomed to the real deal, and they're certainly not getting it in wines like this.
That's not to say this isn't a good wine. It's beautifully made, with a layered nose that is mercifully bereft of a dominant oak influence. But in the mouth it's heavy, trending toward blackberry compote or syrup, and this wine is not nearly as big as its brethren can be.
In fact, the label explains that Caymus picked part of their vineyards on September 1 that year -- a record early picking after an August heat spike. That's nice to see, but I still need some more balance to wines with such a sweet edge. Wines without much natural acidity can be fatiguing to drink. In this case, the winemaking team did an outstanding job in what was clearly a hot year. But it's a reminder about why I gravitate toward cooler climate wines.
I was perusing the Wegmans beer market after a very long week of picking, crushing, pressing and pouring, and a Belgian seemed in order.
I stumbled upon an unfamiliar offering from the legendary Brasserie Dupont: a USDA-certified organically produced beer (meaning 100% organic hops and barley) boasting "No pesticides, no chemicals" and "Filtered Artesian Well Water." I was in an Artesian well water kind of mood, which may be why I was so charmed by the kitschy forest scene of unicorns and frolicking bunnies on the label, so I picked it up.
Forêt pours a poufy four-finger head matching the label’s woodland creatures in fluffiness, with a golden sunset-yellow and slightly hazy hue. A soft nose of pillowy yeast, citrus fruit and sweet clover was rather hot for only a 7.5% ABV, and I got a faint suggestion of birch beer. Lacing was perfect at first but began to fall away in pieces after several minutes. Delicate hops on the mid-palate gave way to a nice, rounded finish, with a creamy texture throughout that reminded me of washing one’s hands in particularly soft water.
Earthy, smooth, and light, this beer is no think tank – it’s for sipping under a tree after a long day, and it’s a cool organic choice to boot. Grab a friend and some funky hard cheese and split this beer (a cork-top 750 ml bottle for $9.50) and relax with your head in the clouds.
Last week was the kind of day that can make What We Drank tough. I
tasted a bunch of New York wines of course, but they were all current
releases that fit better as reviews or Tasting Table entries. WWD is
supposed to be, at least in my mind, about the "other" stuff that I
taste and drink.
Then yesterday, I spent the afternoon tasting on the North Fork with good friends and TasteCamp alums, John and Megan Witherspoon, ending our day at Shinn Estate Vineyards for a mini-Tweetup where we were joined by fellow local wine enthusiast Michael Gorton of Undertaking Wine. This is where WWD got even more difficult -- too many wines that could fit.
After tasting some 2009s whites from tank and barrel, we headed into
the library to taste some libary (and un-released wines), including a
spicy, herb-tinged 2004 cabernet franc (the folks at Shinn sure know
what I dig) and a vertical of cabernet sauvignon -- 2005, 2006 and 2007
-- that really told the story of the different vintages for that grape
at that vineyard. It was a great reminder of why I love cool climate
wines so much -- they are so different year to year. Vintage variation
can makesome growers and winemakers (and wine sellers) nuts, but as a consumer, I think it's fun and interesting when I wine really shows you the vintage. There was also the young, but still show-stopping 2007 Malbec.
Many of those wines would have worked for WWD, but then co-owners David Page and Barbara Shinn dipped into their own cellar for this bottle. Any look back into Long Island's wine history is fun, especially when we're talking 1995, which is widely considered the first great vintage for Long Island (before 2001 and 2007).
The nose was leathery and yes, Brett-y, with caramel and red fruit, and a subtle herb-asparagus note. On the palate, the Brett was less noticeable, but what was was plenty noticeable was the oak tannin and flavors of American oak (I don't think Bedell uses any anymore). Plenty of structure here. The coolest part about this wine? I don't think it's anywhere near its last legs yet.
Every so often I stop at a local wine and liquor store that is known more for selling small bottles of cheap liquor than its wine. Why? Because they seem to always have random bottles of wine they bought from a distributor going out of business marked down or just plain miss-marked.
Anything from the old world there gets ignored by their normal customers and the last time I stopped by I found this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from Manolesaki Estate, from the Greek region of Drama. What really sold me was its age, a 2001, and the fact that the importer is based in my former stomping ground of Astoria, NY.
Ripe aromas of black currant, plum and vanilla didn't make this remarkable in anyway, but I found the novelty of smooth properly aged tannins something I wish I had more of in the wines I drink. All in all something different and reminiscent of the wines I¹d pick up while living in an actual city.