By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Here's a sampling of what our editors and contributors are drinking:
David Flaherty: De la Senne Wadesda #1 (a series of barrel experiments)
In the slightly sketchy outskirts of Brussels, Yvan de Baets and Bernard Leboucq have finally opened their brewery. With the space and rent required for one to realize this dream, you'll often find urban breweries in neighborhoods you don't want to let mom wander around in at night.
Inside, however, pure gold is happening. Riding a wave of beer geek love (they've been brewing at friend's breweries for years and honing their craft), they are one of the hottest micro-breweries in Belgium. And they deserve it; they brew in the long, traditional way with utmost respect for the brewer's art while many around them look for shortcuts and marketing gimmicks.
Starting with their Jambe-de-Bois (an Abbey trippel), they blend it with 3-year old Lambic from Cantillon and age it in a barrel at Cantillon for one year.
The result? One of the strangest, most complex beers I've tried.
The Wadesda is slightly dark with a golden lemon color. Pouring with a massive, seemingly alive foamy head, it gives off ever-changing notes of tangerines, apple cider and horse blanket. Dry, champagne-like with huge acidity, it is sharp and grabs your tongue. A rich roundness from the malt balances with the Lambic beautifully and it leaves your mouth watering like a fiend. I look forward to experiment #2.
Evan Dawson: Goose Watch Winery Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and Swedish Hill Winery Riesling Cuvee
This is the time of year for creative summer offerings, and give credit to the folks at Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine for a nice one.
The Finger Lakes has a dilemma with cabernet franc ice wine -- namely, what to do with it? More producers are cranking it out (and most of it isn't very good), but Suzanne has done something quite clever.
The restaurant takes a small pour of cab franc ice wine from Goosewatch and fills the rest of the glass with Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvee. Too much cab france ice would overpower the sparkler, but a judicious amount adds a brightening touch of sweetness. Finished with a plump raspberry, it makes for an attractive visual. And on an 82-degree summer day, it's a delightful opener to a long, relaxing meal at one of the very finest restaurants anywhere.
No, this pairing isn't designed for point scores or contemplation. But not all wine is in that category, and this time of year, we applaud the creative and thirst-quenching.
It's rare that my wife Nena and I get a night out. It's even more rare that when get one alone with other adults. It's dodo-bird rare that we get a night out alone, with adults, who also happen to love wine as much as we do.
The stars aligned and we found ourselves at just such a dinner Saturday night.
We started our meal with Hermann J. Wiemer 2009 Dry Riesling Reserve, a beautiful wine with the kind of acidity/tension/verve that I love with food, and expect from top Finger Lakes riesling. And as you may have guessed, I ordered it.
Our friends ordered this pinot noir and we enjoyed it quite a bit. Decidedly not Burgundian (and why should it be?) the nose was filled with dark fruits -- plum, black cherry and blackberr -- with nice brown spice notes and something a bit floral. Ripe and medium-full bodied, the palate showed light, silky tannins and good acidity to keep things taut.
Seems like this could -- and maybe should -- sit in the cellar for another 5-10 years.