It’s still hot in New York this week -- really hot. We’ll hit 90º in Niagara and luckily for those of us who turn to local alcoholic beverages for relief, there are a few options that stand out among the rest
Eveningside Vineyards 2010 Reserve Chardonnay
Oaked chardonnay, you ask? Why yes, this delicately oaked Niagara chardonnay didn’t undergo maloactic fermentation and has pretty much been my go-to wine this summer. Among the aromas of orange peel and nectarine, hints of pineapple combine with subtle coconut and vanilla notes to resemble a well-made piña colada. Want butter in your chardonnay? You aren’t going to find it here.
Freedom Run Winery 2010 Vin Gris
Freedom Run swung for the fences with this saingée style rosé made from cabernet franc and merlot. Without even a hint of green, this rosé is over the top, with fruit-forward aromas of ripe strawberries and candied cherries. With ripeness levels as high as they were in 2010, this rosé has got some weight and carries it gracefully. The only problem with this wine is that only 37 cases were produced, and there are only a few left.
Schulze Vineyards 2010 Semi-Dry Vidal
To any acid-loving wine snob this wine would already have two strikes against it because of its name. With vidal considered a hybrid and the term “semi-dry” being translated as “white wine with training wheels,” I’d probably prefer to pour this blind for my geekier wine friends. Intense grapefruit, apricot and melon aromas explode out of the glass while its racy acidity and stony minerality leave you wondering why more people can’t make vidal sing like this.
Arrowhead Spring Pinot Noir 2009
That bottle of white not doing it for you? Well if you must open a red during this season’s latest display of global warming, then let it be pinot noir and specifically this Niagara Escarpment-grown specimen. With fruit from the vineyard of soon to be Long Cliff Winery, owner and winemaker Duncan Ross has crafted a fruit-forward pinot that is true to the region while keeping it at a wallet-friendly $17. Aromas of raspberry, cranberry and spice team up with soft tannins and a light body to make for an easy drinking red with which to watch the long summer sunset.
Leonard Oakes Steampunk Cider
What does a winery do when its roots are in apple farming and its young winemaker is as versatile as good sparkling wine? That’s right, make a kick-ass sparkling cider made from at least 12 different apple varieties grown on their farm. The first bottle I sampled of this cider didn’t last more than 15 minutes. It’s that good. What does it taste like? Apples! It’s simply one of the most refreshing alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had and it’s got attitude.