Here's a sampling of what our editors and contributors have been drinking...
David Flaherty: Eve's Cidery Rustica
We're currently pouring a cocktail at Hearth that features Eve's apple cider and it's flying off the shelf like a freshly baked apple pie left unattended on the windowsill to cool.
I first became smitten with Eve's Cidery a few months ago when I met two of the core members (yes, I totally wrote 'core' unintentionally -- but now upon realizing it, I'm enamored by my unprovoked cleverness, so I'll leave it) Ezra Sherman and Autumn Stoscheck at an industry tasting that preceded NY Cider Week. Working with sixth-generation orchardist, James Cummins, they call the Finger Lakes home.
Our initial conversation was memorable and swung from sugar addition during fermentation to the practice of gas drilling in the area using the controversial technique of "fracking." They're cool folk; passionate, intelligent and grounded. Plus, they make some damn fine juice.
Lenn Thompson: Schneider Vineyards 2006 Brut Rose
Most of my favorite wine writers often write about context -- about how the people you're with and where you are can add to, or detract from, how one experiences a wine.
This Schneider 100% syrah bubbly had heaps of "context" going for it. My colleague Mark Grimaldi brought it with recently him when his family met mine for brunch at a great little diner that was new to me. The food (get the egg sliders and a side of duck fat fries), the friends and the conversation could have lifted most any bubbly to "just about perfect" status. But guess what? This wine would have been good anywhere.
Schneider Vineyards will be familiar to many who have followed Long Island wines -- Bruce Schneider made many of my favorite cabernet francs for years, but hasn't made anything under the label since 2007. Now, he focuses on his work with Onabay Vineyards and Gotham Project. This sparkler will be the first release under his label in years.
2006 wasn't a great year for reds on the North Fork and Bruce tells me that his sryah grapes "were stuck at ripeness level only to make rose and one with screaming high acid, even for me as an acid lover" so he decided to make rose in her favorite style -- with bubbles. "It was the only wine I could think of making with the grapes with a chance for making something I would enjoy drinking," he told me.
He only made 70 cases, but if you see it somewhere, check it out.
Evan Dawson: Giuseppe Cortese 2010 Dolcetto d'Alba
You have probably found yourself thirsting for a particular wine after reading about it. Writers tend to experience the same cravings when we're composing a story. So while I put together a piece about Dolcetto for Palate Press, I felt compelled to crack this bottle.
In Piedmont, most producers view Dolcetto as a workhorse, a functional lunch wine, nothing complex or exceptional. But a small group of producers views it much differently; they believe that, given the same consideration often accorded to Nebbiolo, Dolcetto can develop into something substantial.
This particular Dolcetto has no such identity crisis. Simple, solid, straightforward. It's what most people want out of this variety. I'm open-minded to something far more complex, however, and the research continues...
I love this wine. It’s bright and lively, with a subdued sort of elegance not always found in rieslings. The nose is full of citrus flower -- lime, orange blossom -- and that follows through on
I find this riesling to be much more herbaceous and perfume-forward than the oft-found luscious tropical fruit that can sometimes feel sticky or overly juicy. I sometimes fall into the “Rieslings are for summer” mindset, but this is one that feels right all year round.
Mark Grimaldi: Cigar City Brewing "Jai Alai" IPA
I was first introduced to this beer a couple years ago by a good friend and beer geek who is a lover of all things IPA. He brought it over to the house this summer and reminded me again just how stinkin' good this beer is. I had never seen it around until last week, so I grabbed a six-pack at my local distributor. Totally pumped.
Cigar City Brewing is out of Tampa, FL. I never equate Florida with beer, let alone "craft" beer. I never even equate Florida with anything good other than maybe some fresh seafood, oranges, some surfable waves here and there, shark attacks, Disney World, old people in Cadillacs, some really nice water temps. It's where my family has lived for over a decade now, and it's a struggle when we visit them to find a good go-to wine shop, restaurant with great wine list, and local produce. It just seems like people don't care as much for that kind of thing as we do up here in the northeast.
I basically drink rum drinks the whole time while trying to avoid speakers everywhere blaring Jimmy Buffett.
They've changed my outlook with this single beer. It's great to see something of this quality coming from the sunshine state. The "Jai Alai" IPA is a deep amber/copper color. On the nose it smells like honey, with a grassy (both the legal and illegal kind) note from the hops.
In the mouth it's rich and fruity but no where near cloying, round, broad mid-palate with just the right amount of hoppy bitter notes on the finish. There is also a really pretty floral note, almost like a dandelion flower that I can taste, and the finish is backed up by a citrus-driven kick of acid.
I dislike IPAs that are brutally bitter. This is not one of them. It actually reminds me a lot of the 2XIPA from Southern Tier, one of my favorite beers ever. This is a really nice, well balanced IPA that packs a punch of complex flavors without being annoying.I enjoy from front to back thoroughly.
Tracy Weiss: McCall Wines 2007 Ben's Blend
Each autumn, I hold out as long as I can before putting away my sundresses and sauv blancs. I kept to my summer wine routine for most of October refusing to believe it is time. But, with the snowstorm a few weeks ago, I could no longer deny what Game of Thrones and my flip-flop cased feet were telling me. Winter is coming.
I greeted November kicking and screaming with McCall Vineyards 2007 Ben’s Bordeaux Blend. Cabernet Franc has been a favorite way to welcome snow season without blowing out my buds California cab sauv-style. This meritage was selected with that in mind. Ben’s is a blend of McCall merlot with cab franc, petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon. And it hit the spot.
In a clichéd word -- it was smooth. I loved the mouth feel and knew I’d be happy with the taste as soon as the red stained my lips. I picked up red fruit with a hint of my grandfather’s long retired pipe. The slightly spicy tobacco infusion paired well with both the ragu bolognese and my memory of the scent on Pop’s orange cashmere sweater. Like some of my St. Emilion favorites, a touch of oak created a well-rounded balance unlike some other blends that runs rampant.
Made by McCall’s in their first year, I say it’s a perfect gateway wine to winter. And to a second bottle.