02/25/17 6:00am
Our Lenn Thompson led Roanoke Vineyards wine club members through a tasting of several sparkling wines, including those made in the pétilliant naturel style. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Our Lenn Thompson led Roanoke Vineyards wine club members through a tasting of several sparkling wines, including those made in the pétilliant naturel style. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Last weekend, as part of a series of “Locations” wine salons I’ve been leading at Roanoke Vineyard every couple of months, I guided 34 of the winery’s wine club members and friends through a tasting of eight sparkling wines. All but one was from New York, the outlier being an albariño pét-nat from Mid-Atlantic newcomer Old Westminster Winery in Maryland. These tastings typically focus on a single region-grape combination, like Finger Lakes riesling, or a variety across multiple regions, like when we explored cabernet franc made across New York.

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02/22/17 10:49am
Channing Daughters Winery Rosso Pétillant Naturel. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Channing Daughters Winery Rosso Pétillant Naturel. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Pétillant naturel, or pét nat wines, are all the rage today and it’s easy to see why.

They tend to be more affordable than traditional, Champagne-style sparkling wines. They are often lower in alcohol. They are fun, fizzy and food-friendly too. They aren’t wines to consider and ponder for hours. You chill them well, you pop them open (they are usually closed under a beer-style crown cap) and you drink them. (more…)

02/16/17 5:57am
Pindar Vineyards Dr. Dan's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Pindar Vineyards Dr. Dan’s Signature 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

There is no denying the part Pindar Vineyards founder Dr. Herodotus Damianos played in the creation and popularization of the Long Island wine industry. Known as Dr. Dan, Damianos first bought 30 acres of land in 1979. He planted it a year later and two years after that, Pindar Vineyards sold its first wines. Pindar Vineyards, and its sister winery Duck Walk Vineyards, have since grown to produce more than 100,000 cases per year. (more…)

02/11/17 6:00am
Lenn Thompson and a group of East End winemakers sampled these 2001 Long Island reds. Thompson said a majority of the bottles held up well. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Lenn Thompson and a group of East End winemakers sampled these 2001 Long Island reds. Thompson said a majority of the bottles held up well. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

A lot of winemakers — and admittedly, wine writers — like to talk about how long a wine will age. You may see at the end of a tasting note, either at a winery or in a glossy wine magazine: “Drink now through 2030.” I’ve also heard from local winemakers that customers will occasionally make their buying decisions based in part on how long the pourer says a wine will age in their cellar.

There is a lot of confusion and quite a bit of mythology out there when it comes to these sorts of tasting windows and prophecies.

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02/09/17 6:00am
Long Island Wine

Macari Vineyards 2015 Horse Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

This weekend, Macari Vineyards will celebrate the release of our wine of the week: Macari Vineyards 2015 “Horses” Sparkling Cabernet Franc.

It’s the second release of one of a wine that quickly developed a rabid following last year. The 2013 edition was so popular with wine professionals and consumers alike that it sold out in months.

There is little doubt that it’s a unique, and uniquely delicious wine. Or that it was a bit of a surprise hit. One of the biggest in 2016, I think. (more…)

02/03/17 6:00am
Lieb Cellars

Bridge Lane Wines 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

We’ve had a mild winter so far , so I can’t really complain too much. It’s been relatively mild and we haven’t had that much snow (can you hear that? It’s me knocking on wood). But when a wine like this week’s wine of the week, Lieb Cellars 2016 “Bridge Lane” Sauvignon Blanc makes its way to my tasting table, I can’t help but long for warmer weather — summer ideally, but spring works too. (more…)

01/30/17 6:01am
Raphael La Fontana. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Raphael La Fontana. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

“My goal for this wine is more savory and tannin driven, but still light on its feet. The influence is from my love of Italian wines, in this case particularly Barolo.”

That’s how Raphael winemaker, Anthony Nappa, describes his approach to Raphael 2013 La Fontana, a blend of estate-grown merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot that was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. You won’t hear many local winemakers talk about Italy as their inspiration, but Nappa often does. It’s refreshing in a region still dominated with Bordeaux references and descriptions of why the wines aren’t like those in California. (more…)