05/20/17 6:11am

A bottle of McCall Wines 2016 Cuvée Nicola. (Credit: Courtesy photo)

McCall Wines earned its reputation among local wine lovers on the back of its pinot noir program, which stands as the best on the East End. No other pinot noir comes close.

A peek behind the pinot portion of the portfolio reveals quality across the board. McCall’s cabernet franc and merlot are also often outstanding as well. The rosé, too. But the hidden gem of the lineup is on the white wine side — sauvignon blanc.

Starting in 2015, the McCall sauvignon blanc has been made entirely with estate-grown fruit (rather than purchased grapes from elsewhere on the North Fork). Grown in McCall’s North Ridge Vineyard — a vineyard formerly known as Andy’s Field when it was part of the Gristina property — our Wine of the Week is McCall Wines 2016 “Cuvée Nicola” Sauvignon Blanc ($24). (more…)

05/05/17 6:01am
A bottle of Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard Petite Verdot. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

A bottle of Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard Petite Verdot. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Petit verdot is a grape that you’ve probably tasted before, though perhaps without realizing it.

A red grape used in classic Bordeaux blends, it’s grown in many vineyards on the North Fork, though not in large quantities. It’s a late ripener and often among the last grapes picked every harvest. On Long Island, it’s mostly used to add color, tannin and acidity other red wines. It can really help with mid-palate weight and concentration, making wines taste more complete.

And once you recognize its telltale structure and flavors, you can pick it out even in small amounts in a blend. (more…)

05/02/17 5:58am

Bottles of Channing Daughters VerVino. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Bottles of Channing Daughters VerVino. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

For most Americans, vermouth tends to be binary — either red and sweet or white and dry. It’s the stuff on the bottom shelf at the liquor store that’s usually cheap and only useful for martinis and Manhattans. That’s a bit like thinking that all there is to wine is $7 merlot and chardonnay.

It’s just not true  — and if you feel that way, you’re really missing out. (more…)

04/28/17 6:02am
A bottle of Roanoke VIneyards Rosé of Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

A bottle of Roanoke VIneyards Rosé of Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

If you quickly glance at this week’s “Wine of the Week,” Roanoke Vineyards 2016 Rosé of Cabernet Franc, you might think it a white wine — it’s that light in its copper tint.

On that color, Roanoke Vineyards’ Scott Sandell told me in an email, “Visuals are important, but we didn’t shape this wine around them. It’s not dyed or otherwise altered for good looks. We don’t go there with any of the wines, and this one is just lighter in color; not a lot of skin contact: styled for taste over color.”

He’s right. It’s light on color but not on flavor. (more…)

04/22/17 6:04am
The craft beer scene in Pittsburgh has greatly improved over the years, so says our Lenn Thompson. (Credit: Northforker file photo)

The craft beer scene in Pittsburgh has greatly improved over the years, so says our Lenn Thompson. (Credit: Northforker file photo)

I was born, raised and educated in western Pennsylvania. It’s changed a lot since I moved away in 2000, but despite the high-tech and medical industries there, it still has a decidedly traditional and blue-collar feel. Hearty food. Plentiful drink. We put french fries on top of salads and on top of our sandwiches back home. Yes, french fries as topping or condiment!

(more…)

04/20/17 10:10am
A bottle of Palmer VIneyards Albariño. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

A bottle of Palmer Vineyards Albariño. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

It can be easy to forget that the Long Island wine industry was founded in 1973, not that long ago as far as wine regions go. For comparison, Pliny the Elder recorded the first evidence of vines in Bordeaux in 71 AD.

Long Island has done well for itself in its first 40 plus years, but when you look at the region with a global perspective, it’s still a toddler. Maybe even a baby.

Several grapes have come and gone over the course of Long Island wine country’s history — zinfandel was even tried early on — and a handful of grapes have emerged as those showing great promise here. Those include merlot, chardonnay, cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. (more…)

04/12/17 6:01am
Palmer Vineyards 2016 Rosé. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Palmer Vineyards 2016 Rosé. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Local rosé made entirely from merlot is rarely interesting or, frankly, anything more than mediocre. It tends to be very one-dimensional and lack freshness. Some might even call it boring. Okay, I’d call it that too.

Except when it’s not. (more…)