06/17/17 6:01am

A bottle of Macari Vineyards 2013 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Our Lenn Thompson recommends it for Father’s Day. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

With Father’s Day coming this weekend, I’ve been bombarded with pitches from PR hacks about wines and wine pairings that are “perfect” for Father’s Day. Ignoring for a second the myth of the “perfect pairing,” most seem to center on cabernet sauvignon and the steaks that every father will apparently be enjoying on Sunday. (These same pitches sometimes get reused for July 4 and then Labor Day, by the way).

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06/03/17 6:02am

A glass of merlot at Bedell Cellars. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

I spent a few days in Charlottesville, Va., last week taking part in the Virginia Wine Summit, a celebration of the Commonwealth’s wine and wine culture. I was invited to speak on a panel titled “Defining Local on the East Coast,” a vague and somewhat nebulous topic that I’m not sure we really tackled during the session, but I digress.

The summit itself was only one day but, as a speaker I was able to join my fellow panelists — mostly sommeliers and restaurateurs from up and down the Eastern Seaboard — on a tour of some local vineyards and for some walk-around tastings of other Virginia producers.

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06/01/17 11:30am

A bottle of Wölffer Estate Vineyard 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

It’s almost summer (I’m choosing to ignore the weather we’ve been enduring lately) and with the change of seasons comes a change in drinking habits — as well as venues — for many.

When you’re looking for wine to enjoy by the pool, on the boat or at the beach, you’re not looking for extreme complexity and nuance. You want fresh. You want clean. You want thirst-quenching. And it’s a bonus if the wine is sealed under a screwcap, because you know you’re not going to remember to pack the corkscrew. (more…)

05/25/17 5:14am

Channing Daughters Winery 2016 Tocai Fruilano Pétillant Naturel. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

As Channing Daughters Winery’s winemaker Christopher Tracy is prone to doing, he has embraced the fresh, fun deliciousness of pétillant naturel wines with gusto in recent years.

The man who is making a half dozen different vermouths and recently released seven different roses from the 2016 vintage has taken a ‘pet nat’ program that started with just three wines — white, rose and red — and blown it out to more than a handful of wines of various colors made from a wide array of grapes.

This week’s “Wine of the Week,” Channing Daughters Winery 2016 Tocai Friulano Petillant Naturel ($28), is one of the newer additions and one of the most distinctive. (more…)

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…)