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long island wine press anomaly white pinot noir anthony nappa
Photo by Katharine Schroeder

Anomaly (n): deviation from the common rule. 

SEE ALSO: Anthony Nappa’s white pinot noir Anomaly, which consistently earns rave reviews from countless publications. 

A white pinot noir? Huh? As the name suggests, pinot noir grapes are black and, though difficult to grow, produce some of the finest red wine in the world. How does one go about making a white pinot noir? 

Well, Anthony Nappa says it’s less complicated than you might think.

“In general, pinot noir is a real elegant, kind of nuanced red wine,” Nappa says. “Since it’s light in flavor, color and body, it actually lends itself to being a white wine really well.”

Nappa would know. Equipped with a technical background in winemaking, he has experience making wine in areas as diverse as California, New Zealand, Italy and Massachusetts. He created his own brand, Anthony Nappa Wines, in 2007, and earlier this year signed on as winemaker at Raphael vineyards and winery in Peconic.

“I enjoy the creative side of winemaking,” Nappa says. “We’re not changing the world here; it’s just wine—but we do make something that people enjoy. And that’s rewarding.”

Anomaly, made with 100 percent pinot noir grapes, is certainly in keeping with that philosophy. But when it was first released in 2008, Nappa deliberately produced only a small batch in order to gauge the market’s reaction.

“Like any new wine that we make, we had no idea how it was going to be received,” he says. “Conceptually it’s different, but it became a very popular wine from the beginning.”

Indeed. In the five years since its debut, Anomaly has earned multiple mentions of praise from both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among countless other publications. Last year, Saveur magazine named Nappa’s 2011 Anomaly one of its “37 Great American Wines.”

What makes it so good? For starters, Anomaly has the full body of a traditional pinot noir but none of the “oakiness” some wine drinkers find repugnant. This is achieved by picking the grapes a couple weeks earlier than usual, Nappa explains. The grapes are then immediately pressed and have zero contact with their skins, which is where a grape’s color resides.

“We literally treat this wine like it’s a white wine,” says Nappa, who lives in Southold with his wife, chef Sarah Evans Nappa.

The couple own and operate The Winemaker Studio in Peconic. “Technically it’s kind of a rosé and all red wines can be made into white wines or rosés, because all the color in grapes is on the skins.”

The result is a refreshing, acidic white wine with cherry and strawberry aromas—all in all, an eminently drinkable vino.

Customers think so, too. In fact, Anomaly is so popular that more than 50 percent of production work at Anthony Nappa Wines is dedicated to creating it.

“We try to emphasize the body of the wine,” Nappa says. “Because there’s no oak and no malolactic fermentation, we like to say it’s pinot noir stripped down to its essence.”

Check out the rest of this feature story “Tale of Two Wines” from the Long Island Wine Press.

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