It’s not surprising that Regan Meador, co-owner of Southold Farm + Cellar, makes sparkling red wine. He came to this wine region with respect for what was already being done – but also an intrepid desire to see what else might be possible. He likes to do things a little differently.
I’m not aware of every single wine made in the world, but I certainly don’t know of another sparkling wine made with 100 percent petit verdot – a late-ripening variety most often used to add color, tannin and acid to red wine blends. With Southold Farm + Cellar’s 2014 “Counting Stars” Meador has done that, following up his first sparkling red — the 2013 “Damn the Torpedoes,” which was made from 60 percent merlot, 20 percent petit verdot and 20 percent pinot noir.
“Counting Stars” is similar in that it’s red and has bubbles, but they are vastly different wines – and that’s the point. Meador isn’t all that interested in making the same wine from two vintages. His winemaking takes its lead from the grapes rather than the reverse. He’s pledged to never reuse one of his whimsical wine names either.
This is a bold, in-your-face sort of red sparkler. It bursts with aromas of blackberries and blueberries with distinct notes of black pepper, lilac and an earthy edge.
The fresh, mouth-filling palate, bright acidity, chewy tannins and moderate carbonation contribute serious structure and a foundation for a mélange of black and blue fruits, spice, flowers and beefy minerality.
In the summer, I enjoyed several well-chilled bottles with burgers and other grilled fare. Over the weekend I had it with a very traditional beef stew and I think it was even better – particularly once I let it warm up a bit. That acid-tannin-bubbles combination sliced through the richness of the stew while the peppery spice complemented the slow-cooked beef perfectly.
There was a glass or so left in the bottle after dinner and I just left it on the table, open. The next morning, at room temperature and nearly flat, it had developed an intriguingly bloody, roasted beet quality.
Southold Farm + Cellar’s tasting room will reopen in February and this wine will be available there for $28.