Bedell Cellars winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich has been making some of Long Island’s top wines for years — more than most, in fact. But with the release of this week’s Wine of the Week— Bedell Cellars 2017 Taste Nouveau — he’s broken a bit of new ground.
It’s his first bottle release of a wine made entirely through carbonic maceration, a winemaking technique in which whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing.
This isn’t his first foray into carbonic, of course.
“I’ve done the technique for years, but it’s always been part of a greater blend,” he said. “First Crush Red in particular.”
Olsen-Harbich also made a carbonic Cabernet Sauvignon that was available on tap at the winery’s Corey Creek tasting room location — a place where Olsen-Harbich gets to experiment a bit more.
“It was a huge hit with our customers,” he said. “The consumer response to this wine led me to want to do a bottled version and have it out right away after harvest which makes it really special. This one was three weeks from vine to bottle which is even faster than traditional Beaujolais.”
The result is a wine vaguely reminiscent of Beaujolais Nouveau, perhaps the most famous wines made through carbonic maceration, but with a Long Island twist. Made with 90% Merlot grown in Bedell’s Wells Road vineyard — which Olsen-Harbich says “has historically been very jammy and full of red and black fruit flavors” — and 10% estate-grown Malbec, it’s fresh, fruity and just plain fun to drink. Light bodied with low tannins but plenty of crunchy acidity, there is also a subtle earthiness and savory character in the background.
This isn’t a wine to ponder or age in your cellar. Buy it, drink it and celebrate any day ending in the letter Y.
Best of all, it’s $18 — the rare steal in the under-$20 Long Island red wine category.