Bedell Cellars and Corey Creek Tap Room’s winemakers have been breaking the boundaries of traditional winemaking — and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Bedell Cellars Winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich and Corey Creek Winemaker Marin Brennan have both produced wines that have recently been highly rated by esteemed publications like Wine Enthusiast and Vinepair, earning scores in the nineties that place their wines on the “Outstanding” and “Excellent” tier.
2020 Melon de Bourgogne — Bedell Cellars
Bedell Cellars’ winemaker, Rich Olsen-Harbich, achieved a milestone with his 2020 Melon de Bourgogne, receiving an impressive 93 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. This is the first time a still, dry white wine on the North Fork has received such a high score from the leading publication.
Inspired by a visit to the Western Coast of France, Olsen-Harbich decided to experiment with planting Melon de Bourgogne, a grape grown primarily in the Loire Valley region. It’s the first time this varietal, also known as Muscadet, has been grown on the East Coast.
“It’s very similar in terms of topography and proximity to the ocean, so it seemed to make sense to me that this particular grape should do well here as well,” explained Olsen-Harbich.
After being grown on North Fork soil, the French grapes were whole cluster pressed, fermented on fine lees and aged in stainless steel. The result? A crisp wine boasting bright acidity and flavors of apple, pear, citrus and a saline minerality that’s typical of wines grown in coastal areas like the North Fork.
“We get a very slight brine component in the wine and that, along with the kind of citrusy acidity, makes it a perfect combination to go with shellfish like oysters,” said Olsen-Harbich. “We thought this was a natural fit for the North Fork because of the huge success of the oyster industry.”
While the 2020 vintage has since sold out, a small stock of 2021 is available at Bedell Cellars and can be purchased by visiting store.bedellcellars.com.
2021 Coquillage — Corey Creek Tap Room
At Corey Creek Tap Room, winemaker Marin Brennan has been crafting a small batch wine with a salty twist. The Southold winery recently received a 94-point score from Vinepair for Brennan’s 2021 Small Batch Coquillage — a chardonnay aged with locally foraged seashells.
Brennan was inspired by a previous collaboration with winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich, where they experimented with aging an oaked chardonnay with beach stones and rocks.
“My style of winemaking is to enhance the natural terroir that we have on the North Fork,” explained Brennan. “Something that we see in our wines is minerality because we are located between the Sound and the Bay, so I wanted to enhance that flavor component.”
The Chardonnay grapes were harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeast in stainless steel tanks. Brennan foraged the shore for seashells, rinsing off any sand particles with wine to preserve the shells’ natural qualities. The seashells were then added to the tank for a two-month aging process alongside the wine. The outcome is a white wine that’s crisp, bright and refreshing with just a hint of salinity.
“It’s a great honor to receive 94 points from VinePair,” said Brennan. “I think it’s great for the North Fork region and for Corey Creek and I believe people are viewing North Fork wines as more than just an emerging wine region. Our region is 50 years old this year and we’ve come a long way with our winemaking and we’re only becoming better.”
The Coquillage 2021 is available at Corey Creek Tap Room in Southold and online at coreycreektaproom.com.