Category Archives: What’s open now

Six-year-old Long Island Merlot

I was at a friend’s house for dinner, she pulled out a bottle of wine her husband keeps for every day. Lo and behold, it was local and it was from our last good red wine vintage (if you didn’t pick to early or were growing something that happened reach peak ripeness around the second week in October) that’s already in bottle. 2005 made some awesome red for those who picked after the colossal rain around Columbus Day weekend. It was so hot and dry all summer long, that the rain really was Nature throwing a curve ball. (Unlike this year, when all we’ve got is curve balls.)

Anywho, about the Pellegrini 2005 Estate Merlot. They say on the label that it’s unfiltered and is 13 percent abv. Russell Hearn was definitely on the job then in the cellar. The wine is opaque, ruby red with black inflections and a thin pink rim, a nice bright color for a six-year-old wine. It has a lightly intense fruity smell, which I wish I could another way to describe, but it smells like those raspberry, blackberry candies that have small candy balls covering them so they look like fruit.

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10-year-old Martha Clara Merlot

Funny as it seems, my aunt’s  summer home down the street has turned out to be a a relative (small) cellar for Long Island wine (whose trade group has a new website). Last winter I cracked open a 2007 Paumanok Chenin (as does Paumanok). Still fresh.

Today, it’s a 2001 Martha Clara Merlot (which also has a new website; someone’s making some money). 2001 was a wonderful year out here; I recently retasted the 2001 Macari Bergen Road, a blend, which was still fresh and complex and definite food wine. It went a far way toward convincing me that blending is the way to go on Long Island. It may be that only Burgundy can put all its eggs in one basket. Continue reading

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Delicious 10 year old

sscn0537One of my first introductions to wine was when I work at An American Place restaurant, a good 20 years ago. (Yee god.) The place was one of the first to focus on local food, in a macro sense. It only served ingredients and wine from American. The only exception was the fancy sugar cubes imported from France.

The wine list contained all the usual suspects of American brands, including one staff favorite, Lolonis, distinguished by the lady bug on the label advertising the winery’s organic bona fides.

I think it’s been that long since I tasted their wine, and this week I had the opportunity to drink the 1999 Private Reserve Merlot from Redwood Valley. Initially I was dismayed because the cork crumbled when I tried to open it and had to settle for pushing the remainder down into the bottle. But the wine was bright ruby, the color of a much younger wine and it was packed with fruit, gentle tannins, good acidity and a long beautiful finish. None of the green merlot flavors that I’m afraid are typical on Long Island merlot. I might not have picked this out blind as merlot, as it wasn’t typical, but rich. It was also very clean and evident that it has many years ahead of it. Continue reading

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Ancient method

sscn0399This wine is good. Got all the BLIC (balance, length, intensity, complexity) and it has really good mouthfeel with velvety tannins a weight that doesn’t feel like gylcerol.

The wine was brought to dinner by a friend of my mother’s who is a member of Navarro’s wine club. After an incidental visit years back, he signed up and now receives packages in the mail.

But notice the red logo on the right side of the label of this 2006 Navarro Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. It says Méthode a l’Ancienne.

What does this mean? It’s not explained on the website, so I called the winery. The nice man who answered the phone told me their grapes are fermented in separate lots and that the Méthode a l’Ancienne lots are punched down by hand. I asked if it meant unfined or unfiltered and he said they can no longer do that as it is unreliable.

So there you have it. Wineries can call their wines whatever they want and it’s up to you to find out what it means.

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I tasted a bottle of the 2005 Clos des Blanchais Menetou-Salon from Domaine Henry Pellé, and I loved it.

It’s pale lemon with a white rim; clean medium+ intense developing aromas of white grapefruit, mineral and white peach. It’s dry with medium+ acid, medium alcohol (a refreshing 12.5 percent) and a lovely creamy body with the white grapefruit, peach and minerals again. It’s not super long, but coats the tongue.

Menetou-Salon is a region in the eastern Loire Valley just southwest of its more famous neighbors of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. It became an appellation in 1959. The wines are not as characterful — to use a Jancis word — but are usually good values, and can have more finesse than the bruising Sancerres.

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More Italian DOCs

I took a sip of this, knowing nothing about — except it’s Italian — and I immediately thought it was from the northeast and had refosco in it. Wrong.

The Val di Cornia DOC is in Tuscany and this wine is 80 percent sangiovese and 20 percent canaiolo nero.

I’ve opened the 2007 Gualdo del Re Eliseo Val di Cornia. It’s young, and the fruitiness is what reminded me of refosco:

a group of distinct red varieties cultivated in north east Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia, most of them being related to the Slovenian Refošk (also called teran in Croatia) and producing very similar wines. The finest variety is known in Friuli as refosco dal pedunculo rosso.

Thank you Jancis.

So this is what really young sangiovese tastes like, but what about the canaiolo nero? Continue reading


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Good, but …

I’m conflicted about this wine, everytime I take a sip I think “It’s not that good,” but then I want another. It’s not complex but earthy enough to be pleasing. The tannins are light but rough, which makes me think it could benefit from some time in the cellar, but then the acid is creeps back and I think it will just age, not evolve.

It’s good, but ..

The wine is the 2005 Ca’Marcanda Promis, made by Piedmont heavyweight Angelo Gaja (who I once saw from the side in a restaurant in Barbaresco) from vineyards in the Maremma, the winegrowing region in Tuscany on the Atlantic coast. Continue reading


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