Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dick Naylor and Naylor Chambourcin 2013 (PA)

Dick Naylor has done more for East Coast wine than a lot of other people which is why he was the American Wine Society 2013 Award of Merit Recipient. He's also done a ton for Pennsylvania wine. This was given to him in recognition of his pioneering endeavors and accomplishments in the American wine industry.
Winemaking started as a hobby of Mr. Naylor’s in the late 60’s with dandelion wine being the first wine he ever made.

His interest in winemaking progress to the point that he planted a vineyard in his backyard at his home in York. He grew Concord, Niagara and Catawba. In 1972 he entered an amateur wine competition at the York Fair and won best in show three years in a row. It was then that he realized he could turn his passion into a successful business. Richard and his wife Audrey traveled all over the world visiting wineries and talking to the winemakers about their methods, and how to start their own winery in Pennsylvania.

Naylor Wine Cellars was officially founded 35 years ago by Richard and Audrey Naylor in 1978.
In 1977 Mr. Naylor produced the first 1600 gallons of wine in the original winery – a potato cellar underneath the chicken house that still stands on the property today. He would lug all of his grapes down the road to Blevins Fruit Farm and use their apple press to crush his grapes. Some of the first wines produced were York White Rose – a Chablis style dry white wine, First Capital – an Italian style red wine, and Niagara – a sweet and fruity wine that tastes like eating grapes right off the vine. Over 35 years later, those are still three of our most popular wines.
Over his long career in the wine industry, Mr. Naylor has been the Director of Wine America and President of the Pennsylvania Wine Association. For ten years, he taught classes at Penn State on how to grow grapes and make wine. He even designed a special shipping box he trademarked as “the ultimate wine cradle” which keeps bottles safe and secure in the shipping process. 

Dick Naylor was also an advocate for the Chambourcin grape being cultivated in the United States which is a major contribution to wine in America. Recently, at the Eastern Wineries Expo 2014, I had a chance to try the Naylor Chambourcin 2013. The wine was beautiful! The wine started off with a big whiff of Bing cherries, complimented by blackberries and red currant and plum. This was a lush wine, with layers of spice, leather, and vanilla. Very well made.. Nice complexity and balance. Well balanced, with good tannins yet very, very drinkable. A wonderful Chambourcin from one of the grape's early proponents!!!

Tousey Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 2013 (NY)

While I was at Eastern Wineries Expo good friend and neighbors Ben and Kimberly Peacock stopped by the blogger table to sample some of their wines for the crowd. Tousey Winery is among the hottest new wineries in the Hudson Valley and indeed, in New York State. In recent tastings, their Hudson River Region Rieslings wowed writers and critic. And their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are in a class by themselves.

Ben and Kimberly posed at the bloggers table with Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards. Peter ha been mentor to a whole generation of young winemakers who have been emerging over the years. Ben Peacock is among those, and an unabashed fan!

The first thing we poured was the Tousey Hudson River Region Chardonnay 2013. This estate white was absolutely lovely. Light, lean, with green apple and ripe pear, with hints of melon and tropical fruits, and a touch of honeydew and vanilla, this was an absolutely entrancing Chardonnay. Elegant, dazzling.
The second wine we poured was one of the crowd favorites...Tousey Hudson River Region Pinot Noir 2013. A beautiful bright and ripe cherry wine with hints of dried fruit, spice, all under a lovely aroma of violet and blueberries. A lovely, light red, with lots of layers and complexity. Love this wine! 
Tousey continues to impress!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Promise of Summer - Kelly Urbanik and Macari Vineyards (NY)

What is it about the promise of summer that it is soooo enticing?
Especially after this Ethan Fromm-esque winter, filled with cold and gray, and blanketed in a thick dough of snow and ice, the promise of the summer months looms like the greenlight at the end of Daisy’s dock beckoning Gatsby.
Recently a friend lamented that she was, “Sick of winter.” Well, actually quite a few of my friends have said that. But two weeks ago, there was a shimmer of summer. A glimpse of hope. And it was magical.
A fortnight back I was fortunate enough to visit Long Island on a relatively warm spring weekend. I had a strong desire to visit a beach, and a half-dozen friends offered their hands. It had been two years since my feet, my toes to be exact, had felt the sand between them. Private tours of the Hamptons and lunch were offered, meant to buoy my up-state flagging spirits. Unfortunately, I could only accept one offer. I have a lot of making-up to do with the others.
I arrived in Bridgehampton, not far from my cousins’ house and was eventually whisked off to the beach. Once there, dazzling conversation complimented the shimmering ocean. A cold wind blew in off the sea, and whipped across the beach. But the warm, bright sun was enough to offset the chill.
A long walk spent exploring houses old and new, while side stepping broken sea shells and pebbles of sea glass with a good friend was enough to instantly clear the winter doldrums from the corners of my cold soul. When the winds momentarily paused, the sun’s warmth rubbed our shoulders and massaged our faces. In an instant one felt younger, vivacious, more relaxed….and excited. I experienced an epiphany of sorts, in which things cloudy suddenly became quite clear. It was a gentle slap to the head like a glass or two of champagne. It was luxurious and invigorating.
My misspent youth was tossed like so much suntan lotion on the beaches bordering Long Island Sound and the Jersey Shore. From the far east end of Long Island, to Fire Island, Jones Beach and Long Beach, to the beaches of Greenwich, Fairfield, and Southport, CT and Sherwood Island. And of course Spring Lake, Asbury Park, Mannesquan, Avon, LBI, and many, many more.
We were excited. Spring and summer were/are just beyond our grasp right now. Like the greenlight at the end of Daisy’s dock, it beckons us all, little Gatsbys each of us, looking for that promise of long, languorous warm days and leisurely evenings. That’s what summer offers.
I left, thrilled and excited. 
Enamored from my visit, I zoomed to a tasting in Mattituck, Long Island wine country on the North Fork. There I participated in a grand barrel tasting with a number of other wine writers and Alex and Gabriella and Joe Macari. And I experienced another kind of epiphany there as well.

Long Island wine lovers have been spoiled for more than a generation. They have some of the best winemakers in the state plying their trade there. Richard Olsen-Harbich, Eric Fry, Roman Roth, Gilles Martin, and Miguel Martin are experienced winemakers, masters of their art. But what of the next generation?
At the barrel tasting offered there (where Eileen Duffy was signing copies of her new book Behind the Bottle) confirmed for many what we all had already expected – that Kelly Urbanik has not only solidified her place as one of the up-and-coming winemakers in the region, but with this newest slate of wines from the most recent vintage, ensured her place among the best of what is to come in Long Island wine. A torch, for lack of a better metaphor, was passed. In effect, to paraphrase Jon Landau, I have seen the future of Long Island wine. And her name is Kelly Urbanik Koch.  

Kelly has everything a great winemaker needs. To borrow another phrase, she is a five tool player. She can talk. She can talk with wine writers. She can make wine. She likes the vineyard. She is a wine geek which means her game will keep evolving. She is comfortable in her own skin. She's giddy and chatty, and very real. She can communicate her winemaking goals to the lay person putting aside all the technical geek lingo. And she's pretty to boot. This makes her an easy win with the consumers and wine club members as well as with the press. Secondly, and most importantly, Kelly can make wonderful wines. Is she still finding her style? Probably. Has she made her greatest wines yet? Nope. Has she made some excellent wines? Absolutely. Over a number of vintages already, she has proven her mettle.

And lucky for Kelly, she has an astounding team of people behind her. Joe Macari Jr. is already a legend in the Long Island wine country. A very down to earth guy, who's gruff, everyman exterior belies the shrewd CEO underneath. Joe's secret weapon in the past has been Alexandra who has the stunning face of the winery for years. Teamed now with her daughter, Gabrielle (A Fordham grad...go Rams!) Macari Vineyards has a duo that can sell wine like nobody's business.

The mother/daughter super duo of Alexandra (above) and Gabrielle (below). There's a lot of big personalities in the Macari household, which is helping to positioning Macari to be a powerhouse in the next generation.
I was impressed by the way that the Long Island wine mafia (dare I use that expression) was out in force. Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report, Steve Bedney and Bruce Stevens of a Vintner's Tale were on hand to chat with Kelly. As was Edible East End Editor Eileen Duffy (below) who was promoting her new book BEHIND THE BOTLE. This kind of journalistic star power doesn't gather for just anything. Another sign of Macari's continued ascendancy. (Note: I hung out with the mafia at the back of the tasting, like the bad boys sitting in the back of the class. We got a couple of cold looks during the tank room sampling, as we chatted during the presentations...Apologies to Alex and Gabriella and thanks Lenn Thompson for the rose' photo).
OK, onto the tasting. First two wines we had were the Chardonnay Reserve 2014 and the Dos Aguas White. Both were impressive. LOVED the Chardonnay Reserve. Elegant. Well made. Nice fruit. Nice acidity. Good balance. The Dos Aguas was lovely. Fragrant and beautiful. A fabulous table white, easily impressive. A fabulous wine to entertain with, especially for those who do not favor Chards. A great way to start of the tasting. The next was the Rose. Still a little unsettled in the tank, with a touch of haziness, the wine had lovely pink grapefruit flavors and impressive lingering fruit.
One of the stars of the show was the estate 2014 Cabernet Franc Lifeforce. Still very young, the wine is made in the new cement egg shaped tanks suddenly becoming all the rage in the cutting edge of the winemaking community. The wine was exceptional. A gorgeous saturated red, with lots of fruit, dark fruit, ripe fruit, dark and bright cherry, dark raspberry, graphite. The wine was an instant Yes! You know the wine is good when the writers started to nod their heads at each other immediately. Very impressive! Here's the egg below, drawn on with chalk for a recent wine magazine competition.


The next part of the tasting was four wines from the current lineup. For this we went upstairs to one of their banquet rooms. This was served with some small plate foods paired with the wines. It was delicious. And the wines showed beautifully with the them.

Sauvignon Blanc 2013 was a delicious wine. Kelly absolutely has a way with this grape. Big and powerful on the nose with lots of citrus, this wine delivers green apple, grapefruit, and lemon in a zesty enterprise of fruit and acidity. Zippy yet elegant. Well crafted Well balanced. An elegant wine that never stops having fun. Buy a case for the summer!

Chardonnay Reserve 2012 was impressive. Hints of toasty oak flow over ripe red apples and Bosc pears, with hints of vanilla and spice. This is an elegant, complex wine. I am sometimes dodgy with oaked chards, but this was done beautifully. The fruit and acidity showed through beautifully, and the oak was a nice addition to the wine, not overpowering. Absolutely a classic chardonnay. I know some people e down on Chardonnay if for no other reason than because there is so much of it on the market. Ha! Too bad there aren't more Chards like this. Fantastic!

Dos Aguas 2010 was among my favorites. I have loved Dos Aguas since they first started to make it. More Long Island wineries need to be making this kind of blend. This is the style of wine that made Bordeaux famous and what many of the North Fork wineries should be emulating. 2010 Dos Aguas is the third vintage of this wine. It is a blend of 81% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc. The glass bursts forth with dark cherry, dark raspberry, red and black currant, and hints of plum. Notes of spice, vanilla, mocha, and leather also come across. Big beautiful fruit sit in your mouth like a dark sour cherry pie, and slowly dissolves into a gorgeous layer of fruit. Firm tannins

Block E Red 2012 Dessert wine was a special treat. More like a dust rose' colored wine, it had great acidity and almost a sweetness tinged with a hint of sherry. But in a stunning way. Almost like liquid figs. So impressive!!!!

I tried the Macari Early Wine Chardonnay 2014 in the tasting room. It's the Sauvignon Blanc lover's Chardonnay. Massively impressive. Great, zippy acidity, super fruit, and easy drinking with little tannin, this wine is an instant crowd pleaser. And super popular with the Long Island wine mafia.

The other wine I had was the estate Macari Cabernet Franc Lifeforce 2013. Again, just a gorgeous wine with ripe cherries exploding out of the glass. Nice hints of cedar, toast, spice, and red currant. A lovely, lovely wine. So impressive.

The tasting was followed by a book signing by Eileen Duffy of her new book Behind the Bottle. It is the tory of the rise and rise of Long Island wine. This was the kick off event for Eileen and the Mcari's were exceptional hosts.

At Macari's tasting room you can buy copies of the book not only signed by Eileen but with Kelly's autograph as well.
Kelly Urbanik Koch represents the summer of Long Island wine. She is not the next NEW thing. She represents the future. She is what is just beyond. She is the promise the island's wine country has held out for over the last ten years - that it would continue beyond the people who made it happen to begin with. Kelly is among the vanguard who will carry it into the next decades. And I for one am glad to see a woman move into these ranks! specially on Long Island and in New York state.
As for Long Island wine lovers, unlike Gatsby, you may actually reach out, like the old Dutch sailors, and touch the green new world that sits before us. Long Island is now nurturing a string of young new talents to eventually survive and flourish after it's first stars exit the stage. And Kelly Urbanik (no Daisy, to be sure) is now a mature winemaker, who now shows command of her surroundings and her medium. She is an artist who has begun to paint museum quality material. An important step in the into the future, not only for Macari but for Long Island wine country as well.
Again, congrats to Kelly, Joe, Alexandra, Gabriella, and the rest of the staff at Macari! Fabulous!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Edible Philly's Local Heroes 2015: Penns Woods Winery (PA)

One of my favorite Pennsylvania producers, Penns Woods, was named one of Edible Philly's Local Heroes 2015. The folks over at Penns Woods make some of the best wines in the state, and are among the top five producers in my opinion. They make good clean wines across their lineup and they make some dynamite wine! Well deserved accolades for winemakers Davide Creato and Gino Razzi, and general manager Carly Rizzo Mack!

Wine Press; Lenn Thompson Celebrate Long Island Pétillant Naturel Wines (NY)

Pétillant Naturel wines have made a big comeback, especially on Long Island. Lenn Thompson, the Editor-in-Chief of the New York Cork Report has written a fantastic piece on these new wave of this somewhat forgotten style that's making a big, splashy comeback.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Fantastic Visit With Christopher Tracy at Channing Daughters (NY)

So, less than a month ago I was visiting family and friends in Southampton and paid an unexpected and unplanned visit to Channing Daughters. I dropped in out of the blue on winemaker Christopher Tracy. We had never met before, but I am a fan of his wines, and rarely have gotten out to Southampton in the last five or so years. So it was a great treat to stop in and find him there working towards the end of the day. It was a big thrill!

Chris is a great guy. Charming, chatty, and a wine geek. It's easy to see why I like his wines. We started talking wine and it was only the fact that we were in the waning hours of the day (we both had commitments) that stopped us from talking all day long.

Christopher Tracy is a partner and the winemaker at Channing Daughters. James Christopher Tracy was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Christopher attended schools on both the East and West coasts, and after earning a BA in Performing Arts/Philosophy, he migrated to NYC to pursue graduate theatre training. In 1993, with wife Allison Dubin, he co-founded the Momentary Theatre, a not-for-profit organization that performed in California, New York, Texas, Connecticut and Hungary. After several years of writing restaurant reviews in NYC, on the side, Christopher attended the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. After he graduated he worked in everal fine restaurants while he earned his Sommelier Certificate from the Sommelier Society of America as well as the Higher Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He was awarded the Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) which entitles him to the D.W.S. distinction. He also holds a certification from the CWE (Certified Wine Educators) and is currently a candidate for the Masters of Wine.

Christopher's initial involvement with Channing Daughters Winery was as a Wine Club Member, then as a Team Merlot member. In 2001 Christopher began developing several new products and prestige cuvees for the winery. He is now a partner in the company, as well as the winemaker.

According to New York Cork Report editor-in-Chief, Lenn Thompson, "I think that most fans of Channing Daughters Winery (and they are an ever-growing army) would agree that it’s a white wine shop. Sure, they make a few different red wines too, but most pale when compared to winemaker Chris Tracy’s stellar white wines." I like Chris's red wines, but the whites are indeed impressive.

Sylvanus 2013 is a wine of place, a vin de terroir. This bone-dry, aromatic white wine is a true field blend comprised of 60% Muscat, 30% Pinot Grigio and 10% Pinot Bianco all grown together, harvested together and fermented together. Sylvanus is not only the name of the wine, but the name of the vineyard. According to their notes, “All of the fruit was hand-harvested, whole cluster-pressed, fermented in stainless steel barrels …and older oak barrels….” Exotic fruits waft across the nose, including grapefruit, tangerine, and honeysuckle all come through as promised. Nice zippy acidity keeps the wine vibrant and refreshing as well as delicious. Fantastic!

According to Tracy’s notes, “The 2013 Pinot Grigio features fruit from both our home farm in Bridgehampton and from the Mudd West vineyard on the North Fork, hence the blended Long Island AVA….For our 2013 version all the fruit was hand–harvested, whole-cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel barrels (40%) and older/neutral oak barrels and hogsheads (60%). The wine was handled minimally and bottled by gravity (after eleven months on its lees) on August 4th, 2014.” It’s 1000% Pinot Grigio. 2013 Pinot Grigio is an explosion of pears, lemons, tangerine, set against a backdrop of floral notes.  This is a nice, bright, light, zippy Pinot Grigio with lovely minerality, fresh acidity, and a lovely, light finish. 

2012 Tocai Friulano Sylvanus Vineyard was an eye opener! It is the only other Tocai Fruliano I know of on the east coast other than that grown and made at Millbrook Vineyards in the Hudson Valley. “Our Sylvanus vineyard Tocai was harvested by hand, whole-cluster pressed and fermented and raised in 47% stainless steel barrels and 53% older French puncheons for eleven and a half months. This white grape is native to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Northeast Italy…” Aromatic and zesty, an elegant white wine. Impressive!

2012 L'Enfant Sauvage Chardonnay
According to Tracy’s notes, “L’Enfant Sauvage is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes hand-harvested from our Brick Kiln and Sculpture Garden vineyards here in Bridgehampton. The grapes are gently whole cluster pressed, the juice settled overnight and then all new French and Slovenian oak barrels are filled to the top. The ambient/wild/spontaneous (whatever you want to call them) yeast kick in and the wine ferments. The secondary malo-lactic fermentation also happens 
spontaneously and we leave the wine on its lees until blending and bottling. In the past L’Enfant has spent 13-14 months in oak….beginning with the 2008 and again in 2009 the wine spent 18 months in barrel; in the 2010 vintage our L’Enfant had 20 months to make those barrels home, and this the 2011 vintage spent 22 months in barrel! This way the wine has a chance to live through two winters in wood and as the Burgundians say “then able to stand on its own two feet””

This wine is a paradox. Firstly, the wine itself is lean, bright, and filled with great acidity, so the fruit stays alive in your mouth for a nice, long time. Apples, citrus, pears, honeysuckle, melong, brioche (per Tracy…and he’s right!), and some lovely spices end this gorgeous wine. But it’s a paradox because such a light, light wine shouldn’t be able to carry all that. And it does! Beautifully. This is as layered a Chardonnay as you will fine. Marvelous!

2011 Envelope is made from 62% Chardonnay, 28% Gewurztraminer and 10% Malvasia Bianca. . According to Tracy’s notes, “All the fruit was hand-harvested from our home farm in Bridgehampton and was gently de-stemmed, crushed by foot and fermented on its skins. The wine was all co-fermented (all wild with ambient yeast) for 17 days on its skins after which the wine was bucketed out and pressed off then put in 52% new oak and 48% old/neutral oak where the wine spent 22 months….” The idea is that is a white wine with color, white made like a red. It’s got tannin and structure, with full malo-lactic fermentation and just 5.6 grams of acid according to his notes. God, the wine geek in me is just boiling over with tension! I love this shit!

The result is an aromatic wine that is absolutely incredible. How incredible? I drank the bottle within one day of returning home. And it’s a white! I couldn’t wait to open it! I was like a little kid, it was the first bottle I tried from my entire trip!

It’s a darker white, or it has more color, whatever you want to say. It’s light. You can see through it. It’s just that the hue is more like brass in color. Still see through. Like a good champagne.  Apricots, peaches, honey, roses, lychees, brown spice, apple compote, minerals all come through as promised. This is a great quality wine, made in the European sense, with fantastic complexity and sophistication. Absolutely one of the shining stars of an already impressive wine list. Amazing!

Howard G. Goldberg once wrote in the New York Times, "Rosés are blossoming throughout Long Island wine country. At least 32 of the region’s more than 50 producers make them, and Channing Daughters, with eight, is in the vanguard." I only got to taste one. The Rosato Petillant Naturel 2014, which was absolutely gorgeous!!!!

For those of you not familiar with Pet Nats (as they are known), wine writer Ted Loos explained them best, writing, "The name means “mildly, naturally sparkling” in French, and the wines—known as “pet nats” to their small but devoted fan base—are made in a completely different way than Champagne and prosecco, with a taste to reflect it.In short, winemakers stop the normal winemaking fermentation process before all the natural sugar has been gobbled up, topping off the wine with (usually) a crown cap. As a result, the extra carbon dioxide produced as the yeast eats the sugar gets trapped and voilà: bubbles, though not the in-your-face variety. Pet nats often have a bit of residual sugar (though most are not sweet dessert wines by any stretch) and a slightly lower alcohol content than other table wines, giving them a unique, quirky gentleness."

Bright, refreshing, with strawberries and limes pulsing out of the glass, but with hint of flowers and a nose dose of mineraliness. A nice spritziness, but not bubbly. Absolutely fantastic!

Rosso Fresco 2013 is comprised of 33% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 23% Petit Verdot, 15% Dornfelder, 2% Teroldego and 1% Blaufrankisch. It's a nice, easy drinking blend. A soft, approachable table reed that exudes stewed strawberries, black raspberry, cherry, plum, and both red and black currants. One can imagine grilling on the deck, chicken, pork chops, sausages, or even portobello mushrooms, and drinking a glass of Rosso Fresco. A fantastic summer red (when it's too hot to drink Cabernet Sauvignon) that's absolutely worthy all year round! Lovely!

Over and Over Red - Variation 7 is a predominantly Merlot based wine with the addition of Dornfelder. It's about a 70/30 split. More wine geekdom! So help me God, I do love it so! Again, from Tracy's notes, "There are people in the world making red wines with a ripasso method and there are people in the world using a solera system of blending for some red wines but we know of no one, other than us, who have put both together to create a distinctive and tasty red wine. It all began with four barriques of 2004 Merlot that was taken out of barrel and re-passed over the fresh 2006 Merlot and Dornfelder fruit. The wine underwent another primary fermentation and was racked to barriques, hogsheads and puncheons where it underwent another malo-lactic fermentation. Half of the wine was taken and bottled after ten months in oak, and this was Variation One. The other half remained in barrel until the next harvest where it was re-passed over the 2007 Merlot, Syrah and Dornfelder fruit. It was all repeated and we bottled half as Variation Two. We did this again in the 2008 harvest and bottled Variation Three." And so it all began. I get goosebumps with this kind of wine-think.

Variation Seven opens with violets, dark raspberries, black pepper, stewed cherries, baking spices all very much like a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, but with way more complexity and layers of aroma and flavor. The fruit lasts and lasts. The nose is beautiful. Again, to me, the perfect three season red - perfect for spring, summer, fall - and absolutely worthy of winter as well. Buy a case. It's a great house red your friends and family will absolutely be impressed with.

I tasted a dozen wines, and Christopher could not have been nicer nor more accommodating. The wines were absolutely fantastic! It made me want to move to Southampton and start living the life of a summer resident ASAP. Fantastic stuff. Christopher Tracy is a wine geek's dream come true. His wines are inventive, thoughtful, and soulful. Loved it! Absolutely coming back sooner rather than later. I'll need to buy a couple of bottles for my family that lives in the area. So look forward to coming back and tasting what Christopher has in store next. Amazing.

Behind the Bottle by Eileen M. Duffy: The Rise and Rise of Long Island Wine

I am Eileen M. Duffy's editor at Cider Mill Press. I feel compelled to write about this particular book because East Coast Wineries, and New York state in particular, are my normal realm of coverage. I have reviewed other books on East Coast wine, and more reviews are due. This book, in particular, falls into the wheelhouse of the editorial concerns of this blog, and thus it would be odd for me to not review or say something about this book. That said, this is more a proud letter from the editor than it is a review. - C. DeVito

I was actually going to write a piece sometime ago about Long Island wine entitled: The Best Winemakers in New York State Are Hiding out in Long Island. To me, Long Island wines have been overshadowed, vis a vis publicity, by Virginia, the Finger Lakes, even the still emerging Hudson Valley. And of course, Long Island based its early reputation on such standards classic noble grapes as Chardonnay and Merlot, both of which grapes have received a bludgeoning at the hands of wine cognoscenti for being too ubiquitous and unoriginal. But it was these wines that helped solidify Long Island’s reputation.

But the truth is that it was Long Island that started the entire quality wine movement on the east coast. Hey were first. They did it better. And they are still doing it great. And in my opinion, some of the eminently collectible and cellar-able wines of New York state and of the east coast are made right there on the island. It is a hot bed of quality winemakers, people like Richard Olsen-Harbich, Roman Roth, Eric Fry, Gilles Martin, Miguel Martin, Russell Hearn. They all bring local and international flair and experience to the region. The game has changed a little. There are hot young winemakers, like Kelley Urbanik Koch, Kareem Moussad, Christopher Tracey, and other, and new varieties, and new ideas. Now, not only do they make great merlots and chardonnays, but also great sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, malbec, and even albarino. They are making great blends too!
Flat out – Long Island is still the Bordeaux or Napa of the east. They have been cutting edge in quality wine. And they have been cutting edge in sustainable practices. And they make great wines.
I’ve been wanting to publish a Long Island wine book for years, but could not find a quality wine writer who would commit to the project. Then along came Eileen M. Duffy.

Eileen M. Duffy, editor at Edible East End and Edible Long Island, holds a diploma in wine and spirits from the International Wine Center and has been writing about food and wine on the East End since 2003. She’s great. She’s written for newspapers and magazines. She writes for the lay person, and knows how to write a great feature piece. When I was introduced to her by Edible East End publisher Brian Halweil (whom I greatly respect), I thought this was finally the person who could tell this story. She’s been writing the Behind the Bottle feature for the magazine for many years.

Behind the Bottle is a fantastic read!

Profiling owners, winemakers, and personalities from around the country and the world, Behind the Bottle is a fun and intriguing look at the people who have made Long Island into one of the hottest wine regions in the country.

Long Island has been a leader in winemaking since 1975. In the last forty years, Long Island's rise has been meteoric. Long a rural region famed for their duck and their potatoes, Long Island, now visited by 1.3 million people each year, has carved out a wine country second to none. With highly acclaimed wines garnering rave reviews from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications, Long Island wines have been celebrated around the country and across the Atlantic ocean. Here, Edible East End editor Eileen M. Duffy profiles winemakers and wineries that have received this high acclaim, and shares their stories. Men and women from as far away as California, France, even New Zealand have come here to create a wine country whose wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvingon Blanc, Merlot, and Meritages among others, are second to none. BEHIND THE BOTTLE illustrates the fascinating story from the region's birth to its zenith.

“Behind the Bottle offers lively vignettes of Long Island’s contemporary wine scene. In addition to focusing on the diverse personalities and philosophies of individual winemakers, Eileen Duffy also manages to convey a sense of the momentum that continues to sweep this wine region toward a respected and cohesive maturity.” (Marguerite Thomas, author of Touring East Coast Wine Country)

“[Eileen Duffy] tells the tale magnificently, whether you know Long Island wine or not. How do you weave a patchwork of ideas that adds up to a real feel for a place? You structure your book around the great masters of the region, past and present, who idiosyncratically tell you in many different ways about their personal Long Islands. It's magic.” (David Rosengarten, Editor-in-Chief, The Rosengarten Report)

"To call the Long Island wine region ‘emergent’ is dated thinking. It has arrived and is producing wines deserving of every wine lover's attention. The region also deserves this book. Eileen knows the region, its wines and the folks behind them. That enables her to shine the spotlight on the right people in the right way -- mixing the region's history with its pioneering, inspiring and sometimes controversial personalities." (Lenn Thompson, New York Cork Report)

“American wine is no longer made just on the West Coast. Eileen Duffy introduces us to the winemakers and personalities who have transformed Long Island from a potato-farming resort for New York's rich and famous to a wine-growing resort for New York's rich and famous. Along the way we meet the pioneers who had a crazy idea that European grapes could grow here and the modern pathfinders determined to make Long Island wine sustainable -- not just as a producer of world-class wines, but as an environmentally friendly enterprise.” (Dave McIntyre, wine columnist for The Washington Post and co-founder of Drink Local Wine)

“The American wine industry continues to grow, and with that growth we have seen some emerging regions really shine. Long Island is one of those regions. Behind the Bottle tells the story of Long Island wine from the people who made the region what it is today.” (Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, WineAmerica, National Association of American Wineries)

"This book will be essential, educational and enjoyable for those who want to learn more about the people, the grapes and the growing conditions of Long Island and its fine wines." (Richard Leahy, author of Beyond Jefferson's Vines)

I think Eileen M. Duffy has done a terrific job relating the stories of the winemakers, and their passions, in a wonderful, easy, fun read. A great series of stories of people who have come to Long Island from all over the world, to make wine in this exciting, and still emerging region.

I think you will like BEHIND THE BOTTLE.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hudson Valley Fruit Wines Highlighted in Spring 2015 issue of Visit Vortex magazine

Fruit wines have never been more popular. From cassis and apple wines, to strawberry, raspberry, cherry and peach, among others, these sweet wines are fantastic with a cheese course or with dessert, and add a lovely ending to a perfect experience.

Read the whole thing at: