Bedell Cellars 2014 Chardonnay

Chardonnay with little or no oak footprint have gained popularity in recent years, but for Bedell Cellars’ winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich, it’s not a new style. He’s been making unoaked chardonnay for his entire winemaking career, dating back to 1982. He still makes steel-fermented chardonnay, but it’s not bottled alone. Instead, most of it goes to the winery’s First Crush White, where it’s blended with sauvignon blanc and riesling. “I want a bit more complexity in our varietal chardonnay,” he told me in an email. As with all of his wines, fermentation was done with ambient yeasts and while about 50% of…

Hermann J. Wiemer 2011 Blanc de Noir

Hermann J. Wiemer and winemaker Fred Merwarth get a lot of attention for their rieslings — and rightly so. Those wines can be incredible. Some of the best in America. I’ll tell you what though, the rest of the portfolio is pretty outstanding too. I recently reviewed Merwarth’s 2013 Cabernet Franc which has become a favorite, but will never challenge the rieslings for supremacy at the winery. The sparkling wines though? They rival the rieslings in terms of quality. They are that good. In fact, this Hermann J. Wiemer 2011 Blanc de Noir ($39) is among the best domestic sparkling wines…

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2014 “Eugenia” Dry Riesling

You can’t throw a lime-soaked river rock in the Finger Lakes nowadays without hitting a bottle of single-vineyard riesling. Most of the top producers bottle them these days. Some of the lesser ones do too, where it’s perhaps more marketing gimmick than actual exploration of site-by-site terroir. Back in December, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars announced its own series of single-vineyard rieslings, each meant to honor one woman in the Frank family. The first wine of the series is named “Eugenia” for Dr. Konstantin Fran’s wife. Dr. Konstantin Frank 2014 “Eugenia” Dry Riesling ($30) is made with grapes grown in…

Paumanok Vineyards 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Warning: The chardonnay reviews are coming.  I recently tasted three-plus cases of Long Island chardonnay — all 2013 and 2014 vintages — for a story I’m working on for Long Island Wine Press. I survived and learned quite a bit, but you’ll have to wait for that story to come out to learn more. I won’t publish reviews for all of them, or even most, but some will be coming. Starting today. I won’t publish reviews for all of them, or even most, but some will be coming. Starting today. He’s perhaps known for other things, but Paumanok Vineyards winemaker…

Macari Vineyards 2014 “Life Force” Sauvignon Blanc

(Photo via northforker.com) You can see a story I’ve written about Macari Vineyards’ use of concrete egg-shaped fermentation vessels later this month in the winter Long Island Wine Press — but in the meantime, I can tell you about a wine made using one of the two eggs found in the cellar right behind the tasting room bar: Macari Vineyards 2014 “Lifeforce” Sauvignon Blanc ($27). Of what is planted today, sauvignon blanc is clearly the white wine grape most important to Long Island’s future as a wine region. There’s more chardonnay in the ground, but more doesn’t mean better. Sauvignon blanc take well to our…

Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling

Dry riesling (that is actually dry — but that’s another topic for another day) is harder to make that many people realize. Without careful, thoughtful decisions in the vineyard and in the cellar, you can be left with that I always refer to as “lemon water” — shrill, acidic wines that have a pithy, often-bitter citrus note but little else in terms of flavor or concentration. With Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling ($16) winemaker Dave Breeden shows his deft touch. Aromas of lemon-lime, dried pineapple and just a bit of peach lead into a palate that is crackling with acidity…

Southold Farm + Cellar 2014 “Counting Stars” Sparkling Petit Verdot

With Southold Farm + Cellars 2014 “Counting Stars” ($28) — a sparkling red wine made from 100% petit verdot grapes — co-owner and winemaker Regan Meador has created what might be the most food-versatile wine available on Long Island today. That’s not a declaration that I take lightly, either. A lot of people thought he was a little crazy (maybe he is) for making sparkling wine from petit verdot — a late-ripening variety most often used to add color, tannin and acid to red wine blends — but ultimately, it’s petit verdot’s character that makes this wine such a great complement to so…

Pellegrini Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Pellegrini Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($25), one of Zander Hargrave’s first releases as winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards — a job he took over just before the 2014 harvest — offer a bit of Long Island wine’s past, its present and it’s future. The Hargrave name goes back as far as Long Island wine history can go. Zander’s parents, Louisa and Alex Hargrave, founded Hargrave Vineyard, Long Island’s first commercial winery, in 1973, and Zander’s uncle, Charlie Hargrave, has been a vineyard manager on the North Fork for more than a decade. In 2011 Zander was hired as assistant winemaker at the now-closed…

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2013 Josef Vineyard Riesling

It’s easy to get complacent when you taste a lot of Finger Lakes riesling — overall quality has risen to the point that even producers that historically fell below the median are now making wines I’m happy to drink. It’s almost to the point that one can take for granted that Finger Lakes riesling is going to deliver. Then you taste a wine like Hermann J. Wiemer 2013 Josef Vineyard Riesling ($39) and you’re reminded just how high the ceiling is for Finger Lakes riesling. The Josef Vineyard, located 10 miles north of the winery, is just south of the better-known Magdalena Vineyard.…

Lieb Cellars 2014 Reserve Pinot Blanc

You won’t find a lot of pinot blanc here on Long Island but the best-known producer is Lieb Cellars where, legend has it, it was once thought to be chardonnay. Thankfully it’s not treated like most chardonnay in the cellar. It doesn’t see a splinter of oak during or after fermentation and the result is bright and citrusy with aromas of lemon zest and pulp, red grapefruit, lemon verbena and sea breeze. Juicy and even more saline and minerally on the palate, it’s crisp, dry and needs food to sing. Focused citrus flavors turn a bit more floral as the wine…