The New York Cork Club, a wine club that I’ve curated for several years, across three different wine shops, has become the The Cork Club.
Happy New Year and welcome to 2017 with The Cork Club! As you probably remember, the club has changed a bit — stretching our legs beyond New York’s borders when a wine from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan or Virginia and beyond inspires. We kicked that off with the best malbec I tasted all year — from Maryland.
To start 2017, we’re staying within New York, with both wines coming from a producer you’ve no-doubt heard a lot about and tasted wines from — especially if you’re a long-time member — Ravines Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes.
Winemaker Morten Hallgren believes that dry wines express the uniqueness of the Finger Lakes best. Seriously. His ‘sweetest’ wine has less than 2% residual sugar and most of them are as close to 0% as possible. Of course, there is a lot of bad dry riesling in the Finger Lakes. Picked at the wrong time (often too early) or mis-handled in the cellar, it ends up tasting like little more than acidic water. For years, I’ve called these wines “lemon water rieslings.”
But, with a deft hand and understand of the vineyards he works with, Morten’s dry, sometimes austere rieslings never fall victim to that malady. They are piercingly, tongue-tinglingly dry — make no mistake — but they are also balanced and flavorful in their linearity. So this month we’re sending you a bottle each of two of his rieslings.
First up in a wine we’ve included in the club before (just prior vintages): Ravines Wine Cellars 2014 Dry Riesling. I first fell in love with Finger Lakes riesling upon tasting the 2006 vintage of this wine, and the 2014 reminds me a lot of that wine. Aromas and flavors of just-ripe pear, lime and citrus blossom are accented by a minerally slate note that this wine always seems to have. A friend once said this wine tastes like licking a river rock wrapped in lime peel — perhaps not the most appetizing idea, but trust me, this is the benchmark Finger Lakes dry riesling for a reason.
This month’s second wine is comparatively new to the portfolio — Ravines Wine Cellars 2013 Sparkling Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling. The Argetsinger Vineyard, on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, is one of the true grand cru sites in the region — a vineyard that has earned it still-growing legend in the region and beyond. This sparkler, which spent two years on its lease before being disgorged and finished, shows some of the yeasty, toasty aromas and flavors you’d expect but still retains the focused citrus and tree fruit flavors of Morten’s rieslings. As it gets just a bit warmer in your glass, you’ll also find notes of fennel frond and flowers.
I hope you enjoy these wines as much as I do — and are looking forward to some great wines throughout 2017!
My partner in this venture, The Cellar d’Or in Ithaca, NY, will be shipping these wines out in a couple weeks.