One of the things I like best about running The Cork Club is the opportunity to pick wines and get them into our members’ glasses that they’d probably not taste otherwise. If you’re a member of the club, you probably like that too. You’re a member because you like wines that are a little outside the norm. Sometimes they are weird. Sometimes they are just really rare or don’t make their way far beyond the winery where they are made.
This month’s picks both come from Eminence Road Farm Winery, a tiny operation on the western edge of the Catskills in Long Eddy, New York. We’ve included their wines before — most recently what might be the East Coast’s best gamay — but I wanted to highlight their wines again because they are so uniquely delicious and almost impossible to get unless you visit the winery, which requires an appointment, or find them at a farmer’s market or selection shop or restaurant in the area.
I’m not big on labels like “natural wine” but these are just about as “natural” as you can get in New York. All of the wines are made from fruit grown in the Finger Lakes using ambient yeasts with only a bit of sulfite added at bottling for stability. They make riesling, but there is so much great riesling already coming out of the Finger Lakes. So, I didn’t go in that direction. Instead, we have two other small-production white wines.
First up is truly one of the best chardonnays you’re going to find on the East Coast — high praise, indeed, but warranted in this case. Eminence Road Farm Winery 2014 Chardonnay is made with fruit grown on Seneca Lake and took 18 months to ferment (versus weeks when commercial yeast is used) with malolactic fermentation stopping on its own about half-way through. Raised entirely in stainless steel, but with two years on its lees (dead yeast cells and other grape remnants), it has an incredible balance between fruit, minerality nuttiness. The concentrated, rich mouthfeel is sliced through beautifully by trademark Finger Lakes acidity. Only 103 cases were made.
The fruit for this month’s second wine, Eminence Road Farm Winery 2014 Pinot Gris, was grown on Cayuga Lake and the fermentation somehow took even longer — 20 months! The result a wild, exotic wine with peach and pear fruit notes that are accented by slightly oxidative nutty, dried fruit notes. Again this is a wine with concentration and richness — but plenty acidity. Only 67 cases were made.