Did you know that I have my own wine club? I do! I’ve partnered with my friends at The Cellar d’Or in Ithaca, NY to bring the best and most interesting wine from New York and beyond straight to your door. We call it “The Cork Club” and I pick two wines each month that never exceed $60 total before shipping. These aren’t bin ends or mass-produced garbage. These are the wines that I’m drinking myself and most excited about — from producers you’re never going to get anywhere else. Sign up today!
I’m really excted about this month’s selections — so forgive me if I forgo the “I hope your summer is going well” pleasantries and get right to it.
It’s rare to — as the cliche goes — “get in on the ground floor” of a winery that is new but going to be big time soon. We’re doing that this month though with Liten Buffel 2015 Quast Vineyard Pinot Noir. Winemaker Zack Klug is a young guy working very naturally on the Niagara Escarpment, a region that still hasn’t had its moment yet, but it’s coming. He’s also obsessed with Pinot Noir — and this is his first Pinot release. He and his partner have planted their own vineyard, but for now, they are working with some great sites in and around the Escarpment. Located in Cambria, New York within the Niagara Escarpment AVA, the Quast Vineyard features clay loam soils (Rhinebeck, Ovid and Hilton for the real soil nerds) over limestone, on 7-15% slopes facing Lake Ontario. Part of the former Warm Lake Estate, it’s also one of Niagara’s oldest Pinot Noir plantings. It’s a symbol of what was, what can go wrong and what could still be. He’s told me on more than one occasion that the Quast Vineyard “truly has the potential to be one of Niagara’s ‘grand cru’ vineyards.”
A lot of Niagara Pinot is powerful — more powerful than you’d expect. But this is more like Volnay in it’s mouthfeel and presence. Blood orange and just-crushed cherries dominate a nose that is accented by notes of raw mushrooms, dried flowers and cola. On the lighter-bodied side. Silky mouthfeel with a little grit. Fruit forward with red cherries and cherry skin tannins. Subtle flavors of orange peel, cola and caramel bring complexity. Sultry. Young and tasted its best on the third day open.
Our second wine is also 100% Pinot Noir and is a club favorite — Anthony Nappa Wines 2016 White Pinot Noir (formerly known as Anomaly). Winemaker Anthony Nappa (who is also the winemaker at Raphael on the North Fork of Long Island) buys all of the Pinot he can from Sheldrake Point Vineyards on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes — and the resulting white Pinot Noir is perhaps the wine he’s best known for. At once mouth-filling and fresh, with layers of strawberry and cherry flavors along with just a little savory earthiness this is a terrific rose to turn to as the weather cools a bit as summer winds down. If you can hold onto your bottle until Thanksgiving, you’ll be rewarded. If not, you’re sure to still enjoy it today.