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 the East Coast and Midwest 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, factory wine garbage. These are real wines. These are the wines that I’m drinking myself and most excited about — from producers you’re never going to get anywhere else. 

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The Cork Club: March 2018 Selections

Anyone else sick of the snow here in the Northeast yet? I sure am — and I think these wines reflect my happiness at spring’s arrival (even though they are calling for one last — I hope — snow storm this week). Both are fresh and food friendly and lip-smackingly delicious.

I’ve been tasting and drinking wine from the East Coast and Midwest for more than a decade now. I’ve enjoyed and explored everything from Minnesota Frontenac Blanc to Vermont Marquette to Long Island Merlot to Virginia Petit Verdot to Pennsylvania Gruner Veltliner — and everything in between. What I never expected to taste — and fall for — was an Albarino grown in the Hudson River Valley AVA. That region’s legacy is primarily regional grapes like Seyval Blanc and Baco Noir, but there are more classic European grapes being grown there than some realize. You’ll find Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc — those workhorses of North American wine — of course, but also Riesling and Gamay and — apparently — a little bit of Albarino. And when I say a “little bit” I mean it. It’s just an acre planted on a second ridge west of the Hudson River about two miles from the river itself on a steep hillside. The wine — Fjord Cellars 2016 Albarino — bursts with passionfruit and grapefruit aromas and flavors with hints of gooseberry and jasmine. This is an acidity lover’s wine — it practically crackles and shows a slightly bitter (in a good way) bit of citrus pith on a juicy, minerally finish. It begs to be enjoyed with East Coast seafood or fried foods where the acidity will slice through the crispy fatty richness.

The second wine I picked for this month was a surprise, but not the same kind of surprise. Hermann J. Wiemer is well known as one of the top wineries in the Finger Lakes and in North America. But that reputation was built largely on the back of the estate’s various Riesling bottlings. The sparkling wine program remains a delicious little secret that not nearly enough people know about. I’m lucky that I’ve been in on the secret for some time now. Still, I wasn’t planning on including this wine this month — until I took a bottle to my local BYO restaurant on a rare no-kids date night with my wife. It was so food friendly and broadly delicious that I emailed the guys at the shop the next morning to see if we could get it for the club. Some of the longer aged Wiemer sparklers are nuttier and yeastier, sure, but Hermann J. Wiemer 2013 Cuvee Brut offers a delicious purity of fruit — green and yellow apple — with citrus and floral notes and just a little background yeastiness — all with delicious freshness. I’m excited to get my shipment this month too. Remember — I’m not just the curator of the club, I’m also a member.

As always, I hope you enjoy the wines. Please let us know what you think!

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About Author

Lenn Thompson, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island more than a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the region’s dynamic and emerging wine community. A digital and content marketing and community professional by day, he founded NewYorkCorkReport.com in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines, beers and spirits of New York State. After running that site -- which became the premier source for independent New York wine commentary, reviews and news -- for 12 years, he launched TheCorkReport.us in late 2016 to add the wines of Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont and beyond to his beat. Lenn currently serves as the wine columnist for The Suffolk Times weekly newspaper and is the former editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette. He contributes or has contributed to publications like Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Beverage Media, Edible Brooklyn, Edible East End and Edible Hudson Valley. Lenn served on the board of directors for Drink Local Wine, and is the creator and founder of TasteCamp, an annual regional wine immersion conference for writers and trade. An admitted riesling and cabernet franc fanatic, he’s intensely passionate about eating local and the many local wine regions of America. Lenn lives in Miller Place, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson, daughter Anna and their dog, Casey Lemieux Thompson.

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