Welcome to The Cork Club. I’ve partnered with a great wine and cider shop in Ithaca, NY – The Cellar d’Or – to bring the best and most interesting wine from the East Coast and Midwest straight to your door. It’s pretty simple. I pick two wines each month that never exceed $60 total before shipping and they are shipped directly to you. These aren’t bin ends or mass-produced, factory wine garbage. These are real wines, made by real people. 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: December 2018 Selections

Before I get to this month’s wines, I just want to thank you for being a part of this little wine club. I’ve taken you and your taste buds all over North American wine country this year (especially after this month) and I hope you’ve enjoyed the wines this year as much as I’ve enjoyed picking them out.

This month, we have one wine from a producer we’ve included before over the years and then one that is completely new and maybe even a little out of left field.

First up is Forge Cellars 2017 Riesling Classique. Yes, I’ve included a fair number of Finger Lakes rieslings this year and will continue to do so. But, Forge Cellars doesn’t approach riesling the same way most Finger Lakes do. For one, the wines are truly dry — not just labeled as such. That may seem like less of a big deal than it is. Forge also ferments a portion of its riesling in old oak barrels. Others in the region are doing this now too, but Forge was the first in the Finger Lakes. Old oak doesn’t add flavor, but it changes the way the wine feels on the palate. You’ll find many of the typical Finger Lakes riesling aromas and flavors here – citrus and peach and apricot – but this wine’s texture is the star. Again, it’s dry but not shrill or lacking in substance. It’s broad in the mouth, yet focused with juicy, dare I say crunchy, acidity. Forge makes this “Classique” riesling and then also a reserve-level “Les Allies” — but in 2017 they didn’t, which means that all of their best fruit went into this wine. It shows. This is a wine of power and grace. It’s a wine that I think riesling lovers and people who don’t think they like riesling will enjoy equally.

if you read my writing at all, you may remember that I spent most of a week in Boise, Idaho this summer tasting wines and visiting vineyards. I really enjoyed a lot of what I tasted. The Snake River Valley AVA is a fascinating region. The hot, dry summers mean you can ripen most any grape you want to grow, though the season can be short some years. At the same time, the cool nights help grower retain natural acidity. In cooler spots, you’ll even find delicious riesling and gewurztraminer. Icewine – real icewine made from grapes that freeze naturally on the vine, not ones that are frozen in a freezer – can also be made most years because the winters come quickly and can be quite harsh. I’ve never been to a region where that’s all the norm. Of all the places I tasted, one winery stood out — Koenig Vineyards in Caldwell. Everything I tasted was impressive and wouldn’t you know it, they distribute a couple wines in New York, including one of the best things owner/winemaker Greg Koenig poured for me, this Koenig Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. This might be the first cabernet we’ve ever included in the club and yes, I know it’s from the Pacific Northwest, not my normal “beat” but I think it’s a delicious wine that over-delivers for the price.

Happy holidays and keep an eye out for my first picks of 2019 shortly after the New Year!

As always, I hope you enjoy the wines. Let me 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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