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: January 2019

Happy New Year! I know we’re half way into the month already, but I hope you’re all happy, healthy and sticking with your New Year resolutions so far.

If you’ve been a member of the club for very long, you know that a year or so ago, I stopped just picking a couple great wines each month. Instead, I pick two great wines every month — that also fit some sort of theme or topic.

For the first shipment of 2019, I decided, frankly, get a little weird. Let’s get outside of our cabernet franc-and-riesling comfort zones. Oh, and let’s not have a New York wine included — another strange rarity.

So with “let’s get weird” in mind — this month’s first wine is Early Mountain Vineyard 2017 Petit Manseng. I’ve sent Early Mountain wines before — we did a two-pack last year — but for many of you, petit manseng is probably a new grape. It’s most commonly found in southern France where it’s used primarily for dessert wine, but it’s quickly finding a home in Virginia. The berries are small, the clusters are loose and the grapes retain plenty of natural acidity — making it an intriguing grape in a humid, often-hot region like Virginia. You’ll find it made in a wide array of styles there too, but Early Mountain winemaker Ben Jordan really plays with the texture of this wine by fermenting it in a combination of concrete, large Acacia, and oak puncheon and foudre. It is at once weighty and focused with acidity. The flavors lean tropical but there is also a floral, tea-like complexity here. This is a great white wine for this time of year and the foods I tend to eat in colder months.

Southold Farm + Cellar is another winery that I’ve picked wines from before — but this is the first wine of theirs I’ve included in the club since their move from the North Fork of Long Island to Texas. It’s our first Texas wine in the club ever. Alicante bouschet is known as a workhorse variety. It’s grown all over southern Europe but rarely finds its way into bottle on its own — instead relegated as a blender for wines that need more color or oomph. But when winemaker Regan Meador found a small planting of it on rocky soil in the Texas High Plains AVA, he knew he wanted to let it sing a solo. It’s quite fruit forward and fresh on the nose with cassis, just-crushed blackberries and hints of plum. Lighter bodied and super fresh — there is a fresh grape quality that you don’t find in many wines — with brambleberry and currants dominating with a savory/umami edge and a minerally raw meatiness on the finish. Not super complex, but decidedly delicious.

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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