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 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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With all that’s going on in our country right now, it’s been hard to think that writing about wine matters, but I know that delicious wine is one of the real joys we all can enjoy right now. Wine and cider in the case of this week’s shipment.

The theme for this week’s duo can be summed up in one word: bubbles. Okay, maybe we can use two and be even more descriptive: low-alcohol bubbles.

First up is South Hill Cider’s “Packbasket” Cider. Someone recently told me that the Finger Lakes region is like the Napa Valley for cider. Ignoring the idea that Napa is THE place to grow grapes and make wine in the United States, I understand what he means. There may be no better place to grow apples and make ciders of terroir.

Even though it’s made with foraged apples and pears and fermented with ambient yeast, it’s remarkably clean. A lot of ciders in this style can get pretty funky, but not here. It’s dry, fresh and low-alcohol (8.3% abv). I’m not nearly as good at critically tasting cider as I am wine, but I definitely know what I like. This cider is what I like.

You may recognize the label for this month’s second wine – Osmote Wines 2019 Cayuga Pet-Nat. I actually put the 2018 vintage in the club a little over a year ago. Guess what? I like this vintage even more, it’s got a bit more concentration on the mid-palate and just a bit more weight overall – but still with electric acidity that helps make this wines about as fresh and refreshing as they come.

Lemony on the nose, this low-alcohol (9.3% abv) sparkler also shows sweet green apple aromas and some subtle yeasty fermentation notes.

That green apple steps forward on the focused, super-fresh palate, almost in a Jolly Rancher sort of way, with soft carbonation brisk, piercing acidity and a citrus pith feel on the end of a medium-length finish. As it warms just a bit (it’s so easy to drink that your bottle may note get that chance) some sweet citrus and pear notes peek through all that green apple.

That’s it for this month. I hope everyone is staying home, staying safe and making the best of this tough situation. Cheers.

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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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