The Cork Club: November 2016 Selections

The following is this month’s newsletter for the wine club that I run (with The Cellar d’Or in Ithaca). Formerly known as the New York Cork Club, I’m in the process of rebranding it to reflect my own personal expansion beyond the borders of New York. You can learn more and sign up here.

The wine grape harvest is done across North America — save some blocks in northern regions where grapes will hang long enough to freeze for traditional ice wine. Overall, I’m hearing that it’s been a somewhat average season. There are pockets where sugars were higher than normal, but generally, brix are down a bit — especially here in my home region of Long Island.

Despite the low sugar numbers, I’ve been told that flavors are still well developed and I always feel like lower alcohols are a good thing. I guess we’ll know more in the spring once the wines are ready to taste.

As we head into the cooler months here in the northeast, my favorite holiday is right around the corner — Thanksgiving. It’s not about gifts or candy or any of that. It’s about family, friends and eating (and drinking) really really well.

I’ve already started to see the “Thanksgiving Wine” stories in publications as diverse as local newspapers to glossy national magazines. I’ve written these stories before but I’m hoping to avoid it this year. My thoughts are always the same, or at least center on the same theme: drink what you like.

If you want more direction than that, I’ll offer this as well — drink these two wines. They are both bright, lower alcohol wines that pair with the myriad foods found on most Thanksgiving tables. Plus they are just plain delicious.

There is little doubt that riesling rules the roost in the Finger Lakes, and August Deimel, winemaker at Keuka Spring Vineyards makes good riesling. But he has a way with another aromatic white grape — Gewurztraminer — unlike anyone else in New York (and maybe the entire country). His Gewurztraminers are that good. Explosively aromatic and true to the variety, but still balanced and elegant in their own way. The wine I picked for you this month, Keuka Spring Vineyards 2015 Dynamite Vineyard Gewurztraminer, is actually sold out, but we were able to get some anyway. The vineyard is named Dynamite because when it was originally planted, dynamite was used to break up the rock to pound posts.

August has stopped using oak barrels in his red wine program, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have barrels in his cellar. This wine was 45% barrel fermented and aged two months in old oak, a unique treatment that August feels balances the mouth feel and emphasizes the depth of aromatics. After tasting it a few times, I tend to agree. This is a wine that is at once bold and refined. Just off-dry but lively and juicy. Just plain delicious.

This month’s second wine comes from Eminence Road Farm Winery, located in Long Eddy, NY just on the New York side of the Pennsylvania border. All of the grapes they work with are grown in the Finger Lakes, including the gamay that was grow on Cayuga Lake that went into Eminence Road Farm Winery 2014 Gamay. There wasn’t much of this wine left when we went to order it — because it’s selling briskly in shops and is being poured by the glass at Rouge Tomate in New York City. If you like your gamay simple and fruity, this will be a bit of a diversion for you. But if you like the complexity that the grape can take on in the right places when handled the right way, this is a wine that will hit you right where you live. It spent two years in neutral French oak with no racking. With higher acidity and a faintly herbal edge, this a wine that shines with food — and Iove it with herb-tinged foods like stuffing and roast turkey. It opens up nicely over the course of a couple days too — if you can wait that long to drain the bottle.

I hope you enjoy these wines — and are looking forward to next month’s picks where we start to stretch our legs a little and look to regions beyond New York State!

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