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.
The Cork Club: May 2018 Selections
If you live in or near a local corner of wine country, you’ve probably noticed that budbreak has happened up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest. The 2018 grape growing season is on! Here’s hoping for lots of sun, just enough rain and that grape growers avoid catastrophic events (hail, hurricanes, etc.)
For the May 2018 selections, I’ve done something a little different. Something I can’t remember ever doing before — picked two wines from the same winery: Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, Virginia.
Located about an hour north of Charlottesville, VA, Early Mountain is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on a piece of land with a long history.The first landowner of the property was Revolutionary War veteran Lieutenant Joseph Early, who served under General George Washington at Valley Forge. Many years after that, the first vines were planted in 2005 and then the property was purchased by Jean and Steve Case (former chairman of AOL) in 2010 and — after some renovations — opened in 2012 as Early Mountain. Virginia native Ben Jordan makes the wines and has extensive experience both in Virginia and elsewhere.
Virginia wine is difficult to get for this club. Very little of it is distributed in New York. And it can expensive for individual wineries to get wholesale licenses to sell directly to wine shops in New York too. But, these wines are newly available in New York and it is my pleasure to share them with you.
First we have Early Mountain Vineyards 2017 Rose, a blend of 73% merlot, 18% syrah, 7% malbec, 2% cabernet franc. I typically don’t love merlot-heavy rose, but this has been a spring-time favorite at home. It shows beautiful aromas of wild strawberries, honeydew melon and peaches — all sprinkled with dried herbs and a grind of white pepper. Crisp and distinctly minerally on a focused, medium-bodied palate, this rose offers fruity notes of red cherry and strawberry made a bit savory by saline minerality and more herbs. Great acidity is joined by notes of lime and red grapefruit juice at the end of a long, dry finish.
And then you have the Early Mountain Vineyards 2016 Foothills, their sub-$30 red blend (39% merlot, 19% petit verdot, 18% syrah, 10% cab franc, 9% cab sauvignon, 2% tannat) that also includes a little white (3% Petit Manseng). On the nose, this is a black plum bomb with just a little black cherry, black pepper spice, and a subtle game meat edge. Medium bodied and soft — but not too soft — the palate is fruit forward with lots of black and blue fruit and more of that spice and a distinctly earthy quality. Round in the mouth, the tannins are integrated and cotton-y and there is a nice bit of acidity here too. It’s the kind of red you want around during the summer grilling season and is equally suited to fireside sipping too. This isn’t the kind of red I’d put away in your cellar. I mean, you can, but you don’t need to.
As always, I hope you enjoy the wines. Please let us know what you think!