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 wines. 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: August 2018 Selections

Summer is winding down and harvest season has started up and down the East Coast. The new school year is starting too, but more on that below. We’re a little later in the month than we prefer to get the club wines out, but these wines will be worth the wait. They’ve actually been a longer time coming that you may even realize.

Both of this month’s wines are sold out — but I was able to get small allotments of each, just for the members of this wine club.

First up in Rosemont of Virginia 2015 Merlot, one of the great values in East Coast merlot that I discovered earlier this year. It took a while to get this wine into New York (distribution is a limiting factor sometimes!) but we got and I couldn’t be happier. It’s brambly aromas of blackberry and red raspberry are layered with notes of blackstrap molasses, cinnamon, and bittersweet chocolate. Though ripe (14.2% abv), the fuller-bodied palate wears it well and features a bit of an earthy foil to all that juicy berry fruit. Cinnamon, tobacco and chocolate accents bring complexity while well-incorporated tannins offer structure without overwhelming the wine. The finish isn’t super-long, but it doesn’t drop off either. Need a red to serve with grilled fare over Labor Day weekend? This is your wine.

This month’s second wine, Sparkling Pointe 2014 Brut, has been lingering in my mind for some time now. I first tasted it at a multi-winery event here on the North Fork of Long Island over a year ago. It stood out — even at the Sparkling Pointe table — because of its focus and purity. Then, earlier this summer when I was invited to host a comparative tasting of New Jersey and other East Coast wines for The Winemakers Co-op in New Jersey, I poured included this wine again — and again, it was a clear standout. At that point I knew it was sold out, so I kind of put it out of my mind as a club wine, but when I was catching up with Sparkling Pointe’s general manager, Mike Facetta one day, he mentioned that they some left in the library that they could sell us. I jumped at the chance — and here you are. It shows beautiful, crisp orchard fruit qualities — green apple and juicy pear — that are accented by a squirt of citrus and just the most subtle notes of sweet cream and shortbread. With fine bead — that wine geek speak for the size of the bubbles — and brisk acidity, it’s hard to picture a better wine to enjoy with most any non-red meat food. My wife and I will toast the start of the school year with this one. She deserves most any wine she wants after running “Camp Mom” all summer with our two kids.

As always, I hope you enjoy the wines. Please let us 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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