The Cork Club: March 2020 Selections – Pink Bubbles From Long Island and Virginia

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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This is always a very personal wine club. I’m picking the wines, yes. But it’s more than that. It’s a club that born out of a true passion for the wines of New York State that has expanded into other regions over time.

I don’t do it for the money (because I don’t make any). I do it because it’s important that a club like this exists. There truly isn’t another club like it.

So yes, it’s my club and it’s an ongoing passion project, but this month’s picks seem particularly personal. I’ll explain why below, but. I just hope you enjoy these wines (and all my picks) as much as I do.

Why do these two wines – to sparkling roses from two very different places from very different grapes – seem particularly personal?

Let’s start with the Lieb Cellars 2016 Estate Sparkling Rose. There was a time when my wife and I would visit local wineries every single weekend. Sometimes both days of every weekend. Those days, of course, are long gone with two kids and the chaos they have brought with them. But, when the stars align and we do have the opportunity to explore wine country, Lieb’s tasting room on Oregon Road on the North Fork of Long Island is one of a small handful of go-to destinations. It’s off the main road. It’s a winery that my wife and I know we can visit with our kids (ages 8 and 13). We enjoy the wines across the board. Just as importantly, we tend to fit in well with their customers. That’s underrated, I think.

When we go, we order cheeses and cured meats (our daughter is a prosciutto fiend these days) and we almost always start with glasses of this bubbly rose. Made with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, it’s bright and fresh and berry-driven. It’s one of our favorites and I’m actually surprised it’s taken me this long to include it in the club.

The second wine in this shipment, Rosemont of Virginia 2018 Rose Extra Brut, is personal for a completely different reason. When I first started writing about wine (more than 15 years ago now) I was focused on New York wine and felt that hybrid grape varieties were holding the state back. Fast forward to today and I can admit that I was wrong. It was more a problem with the winemaking, not the grapes.

Today, I consider myself not only a defender of these grape varieties but an advocate. This wine is personal because it exemplifies my personal evolution with hybrids.

This wine is – as the winery’s name makes obvious – is from Virginia, not New York, but it’s 100% Chambourcin, a hybrid variety that you’ll find up and down the East Coast coast. Both the winery’s still and sparkling rose wines are made from it and it brings this spicy earthiness to bright berry fruit. Fresh, fruity and fun, it’s bone-dry and has soft, frothy carbonation. I think you’re really going to like this one.

That’s it for this month. As always, let me know what you think of the wines! We’ll have more deliciousness coming your way next month!

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