Loose Tasting Notes from Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia — September 30, 2020

As I continue to work on the redesign of the site and the refresh of the entire Cork Report Media empire, there are going to be a lot of changes around here, but these (roughly) weekly “Loose Tasting Notes” posts will remain.

These are short reviews that come almost verbatim from my notebook with only limited editing.


Bel Lago Vineyard 2017 Pinot Noir ($25*)
Expressive nose with layers of black cherry, spicy oak, dried flowers, black tea and tomato paste. Spicy, medium-bodied palate. Cherry and cranberry sauce fruit with light vanilla and a hint of leaf tobacco. Soft tannins but juicy acidity. 89pts.

Brengman Brothers 2019 “Block 65” Blend ($25*)
Blend of 50% pinot gris, 40% sauvignon blanc and 10% gewurztraminer. The nose delivers a punch of grapefruit, passionfruit and flowers. Very aromatic. Lighter bodied with subtle sweetness that is balanced by nervy, zesty acidity. Passionfruit flavors show up front before the peach and grapefruit characteristics kick in. Hint of lemongrass on a long finish. 90pts.

New Jersey

Unionville Vineyards 2019 “Silver Lining” Cabernet Franc ($27*)
Unoaked, there aren’t any vanilla or woody flavors to get in the way of the intense, pure red. raspberry and blackberry aromas and flavors. Hints of black cherry and woodsy spice peek through on a palate that is just a bit soft and could use just a bit more acidity. 88pts.

William Heritage Winery 2017 Chambourcin Estate ($30*)
Deep, dark fruits – black cherry, currant, plum and blueberry – with a savory, almost curry-like spice on the nose. Supple and lush with the same dark fruits. Low tannin. Not very complex, but intensely flavored with savory edges. 88pts.

William Heritage Winery 2019 Pinot Gris ($20*)
The nose here is peachy with a little grapefruit and a nice, rainwater minerality. Medium-bodied, the palate delivers more peach and grapefruit with nice acidity and a bit more flavor intensity than you might expect. Not complex, but fresh and summery. 87pts.

William Heritage Winery 2019 Semillon ($20*)
Not very aromatic with light peach, musk melon, and a hint of potpourri. Medium-bodied, with a slightly slippery mouthfeel. Melon and stonefruit flavors are more pronounced on the palate but still far from intense. Long, textural finish with some citrus. 87pts.

New York

Billsboro Winery 2017 Dry Riesling ($17*)
Green apple, lemon-lime and raw fennel bulb on the nose. Chalky, acidic feel (in a good way). Apple and citrus fruit with some slate minerality. Long, juicy finish. Dry but not austere or lemon water-y. 90 pts.

Buttonwood Grove 2017 Riemer Block Riesling ($20*)
High-toned nose with mostly citrus and floral aromas and a subtle earthy/dusty note. Balanced RS but a bit dilute overall. Grapefruit and lemon zest with a sprinkle of white pepper. Solid, but lacks concentration. 86pts.

Buttonwood Grove 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir ($43*)
Ripe black cherry aromas are backed by campfire smoke, vanilla, black tea, and citrus peel. Medium-bodied, the palate is all dark cherry and earth with a hint of tomato paste and toasted oak. Soft and supple feel. 88pts.

Dr. Konstantin Frank 2017 “Eugenia” Dry Riesling ($30*)
Flinty/slate edge to ripe apple and peach aromas sprinkled with citrus zest. Peachy on the palate with apple and citrus and just a little spice. Medium body with nice fruit sweetness that is balanced by pithy acidity. 91pts.

Fjord Vineyards 2019 Albarino ($23*)
Ripe peach aromas are joined by layers of orange peel, white flowers and tropical fruits. Nice weight and concentration is balanced expertly with zesty, orange-y acidity. The finish is long with citrus and citrus blossom notes. A wine that deserves more attention every vintage. 91pts.

Lakewood Vineyards 2018 Lemberger ($18*)
Very spicy nose dominated by dusty white pepper with some blueberry and black cherry. Very dry. Acid over tannin. Fruit – cherry mostly – seems a bit tired or overripe. Lots of white pepper and some raw oak. 84 pts.

Lenz Winery 2018 Estate Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($24*)
Hay aromas are very forward with white grapefruit, pear and some white flowers beneath. Bright and fresh with grapefruit and pear flavors. Somewhat delicate. Don’t over-chill. 87pts 

Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2018 Dry Riesling ($16*)
Somewhat delicate on the nose, with grapefruit and lime with floral notes and a hint of acetic. Lighter in body – and edging on. the “lemon water” style of Finger Lakes dry riesling, there is ultimately enough concentration to avoid that. Brisk and fresh but not concentrated or complex. Tough vintage and well-priced. 85pts.

Silver Thread Winery 2018 Semi-Dry Riesling ($18*)
There is an interesting pineapple note here to go with classic peach and citrus (bergamot and lime) and just a little spicy botrytis. The residual sugar is just-balanced on a light-bodied palate that delivers apple and peach flavors. Bit dilute, but a solid wine from a tough vintage. 87pts.

Thirsty Owl Winery 2017 Riesling ($15*)
Very fruity nose. Peach, honey and lemon peel. RS is just-balanced. Peach with pear and citrus flavors. Not complex, but well priced and in a popular style. 87pts.

Wagner Vineyards 2019 Dry Rose of Cabernet Franc ($15*)
Fresh nose of red raspberries, earthy dried leaves and a little bit of citrus. Strawberry and strawberry husk flavors are made more interesting and savory with some leafy, earthy notes. The finish isn’t super long, but it’s fresh and refreshing with a distinct peach note. Great value. 88pts.

Rhode Island

Greenvale Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Franc ($42*)
Very Old World nose. Blackberries and cherries with herbs, earth and spice secondary and tertiary notes. Nice core of sweet fruit on the medium-bodied palate but then comes the “franc” in the form of herbs and woodsy spice. Lower in tannin, but still enough grip. Medium finish. 88pts.


Blenheim Vineyards 2019 Gruner Veltliner ($22*)
Underripe pineapple and honeydew melon aromas lead into a fresh, though not super-concentrated palate that shows melon and citrus qualiyties. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of varietal character here, but lingering, citrusy acidity combines with a slightly pithy/bitter note on the end to make it very food-friendly. 87pts.

Blenheim Vineyards 2019 Rose ($19*)
Blend of 48% cabernet franc, 31% merlot, and 21% pinot noir. Earthy edge to aromas of strawberry, thyme, and orange peel. Nice savory edges. Medium-bodied and in a softer style the strawberry and cherry flavors show a similar earthy/herby edge as the nose. Solid if unspectacular. 86pts.

Joy Ting Wines 2018 “Mes Amis” Chardonnay ($24)
A mix of fresh and roasted apple aromas are accented by spicy, nutty lees. It almost smells like base wine for sparkling. Medium bodied, the palate shows nice concentration in its apple and butterscotch flavors. With an earthy edge that accentuates the spicy lees qualities. Nice acidity at the end brings focus. 88pts.

* Review sample provided by the winery

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