Welcome to The Cork Club. I’ve partnered The Cellar d’Or in Ithaca, NY to deliver some of my favorite wines from the East right to your door. 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 probably not going to find anywhere else.
For my writing and for this club, I taste every style of wine imaginable all year long (hell, I even tasted some surprisingly elegant, nuanced rhubarb wine from Maine last week). But when it comes to what my wife and I are actually drinking at home, there are two key indicators: what we’re eating and the season.
The two are linked, of course. So as we transition from warmer weather and bright summer fare and start making more stews, braises, and the like we tend to drink a bit more red wine but we’re not quite ready for by-the-fireplace reds just yet.
Enter this month’s Cork Club picks – red wines that still show freshness and brightness to help straddle the seasons.
Floral Terranes, Erik Longabardi and Benford Lepley’s tiny-production winery and cidery in Roslyn, NY is a darling of the New York natural wine community. You know that I’m not necessarily a disciple of “natty” wine as a category. I just want to drink delicious wines that are unique and distinctive. These wines (and ciders) are those and then some. And their popularity coupled with small production makes these wines very hard to get. We had to order the day they were released and we still almost didn’t get them. Floral Terranes 2019 Marquette comes from the only Marquette block I’m aware of on Long Island, located just east of Macari Vineyards in Mattituck. It’s hard to really know what “Long Island Marquette” tastes like, but this one shows ripe, dark fruits with layers of spice and earth. Is soft, but also shows freshness. It can take a light chill. I think it’d be great for Thanksgiving dinner.
This month’s second wine, Usonia Wine NV Vistas is maybe even a bit more “out there.” First, it’s a blend of cabernet franc and riesling – not something I think I’ve ever tasted before. But, if you think about it, the earthy, herbal qualities of cab franc could maybe benefit from the freshness and focus of riesling. Right? Maybe? Anyway, it’s roughly half riesling and half cabernet franc. The riesling, grown on Seneca Lake, was handpicked and given a short carbonic maceration. The cabernet franc, from Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, was handpicked, destemmed, and fermented whole berry with the Riesling. This is a fresh, juicy red with a little natural wine funk that – again – works with a light chill and wouldn’t be out of place on a Thanksgiving dinner table.
That’s it for this month. As always, let me know what you think of the wines!
A quick teaser – next month’s wines come from a state we’ve never explored in the club before. I’m really excited!