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.
Things don’t always go to plan with this little-club-that-could. We had two wines lined up for November that would have marked our first picks from New Jersey. I was excited to introduce the wines of the Garden State to our members – but the winery’s new distributor kinda dropped the ball and we couldn’t get the wines into the shop in time.
Now, it looks like they may not make it into New York at all. At least for now.
Luckily, there is so much delicious wine that we CAN get that we simply pivoted to two wines that I was considering anyway from a winemaker who somehow still flies under the radar. Nathan Kendall is making some of my favorite wines in the Finger Lakes, both for his families Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars, Chepika (his project with sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier), and his own label Nathan K. Wines.
For the club, I chose two reds that are perfect for Thanksgiving but really can be enjoyed in most any scenario this time of year.
First up is Nathan K. 2018 Pinot Noir. 2018 was a challenging year for many growers and winemakers in the Finger Lakes, but you’d never know it here. It’ packs plenty of pinot character with great freshness and length. Pinot with Thanksgiving is a bit of a classic, and this one fits perfectly.
I’m increasingly fascinated by the potential of unoaked cabernet franc – in the right hands, at least. Cabernet franc brings so much non-fruit complexity on its own that it doesn’t necessarily need time in oak to speak loudly. This Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars 2019 Unoaked Cabernet Franc is a beautiful example. It’s got nice berry fruit, but also woodsy spice and hints of herbs. That fruity-savory balance is one of the reasons I love cabernet franc so much with food.
I hope you enjoy the wines. Happy holidays!