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Linda Delmonico Prussen

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Something to Wine About: 2015 McCall Cabernet Franc

mccall cabernet
2015 McCall Cabernet Franc from the North Ridge Vineyard. (Courtesy McCall Wines)

As the temperatures continue to fall, and sweater weather turns to jacket weather, Long Island red wines become something to truly look forward to. One such red is the 2015 McCall Cabernet Franc from North Ridge Vineyard. On the nose this wine has a little earth and cherry. On the palate, there is ripe cherry, anise, and floral. This medium-bodied wine is elegantly crafted and reminiscent of Cabernet Franc from the Bordeaux region.

Vineyard owner Rus McCall shares his thoughts on what makes the Cabernet Franc from his North Ridge Vineyard special, saying, “These are some of the oldest vines on Long Island.” 

He adds, “The 38-year-old vines have extremely deep roots,” going on to explain why older vines are special. As vines age they produce lower yields of fruit, but the fruit produced is more concentrated. 

The vineyard, he explains, is dry farmed. That means they do not irrigate the vineyard. During times of drought, this causes the vines to grow deep and struggle to find water. That struggle rewards the vines with water rich in minerality. 

Deep roots on their own are a plus too because the struggle creates higher-quality fruit. Another factor, McCall says, that helps to make his vineyard’s Cabernet Franc unique is how high North Ridge Vineyard is located. He explains that this elevation causes the fruit to be exposed to large amounts of wind, drying the fruit on the vine. This drying also causes the juice of the grape to become more concentrated. Some may be familiar with a more extreme form of drying grapes off the vine that produces the fine Italian wine known as Amarone. 

To confirm just how special this vineyard is, according to McCall, his 2014 Reserve Cabernet Franc from North Ridge Vineyard was just given a Robert Parker Wine Advocate rating of 92 points. The 2015 has not yet been reviewed. 

The very sophisticated 2015 McCall Cabernet Franc North Ridge Vineyard retails for $26.

To learn more about McCall wines, visit mccallwines.com.

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Something To Wine About: 2018 RGNY Scielo Tinto

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2018 RGNY Scielo Tinto

Looking for a lovely, elegant, lighter-bodied, red to add to your Thanksgiving table? The 2018 Scielo Tinto may be the perfect fit. This is another wonderful Long Island Bordeaux-style wine. 

The 2018 RGNY Scielo Tinto is comprised of 43% merlot, 37% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet Franc, and 10% petit verdot. The wine is a gorgeous, luminous, garnet color. It’s truly stunning in the glass. Delightfully dry, this wine has notes of raspberry, blueberry, caramelized cherry, chocolate, and light notes of baking spice. It is silky smooth and can pair, without competing, with a wide variety of foods such as ham, sweet potatoes, even turkey with brown gravy.

RGNY winemaker, Lilia Perez, says of this wine, “My inspiration to make the Tinto came from having lived and trained in Bordeaux. I wanted to see how these grapes blended together would make a Bordeaux-style wine with Long Island personality.”

A quick reminder on Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style wines, a true Bordeaux wine must be from the Bordeaux region in France, and adhere to the standards set by that region. A red Bordeaux must have one, or a combination, of the five noble grapes: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec. Occasionally a sixth grape, carménère, is included. Noble grapes are known to retain their character no matter where planted, and are known to produce top quality wine. 

If talk of Bordeaux-style wines has you curious, or if you are looking for a unique gift for a Bordeaux wine lover on your gift list, RGNY has a blending kit you can purchase and blend your own Bordeaux-style wine. And, when you are done experimenting as a winemaker, you can compare your creation with the 2018 RGNY Scielo Tinto as a full bottle is included in the kit.  

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Something to Wine About: Wölffer’s 2018 Caya Cabernet Franc

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Wölffer Estate 2013 Caya Cabernet Franc

For those looking for a beautiful wine to enjoy by the firepit or the fireplace, the 2018 Caya Cabernet Franc from Wölffer Estate Vineyard fits the bill perfectly. This is an elegant, yet robust, cabernet Franc that will cause even your most ardent cabernet sauvignon fans to take notice. Notes of grilled cherry, coffee, earth and mocha make this medium-bodied wine a decadent treat.

“We have been making cabernet Franc since 1995. Over the years as the vines matured, and the winemaker, we started to get incredible quality from our cab Franc vineyards,” Roman Roth, winemaker for Wölffer Estate, explains. “As we are always looking to improve our quality and create wines of the highest caliber, we felt it was time to make a White Horse Cabernet Franc. The White Horse labels represent our best wines which have exemplary structure and longevity.”

He continues, “We are especially proud of the outcome for our 2018 vintage since it was not an easy growing year. … Everybody can make good wine in a good year, but at Wölffer we make great wines in the tough years. … Cabernet Franc is one of the great varieties that will put Long Island on the world map of winemaking.”

It isn’t often one drinks a $37 wine and it feels like it should be priced nearly double, but this is one of those times. The 2018 Caya Cabernet Franc was aged for 18 and a half months in 28% new and 72% old French oak. New oak imparts more oak characteristics than old oak. This wine can pair wonderfully with red meats, whether barbecue or filet mignon. It also pairs deliciously with dark chocolate. With a wonderfully lush mouth feel, it also drinks stunningly well all on its own.

For more info, visit wolffer.com.

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Something to Wine About: Macari Vineyards 2017 Dos Aguas

macari vineyards
Macari Vineyards' Dos Aguas (2010 pictured here)

As fall begins to take hold, thoughts of what wines would be great by the firepit come to mind. The 2017 Dos Aguas from Macari Vineyards has all the earmarks of a perfect sipping-by-the-firepit wine.

Give this wine a little bit of time to open in the glass and one will be mightily rewarded with an assortment of expertly layered flavors. The nose is both spicy and slightly vegetal with notes of black and green pepper, blackberry and molasses. The palate is bursting with fresh raspberry, green pepper and molasses. The finish is complex, persistent and fresh — the freshness beckoning one to take another sip. Interestingly, though this wine possesses none of the varietals commonly found in Rioja wines, it shares a similarity of flavor with some of the most beautiful and textured Rioja wines available.

What this wine actually is, is a Bordeaux-style blend of 60% merlot, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petit verdot and 9% cabernet franc. A true Bordeaux wine must be from the Bordeaux region in France, and it must adhere to the standards set by that region. To be a red Bordeaux it must have one, or a combination, of the five noble grapes: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec. Occasionally a sixth grape, carménère, is included.

Why are they called “noble grapes?” While it sounds pretty much just like another snooty wine term, noble grapes are said to retain their character no matter where they are planted, and they are recognizable for the top quality wine they produce. So, while they didn’t graduate ahead of class in comparison to any of the other grapes, they are revered for their steadfast consistency.

The 2017 Dos Aguas blend from Macari represents the “two waters” that surround the vineyard on the North Fork. To the south of their vines lies the Great Peconic Bay and to the north, the Long Island Sound. These two bodies of water create a unique climate that protects the vineyard and encourages a slow, steady ripening.

The 2017 Dos Agues retails for $35 and will make not only a welcome addition to any autumn wine collection, it would also make a lovely gift for the Bordeaux lover on your holiday list.

For more information, visit macariwines.com.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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2018 Saltbird Chardonnay a Delicious Autumn Alternative

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Those looking for an absolutely delicious chardonnay alternative to add to your autumn wine lineup should try 2018 Saltbird Chardonnay from Chronicle Wines. This wine has a lovely round, full, just short of creamy mouth feel. It has beautiful notes of pear and apple. The finish is persistent, but not overly acidic. A wonderful, balanced chardonnay.

The 2018 Saltbird Chardonnay is produced in 100% stainless steel, which means no oak was used. But if you normally aren’t a huge fan of un-oaked chardonnays, this one might surprise you. Winemaker Robin Epperson-McCarthy says, “I’ve had arguments with people who have said, ‘I know your winemaker put this in barrels.’ And I’ve said, ‘I am the winemaker, and I promise you this has not been in barrels.’”

 

What contributes to what many consider an oak characteristic of a lush mouth feel is a process called sur lie treatment. Lees are small particles of yeast that settle in the wine. Allowing the wine more, and longer, contact with these particles contributes to creating a suppler and at the same time more substantial, wine. The layers of flavor, refinement and elegance really have this wine stand out from your everyday chardonnay.

Chronicle Wines is a wine company co-founded by winemakers Robin Epperson-McCarthy and Alie Shaper with a tasting room at Chronicle Wines at Peconic Cellar Door. The tasting room is located at 2885 Peconic Lane in Peconic. Because they are not an estate vineyard, Epperson-McCarthy and Shaper have the freedom to source grapes from various vineyards. Epperson-McCarthy adds that all the Saltbird brands use North Fork fruit.

This wine, because of its clean, fresh taste combined with its smooth mouth feel, possesses a special ease in pairing. There are of course your expected chardonnay pairings, like chicken, and creamy pasta dishes, but this is also a great seafood chardonnay

Epperson-McCarthy says, “This is what Long Island chardonnay tastes like when you let the chardonnay fruit shine.” 2018 Saltbird Chardonnay drinks significantly above its price point of $20.

To learn more, visit chroniclewines.co.

This story was first published in Dan’s Papers.

Something to Wine About: Macari 2020 Horses Rosé

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Macari's 2020 Horses Rosé is a Cabernet Franc Pet Nat ("pétillant naturel")

Most people tend to think of rosé as a spring wine. In fact, the entire month of May is dedicated to rosé. However, Macari produces a rosé that truly captures the essence of early fall, the 2020 Horses Rosé. This drink isn’t the pale, salmon pink, delicately flavored wine often associated with rosé. This wine is quite the opposite.

Everything about this wine is bold, from its dark pink color to its bright, exuberant flavor. The palate is lively; notes of just-picked berries burst on the tongue. Think of picking and eating berries fresh from the vine on an autumn hike. The wine finishes with lighter notes of pepper commonly found in cabernet franc. And it’s a sparkling wine!

Horses Rosé is a pétillant naturel, or what is also known as a Pét-Nat. In this ancient wine producing method, the wine is bottled before primary fermentation is finished, without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars. In the traditional méthode champenoise, the style in which Champagne is produced, the wine is fully fermented, then undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Macari’s head winemaker, Byron Elmendorf, says on the production of Horses Rosé, “The grapes are 100% de-stemmed and left on the skins for 24 hours. Then they are gently pressed and fermented cold and slowly throughout harvest. Finally, they are racked and bottled in early November to finish fermentation in the bottle.”

Horses Rosé is made from cabernet franc, a grape that is widely grown on Long Island. Many call it Long Island’s signature grape. Cabernet franc can be rustic, earthy, herbaceous and vegetal. Notes can include green pepper and basil. It’s an edgy grape often added to wines in the Bordeaux region to give wines complexity. In Horses Rosé, it is the well-received star player. Horses Rosé retails for $28 and should be served chilled.

For more information, visit macariwines.com.

This story first appeared on DansPapers.com.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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