It’s movie-selling time in the south of France this week, meaning that the creme de la creme (and actual festering pile of dung, Woody Allen) are all going to be sipping rosé on the beach, while we simple folk enjoy turbulent pre-summer weather and potential … Continue reading Shout Out to Sancerre
The good people at Soho hot spot Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels know how to craft a bloody good wine list. As New York grows more and more specialized in its wine bars (wine bars exclusively for orange wine! Natural wine only bars! Wine bars owned … Continue reading Review: Southold Farm + Cellar, “Chasing Moonlight”, 2015 Sparkling Lagrein
With Dead 7 behind me, I can finally resurrect (get it?) this blog and finish discussing the joys of The Finger Lakes before you all go out and stock up on rosé for the season. In our last installment, I discussed the fantastic wineries surrounding … Continue reading Finger Lakes – The Promised Land Part 2
Don’t worry – I haven’t gone sober on you all. It’s been a crazy few weeks at Ratapu HQ (aka, suburban Brooklyn) and I haven’t had a spare moment to rave about the beautiful bottles that have very briefly graced my wine shelves. Any minute I’ve … Continue reading Finger Lakes – The Promised Land Part 1
My longest and closest friend is the only person who can get me to legitimately piss myself laughing. It isn’t even intelligent humor; we joke about trash and awful sex. When we get together, our respective lives are checked at the door. I’ve gone months without … Continue reading Strawberry Fields Forever
Aka, are Vermont grapes feeling the Bern?
Vermont is a very cold state. Too cold, most European growers would say, to yield grapes that can make expressive wines. As places like Sussex, Ontario and Vancouver are showing us, global warming is allowing some very northern places greater ability to produce higher quality wine, but many of these regions are waiting painfully for classic vinifera wines (like Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir) to be able to grow. In Vermont, many wineries are shaking their fists and saying no to vinifera-elitism. They are taking the grapes of ‘Murica, gosh darn it, and melding them with those hoity-toity European varietals to create hybrids that not only grow in the state, but excel.
Most of these varieties, like ‘la crescent‘ (a white grape) or ‘marquette‘ (a red grape) have unique expression depending on the particular terroir where they are grown. (Other grapes include ‘cayuga’, ‘frontenac’, ‘baco noir’ and ‘leon millot’ – all of which are probably the names of new-soul artists. I’m waiting to discover a ‘Kelela‘ grape.) Most of Vermont’s wineries align the coast of Lake Champlain, with a few on the Grand Isle (a weird little island just off the coast of mainland Vermont.) The wineries that have been brave and jumped into these hybrid varietals have seen mixed levels of success as they fight to minimize mildew diseases without resorting to heavy pesticide and chemical sprays. Vermont vines are plagued by Japanese beetles (who look like those creepy broaches your middle-school librarian probably wore), mites and black rot. Conveniently, because Vermont’s wine industry is very recent, those winemakers who choose to take it on do so out of a passion for terroir-focused winemaking, meaning that most of the wineries are at the very least organic, if not biodynamic.
Two wineries are particularly leading the pack when it comes to getting Vermont’s name on the national radar: Shelburne Vineyard and La Garagista Shelburne is kicking butt with its whites, particularly its sparkling “Celestial Louise” (great cat name, btws) and its gold-medal winning “Louise Swenson”. La Garagista had a particularly flattering write-up in the New York Times, which led to stockist Frankly Wines to sell out every order it’s made in the last six months. (This diligent reporter managed to snag a bottle of the 2014 Vinu Jancu by basically hounding the store owner for a week.) La Garagista has managed to get into a number of California and New York wine lists based on its unusual flavor profiles and natural winemaking techniques. The Vinu Jancu (a white made from primarily la crescent) I tasted was like a floral cider: it bloomed with orange blossom and lemon flavors, but then settled down into slightly tangy and acidic stone fruit flavors.
Here’s the skinny on Vermont’s still very thin industry:
It’s all about being local. If you aren’t tasting wines made from hybrid local varieties you might as well throw the bottle away.
It’s expensive and very limited edition. For the wines which are coming out of the state, it isn’t going to be cheap. Shelburne’s prize winners retail between $18-$35, while La Garagista’s go for much more (think $35-$60). These wineries are tiny and make generally less than a hundred cases a year.
It’s trendy. Vermont wines tend to be organic, natural and bottled with agonizingly twee and adorable labels like the one above. Collect ’em and set them on your shelf for the hipsters.
Vermont Wine – http://www.vermontwine.com/
Vermont Grape & Wine Council – http://www.vermontgrapeandwinecouncil.com/
When I first moved to New York, I assumed – based on knowledge gleamed from Gossip Girl and The Great Gatsby, natch – that eventually someone would invite me to a polo match in the Hamptons. Isn’t that how rich people in the Northeast got their kicks? I … Continue reading Wild Horses: Tasting the Reserve Wines of Wolffer Estate