Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience 2022

The 41st annual New York Wine Experience was held on October 20-22. The Experience was sponsored by the Wine Spectator, an influential magazine which covers all aspects of the wine world. A good score on its 100-point scoring system is highly converted.

The three-day event was a chance to meet the influential winemakers, owners and chefs and to sample their wines and eat their food at seminars and at the chefs’ challenge. They also unveil their top 10 wines of the year.

On Thursday and Friday, they hosted the Critic’s Choice Grand Tasting. It was two days with two floors of wines rated 90+ points by the Wine Spectator from over 250 wineries/chateaus. The Grand Tastings were sponsored by the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation.

One thing that was missing this year was the Awards dinner which was held on the last night in which they presented the wine of the year awards followed by a performance from some recognizable band or singer.

I was able to make it on Friday night. As per usual with the sheer volume of wines available, I planned to focus on Bordeaux and California reds. which I did and after four hours I still didn’t get to all of the Bordeaux and Napa Cabs.

Looking back and looking through the tasting book, there were so many good wines I never had the chance to sample but would have liked to, but I still did sample some of the top-notch wines of the world.

California Reds

2002 Ridge Vineyards Red Blend “Monte Bello” (Santa Cruz Mtns): Always a favorite, opaque dark red to medium brick, beautiful perfume of wood chips, chewy and dusty with dried leaf notes on the finish, great balance

2007 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon “Spring Mtn District” (Napa Valley): Opaque black, purple rim, citrusy nose, concentrated black fruit with a firm finish.

2012 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Hillside Select” (Napa Valley): Opaque black, crushed black fruit and cooked fruit notes on the nose, dense dark chocolate fruit, tight silky tannins and along finish.

2013 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon “Three Vineyard Blend” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red with a purple rim, crushed cooked black fruit on the nose, chunky cherry dark chocolate fruit with silky tannins.

2014 Opus One (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red, crushed black fruit on the nose, dense fruit with some toast notes.

2015 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Fay” (Napa Valley): Opaque black, purple rim, pickle juice notes on the nose, dense and chewy with dark chocolate and dusty brick notes on the fruit, nice balance.

2016 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon “Mt Veeder” (Napa Valley): Opaque, purple rim, perfume of crushed red fruit, mint and warm spices, tight red fruit with crisp acids at the end.

2017 Bond “Vecina” (Napa Valley): Black in color with a purple rim, warm crushed plums and cooked vegetable on the nose, chewy, juicy black fruit with a mouthful of tannins.

2018 Accendo Cellars (Napa Valley): Opaque black, earth and crushed black fruit on the nose, dense and chewy with mint notes on the balanced finish.

2018 Adobe Road Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Opaque black with a purple rim, ripe red fruit and warm cooked berries on the nose, chewy dark chocolate and coffeee fruit ending with silky tannins.

2018 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon “The Reserve” To Kalon Vineyard (Napa Valley); Opaque black, purple rim, sage and dried herbs on the nose with concentrated red fruit.

2018 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Heritage Clone” To Kalon Vineyard (Napa Valley): Opaque black, purple rim, dark chocolate on the nose, dense, chewy red fruit ending with crips acids and firm tannins.

2018 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Private Reserve” (Napa Valley): Opaque black with a purple rim, crispy bacon on the nose, silky dark fruit ending tight and firm with a long finish.

2018 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot “Three Palms Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red with a purple rim, roasted meat on the nose, chewy red fruit with a juicy finish and a good balance.

2018 Louis M Martini Cabernet Sauvignon “Lot No. 1” (Napa Valley): Opaque black, purple rim, crushed red fruit and green herbs on the nose, juicy red fruit with a crisp finish.

2018 Pahlmeyer Winery Red Blend (Napa Valley): Black in color, violets and roast meat on the nose with dense and juicy black fruit.

2019 Ovid Red Blend (Napa Valley): Opaque black, spice notes on the nose, dense, chewy red fruit with a juicy finish.

2019 To Kalon Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon “Highest Beauty” (Napa Valley): Opaque black, crushed red fruit, cinnamon and spice on the nose, thick and dense with silky tannins.

2019 Continuum Estate “Sage Mtn. Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Opaque black with a purple rim, chocolate and crushed green berries on the nose, dense and syrupy chewy dark chocolate fruit, good balance.

Bordeaux

2010 Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan): Opaque dark red, closed nose of crushed dark fruit and mint, silky red fruit with great structure.

2010 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan): Opaque dark red, nose of sweet smoke, violets and crushed red fruit, silky red cherry fruit with crisp acidity.

2010 Chateau Pichon Longueville (Pauillac): Opaque medium red with a brick rim, toasty red fruit on the nose, tight and balanced.

2011 Chateau Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac): Clear medium red with a brick rim, forest floor on the nose, tight red fruit with a bit hit of tannin at the end.

2011 Chateau Margaux (Margaux): Dark brick in color, beautiful perfume of spicy violets, tight and silky with fine tannins, nice finish.

2015 Chateau Cheval Blanc (St Emilion): Clear medium brick, crushed rocks and rosemary on the nose toasty dark fruit with dried herb notes.

2015 Chateau d’Armailhac (Pauillac): Opaque dark red with a purple rim, spicy cooked fruit on the nose, tight red fruit with a firm finish.

2016 Chateau Montrose (St Estephe): Opaque medium red, roasted meat on the nose, tight red fruit with a firm finish.

2018 Chateau Leoville Poyferre (St Julien): Opaque black, toasty tree bark on the nose, chewy and juicy with mint notes, firm tannins at the ends. Getting some heat.

2018 Chateau Pichon Baron (Pauillac): Black with a purple rim, roasted meat on the nose, silky red fruit with dusty tannins with firm and long finish.

Others

2012 Bodegas Vega Sicilia “Unico” (Ribera del Duero): Opaque dark red with a brick rim, perfume of toasted oak and roast meat on the nose, silky red fruit with a nice long finish.

2015 Gaja Barberesco “Sori Tildin” (Piedmont): Clear medium brick, sweet tar on the nose, dusty fruit with gritty tannins and a long finish.

Valpolicella Wine Crawl

After my stay in Chioggia, I drove east to spend a few days in the Valpolicella wine district. Valpolicella is part of the Veneto region of Italy and is about an hour’s drive east of Venice and directly north of the city of Verona. It’s a large area with Soave on the eastern border and Lake Gardo on the western one.

It’s a DOC with the sub districts of Valpantena and Classico. Valpolicella is a blended wine made with Corvina, Corvanone, Rondenella and Molinara with Corvina and Corvanone making up the bulk of the blend.

The most famous wine coming out of that area would be Amarone. It’s a Valpolicella made in the Passito method in which the grapes are laid out on mats to dry prior to fermentation which concentrates the sugars and flavors.

Amarone is at the top of the pyramid but the progression of wine styles goes like this. Wines designated as Classico are newly bottle wines with minimal aging. The are light in color, young and fresh and can be served with a slight chill on them. Next would be the Superiore which get a bump up in alcohol and some more aging. Next on the progression are the Ripasso wines. These wines are made through a second fermentation of the must used in the Passito of the Amarone wines. This adds body and color to the wines. The Amarone range from the basic Classico wines to various single vineyard bottlings.

My hotel was a 17th century villa converted to a B & B in the Classico region. Rolling hills dotted with Medieval towns. Thank God for Google Maps.

Cantina Spada Via Villa Giradi 26, San Pietro in Cariano

This was the first winery I visited shortly after checking in to my hotel and was a recommendation from the front desk. A family run operation in the heart of Valpolicella.

2021 Classico: Clear medium brick, roasted meat and toasted nuts on the nose, medium fruit with an bitter almond finish.

2018 Superiore: Opaque dark brick, roast meat and dark leather on the nose, dusty, almost sweet fruit, Asian spices and nicely balance with bitter almonds.

2019 Ripasso: Opaque dark brick, roasted meat on the nose, juicy, dark plums with some tart notes on the end.

2017 Amarone: Opaque medium brick, sweet perfume of leather, silky red licorice fruit, dark chocolate and bitter cherry on the finish. Some heat at the end.

Tomassi Family Estates Via Ronchetto 4, Pedemonte

Pretty much a well know label back in the US, they’ve been making wine since 1902. They let me take a self-guided tour of the very impressive wine cellar.

2019 Ripasso: Clear medium brick, big notes of mint on the nose, silky plums and red fruit, ark chocolate, chalk notes and some toast on the finish as well as some heat.

2018 Amarone: Clear medium red, sweet toast on the nose, bitter red cherry fruit and feeling the heat at the finish.

2013 Amarone Riserva “Ca Florian”: Opaque dark red, sweet perfume of violets, milk chocolate and mint, concentrated, thick with mint and black licorice fruit with dark chocolate and chalk notes on the finish.

Speri Viticoltori Via Fontana 14, San Pietro in Cariano

Another family run operation on its seventh generation.

2021 Classico: Clear light purple, crushed red fruit and earth on the nose, medium to light bodied juicy red fruit with moderate acids on the spicy finish.

2019 Superiore :St, Urban”: Opaque dark red, spicy cinnamon on the nose, tight red fruit ending with firm acids.

2020 Ripasso: Opaque medium red, closed nose of tree bark and spicy earth, spicy cherry fruit with crisp acids on the long finish.

20017 Amarone Classico “St. Urban”: Medium dark red, closed nose of dried herbs and chocolate, silky, concentrated fruit with bitter chocolate on the long finish. Nicely balanced.

Agricola Tedeschi Via Verdi 4/A, San Pietro in Cariano

Definitely not the new kid on the block, making wine since 1630. They graciously opened the tasting room for me and poured an extensive selection of their excellent wines.

2019 Superiore “Maternigo”: Light brick, red licorice and earth on the nose with silky red fruit and ending with spicy notes.

2019 Superiore Classico “La Fabriseria”: Opaque medium red, pretty perfume of spicy cigar box, silky red fruit with a bitter chocolate finish with crisp acids.

2019 Ripasso “Capitel San Rocco”: Clear medium red with a brick rim, barnyard and spicy potpourri on the nose, silky red licorice fruit with leather notes on the well-balanced finish.

2019 Amarone “Marne 180”: Opaque dark red, dark chocolate and chalk on the nose, chewy and firm red fruit with a long finish.

2016 Amarone Classico Riserva “Monte Olmi”: Opaque dark red with a brick rim, tar, black leather and sandlewood on the nose, concentrated black fruit, silky and elegant and nicely balanced.

Agricola Nicolis Via Villa Girardi 29, San Pietro in Cariano

And yet another family run operation.

2020 Classico: Medium purple, crushed red fruit and mint on the nose, dusty fruit with a bitter almond finish.

2019 Ripasso “Seccal”: Clear medium red, crushed rocks and red leather on the nose, dusty red fruit ending with mouth coating tannins.

2016 Amarone Classico: Opaque dark red, ripe, sweet, port like nose, ripe fruit with teeth coating tannins, dry finish.

2013 Amarone “Ambrosan”: Opaque dark red with a brick rim, toast and green wood on the nose, silky red fruit followed by mouth coating tannins.

Brunelli Winery Via Cariano 10, San Pietro in Cariano

Winery in the heart of the Classico subregion, their wine cellar has been around since 1700.

2018 Ripasso: Light brick, tar and leather on the nose, silky, dusty dark fruit, nicely balanced.

2018 Campo del Maestro: A blend of nine grapes, medium brick, sweet red fruit and black pepper on the nose, silky red fruit with roast meat and mushrooms notes, good grip and a long finish.

2019 Amarone Classico: Clear light red, sweet strawberry jam and smoke on the nose, tight, silky red fruit.

2017 Amarone Riserva “Campo Inferi”: Opaque brick, perfume of black cherry and black licorice, silky ripe fruit but not overly ripe, with red licorice notes on the finish.

Zyme Winery Via Ca’ del Pipa 1, San Pietro in Cariano

This is the outlier winey in the area, from the name which means “yeast” in Greek, to the circular elevator in the tasting room and the wines.

2018 Superiore: Opaque light brick, dried herbs on the nose, juicy red fruit with a nice balance.

2019 “Kairos”: A red blend made with 15! grape varietals. Clear medium red, juicy black licorice on the nose, juicy and chewy black fruit with some green notes on the finish.

2017 Amarone Classico: Clear medium brick, big toasty notes on the nose, juicy black leather fruit with a nice grip and balanced.

Ca La Bionda Via Bionda 4, Marano di Valpolicella

Very low key winery that was recommended to me by another winery, a drive up into the hills where the hospitable gentleman (owner?) sat down and gave me a private tasting.

2021 Classico: Clear light red, young red juicy fruit, a fresh wine with a nice grip.

2019 Superiore “Casalvegri”: Medium red with a pretty perfume of tar and leather, silky red fruit with a long and balanced finish.

2019 Ripasso “Malavoglia”: Clear medium to light red, black licorice and dried herbs on the nose, silky, medium red fruit with a great balance. Tasty wine.

2016 Amarone Classico: Opaque medium red, crush spicy red fruit on the nose, juicy, chocolate fruit with nice acidity at the end.

Oysters & Pizza

The New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) was held on October 13-16. Now in its fifteenth year, it’s a four-day festival of wine and spirit tastings, parties, dinners and culinary demonstrations to raise money for God’s We Deliver charity.

On Saturday afternoon, I attended the Ultimate Pizza Party. This event was held at Forino restaurant located at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn.

The Pizza Party had several local pizza restaurants and Pizzaioli baking their signature versions of pizza. Cocktails were served on the rooftop level which had an outstanding view of lower Manhattan.

Some of the pizzerias at the event;

Forcella La Pizza di NapoliDi Fara Pizza
MotorinoRosie Pizza Bar
SweetbriarSpeedy Romeo
UplandMacoletta
Table 87

On Sunday afternoon, I attended Oysterbash. This event was held at the Biergarden at The Standard hotel in the Meatpacking district of lower Manhattan.

It was a walk-around event with a copious selection of raw, baked and fried oysters from local restaurants and seafood purveyors. Of course, wine, beer and cocktails were served to accompany all those oysters.

Restaurants and purveyors:

Cape May SaltsBarnegat Oyster Collective
Laughing Gull Oyster FarmChapin Sea Farms
Duxbury Oyster FarmsThe Standard
Flex MusselsEl Fish Shack
Ama Raw BarMollusca
Fish CheeksLure Fish Bar

Chioggia Day & Night

Chioggia is a small port town on the southern end of the Venetian lagoon about 16 miles south of Venice. It’s an ancient town, older than Venice and like Venice, it was built on islands, has canals and bridges that span them.

It’s scenic “Main Street”, the Corso del Popolo, spans the length of the town and is surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes with characteristic narrow streets, called calli radiating outward from the main street.

The town has old churches, a fish market, ferries to Venice and the oldest clock tower in the world. It’s also my father’s hometown and I spent my time there visiting family.

Not too far from the old town is the newer Sottomarina which is a beach resort with a long sandy beach and the hotels and restaurants that cater to the beach tourists.

Up until recently it was an off the radar stop for American tourists but an article in the travel section of the New York Times earlier this year has brought more of them into the town and I’ve noticerd more restaurants and B&B’s than the last time I visited.

Madrid Tapas Crawl

They finally relaxed the Covid era restrictions on traveling and I decided to take a road trip to Europe since it’s been nine years since I’ve last been there.

I decided to go visit family who live in the small town of Chioggia which is south of Venice and then drive to the Valpolicella wine district just North of Verona.

On the way to Italy, I wanted to stop in a city in another country. On my list were London, Dublin, Lisbon and Madrid, I finally settled on Madrin since it’s a city I haven’t visited before, and Spain has an excellent food and wine culture. And the fact that there is direct subway access from the airport to the center of town didn’t hurt either.

I made plans to do an organized tapa the day after arrival since I would deal with jet lag on the first day, but I didn’t want to miss out on the tapas experience so on day one I headed to the San Miguel Market. It’s a famous tourist foodie destination, opened as a local food market in 1916 and becoming Madrid’s first gourmet food hall. The hall is full of fixed and temporary food and drink stalls, and I spent my first day eating and drinking there.

The next day I went on an organized tapas crawl. The tour began in the Chamberi neighborhood which is north of the city center. I figured that it would have fewer tourists than the city center. As our tour guide, Raul explained, the Chamberi is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Madrid and as such the quality of the tapas would be of a higher quality. We made four stops plus a bonus stop at the end of the tour.

Stops on the tour:

Los Arcos

First stop on the tour, well-lit place, we had fried crackling hot out of the fryer and a tapa with chorizo. We washed those down with a nice cold caña of Mahou beer.

Pongano

As you walk in, you’re greeted by a large, refrigerated case of aging beef so I assume that’s their specialty. For tapas we had sliced Iberico ham on bread and bowls of extra virgin Spanish olive oil to dip more bread in. We drank a glass of nice Spanish red.

Taberna Almacheli

Tapas here were marinated anchovy, Manchego cheese and chorizo sausage. To drink we were served a Vermouth cocktail, Vermouth being a very popular aperitif for the locals.

Alipio Ramos

Really old bar/restaurant. We ate the national dish of spain, Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omlette) and tapa of cooked ham with paprika. We washed those down with home-made Sangria.

Papaya

Next door to the last place we visited and not part of the tour, the unusual feature of this bar is that they serve spirits distilled by the owner. I ended my tour with a gin and tonic.

Brooklyn Rum Fest 2022

I missed the New York Rum Fest & Congress which was held on June 18th of this year. It’s the biggest rum festival in the city. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me) it was held on the same day as the Decanter Wine Encounter which was too good of a tasting to miss.

So, I was happy to see that the Brooklyn Rum Festival would be held on August 13th. The event was held at the Brooklyn Monarch, an event space in the outer reaches of Bushwick at 23 Meadow Street.

The great thing about rum is the shear diversity of the styles available. There are white rums, dark rums, flavored rums and rums of various ages. While the industry is concentrated in the Caribbean, rum is made throughout the world, and they were represented here as well.

Every producer poured several versions of their rums and even the mass producers such as Bacardi poured some limited production aged rums.

The event space is a huge warehouse with an outdoor area in the back which had a DJ spinning tunes. There was definitely a “Caribbean” vibe to the event which had about half the number of producers present than in the New York Rum Fest, but there were till more than enough rums to sample that afternoon.

Some of the rums I sample, every producer poured several different.

Dos MaderasRhum Barbancourt
BacardiTrans Continental Rum Line
Plantation RumRhum J.M.
Mount GayRhum Clement
Chairman’s ReserveTen To One
Dan QPasetto 8
EquinoCopalli

Rosé Splash 2022

In the past few years there have been a couple of wine events that featured rosé wines and a boat ride around Manhattan. Those events were La Nuit en Rosé and Rosé Splash.

The La Nuit en Rosé event had a day for the consumer with an afternoon and an evening sail. They also set aside one afternoon with a sailing for members of the hospitality industry while the Rosé Splash event did not. Because they held a tasting for members of the trade, I feel that the La Nuit event poured a better selection of worldwide rosés than the Splash event.

What they shared in common was a boat with three decks of rosé, food, a DJ, a dancefloor and a sail around New York harbor cruising by local icons such as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Unfortunately, The La Nuit event ran into some “issues” and was forced into bankruptcy last year and did not have an event this year. Fortunately, on August 6th after a two-year Covid hiatus the Rosé Splash set sail on the Spirit of New York from Pier 61 on the West side of Manhattan.

While it didn’t have the same quality of wines as the La Nuit en Rosé boat ride, with three decks of rosé wine to sample and a nice sunny Summer afternoon to be on the water, it was a nice day.

Some of the Rosé I sampled:

2020 Chateau de Berne Romance2020 Chateau de Berne Inspiration
2021 Dauo Family Estate Rose2021 Ame du Vin Provence Rose
NV 90+ Cellars Prosecco RoseNV Bridge Lane Rose In A Can
2020 The Vice Rose of Pinot Noir2020 Croteaux Vineyards Jolie
2021 D’Agostino Rose2021 Albert Bichot Cest la Vie Syrah-Granache
2020 Maiden + Liberty Rosalies2020 Borghese Vineyards Rose of Merlot
2021 Lange Twins Rose of Anglianico

Hard Seltzer At Belmont

Hard seltzer has been the newest beverage craze the last couple of years which according to Grand View Research, had a global market of 8.95 billion dollars in 2021. The U. S. market share is 21.7%.

Even the mainstream brands such as Budweiser and Corona to name a couple have gotten into the act.

They are made from carbonated water with the addition of alcohol usually from fermented sugar but sometimes from barley with fruit flavorings and even cannabis. In addition to the hard seltzers at the event there were hard tea, hard lemonade and canned cocktails.

I have to admit there are times when I’m in a situation where I’m looking for something refreshing to drink and I don’t feel like an overpriced Pinot Grigio or a high alcohol cocktail, so I’ve ordered a hard seltzer.

Usually in a bar there are a handful of the same major brands to choose from but at this tasting there were dozens of brands with many flavors that were poured.

The event was held at Belmont Park at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont Long Island. It’s a unique venue to have a tasting, the tasting was held on the upper levels of the grandstand overlooking the racetrack. With live racing that day you could have placed a bet on the horses in between sips of seltzer.

Decanter Wine Encounter NYC 2022

Decanter is a British based magazine similar to the Wine Spectator magazine in that it reports on all things concerning wine including wine personalities, vineyards, wine regions and the influential wine reviews.

They hold a big tasting in London and in Asia and on June 18th they held their first tasting in the United States in New York City.

That tasting was held at Manhatta restaurant on 28 Liberty Street in the Financial District of lower Manhattan. The restaurant is located on the 60th floor of the building which gave for an amazing view of lower Manhattan.

The tasting was more Euro-centric with France and Italy well represented and a handful of wines from the rest of the world including California. Most of the tables had at least one older vintage that they poured which made for an interesting tasting.

Some of what I sampled:

1995 Col d’Orca Poggio al Vento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (Tuscany) Clear medium brick, sweet tar and anise on the nose, toasty and tannic.

2005 Chateau Lagrange (St-Julien) Clear medium to dark red, pretty nose of olives and crushed red fruit, concentrated, silky and dusty fruit with silky tannins.

2005 Lungarotti Vigna Monticchio Rubesco Riserva (Umbria) Opaque dark brick, stinky smoke on the nose, silky red fruit ending tight and tannic.

2006 Chateau Lascombes (Margaux) Opaque dark red with a brick rim, toasty, earth notes, ripe vegetable and violets on the nose, chewy with big tannins.

2006 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape (Rhone) Clear medium brick, dried leaf notes on the nose, chewy and tight, long finish.

2009 Jean-Claude Boisset Chambolle-Musigny (Burgundy) Light brick, roasted meat on the nose, silky red fruit with some earth notes, dusty finish.

2009 Chateau Beychevelle (St-Julien) Medium brick, violets and black olives on the nose, silky, tree bark and olives on the fruit, balanced and long.

2010 Chateau La Dominique (St-Emilion) Opaque black, closed nose of crushed dark chocolate, chunky and chewy with a good grip at the end.

2014 Chateau Lagrange (St-Julien) Opaque medium red, cinnamon and sweet bell pepper on the nose, medium red fruit with big tannins at the end.

2015 Mas de Daumas Gassac Cuvee Emile Peynaud (Languedoc-Roussillon) Opaque dark red to black, earthy nose, chunky and dense with meat notes on the finish, good balance.

2015 Col d’Orca Olmaia Cabernet Sauvignon (Tuscany) Medium clear red, sweet bacon fat on the nose, dusty bell pepper fruit with firm tannins.

2016 Domaine de Chevalier (Pessac-Leognan) Medium with a red purple rim, pretty nose of tar, red leather and sweet spices, chunky and silky with gritty tannins, balanced and long.

2002 Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, pretty nose of mint and cocoa, chewy dark chocolate fruit with a good grip and great balance.

2012 La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black, anise and black fruit on the nose with dense black fruit ending with lip smacking tannins.

2013 Trefethen HaLo Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black with a purple rim, mint, smoke and black pepper on the nose, chewy fruit with mint notes, good grip with a long finish.

2013 Domaine Anderson Dach Vineyard Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley) Clear medium red, sweet herbs on the nose, dense with roasted nuts and coffee on the finish, good balance.

2014 Staglin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black, cracked black pepper on the nose, chewy fruit with dark chocolate on the long finish, great balance.

2017 Beaux Freres The Belles Soeurs Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge) Clear medium red, sweet red fruit on the nose, silky red fruit with a nice balance.

2018 Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red to black, crushed black fruit on the nose, dense red fruit ending with firm tannins.

2018 La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, plum and bacon on the nose, dense, bright fruit with tight tannins at the end.

2018 Staglin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black with a purple rim, bacon fat and black pepper on the nose, dense and chewy with mint and dark chocolate on the finish, good grip.

2020 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay (Napa Valley) Light gold in color, lime and green herbs on the nose, juicy tropical fruit notes, good grip.

North Fork Tastings

Took a drive to the North Fork wine country, was curious to try the new winery (EV&EM) that was under renovation the last time I visited the area.

Pellegrini Vineyards 23005 Main Road, Cutchogue

One of the early wineries in the area opened in 1991 with 70 acres of vines planted and a distinctive architecture for the winery and a wood beamed tasting room (with cherubs!).

2019 Stainless Steel Chardonnay

Unoaked, light gold in color with grassy cooked fruit on the nose, clean and crisp with lime notes at the finish.

EV & EM Vineyards 3165 Main Road, Laurel

Former Laurel Lake Vineyards, new owner completely renovated the tasting room. The winery was named after the owners two children, Everett and Emilia.

2019 Cabernet Franc

Clear dark brick with an amber rim with tobacco and green olives on the nose, silky red fruit, chewy and dusty with nice balance.