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September Sips and Slurps

Originally Posted: September 26, 2007

Lenn Thompson

A table st for a tasting of red wines at Grand Cru Classes.

The 2007 grape harvest is underway and I thought this a good time to tell you about some of the fun and exciting things going on in our local wine world.

Let's start with harvest season. As you've probably noticed, we've had a lot of warm, clear days with plenty of sun all good things when you're growing grapes. Winemakers and vineyards managers, not wanting to tempt Mother Nature and her whims, are extremely optimistic. When I've asked several about the vintage, they are all extremely positive and think we could be in for some great wines.

Kareem Massoud, who makes the wines with his father at Paumanok Vineyards on the North Fork told me, "I have been working at Paumanok full time for nine years, and have been involved since my parents planted the vineyard in 1983, and I can't remember a season as good as this one. It's incredible, knock on wood. Since late August, we've had day after beautiful day of perfect ripening conditions." We won't know for sure how good this vintage will be for some time, but cautious optimism abounds now.

Pascal Zugmeyer

New grapes in the winery aren't the only newcomers to Shinn Estate Vineyards. In addition to the hiring of Anthony Nappa as new winemaker, they've recently brought Pascal Zugmeyer, a certified sommelier, on board to run their tasting room and manage events. He has extensive experience at restaurants both in Manhattan and around the world. He'll no doubt bring a fresh perspective, and restaurant sensibilities to the region.

While I remain passionate and devoted to uncovering the best Long Island wines for you, some wines made in the Finger Lakes region of central New York have really impressed me over the past several weeks and one is a real bargain Ravines Wine Cellars 2006 Keuka Village White. By blending 80% Cayuga White with 20% Vignoles, French-born winemaker Morten Hallgren, has created a wine reminiscent of Alsace...without using Alsatian grape varieties. The nose is fruity and fresh with loads of melon and peach with just a little floral character and minerality. Medium-to-light bodied those some fruits dominate the palate with slightly tropical hints as well. There is a light sweetness to the wine, but more than enough acidity to bring balance. And it's $12, a price point that Long Island can't touch for such a tasty, gulpable wine.

It's still September, but I'm already thinking about Thanksgiving at least about the wines I'll pour with dinner this year. Dry rose is always a solid choice and Sherwood House Vineyards 2006 Rose ($15). Made entirely with cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah grapes grown in their small North Fork vineyard, it's a pretty pink in the glass with strawberry, cherry, and lightly floral aromas. The texture is outstanding a hallmark of Sherwood House's wines and straightforward strawberry flavors are accented by subtle earthy spice and a minty-herb note towards the finish. The acidity is deliciously balanced here, making it an ideal foil for the variety of foods on any Thanksgiving table.

The new harvest means the birth of new wines, but I also had a chance recently to sample a dozen red wines from the 1995 vintage a well-regarded year. I was joined by Jared Skolnick and Tracy Ellen Kamens of Grand Cru Classes (www.grandcruclasses.com), Joe Watson of Vine Wine Bar & Café in Greenport (www.vinewinebar.com), Christopher Watkins of Roanoke Vineyards, and Neil Dorosin, a wine blogger from Brooklyn (brooklynguyloveswine.blogspot.com). I don't have the column space to offer our full findings, but know this most of these wines were still quite lively. Some even seemed youthful and many were delicious. Anyone who thinks that Long Island wines can't or don't age well just hasn't tasted them.

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