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The Cameron estate Chardonnay, from 2 acres of vines planted in 1987.
The Quaker Run Vineyard, planted in 1999, is located on the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nearly touching Shenandoah National Park. This Chardonnay's spontaneous fermentation lasted for nearly 11 months and then rested on the lees for an additional seven months. Big, round, and extraordinarily texturally dense, this wine has fine leesy, yeasty, bready character that is elegantly interpolated through the fine white peach and meyer lemon fruit core. This is a big classic Chardonnay, though it has fine acid structure that adds to a long, slightly funky, lingering finish. Andrew Farquhar
Disclaimer: this is not made from apples (but it is fantastic). Raphael Lyon, the man behind Enlightenment Wines, had been crafting some serious mead in Clintondale, NY for some time before he moved his operation to a small space in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Made from wildflower honey and fermented to dryness, it sounds like something you may have had before, but Lyon’s process is anything but the norm. The wildflower honey is allowed to spontaneously ferment in used red wine barrels sourced from local wineries, with no SO2 added at any time, and is aged in barrel for one year before bottling. Though Raphael doesn’t advertise it, Nought is a single barrel release and will have subtle differences depending on what kind of honey is used (and where the honey is from) as well as other variances in the winemaking process. All of his meads are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Nought is heady on the nose with blossom, toasted coconut, honey-roasted walnut, red berry fruits, and bergamot. It is quite round on the palate with ample acidity and a vinous quality not found in many other meads. It finishes bone-dry with apricot, pineapple stalk, and a hint of orange peel. This is a seriously exciting foray into mead. Thanks, Raphael! Tim Gagnon
Named after the marine fossils found in the Oligocene marine sediment that makes up the soil of the vineyard and the baby deer hiding in tussocks in the oak savanna that surrounds the vineyard, Fossil & Fawn is a site-specific experiment that focuses on the dry-farmed Silvershot Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. They make this Pinot Gris exactly as if it were a red wine. About half the lot was destemmed and then foot-trod for two weeks during indigenous yeast fermentation. The other portion of the lot was set aside for full carbonic maceration. Bottled unfined and unfiltered the next spring, this wine is amazingly juicy on the nose, but the palate is funky, with herbal and leathery notes to complement the good muted red fruit. Nervy and energetic, this is a fantastic light red, deeper in hue than many skin-contact Pinot Gris wines I've tasted, yet still light and refreshing. Fantastic with mezze, grilled seafood, marcona almonds, or fried chicken. 131 cases porduced. Andrew Farquhar
This Chardonnay, sourced from a couple different single-vineyard sites in the area, is meant to encapsulate the style of these Central Coast uplands, and does so with aplomb. Santa Cruz Chardonnay always presents a touch more minerality, with less overt fruit and less weight; more lemon pith than Meyer lemon. This is no exception. With a fantastic, clear line of mouthwatering acidity sewn through the palate and lasting through a long a pleasant finish, this is cooler climate, foggy California Chardonnay at its best. The separate parcels were co-fermented in concrete egg, and left sur lie during malolactic fermentation with elevage in concrete for 19 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Andrew Farquhar
A curious and fascinating Blanc de Noirs (white from red) of Cabernet Sauvignon.
A curious and fascinating Blanc de Noirs (white from red) of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2017 Honeymoon is a blend of 65% Colombard and 35% Roussanne both fermented in used French oak barrels. The Colombard is sourced from the Ricetti vineyard in Mendocino, dry-farmed and certified organic, situated in the Redwood Valley AVA. The Roussanne is sourced from Contra Costa County, and is in the middle of the three year process of organic certification. This wine has a nice blend of racy qualities marked by a richness from eleven months of lees aging. A rich flaxen color in the glass, the nose has notes of melon, wool, and a touch of honey. Redolent of Chenin Blanc but a little more overtly ripe. This wine feels juicy and fleshy, which is in contradistinction to its being only 11.5% abv! 252 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
This is a Chardonnay containing great, lustrous depths. The color of yellow topaz, this wine displays incredible concentration of fruit and earth, with dense lemon and pear character surrounded by white flower, honeysuckle, and a dusty, riverbed quality that is truly remarkable. A touch of nuttiness can be found in the back palate, and the wine displays an extraordinarily long finish with a kaleidoscopic array of aftereffects. The dialogue between clear acid structure and dense weight feels iconic. Right now, this wine responds well to air, with an aroma that continues to bloom over the course of several hours, yet I feel that this wine is truly meant for the cellar, where it will continue to grow and change for the next twenty to thirty years. Andrew Farquhar
Precedent is the label of Nathan Kandler, longtime winegrower at Thomas Fogarty in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a renowned destination for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Precedent illustrates Kandler's versatility and curiosity and has introduced us to some truly unique California vineyard sites. Wirz Vineyard is home to 60+ year-old dry farmed, head-trained Riesling on decomposed granite over limestone in the Gabilan mountains. We usually have an off-dry Riesling on the holiday table, but I'm happy to go in a drier direction in this case... Concentrated, gleaming apricot, citrus rind, and tropical fruit is laced with gritty, long minerality and backed by supple texture and acidic tension. Terrific with herbed root vegetables and citrus glazed poultry or fish and anything peppery or spicy. Ariana Rolich
Precedent is the personal project of Nathan Kandler, winemaker at the excellent Thomas Fogarty estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you've never had California Chenin Blanc or you're never been thrilled by one, Precedent is a pure rendition of the grape from 30+ year-old vines planted on pink granite and silica-rich quartz soils in eastern Lodi. Ripe and pretty aromas of lemon, honeycomb, and white flowers, followed by brisk flavors of citrus and white peach, with fresh acidity and salty minerals. Unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur additions. Ariana Rolich
Revik Wine Co. is the passion project of two married couples who are releasing their first vintages this summer. This is a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc that positions itself at the forefront of a new wave of dynamic, elegantly structured, complex Sauvignon Blancs coming from the West Coast. Made with fruit sourced from the Saphi Vineyard in Coombsville (Revik winemaker Phil Holbrook's dry-farmed home vineyard), this wine was aged in both stainless steel and neutral oak, with 8 months on the lees. Unfined and unfiltered, and fermented with native yeast, this wine has great depth and a long linear texture, with subtle, muted citrus fruit wrapped in a chrysalis of finely spun woolen notes. Peach fuzz and melon rind absorb into zippy acidity. The subtle degrees of shading are spectacular and the finish feels like forever. Two barrels produced. Andrew Farquhar
This bright, fresh, sunny sauvignon blanc is a classic Mendocino style, sourced from the Gibson and McFadden vineyards. Bright citrus fruit and pleasant herbal characteristics meld with spring grassland on the palate, reminiscent of a Sancerre but a touch softer and with more rounded fruit. A nice subtle floral character is interlaced throughout nose, palate, and finish. Andrew Farquhar
This fantastic Chardonnay is from the Freedom Hill vineyard located in the foothills of the coastal range 10 miles southwest of Salem. The soil here is well-drained silty clay loam. Whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented, this wine was aged sur lie for 11 months in neutral oak before bottling. Broad and magisterial, but with great energy, this is a beautiful Chardonnay, with peach aromas and a touch of more tropical character. The sur lie aging gives it a marvelous roundness on the palate that sublimates the brighter fruit character into something lush and restrained. The retention of such energy in this wine makes it a great Chardonnay for summer, and would pair well with cold summer soups, fish, or bruschetta. While it's drinking marvelously now, this wine will improve for up to half a decade if cellared. Andrew Farquhar
Portola Springs Vineyard is a consistent standout in the excellent range of Thomas Fogarty Chardonnays. 2012 has riper, sunnier fruit tone than the austere 2011, without sacrificing any of Portola Springs' cool mineral core and impressive, driving acidity, owing to the low-yielding, late-ripening, nearly 40-year-old vines planted on basalt and shale. Complex and rich enough to handle poultry and pork dishes, with refreshing energy to compliment seafood and veggies. Ariana Rolich
The original vineyard planted by Mr. Wiemer himself, this wine is from a parcel farmed biodynamically. Cold spontaneous fermentation takes place over the course of months. 65% of the grapes picked two weeks late allow for this wine's beautiful mellow sweetness. 20% fermented in 1000L Hungarian barrels. This is an extraordinarily pretty wine, with delicate, expressive acidic structure laid over with a number of layers of beautiful fruit. Notes of peach, Meyer lemon, and white flowers all mesh together in harmonious accord. Pair with Peking duck, fresh fruit, or blue cheese. Andrew Farquhar
This is the estate's flagship wine, and perhaps the type species for Finger Lakes Riesling as a whole. All estate fruit from vineyards that have had no herbicides since 2004; spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel takes place over the course of 7+ months. Slightly off-dry, with notes of spring blossoms, a little citrus character, almost a hint of lime. Beautifully structured and with a kind of roundness that is very satisfying. A classic New York Riesling, slightly fuller-bodied than a Mosel Riesling, but still with loads of acidity and just a touch of sweetness make this an easily quaffable wine that pairs with a wide range of foods such as bratwurst, oysters, or mango salsa. Andrew Farquhar