Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lenz Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Back at the Lenz Winery tasting room Eric Fry proudly speaks of the specialness of our climate and how the grapes are always visible with nice straight open canopies. Being far enough north that he wants all the sunlight he can get (as opposed to California which needs protection), he removes leaves on the vine to expose the grape, getting the added benefit of circulation which helps prevent disease. The grapes' response to that much sun is to produce pigment... lots of pigment, resulting in having very high Resveratrol ratings (good for you and me).

Now out of the cellar and away from the barrels I get to taste the Lenz Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 from the bottle. It's light and crisp rather than heavy and sweet, fruit forward with red cherry, red raspberry. Soft and lean, almost like a Pinot Noir, not like California style Cabernet... not heavy, rich and sweet. Eric said that he added some "Old Vines" Merlot to this Cab to inject some black fruit into the flavor profile for more complexity. $40.

Monday, August 25, 2008

what's your favorite everyday wine?

When I first started this blog I talked about one of my favorite everyday wines, Colosi Nero D'Avola, and a year later it's still up there on my list. But today my question is, what's your favorite everyday wine? ... and why?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Lenz winery barrel tasting

At the Lenz Winery with winemaker Eric Fry I tasted the 2007 Old Vines Merlot from the barrel, which would be blended in the future with the 07 Cabernet and Cabernet Franc. Merlot is used to round the blend, it is smoother richer, fuller, sweeter and fills the mouth up and subtle blueberries pervade. Much more dense than the Cabernet, packed condensed, it finishes strong at the end with real intensity, but not flashy. At this point Eric starts to describe what he calls "reductive winemaking" (reductive vs. oxidative), making wine in the absence of oxygen for a period of time after fermentation, it's more Burgundian in style than Bordeaux. The wine is fermented without oxygen while the temperature is very slowly increased. It lasts from January until March - really slow malolactic fermentation... that's when the flavors like mushroom and earth develop - building complexity into the wine, creating good tannins that will soften and get smoother and velvety - oxygen ages the wine, so tannins are retarded in reductive fermentation but will catch up. Ripe tannins = bigger molecule.

Next is the Cabernet Franc which was earthy, dark sour cherry, very fruity, rich round soft sweet (not sugar sweet, but a fruity sweet) tropical, pomegranate, and a nice acid edge.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Barrel Tasting with Eric Fry, Winemaker at Lenz Winery

I have to admit I was intrigued at the prospect of visiting the inner sanctum of a winery... its cellar. Here on the North Fork of Long Island, New York at the Lenz Winery it is a dark, damp and mysterious place packed with French oak barrels. Our first taste is the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon which is 93% Cab and 7% Petit Verdot. Eric climbs up behind a huge barrel and returns with a wine thief full of the Cab. There are lots of fruits, raspberry, cherry and blueberry and Eric says "they were picked late, November 15, and on the vine so long they were begging for picking. We fermented really cold to get rid of the tannins, so that now there's a fruity and light structure". They will be adding Petit Verdot and Merlot (both fermented separately) to the Cab later to help fill up the tannin structure. These wines won't be on the market for another 4 to 5 years, they're really good now, which means they can only get better.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ettore Galasso Vittoriale Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 1997 DOC

I couldn't believe I found this beautiful red Montepulciano from the 1997 Italian vintage still in circulation. But one of my favorite wine shops (The Wine Room of Forest Hills) just recently got some in and had it on sale for about $20. The color is deep dark ruby with warmer tones around the outer rim... starting with rich aromas of ripe red fruits and bing cherries the flavors evoke cinnamon spices and a fresh acidity while leaving the palate with soft tannins and a beautiful balance. The velvety soft finish brings me back to my favorite childhood candy: Pine Brothers (they were advertised as cough drops but were candy to me) with a glycerine cherry flavor... boy, I loved them as a kid, I can remember eating them one after another.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lenz Gold Label Chardonnay 2005

Done in what winemaker Eric Fry calls the West Coast Style (oaked), this Chardonnay from The North Fork of Long Island is made from grapes grown on mature vines, barrel fermented then aged in French oak barrels. It is rich, heavy and has complex fragrances of banana cream and vanilla as opposed to the the fresh ripe fruit style of the White Label Chardonnay previously tasted. The back label says this one can stand up to richer dishes that might overpower a more delicate wine, and I agree that it's a good food wine. $20.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lenz White Label Chardonnay 2005

This Chardonnay from Lenz Winery on the North Fork of Long Island was intentionally carbonated... there is CO2 present that is leftover from the primary (cold) fermentation that makes the inside of my lip tingle and my mouth water. Aromas are mineral, with fresh bright lemon and flavors of granny smith apples and pineapple. Winemaker Eric Fry says he picks the grapes in batches from September through October to get this interesting white. He'll pick a small batch that's bright and lemony, stop and ferment, a week later pick another batch that's tropical, stop and ferment, another week pick a batch that's ripe apple, stop and ferment. He get's the different flavors by choosing when to pick, then blending together, because he's making a "fruit salad" that results in a wine with a unique freshness. Eric calls this an "East Coast wine" and says, "Take a swig of this wine- spit it out- are you salivating? yes, then it's a food wine." $12.

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

2005 Lenz Blanc De Noir

This dry blush table wine is delicate and balanced, and looks similar to a Rose but it’s actually a Pinot Noir with an earthy sour cherry freshness, and a little granny smith apple. Eric Fry complained that Roses tend to be colorized and sweetened… this wine is just what the Pinot Noir gave him. And this one would hold up to a tumbler of ice (if one was so inclined). It's made from grapes of the 2nd half of the pressing of the Pinot Noir Cuvee. Retails for $15 per bottle.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lenz Cuvee 2001 Sparkling Wine

At a recent visit to the Lenz Winery in Peconic on the North fork of Long Island, winemaker Eric Fry first had us sample the 2005 Gewurztraminer to contrast with this Cuvee. He said the Cuvee would be the only wine with the ability to wash away the long finish of the Gewurztraminer, and he was right.

White wine from red grapes... done in the Methode Champenoise style, this Cuvee made from Pinot Noir grapes has incredible acidity with green apples, raisin, honey, caramel and sour cherry. Dry, super crisp and fresh with some minerality it starts off as lean acidic wine and extracts its flavors from yeast during its 5 years in cellar where it develops its delicate creaminess, and caramel qualities. Retails for $30.

He then took us to the cellar, held a bottle of the 07 up to the light and gently shook it so we could see the sediments swirl. Sediments settle in cap neck then are frozen and disgorged.

Lenz Gewurztraminer 2005 Estate Bottled

At a recent visit to the Lenz Winery in Peconic on the North fork of Long Island I had the pleasure of meeting winemaker Eric Fry. The invitation was for a barrel tasting but before I describe that experience I'd like to write about the broad range of wines they have to offer.

The first wine on the table was the Lenz Gewurztraminer 2005, a dry Alsatian style white wine picked just in time, Eric pointed out that after the harvest it rained 17" in 8 days. On the heavy side with lots of ripe fruits ... grapefruit, pineapple, cantaloupe and honey but with slight tannins for balance. On the big finish were floral hints of rose petals and spice. Generally Gewurztraminer gets 1 year in bottle, this has almost 2. Retails for $20.
©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lenz Winery 2007 Barrel Tasting with Eric Fry

I had the unique pleasure of attending a Barrel Tasting of the 2007 Lenz Wines, and will be organizing my notes and photos for a series of blog entries. From this one visit I can see the North Fork is doing great things in the wine world and The Lenz Winery seems to be at the vanguard with Winemaker Eric Fry. Stay tuned.