Monday, May 8, 2017

NEW YORK STATE OF WINE

Back in the 70’s, Billy Joel wrote about being in a New York State of Mind. Had he written the song today, he might have changed his tune. New York may be the wine capital of the Eastern United States but it doesn’t get the same respect as its western counterparts, California, Washington, and Oregon. New York actually has the oldest operating winery in the country. So how is it that the state fell behind the west coast in quality and prestige? The answer seems to lie in the type of wines the state produced early on.

Vitis, or grapevines, is a genus of around 60 accepted species of vining plants. The most famous and important of these is Vitis Vinifera, which is native to Europe. Among the many varieties of this species are the most well-known grapes which are used to make the majority of the wine we drink. Instead of these grapes, New York’s early focus was on Vitis Lambrsca, which included sweeter, lesser quality grape varieties such as Concord and Catawba. In the late 1950’s, Dr. Konstantin Frank began experimenting with European vinifera grape stocks in the Finger Lakes, thus changing the course of the NY wine industry.

Dr. Frank was a European immigrant who arrived in the U.S. with family in 1951. He was a professor of plant science and held a PhD in viticulture and eventually ended up taking a position at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment station. It was there he came to the conclusion that it was the lack of proper rootstock and not the cold climate that had caused the failure of Vitis Vinifera vines in the Finger Lakes. He eventually found an ally in French Champagne maker Charles Fournier of Gold Seal Vineyards, who began producing the first European varieties in the Northeast. During the 70’s, even though the majority of wines were still coming from Concord and similar varietals, a handful of producers began producing fine wines, starting a shift toward the noble European varieties.
Another huge shift came in 1976 when the New York Farm Winery Act was passed, which allowed the small winemakers that used New York grown grapes to sell their wine directly to consumers rather than through wholesalers. This legislation helped kickstart the industry. At the time, there were 19 wineries statewide. Today there are more than 400.

The New York wine industry is still young and continually evolving as winemakers continue to learn, discover, experiment and take risks. Will New York wines ever take their place alongside the great regions? For a bit of perspective, the first official vineyard in Napa Valley was planted in 1859, but it wasn’t until the Judgment of Paris, where two California wines beat the highly regarded Bordeaux wines in a blind taste test, that the reputation of the region was cemented. That took place in May 1976, the same year New York passed the Farm Winery Act. Coincidence? Maybe, or possibly they realized a sea change was about to take place in the domestic wine industry.

We sample enough good quality New York wine that it’s a challenge to choose which ones to share with our customers. We’ve cultivated a section we believe offers a diverse selection of what the state has to offer. For those who would like to learn more about the producers, or better yet, pay them a visit (it’s much cheaper than a trip to Napa or Bordeaux) below are links to their websites.  Support local wine!!!

From Long Island

Shinn Winery works biodynamically, practices sustainable farming, gets energy from solar and wind power and utilizes holistic farming techniques. And if that wasn’t enough, they voluntarily include ingredients on their bottles.
http://shinnestatevineyards.com/vineyard/vineyard-history

Shinn Coalescence 2016 $14.99
A fresh and juicy white made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Shinn Estate Vineyards Red NV $14.99
A smooth quaffable red blend made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

The Osprey Dominion brand started in 2010 and they have quickly established themselves as a producer of award winning wines.

Osprey Dominion Merlot 2012 $16.99
Medium body, striking just the right balance of fruit, oak and tannin. Includes 16% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.

A father and son collaboration which began in 1986, Jamesport Vineyards is now a three-generation winery. Their winemaking approach is to interfere with nature as little as possible. Their wines can be found at many top restaurants throughout Long Island and Manhattan.

Jamesport Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $17.99
Aromatic with rich tropical flavor and citrus.

Another family winery, Paumanok was founded in 1983 by Ursula and Charles Massoud and their three sons. They strive to produce wines in the “Old World” style.

Paumanok Chenin Blanc 2015 $25.99
Dry and crisp with pineapple, apple and a hint of grapefruit.

Lieb Cellars is a small production, Estate Grown Winery whose brands also include Bridge Lane.

Lieb Cellars Cabernet Franc 2014 $27.99
Blackberry, tobacco & black pepper highlight this Old World style Cabernet Franc.

From Finger Lakes 
 Red Newt’s first vintage was in 1998 and in 2011 they were named as one of the top wineries of the year by Wine & Spirits magazine.

Red Newt Cellars Cabernet Franc 2014 $20.99
This Cabernet Franc sees no oak which brings out the pure expression of the grape. Refreshing with fresh red fruit.

Forge Cellars is a small, artisanal producer of exceptional Riesling and Pinot Noir. These wines are proof that New York is capable of producing terroir driven wines.
http://www.forgecellars.com/wine                                                                                                 
Forge Cellars Pinot Noir Classique 2014 
A beautiful example of a Finger Lakes Pinot Noir. Deep with cherry, raspberry & earth notes.

Red Hook Winery employs three winemakers, Robert Foley, Robert Nicolson, and cult winemaker, Abe Schoener. They are located in Brooklyn but source their grapes from the best vineyard sites in Long Island and Finger Lakes.

Red Hook Winery Riesling Seneca Lake 2013 $22.99
This Finger Lakes Riesling comes from winemaker Foley. It sees only stainless Steel and is dry with notes apple, apricot, lime and light honeycomb. 

Wines from Goose Watch Winery emphasis the more uncommon varietals found in New York such as Viognier, Pinot Grigio Lemberger and our selection, Traminette.

Goose Watch Winery Traminette 2015 $13.99
A dry, fruit wine with bright stone fruit and a spicy finish. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Explore South African Wine

South African wines have come a long way. Ten years ago it wouldn't be uncommon to hear most people say, "South Africa makes wine?" Today, South African wines have a higher profile but have still gone unexplored by many wine drinkers. To understand the challenges winemakers have faced, here’s a brief history of the South African wine industry. The first wine made in South Africa, as recorded in the diary of Jan Van Riebeeck, was February 2nd 1659. Because of the threat of hungry birds, farmers were forced to pick grapes early so acid was sky high, creating harsh wines of low quality.  Things were not totally bleak as Simon van der Sel, the Cape Colony’s first Governor, gained some international acclaim with a noteworthy sweet wine.

In the early 19th century, the Cape passed from Dutch to British control. With an increase in settlement and shipping came an increase in the number of vineyards and by 1825 wine accounted for more than half of the Cape's exports, but quality was still considered poor. 

A change in the right direction came in 1918 with the formation of the KWV, a co-operative formed with the intention of creating unity among South African wine farmers and improving quality. The KWV grew and in 1940 the government gave them the power to set prices for table wine as well as setting quotas for wine production. Despite its intentions, the system at this point incentivized quantity over quality. Farmers grew as many grapes as possible and then sold them to the co-operatives who would make the wine. Despite this lack of motivation from KWV, quality wines were starting to be made but Apartheid-induced sanctions kept these wines from being exported and kept the country isolated from the rest of the wine world. 

1994 saw the end of Apartheid and is also seen as the start of the modern wine industry in South Africa. During the 90's, the KWV dropped the quota system and price setting, eventually becoming a private company which now exists as a wine producer, not a regulatory body. Winemakers at this point had the freedom to grow and innovate with an eye toward producing high quality wines. 
South Africa grows international varietals such as Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc are their two most planted grapes. They also have one grape unique to the region. Pinotage, a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, was created in 1925 by South African scientist, Abraham Perold and it has become South Africa’s signature grape.

Here is a sampling of some of the South African wines we currently stock.

Remhoogte Pinotage $18.99
"Lam" Pinotage $14.99
We offer two Pinotage which exhibit two different sides of the grape. The Remhoogte Bushvine shows more of the traditional characteristics of the varietal. It is full bodied with red fruit, black pepper, tobacco and is slightly smoky. Our other offering is the Lammershoek "Lam" which expresses more of the characteristics of Pinot Noir. This wine is light and elegant with pleasing red fruit. We recommend this one with a light chill.

Terre Brulee Chenin Blanc $15.99
Terre Brulee Le Rouge $14.99
We currently carry two wines from the Terre Brulee winery. The Chenin Blanc is dry and refreshing with citrus, honeysuckle and bright acid. The Le Rouge red, a blend of Shiraz and Cinsault, is savory with blackberry, light spice and enough oak to give it good weight and structure.


Kanonkp has established itself as a one of the best producers of South African Wines. The Kadette, a blend of primarily Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon, is a full bodied wine with black fruit, raspberry, and mocha with light earthy notes.

Kanonkop Kadette $14.99
Morgenster Lourens River Valley $31.99

For those looking for a more serious wine, we recommend the Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2010. A blend of mostly Cabernet Franc with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, this hearty wine delivers cherry and black fruit, chocolate and sweet spice with well-integrated tannin.


From this point on, wines from South Africa will continue to improve and it won’t be long before they take their place among the great wines of the world. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Evolution of Rose

It wasn't long ago that wine consumers view of Rose was as overly sweet, much like White Zinfandel, which was actually created by accident. Sutter Home was trying to make a dry, almost white wine with their red zinfandel grapes. During this process they experienced stuck fermentation in which the yeast dies before all the sugar is consumed, thus creating a sweet, pink wine. Sutter Home preferred the "mistake" wine, released it and it took off like gangbusters. This was back in 1975 and this wine, while technically not a Rose, became many Americans’ first impression of a Rose type wine.

This impression actually began quite a bit earlier. In France, "pink" wines were the first to be produced. In historic times, before modern winemaker techniques were developed, wines were made with low maceration which gave it its light color. After WWII, two Portuguese winemakers released a slightly sweet, sparkling Rose-like wine in Europe and the U.S. and set sales records. 

Meanwhile, in Provence, quality Rose's were being produced in 125BC and by the 14th Century became the wine of kings and aristocrats. Today, Rose production is around half to two thirds of all wine produced in Provence. With its food friendly, light crisp style, the region became synonymous with Rose and became the "go to" region for U.S. drinkers who slowly began to discover that "pink" doesn't necessarily mean sweet.  

At approximately 13%, the U.S. is now the second largest consumer of Rose' wine, behind only France. So how did we get here? Some say the trend began in The Hamptons where about five years ago, drinking Rose became a lifestyle and was known as "Hamptons Gatorade". Others theorize that the influx of Europeans, and their love of Rose, helped re-introduce it to Americans. Either way, the popularity surge has been good for everyone. Rose's made from a variety of grapes and regions, both Old and New World, are gaining in popularity throughout the U.S.

"Rose season" used to start in the summer. Now it begins in the spring and is practically year round. Here at Windsor Wine, the process began in February when we began tasting lots of Rose in order to find what we considered the best for our customers. Our selection includes not only Provence, but Rose from all over France as well Spain, Italy, South Africa and the U.S. Whether you're looking for light and crisp, full and fruity or something in between, we have something to please every palate. 



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Delicious and Under $15

Walk into any wine shop and you’ll find stacks of cheap bottles of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Merlot, and often Montepulciano. There are some great wines made from these grapes and there are bargains to be found, but bargains don’t discriminate against grapes! We have a number of different varietals from all corners of the wine world that are delicious, interesting, and affordable. You may recognize a number of these bottles as they are constantly being recommended by our staff because of the tremendous value they offer for the quality of wine you receive...and they all fall between $10 and $15.
For some earthier wines try the Col Des Vents Corbières Rouge 2012, a blend of Carignane, Grenache and Syrah, full, rich and gritty earthiness typical of the Corbières region. Do you prefer Italian wine? Try the Alceti Isola dei Profumi Rosso 2012 from Sicily with juicy earthiness, savory spice tones and loads of dark fruit. And perhaps one of the best deals in the earthy red category is the Oxford Landing Shiraz 2012. Somewhat of an oddball for Australian Shiraz, this red has more in common with Northern Rhone Syrah showing earthy, gamey and olive notes, and none of the sweeter baking spices that show so much in other Australian Shirazes.
If you don’t like earthy wines as much, there are always some great fruity options. The Domaine Des Deux Arcs Anjou Rouge 2011 falls right in between showing some of the typical peppery notes of Cabernet Franc, but in a lighter, juicer and a very fruity style. The Lapierre Raisins Gaulois 2013 is a great Gamay from Beaujolais with bright red fruit, a lighter character and it comes with a bet from me that you can’t open a bottle without finishing it! And the last red is probably the bottle I recommend the most from California when someone asks for something delicious, easy and inexpensive: Urbanite Cellars Redart blend. Redart is a blend of 45% Zinfandel, 45% Merlot and 10% Petite Verdot and is full bodied with great spice notes and no heavy oak influence.
If white wine is more your thing, there are some great options. We recently poured the German white   Schlossmuhlenhof Muller-Thurgau Trocken 2012 and it was a hit! Slightly richer and very mineral driven this wine is a steal for the money. The same is true of the Chateau Saint Germain Entre Deux Mers Bordeaux Blanc 2013; medium bodied, crisp, and a great balance of mineral and citrus fruit. The Vinicola del Sannio Falanghina Beneventano 2013 is a great light and crisp Italian option with nice saline minerality that keeps your mouth watering.
The last two are truly odd. The first is another Italian white, Cortese from the Piedmont region, the Valley Unite Bianchino 2013. Usually light, delicate and soft, this one has a fuller, waxier texture and wild minty flavors and happens to be very low in added sulfites (bonus). And last but by no means least is the Vegas Altas White Wine 2013 made from the Evos de los Santos variety. This is also organic, light and floral with tangy fruit and a beautiful texture.
Moral of the story: You can come in and try something exciting and different and you don’t have to break the bank to do it!

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer Wines: Something for Everyone

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, summer is coming upon us quickly. For a lot of people that means jumping to rosé and white wines, for others it means nothing and red wine will be consumed despite the heat and humidity. Both are okay, in fact we have wines to cover anyone’s desire as the weather heats up.



Is it rosé you’re looking for? Why not try one of our current favorites; the Coteaux du Vendômois, made from the little known grape Pinot d'Aunis, is a crisp and dry rose with very little fruit and an abundance of savory mineral flavors. Want something with a little more fruit but a nice peppery bite? Try the rosé from Domaine de la Petite Marie Bourgueil, made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Need something classy and sophisticated? Look no further than the Domaine du Bagnol Cassis rosé. This has it all, beautiful fruit, crisp herbs and the structure to last well into next summer.


Rosé not your thing? How about something local? Shinn Estate Vineyards First Fruit Sauvignon Blanc may be one of the freshest and cleanest Sauvignon Blancs on the East Coast. Need another reason to try it? How about the fact that this is almost a natural wine, utilizing natural yeasts, spontaneous fermentation only a light filtration, this a standout in the honest wine category. Or how about a North Fork Chardonnay that drinks like a Finger Lakes Riesling? The Macari Early Wine is made like Beaujolais Nouveau with a quick maceration and early bottling. It is bright and refreshing and Biodynamic! Want something fuller and bigger but still refreshing? Try Red Hook Winery’s SK Level 1; a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine spends extended time on the skins when fermenting giving a rich and dense profile brimming with refreshing apricot and floral notes.


And if you’re one to drink red wine no matter the time of year we have some great options that you can chill, and we often have them in the fridge for you already. You may have tasted the Castelfeder Schiava Breitbacher Alto Adige when we poured in back in April. If not, think rich and medium bodied with light cherry notes and a surprising lightness for the weight it offers. Want something lighter that you can pour down your throat by the bottle? Try the Raisins Gaulois Beaujolais from Marcel Lapierrre. At 11.5% alcohol, this is light and fresh and an easy bottle to quench your thirst without knocking you out on a hot afternoon. Did I mention it pairs well with almost any food: burgers, pasta, spicy Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, BBQ, Coq au Vin, and eggs (brunch wine). Just one man’s opinion, but it might be the perfect wine. And last but not least, a favorite from last summer, the Slovenian Cviček from Zajc: a wine made from a blend of four red grapes (Blauer Koelner, Blaufrankisch, Portugiezer and St. Laurent) and five white (Kraljevina, Welschriesling, Yellow Plavec, Gruener Veltliner and Stajerska Belina). Known as the national drink of Slovenia, Cviček is always low in alcohol, 10% in this case, and has minimal residual sugar giving it a crisp dry cranberry note with a savory finish and just delightfully thirst quenching.

If for some odd reason none of these struck your fancy, just ask and we can recommend many more that fall in that great category of a “summer wine”. And check the top shelf of the fridge this summer for cold reds!