If you’re invested in the practice of drinking locally, but are also interested in drinking something new this season, two local wineries have new releases that are here just in time for your holiday table.
This season, Sagaponack’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard has introduced their Antonov 2018, the first addition to their premium White Horse portfolio in over a decade. The wine is made from 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc, though sometimes overlooked on Long Island, thrives out east. The grape benefits from the region’s maritime influences and relative warmth; the South Fork enjoys the same latitudinal climate as Naples and Madrid.
Sauvignon Blanc, in and of itself, is aromatic, lean, and bright, offering great nuance and flavor while reflecting the terroir where it’s grown. That’s why Sancerre, for instance, remains one of the world’s great wine appellations. The grape performs. Wölffer Estate Vineyard has planted 9.5 acres to Sauvignon Blanc, using three different clones: Muscat, #1, and #297. The resulting wine is a smart, pulsing interpretation of the varietal.
The vintage provided some challenges. Although the growing season was warm, tempered by cool nights — offering the opportunity for ripe fruit that reached its peak slowly and consistently — it didn’t start out that way. A cold, wet spring threatened the vintage at the beginning. Still, the wine, with its tropical and mineral aromas, shows no sign of struggle. Grapes were picked the first week of October, by hand. They were then gently pressed, with the juice immediately chilled and then aged on its lees (the dead yeast particles) for over seven months.
Aging on the lees allows for a wine to develop secondary notes, richness, and body. Normally a lean varietal, the Antonov has a creaminess on the back palate, owing to this process. Bottled in July, the winery produced a scant 239 cases of this wine. Such small production (in comparison, say, to the rosé, which is produced by the tens of thousands) means that the wine is limited from the onset, making it a desirable purchase for collectors, or, alternately, those looking to give a bespoke gift to a fellow wine lover.
The winery suggests pairing this new-to-the-portfolio wine with oysters, soft cheeses, salads, fish, and white meat dishes. But, since the season is approaching, I’d venture to say that this wine is actually perfect for one particular pairing: Turkey. The complex aromas, augmented by the richness from the lees contact, makes this wine strong enough to stand up to that bird we’re all talking about this month. For aficionados looking for a new, local wine to introduce to the holiday table, this just might be what you’re looking for. The wine retails at $30.
Over on the other fork, Macari Vineyards announced the release of its 2018 Lifeforce Rosé in September. Made from 100 percent Cabernet Franc, this is a deep magenta take on pink wine. The winery refers to this wine as “An amazing gift from a difficult season.” And gift is probably the right word. Fermented in a concrete egg, this wine is a rich, unctuous expression, with a fair amount of spice and heft. Which is to say: It’s a smart wine to pair with your Thanksgiving meal, which requires the perfect marriage of finesse and backbone. Since the wine was a limited release, you may find it’s harder to come by than some of the other local wines — but isn’t the chase part of the fun, especially at the holidays?
If you can’t manage to chase down the Lifeforce — a very real possibility, I concede — Macari offers one more specialty item that works perfectly for the upcoming holiday. Their Bergen Road, or flagship, which is only produced in excellent vintages, is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, comes in a large-format bottle for the 2014 vintage. This massive bottle will add purpose and importance to your holiday table. This is a wine with gravitas, and one that can stand up to the festiveness of the occasion.
But if you think that a magnum is too outsized for Thanksgiving — or, alternately, that a wine like this deserves to be cellared (and you’re not wrong here; a 2014 magnum of this wine can certainly age for another five to 10 years), hold it back for your own delayed enjoyment, or, better yet, keep it around until December and offer it up to your wine-loving friends as a holiday gift. At $100 a bottle, it’s a gift that is smart without being needlessly expensive.
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One fine body…