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Welcome Spring With Wines of Lieb Cellars

April 14, 2018 3 comments

Bridge Lane RoseConsidering the weather in the New England, “spring” is just a word. Still freezing temperatures during the night, and simply cold during the day, despite the sun been in a full swing. I’ve seen plenty of rain and sunshine, but snow and sunshine? For sure this was new for me. So seeing the way Mother Nature is, we simply have to proclaim that Spring has arrived, and behave appropriately – Mother Nature will have to eventually comply with that unyielding demand.

Spring is the renewal time for everything in nature – including wines. No, I didn’t mean the vines, the bud breaking and all other beautiful “new life” occurrences. I actually meant the wines, as to liquid in the bottle. Yes, Spring is the time for … new arrivals, for sure in the Northern hemisphere. New vintages, new wines, new excitement – this is the beauty of the wine. Every vintage is different, every bottle is different – pulling that cork (okay, it is more often twisting the screwtop nowadays) is always an exciting moment – you never know what you will find inside.

Last year I discovered the wines of Lieb Cellars from Long Island, and it was a very tasty discovery – in fact, I called Lieb Cellars wines  “happiness-inducing”, so you understand how much I liked them. Obviously, I was very happy to receive the new vintage of the wines from Lieb Cellars and their daughter winery, Bridge Lane Wines.

This year, the wines from the Bridge Lane Wines showed up in the new packaging – cans. As an extra bonus, all the cans had winter-defying, bright and cheerful colors – a good way to feel spring even if you still need a thick jacket to spend any time outside. Bridge Lane Wines are now available in 4 different formats – 375 ml (1/2 bottle) cans, standard bottles (750 ml), 3L boxes and 20 liters plastic kegs – whatever format will better suit your needs. The lineup from Bridge Lane Cellars includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, White Merlot, Rosé, and Red Blend – and below are my tasting notes (note that all prices are SRP for 375 ml cans):

2017 Bridge Lane Chardonnay New York State (12.5% ABV, $7.99, 100% Chardonnay)
C: straw pale
N: fresh apples, minerality, lemon, medium + intensity
P: crisp, tart, Granny Smith apples, pretty astringent, needs food – shellfish, preferably
V: 7, definitely needs food

2017 Bridge Lane Sauvignon Blanc New York State (12% ABV, $7.99, 100% Sauvignon Blanc)
C: light golden
N: touch of grass, touch of grapefruit,
P: lemony notes, grapefruit, good acidity, fresh
V: 7+, nice and simple

2017 Bridge Lane Rosé New York State (11.9% ABV, $7.99, 45% Cabernet Franc, 27% Merlot, 16% Malbec, 8% Pinot Noir, 4% Pinot Blanc)
C: beautiful salmon pink
N: fresh strawberries, clean, crisp
P: zinging acidity, lemon, crisp, vibrant, hint of underripe strawberries.
V: 8, outstanding. Will be a perfect shellfish wine

2017 Bridge Lane White Merlot New York State (12% ABV, $7.99, 86% Merlot, 8% Pinot Blanc, 3% Riesling, 3% Viognier)
C: straw pale
N: crisp, white stone fruit, green apples
P: crisp, lemon, lemon zest, clean, fresh
V: 7+, reminiscent of unoaked Chardonnay more than anything else

2016 Bridge Lane Red Blend New York State (12.9% ABV, $7.99, 44% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Verdot, 12% Malbec, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 months in Hungarian oak)
C: dark ruby
N: currant, eucalyptus, forest underbrush, medium+ intensity
P: crisp, fresh, good acidity, medium body, blackberries, cherries, nice extraction, smooth, good textural presence
V: 8-, very nice

As you can tell, the Rosé and Red Blend were my favorites, but White Merlot was definitely fun, tasty, and creative as well. Now, let’s get to the big guns – the Lieb Cellar main line of wines. I had 4 different wines to try – here we go:

2015 Lieb Cellars Reserve Sparkling Rosé North Fork of Long Island (13.2% ABV, $29.99, 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 16 months in the bottle)
C: light onion peel pink, fine mousse
N: Provence-like, restrained, touch of fresh strawberries and yeast
P: same fresh strawberries, fresh, perfect acidity, tiny hint of sweetness, perfectly round, delicate and delicious.
V: 8, excellent wine, would happily drink it again at any time

2013 Lieb Cellars Reserve Sparkling Pinot Blanc North Fork of Long Island (13.2% ABV, $29.99, 100% Pinot Blanc, 42 months in the bottle)
C: straw pale, perfect mousse appearance
N: toasted bread (restrained) with a hint of nutmeg, intriguing
P: crisp, fresh, touch of brioche, golden delicious apple, more nutmeg, impeccable balance, delicious.
V: 8/8+, superb

2016 Lieb Cellars Estate Cabernet Franc North Fork of Long Island (12.8% ABV, $29.99, 80% Cabernet Franc, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot)
C: dark garnet
N: mint, eucalyptus, underripe black currant, a touch of cherries
P: open, bright, welcoming, medium body, fresh blueberries and sweet cherries, pronounced acidity, good balance.
V: 8-, the wine feels extremely young and hints at a good aging potential.

2016 Lieb Cellars Estate Petit Verdot North Fork of Long Island (13.2% ABV, $35 tasting room only, 90% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon)
C: dark ruby
N: licorice, mint, grape leaves, a touch of sour cherries, restrained, medium intensity.
P: medium+ body, succulent, lip-smacking acidity, bright blackberries and cherries, impeccable balance
V: 9-, it’s a riot. A perfection of young, fresh, balanced Bordeaux. Dangerous wine – once you start, you can’t stop

Lieb Cellars tasting Lineup

These were excellent wines, I can’t complain much about either one of the four – Sparkling Rosé was outstanding, Sparkling Pinot Blanc was superb and far exceeded my expectations. The Cab Franc was solid, and the Petit Verdot was, as I said, a riot. I did my usual “longevity test” with the Petit Verdot – pour a glass, close the wine, pour another glass next day and so on. For every day the wine stays tasty, I account 5-7 years of the aging time the wine can endure in the cellar. So Petit Verdot was fine for 2 days, but on the day number 3 it went down, so I would probably age it for another 5-7 years, but not much longer. But then with the screwtop, you never know…

Here you are, my friends. Spring, summer, fall or winter – Lieb Cellars have some fun and tasty wines waiting for you. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Global Champagne Day, Dishcrawl SoNo, Tempranillo Day and more

October 23, 2013 6 comments
Arrayán Petit Verdot, Spain

Arrayán Petit Verdot, Spain

Meritage time!

Let’s start from the answer to the wine quiz #78, grape trivia – Petit Verdot. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions regarding the red grape called Petit Verdot. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Petit Verdot

A1: Petit Verdot stands for the “little green”, as a reference to the small size of the grapes and the tendency to retain green (underripe) grapes even at the harvest time

Q2: Name four grapes, main blending partners of Petit Verdot in France

A2: We are talking about classic Bordeaux five here, the blending partners of Petit Verdot are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec

Q3: True or False: Australia’s plantings of Petit Verdot far exceed the plantings of Petit Verdot in France

A3: True. Australia embraced Petit Verdot starting from the second half of the 18th century, increasing its plantings, where Petit Verdot plantings in France had being on the downturn for a while.

Q4: While Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to work with, two events were major contributors to the demise of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux. Can you name those two events?

A4: Phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800s and the frost of 1956. As a difficult to grow and not essential grape, Petit Verdot followed the path of Malbec, with a dramatic reduction in plantings after the cataclysmic events.

Q5: While it is not impossible to find a pure 100% Petit Verdot wines made in Bordeaux, those wines are rather the exceptions. What is the typical percentage of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux blends?

A5: It is very often 1% to 2%, and in general stays under 5%. There are exceptions, of course.

Bonus question: what was your personal encounter with Petit Verdot? Do you have any memorable bottles?

Australia, Spain and [interestingly enough] Long Island, New York come to mind when I think of single-grape Petit Verdot bottlings. Some of the wines were just purely spectacular, like 2007 Jamesport Petit Verdot  from Long Island, or this 2007 Arrayán Petit Verdot from Spain.

I’m glad to report that we had a good participation in the quiz, and most importantly, we have a lot of winners! Patrick Kleiner (who has no web site), the drunken cyclist and Vino in Love are all correctly answered all 5 questions, so they are our ultimate winners and get unlimited bragging rights. Well done! I also want to mention Duff’s Wines and Eat with Namie as they both made only minor mistakes and got about 4.5 correctly out of 5, so they both get an honorable mention.

Now, to the interesting stuff around the web and the vine!

I don’t have much of the interesting reads for you today, so it is mostly various events announcements.

First, don’t forget that Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #4 (#MWWC4) is in its final hours  – it ends today, on October 23rd. The theme is “oops” – send your submission over to TheWineKat, and best to do it on Twitter with the hash tag #MWWC4.

Next, it appears that this coming Friday, October 25th, is a Global Champagne Day 2013 (I’m sure TheDrunkenCyclist is oozing with joy :- ) ). You have an option of finding a good place to celebrate in style, or just crack open whatever sparking goodness your heart desires, and celebrate the celebration drink!

While you still have time to get ready, don’t miss the International Tempranillo Day coming up on November 14th. There are plenty of Tempranillo events happening all over the country, and the good Tempranillo bottle is so easy to find nowadays, you have no excuse to miss this celebration.

Last but not least, at least for the local Connecticut foodies, Dishcrawl event is for South Norwalk (SoNo) will take place on November 20th. Based on my recent dining experiences in South Norwalk, this event shouldn’t be missed! For more details and to get your tickets, please visit Dishcrawl site.

That is all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but refill is on the way. Until the next time – cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #78: Grape Trivia – Petit Verdot

October 19, 2013 21 comments
Petit Verdot, as shown in Wikipedia

Petit Verdot, as shown in Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, and we are back to the red grapes!  Today’s subject is Petit Verdot.

Origins of Petit Verdot are unknown, and according to one of the theories, the grape came to Bordeaux region in France with ancient Romans. Petit Verdot is a very tricky grape in the vineyard – its early budding makes it susceptive to the early spring dangers, such as frost. Its very late ripening puts it in danger of the same frost and some of the diseases, At the same time, small berry with thick skin offers a lot of concentrated tannins and structure when it ripens properly.

This tricky behavior in the vineyard with tendency to underripe, results in Petit Verdot sometimes even not included in the final blend in Bordeaux wines. However, the grape behaves a lot more consistently in the warmer climates. Petit Vedot made it to Australia in 1800s, and it is successfully growing in most of the wine making countries around the world (Spain, Italy, US, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand), producing the best results in the warmer climates. in the US, it is growing in many regions across the country, from New York to Texas to California to Oregon. At its best, Petit Verdot produces dense, powerful, concentrated and age-worthy wines.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Petit Verdot

Q2: Name four grapes, main blending partners of Petit Verdot in France

Q3: True or False: Australia’s plantings of Petit Verdot far exceed the plantings of Petit Verdot in France

Q4: While Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to work with, two events were major contributors to the demise of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux. Can you name those two events?

Q5: While it is not impossible to find a pure 100% Petit Verdot wines made in Bordeaux, those wines are rather the exceptions. What is the typical percentage of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux blends?

Bonus question: what was your personal encounter with Petit Verdot? Do you have any memorable bottles?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!