Exploring the Fingerlakes

I recently spent a few days in the Fingerlakes, and though I certainly had my fair share of Riesling and Cabernet Franc, I was also excited about some unexpected wines that several wineries are producing. Chardonnay, Merlot, and even Saperavi are being made with increasing success, not to mention the myriad sparkling wines (both Riesling and non) that have begun popping up. It may be a few years before these are perfected, but as the region continues to grow in technique and tradition, it’s only a matter of time. It wasn’t until the 1950s that vitis vinifera first made its way to the Fingerlakes region, although before that native grape varietals were being grown and made into wine ... Read More »

Merkelbach’s (Nearly) Timeless Wines

Every time you open a good bottle of wine it's an opportunity to travel, usually to that special place where the grapes were grown and the wine was made. But sometimes the wine will take you on a trip through time. There are a few estates that haven't changed for decades. But not many—López de Heredia comes to mind, and Lafarge in Volnay. When you taste their wines, you experience something ancient and beautiful. Time travel. In the case of the Merkelbachs, that time is the 1950s. Nothing has changed since then: for all those decades the same two brothers have made wines from the same terroirs, over and over again, using the same ancient methods on their beautiful, old, ungrafted vines. ... Read More »

A Guide to German Wine

In 2015, Germany had a good year. After a long, hot summer, the vineyards were dry and ready for the late rain that carried the ripening grapes to harvest. The result was something like a dream for winemakers in each and every growing region. Tasting notes and vintage reports have been glowing -- the likes of Jancis Robinson, Dr. Loosen, Mosel Fine Wines, Theirry Theise and many others gushing over what is certain to be a vintage of note, if not one of the most lauded in decades. As the wines come stateside, we're no less stunned by some really incredible bottles. In turn -- curiosity stoked -- we've begun to look closely at the unique and nuanced wine regions of Germany. We've compiled some ... Read More »

2015 German Riesling: A Vintage for the History Books

I’ve had the great pleasure of sourcing and selling German wine for over ten vintage releases – and not one has been as exciting as the release of 2015s! For the German wine crowd, summer can feel like a Riesling version of the holiday season – lots of happy demand for the just-landed summer quaffers, salivating pre-arrivals, eagerly-anticipated GG releases and the looming annual auctions. But the 2015s have taken all that to the next level! And rightly so since the wines themselves are also next level. 2015 was a vintage with an ideal configuration of elements that resulted in many near-perfect wines. Growers are claiming similarities along the lines of 2001 and (from those that can remember) ... Read More »

Peter Lauer: 2015 Barrel X and Senior

We're always excited for the arrival of Peter Lauer’s “Barrel X” and “Senior” as they're one of our first (and favorite!) tastes of the new vintage from Germany. But we're even more excited than usual for the lauded 2015s to arrive, though admittedly a little sad, too, knowing they'll disappear as quickly as they came. [caption id="attachment_10659" align="alignright" width="420"] Ayler Kupp[/caption] Florian Lauer, the fifth-generation winemaker of Weingut Peter Lauer is one of the finest vignerons in Germany. Thoughtfully farming a number of sites in the Saar Valley, largely in the esteemed Ayler Kupp, Florian’s wines are known for having both depth and precision and for revealing ... Read More »

Hirsch: The Upper Echelon of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner

I enjoyed a stunning reminder of just how profound Johannes Hirsch’s wines are when I was at an Austrian wine tasting this past June. Not that I ever really forget, but it was still amazing to see just how next-level the wines seemed even when surrounded by many of Austria's other great producers. Even more shocking, the Hirsch line up was all 2013 and 2014s – not the already legendary (and mostly not yet released or, admittedly, ready-to-drink) 2015s. It may be a cliché, but my first take-away from the tasting was that it's true: buy the producer, not the vintage. Good producers' wines will reflect the vintage, without allowing inherent quality levels to waver. And in the hands of very ... Read More »