for May, 2012

May 21, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Wines of Brooklyn Winery Winemaker Conor McCormack

This is all you need to know about the winemaker at Williamsburg’s very own Brooklyn Winery:

“Making wine wasn’t on my radar until I saw a craigslist posting for a harvest intern in 2003 while hunting for a job post-college. It was serendipitous, but once I got into it, there was no stopping.”

Left to right: John Stires, Conor McCormack, Brian Leventhal

That quote comes from Conor McCormack’s bio on the Brooklyn Winery website. It’s nearly a verbatim-repeat-quote of what he told a group of about 40 of us this past Thursday, the 17th of May, 2012, just before we got into a four course wine and food pairing of Conor’s latest bottlings.

Prior to making his home here in the east, his wine-country experience is fruitful and spans stints from Napa to Washington State and looks like this: Crushpad SF, Rutherford Hill Winery, Brehm Vineyards, Audubon Cellars, and White Salmon Vineyards. Pretty fabulous places.

Conor’s serendipitous rendezvous with the art of making wine, now into it’s ninth year  and laden with cellar stellar experiences establishing his “vine-street-cred” should impress you – but honestly, stop reading this blasted blog and go to Brooklyn Winery and have a few glasses of his wine. Treat yourself to a marvelous sensory experience. And since you asked my opinion so kindly I’ll give it: try the Pinot NoirAhem. The Carneros Pinot Noir. Think about this: the fruit was picked in Carneros and shipped east, fermented and aged at Brooklyn Winery. When you nose this wine, it is so distinctly Carneros that it should take everything within to remember that after enjoying a glass you are in Brooklyn and have to get on the subway to go home, not in a car to drive north to Napa or south to San Francisco. The simple fact that Conor has been able to maintain the integrity a Pinot that is so distinctly of another place from fruit shipped across the country, fermented in Brooklyn and aged in used barrels, is a testament to his winemaking skill, cleanliness and philosophy.

The Brooklyn Winery has become a hub for amateur and serious wine enthusiasts excited to be near barrels and tanks and to taste wine made on-site. It’s also become a go-to for events – lots of events – especially weddings. Lots of weddings. And lots of weddings means lots of brides. Brides asking, pleading, demanding and suggesting that the space, the physical space (where tanks and barrels and winemaking equipment resides) be arranged and rearranged to fit the perfect vision of their impending marriage. And with weddings comes the wedding train and all its glory and pomp and circumstance a.k.a. a nightmare for a winemaker. I’m not suggesting that BK Winery entertains foolish requests, or that they rearrange the crucial areas where wine is racked and fermented, but when a winery is beholden to events, it is often the winemaker who must make sacrifices – sacrifices in quality control. Whatever Conor’s urban winery fate, he has managed to maintain the quality he knows his wines deserve and as a result is producing wines worthy of some serious attention.

The evening’s food pairings by Executive Chef David Colston looked like this:

Scallop Ceviche with Cantaloupe, Chorizo, Basil and Lemon Verbena. Paired with:

BKW Riesling (two glasses: one aged in stainless steel and one in neutral oak! Yes, neutral oak!)

Spicy Seafood Risotto with Monk Fish, Lobster, Squid and Heirloom Tomatoes. Paired with:

BKW Chardonnay aged in Stainless Steel.

Long Island Duck Breast with Mini Yorkshire Puddings and SPring Vegetables. Paired with:

Paired with BKW Pinot Noir - MY FAV and the one bottle I didn't grab a shot of. That's a glass of it. Aged in 20% French and 80% Neutral Oak.

Cheesecake with New Jersey Strawberries and Rhubarb. Paired with:

BKW Rose of Zinfandel, aged in Stainless Steel.

The good and loyal readers here at Winetology know that I don’t like to give descriptors of wine. (It’s not because I don’t have a certification and am incapable of using good wine descriptors, okay?) I find it to be a foolish thing, since no two noses or palates are the same. And you don’t need me to tell you what kind of Jolly Rancher I get out of the rose either (watermellon). Decide for yourself and imagine that these photos are scratch and sniff (just don’t send me a bill when you ruin your iPad). Or better yet, head to Brooklyn Winery and say to the winetender, “Winetender! Jonny says I want a glass of Conor McCormack’s Pinot Noir!” And when he gives you the Chardonnay, don’t make that face and tell him you don’t drink Chardonnay. Drink it, be surprised, and then order the Pinot.   By then, I’ll be sitting next to you draining my cup dry.

"A Wine & Food Pairing" at the Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg.


May 17, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Stone The Crows – from Winemaker Thomas R. Brown


Let us say that I’m a “friend of the farmer” behind Stone The Crows. And let us say that the “farmer” is a country gentleman who enlisted the Food & Wine magazine 2010 Winemaker of the Year, Mr. Thomas Rivers Brown to make this new Napa Valley boutique production Cabernet Sauvignon.

Thomas studied under Ehren Jordan (winemaker at Turley and Failla) and who by all accounts from Hardy Wallace, is a bonafide genius maker of fermented juice.

They key is pedigree. And then there’s this:

Three Twins Vineyard (photo courtesy of Stone The Crows website).

Tell me what kind of grapes wouldn’t be happy growing here? The Three Twins vineyard comprises five acres of vines planted on fairly steep hillsides way up Conn Valley road in St. Helena, CA. Underneath the cloud cover in the distance is Lake Hennessey, first cousin to Lake Berryessa. From these vines, comes forth a plush, elegant Napa valley Cabernet that over-delivers.

2009 Stone The Crows (Napa Valley)

Recently, I took the liberty of bringing along a bottle to a blind tasting that included some notable and well-established NYC noses (aka sommeliers). Here is a smattering of what the group thought:

  • Wine is 4-7 years old
  • Surprised by smooth, plush tannin
  • Bright cherry aromas
  • Surely an Old World wine

Et Voila! I revealed the wine and with the 2009 vintage clocking in at a mere 35 cases, as indicated on the bottle, excitement was had by all, especially in discovering that the wine was a young Napa Cab grown from vines neighboring a heavy-hitter like Continuum.

Stefan Blicker of and Wine Berserkers was equally impressed and you can read his review here.

225 cases will be made from the 2010 vintage and production is expected to reach a mere 500-600 cases in 2012. That being said, now is the time to find yourself on the list, especially if you’ve left your heart just north of San Francisco where some of the world’s most surprising, delightful and elegant boutique production wines are coming into fruition. And as the Three Twins Vineyard matures, this wine will grow in complexity – there’s already a good balance of minerality and fruit – it’s a feel-good wine that should accompany you out to dinner where corkage is reasonable and think: spectacular views, balcony-sipping, the feeling you have when you’ve just come from a round of croquet or decided to take Friday off (again). Yes, you just might do that – don’t forget your corkscrew. And don’t forget to visit the website and sign up on the list before it’s too late (retail price is TBA):

Twas indeed a blind tasting


May 8, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Edible Manhattan and Brooklyn present UNCORKED (at BAM)

Hands down, thumbs up for the best wine event in New York City: Edible Uncorked 2012.

Check out this time-lapse shot of the entire event by Max Flatow Photography:

I was there pouring for Millbrook Winery & Vineyards and can safely say that Millbrook’s New York State and Hudson Valley Region Chardonnay consistently impressed the fine guests that tasted them. Many an amateur connoisseur approached me asking what I was pouring. When I said “Chardonnay” their faces contorted. It was at that very moment, that I grabbed their glass and forced demanded suggested that they try it. Heck, even smell it – and dump it out if it still “freaks you out.”

Well, the result time and time again was, “Oh… that ain’t bad! In fact, I kinda like it.” Yes, Mr and Mrs wine drinker! Yes – you like it! Chardonnay! Made in a Burgundian style with wood tannin nicely integrated into an absolutely aromatic and plush white wine from the Hudson Valley, a mere 90 minutes north of New York City.

“There you have it!” I would shout and point toward the heavens! And as people looked up, I would steal a sip myself from the bottle from my own glass.

This is a video I produced from last year’s festival – it was intended to get people in a wine mood!

May 4, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

#LanguedocDay 2012 with The Noble Rot

#LanguedocDay 2012 in NYC

Thursday, May 3, 2012 marked #LanguedocDay. We celebrated by exploring several different Languedoc wines (pictured below) and geeking out on the Languedoc region thanks to Approach Guides Wine app. In the house was David and Jennifer Raezer who created the app – so we had a great time chatting and sipping it up with them. On the left coast Rick Bakas and Forkly app were tearing it up at 1313 Main, a winebar in downtown Napa. From coast to coast we produced a lot of tweets, instragrams, pinterest and facebook posts. Thanks to these fabulous tweeters who socialized the night away:

@leitihsu @studiofeast @agwine @forgetburgundy @youcanteatbread @SuzieKukic @stunwin @deannadong @noraleah @ruleslawyer @RickBakas @WholeFoods @Forkly

@1313Main: “World Headquarters” for #LanguedocDay yesterday: 102,000,000 impressions.

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