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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.


August 1, 2010 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): Rieslings/Rießlingen!

The Noble Rot Rieslings/Rießlingen! // Friday, July 30th // Lower Manhattan – photo by Brian Quinn

Sweet Jesus! Actually, I should have said Dry Jesus! because that’s what we tasted: five divinely dry Rieslings at our last tasting.

Right: So our event excitedly entitled, “Rieslings/Rießlingen!” brought forth a very enjoyable evening with a group of terrific guests, many new, some from recent events and a delightful evening ensued. This is was the setting:

A rooftop in Lower Manhattan – photo by Brian Quinn

Oh, the views! – Photo by Brian Quinn

This is what went on:

  • Tanner Walle, a talented musician and Riesling-know-it-all from Terroir! NY spewed forth propaganda on this wonderful grape (considered by some to be the best grape on the planet, because of its ability to express the terroir of the place it is grown).
  • A light fare was prepared by Daniel Castaño of a razor, a shiny knife who recently opened this restaurant in Cartagena, Columbia.
  • A Pop-Up Boutique: we had the pleasure of featuring dress designer, Csilla Somogyi, for this event. A rack of her incredible dresses were available for the ladies to peruse and try on.
  • An enchanting performance by the lovely Pamela Martinez from Teletextile. Check out her CD HERE.

Tanner Walle (preaching the Riesling gospel), Jonny Cigar, Brian Quinn – photo by Brian Quinn

Tanner chose the wines for this event with the assistance of Paul Grieco owner of Terroir and partner of restaurants Hearth and Insieme in NYC. Terroir is the home away from home for all things Riesling and they boast more Rieslings by-the-glass than any other establishment around. Something like 18,000 – or closer perhaps to “60.” Nevertheless, they have dubbed this summer the Summer of Riesling! And you would do well to visit either of their NYC locations: http://www.wineisterroir.com.

Tanner was outstanding. Being a Self-Appointed Master Sommelier, my own knowledge of Riesling is extensive, in fact I’m the foremost wine scholar in the world on the subject, however Tanner seemed to know more than I! He used words to describe the wines like “Slate” and “Peach” and “Fruity” and others! I discouraged all of those words and accused the wines of reminding me of long thoughtless drives on the Auto-bon.

The wines we tasted were:

Kabinett, Oberhäuser Leistenberg, Donnhoff, 2009, Nahe (German)

Rothenbart, Neumayer, 2007, Traisental (Austria)

Les Pierrets, Josmeyer, 2005, Alsace

Herman J. Wiemer, 2008, Finger Lakes (New York)

Glen Eldon, 2006, Eden Valley (Australia)

Check out Tanner’s site: http://www.tannerwalle.com. And Csilla’s designs: http://csillawear.com/index_main.html.

Csilla’s dresses! – Photo by Brian Quinn


Riesling encourages toasting! – Photo by Brian Quinn

Riesling encourages lounging! (esp Zach, who was supposed to be pouing wine but was instead reclining in the far chair head in arms) – Photo by Brian Quinn (Who then asked Zach to kindly continue pouring)

Jonny, Brian, Tanner – Your Noble Rot team for a Riesling powerfest! Go to Terroir on 12th Street (NYC)! Say hi to Tanner!

Pamela Martinez – Photo by Brian Quinn