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What’s in a Wine Name?

Posted By: | In: Dated: February 25, 2016 | No Comments »

Quick Facts:

-          New World wines are usually named for the grape varietal used (or at least the predominant grape in the bottle).

-          Old World wines are usually named after the region they were made in.

Did you know that Pinot Noir and Red Burgundy are the same type of wine? Confusing, I know!

Most wines are named in two different ways:

-          The grape they are made from

-          The region they are made in

The wine name depends on where you are buying your wine. For example, in the New World wines (“newbies” to the wine making traditions: United States, Australia, New Zealand), the wines are named after the predominant grape varietal in the bottle. If Pinot Noir grapes were used to make 75% of the wine, and the winemaker blended other grapes for the remaining 25%, then you are drinking a Pinot Noir according to the New World rules.

The Old World wines (think places with a long history of making wine: France, Italy, Spain) are more traditional. A wine made mostly of Sangiovese in Chianti will be called Chianti instead of Sangiovese. Winemakers in the Old World stick to regional names because they feel the region has as much to add to the success of the wine as the grape.




Taste Summer: Bedell’s Taste Rosé

Posted By: | In: Tags: , | Dated: April 19, 2012 | No Comments »

2011 Taste Rosé

Summer is just around the corner, but with this exceptionally warm Spring weather, I’m in the mood for Rosé nowBedell Cellars, a sustainable family-owned estate vineyard and winery on the North Fork of Long Island, has made two great vintages of their Taste Rosé.  Bedell Cellars has a 30 year legacy of winemaking on the North Fork, which is impressive for a young Northeastern U.S. appellation.

Bedell’s winemaker, Rich Olsen-Harbich, has been around since the estate’s beginning and is the man responsible for authoring the North Fork of Long Island appellation into existence back in 1986.  Olsen-Harbich crafts the estate’s wines via a holistic natural winemaking program, relying entirely on indigenous yeasts.  He stands alone among Eastern North American winemakers in his exclusive use of indigenous yeasts.

I tasted the 2011 Bedell Cellars Taste Rosé for the first time last week and was instantly charmed.  I am thrilled to add a high quality, locally produced rosé to my list of go-to summertime quaffs!

Tasting Note: Beautiful coral pink color. Aromas of wild strawberry, tropical fruit, white peach are accented by delicate citrus blossom and herb notes.  Bright and crisp on the palate with red berry flavors and zippy acidity.  Delightful, refreshing finish.

The Taste Rosé made a wonderful companion for a simple dinner of  Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, Goat Cheese and Mint (recipe from Fine Cooking).

Spring Pasta with Asparagus and English Peas


2012 Wine Trends: A New Year of Vino

Looking forward to a new year of wine discoveries.

2012 is here, presenting a fresh new year of wine trends to contemplate.  It’s an exciting time for all of us wine lovers as we stand at the edge of an entire year of wine discovery and imbibing ahead.  What will be hot in the wine world this year?  What will we fill our glasses with in 2012?  Here’s a bit of forecasting for 2012 wine trends, along with some divulgence as to the wines we anticipate buying and drinking the most of and why…

1. Grower Champagne is Vogue

Grower Champagne producers and smaller Champagne houses are becoming more and more popular as bubbly lovers everywhere discover the world beyond Dom Perignon, Krug and Cristal.  Of course we’ll never turn down a glass of Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many other high quality, great value Champagnes out there.  Grower Champagne producers are grape farmers that make their own Champagne, using the grapes that they grew themselves, as opposed to the bigger houses that buy them in.  While these small, artisanal producers lack the marketing power of the ubiquitous big brands, their Champagnes are gaining recognition and are the new fashion.

We’re looking forward to discovering and drinking more under-the-radar, high value Champagnes in 2012, and will continue to drink and promote our favorite grower Champagnes.  The Wall Street Journal’s recent article, Bubble by Bubble by Lettie Teague, is a great read on the topic of Champagne.  Lettie gives a shout out to some of our favorites, including Pol Roger Brut Réserve, Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut and Pierre Gimonnet Brut Blanc de Blancs Sans Année.  Our New Year’s resolution is to drink more Champagne!  Additional recommendations:

NV Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Reserve ($46) “Fresh, precise lemon and pink grapefruit aromas give way to deeper tangerine and melon with air. Fine-grained and focused citrus flavors stain the palate, gaining richness on the back end while retaining a tight, nervy personality. The citrus notes linger nicely on the long, sappy, mineral-tinged finish.” – 91 pts, International Wine Cellar

NV Champagne Laherte Freres Brut Tradition ($36) – “The NV Brut Tradition is a beautifully precise, chiseled wine. Citrus, flowers and minerals are woven together in fabric of unusual elegance. This mid-weight, focused Champagne offers terrific energy all the way through to the finessed finish. It is a lovely effort…” – 90 pts, Wine Advocate

NV Rene Geoffroy Brut Empreinte ($50) “The NV Brut Empreinte offers up licorice, smoke, mint and dried apricots in an exotic, compelling style. There is wonderful richness and clarity to be found in the glass. The weight and sheer presence of the Pinot Noir is clearly felt on the palate, while cool mineral notes provide a wonderful foil to the wine’s silky texture…” – 92 pts, Wine Advocate

NV Henri Goutorbe Brut Rose ($55) “The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is a rather wild, unrestrained wine loaded with baking spices, kirsch, game and sweet red cherries. The wine reveals gorgeous inner perfume and tons of class, with a refined, silky close. Striking aromatics linger on the finish.” – 93 pts, Wine Advocate

2. Bonjour 2010 Burgundy

The 2010 vintage for Burgundy is just beginning to enter the market.  While many of the reds have not even been bottled yet, the white Burgundies are just starting to arrive.  The 2010 vintage was a small one for Burgundy, which means that we can expect the prices to be higher, but these wines will be worth the investment. In general, the 2010 Burgundy vintage has a lighter, more classic style than the lush 2009 vintage, promising many age-worthy wines with great structure and acidity.  Since the quantities will be limited, we suggest grabbing them up while you can.

Anxious to get your hands on a refreshing 2010 white Burg now?  Our 2010 Domaine Vincent Dauvissat Chablis La Forest is in-stock and ready to ship.

Although we’re looking forward to the arrival of our 2010 Burgundies, we are still head over heals for the 2009 vintage.  The 2010 red Burgundies will need some time in the cellar, so while we wait, we’re going to continue to enjoy the approachable, delicious 2009 vintage.  Recommendations for great value 2009 Burgundies to drink now:

2009 Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin ($52) “The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin is the best of the village-level wines. It shows tons of Gevrey character in a sweet, perfumed style I find irresistible, with gorgeous length and fine overall balance. The level of quality is admirable, considering there are 200 barrels of this cuvee. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.” – 87-88 pts, Wine Advocate

2009 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Selectionnees ($72) “Bright red. Deeper, richer and more complex on the nose than the basic village offering, showing aromas of red fruits, rose petal and spices. Richer and broader on the palate, offering very good presence and depth for village wine. Spreads out nicely on the impressively long finish.” – 89 pts, International Wine Cellar

2009 Domaine Jean Marc et Hugues Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune ($35) “This is also aromatically quite pretty with ripe red berry and plum aromas liberally laced with ample amounts of Savigny-style earth that continues onto the round, supple and appealing flavors that culminate in a balanced and naturally sweet finish. Lovely and fashioned in Pavelot’s usual understated style.” – 87-90 pts, Burghound

2009 Domaine Thierry et Pascale Matrot Puligny Montrachet Les Chalumeaux ($64) “A more expressive and airier nose that features high-toned notes of white flower, pear, white peach and mineral hints is followed by rich, naturally sweet and racy medium-bodied flavors that possess ample size, weight and sap on the solidly persistent finish. This will drink well almost immediately and I like the underlying sense of tension here.” – 91 pts, Burghound

3. Locavore Trend Extends to Wine

The farm-to-table trend has taken America by storm and that movement extends beyond potatoes and carrots, encompassing wine consumption as well.  As Americans become more conscientious when it comes to their carbon footprint, we’re sure to see a rise in local wine sales.  We oenophiles on the East Coast are beginning to pay more attention to our local wine regions, especially New York’s Finger Lakes region and the North Fork of Long Island.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Dr Konstantin Frank is an exceptional local producer if you’re living on the East Coast.  We’re big fans of the 2010 Dr. Frank Dry Riesling, 2008 Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc and the delightful, sparkling 2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.

4. Organic and Sustainable Wines

Just as more and more people seek out organic food products, over the past several years, the consumption of organic and sustainable wines has been rising.  Many European wine producers have practiced organic, sustainable and biodynamic winemaking for centuries.  These practices are publicized more frequently now than ever before because they have become selling points for many modern consumers.  Organic wine certification varies from country to country and is a complex issue.  Producers that advertise organic and sustainable practices are not necessarily certified organic.  As the collective consciousness becomes greener by the day, we’ll see more producers adopting sustainable and organic winegrowing and winemaking techniques.  Recommended organic and sustainable producers from our portfolio:

Flora Springs Wine Company, Napa Valley – Practices organic farming.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles – Certified organic.

Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande Valley – Practices sustainable farming.

Podere Salicutti, Tuscany – Certified organic & biodynamic.

Adelsheim Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon – Practices sustainable farming.

Evening Land Vineyards, California, Oregon & France – Practices organic farming.

5. Food Friendly, Low Alcohol Wines

Sommeliers have long been advocates for lower alcohol wines (below 14% ABV) because of their great compatibility with food.  European wines generally have lower alcohol than their New World counterparts and are specifically made to compliment the cuisine of their native lands, which explains the predominance of European producers on many restaurant wine lists.  Ripe, over-extracted, high alcohol wines have the affect of overpowering most foods. New World winemakers (and wine drinkers) are becoming wise to this fact and have begun to abandon the over the top, sometimes out of balance, style that was the longstanding fashion.  In the year ahead, look for lower alcohol wines coming out of regions such as Napa and the Willamette Valley.  Not only will these low alcohol wines enhance your dining experiences, you won’t be bowled over by the first glass!  We’ve already started spotting, and drinking, these food friendly beauties from New World regions:

2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ($27, 13.4% ABV)

2010 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir, California ($14, 13.5% ABV)

2008 Mt. Difficulty Riesling Roaring Meg, Central Otago ($20, 11.5% ABV)

2008 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($42, 13.9% ABV)


Dr. Frank Wines: Gems of the Finger Lakes


Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars is a true gem in the Northeastern United States’ winemaking landscape.  Emigrating from the Ukraine to New York in 1951, Dr. Frank moved upstate to the picturesque Finger Lakes region to take a position at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station.  Dr. Frank, a professor of plant sciences with a PhD in viticulture, would quickly revolutionize Northeastern US grape-growing and winemaking by promoting the growth of European varietals in this chilly northern environment.

Dr. Frank’s beliefs originated from his experiences while living in the Ukraine.  He knew that Vitis Vinifera (wine grapes) could grow in the Finger Lakes region if planted on the right rootstock, despite the colder climate.  Dr. Frank forged a friendship with a French champagne maker named Charles Fournier, the president of the Lakes region’s Gold Seal Vineyards.

After just ten years in the US, Dr. Frank established Vinifera Wine Cellars in 1962.  This fledgling winery swiftly gained renown for its sublime Rieslings, putting the Finger Lakes on the map as a world-class wine-producing region capable of exceptional quality.

Today, Dr. Konstantin Frank is run by the family’s 3rd generation of winemakers, led by Frederick Frank, who took over in 1993.  Fred’s sister, Barbara Frank is Consulting Winemaker and Regional Sales Manager for Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars and Chateau Frank Winery.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Barbara at several wine tasting events in NYC at which she graciously shares a wealth of information about the family’s wines.

Dr. Frank’s Wine Cellars has grown to encompass two additional labels, Salmon Run and Chateau Frank.  Salmon Run is the winery’s value label and a tribute to the magnificent salmon of gorgeous Keuka Lake.  Chateau Frank is the label under which the winery’s extraordinary sparkling wines are crafted.  These sparklers are among the best I’ve tasted from this side of the pond.  Their 2006 Blanc de Blancs is on par with my longstanding American favorite, Schramsberg’s Blanc de Blancs.

The Wine Cellarage is delighted to introduce Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars to our offerings.  Thus far, we have chosen five wonderful wines from Dr. Frank and Chateau Frank.  These are ideal wines for summertime quaffing.  The Dry Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and Blanc de Blancs are delightful, crisp and oh-so refreshing.  The Cab Franc is the perfect red wine for summer, reminiscent of Loire Valley Chinon, with soft tannins, subtle earthiness and roasted red pepper notes.  Finally, Chateau Frank’s Célèbre Rosé is a delicious, red berry infused crowd-pleaser andwill make an ideal aperitif for your summertime parties and gatherings!

2010 Dr. Frank Dry Riesling – The fruit was hand-harvested during the cool hours of the morning, and then cold pressed. The juice was cold settled and given a lengthy fermentation at low temperatures with special German wine yeasts.


“The 2010 Dry Riesling has a classic pale straw color with a crisp green hue. The nose shows typical Keuka Lake minerality with fresh lemon citrus and apple with an intriguing blossom aroma. The palate shows wonderful tight acid that balances out the fruity residual sugar enhancing the floral and bringing out the bright tangerine flavors. The palate also displays the slatey mineral characteristics that typify Dr. Frank’s Rieslings. Serve with all fin fish and shell fish.” – Winemaker’s Notes

2010 Dr. Frank Grüner Veltliner – The grapes were picked early in the morning to capture the strong fruit flavors. The juice was then fermented at cold temperatures in stainless steel tanks with a neutral yeast, enhancing the wine’s natural fruit flavors.

“The 2010 Grüner Veltliner fits perfectly within the Dr. Frank family of wines. The wonderful nose is a treat of floral, melon and honeysuckle while the mouth has subtle herbal notes and balanced layered textures in the background that finish off with the typical Grüner Veltliner white pepper heat. It is food friendly wine and pairs well with everything from scallops and roasted vegetables to grilled pork tenderloin.” – Winemaker’s Notes


2008 Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc – “The 2008 Cabernet Franc presents a nose of roasted red pepper and prune that lengthens with oaky and spicy tones.  On the palate, this wine displays great elegance with soft tannins and a smooth long finish.  Coming from an exceptionally hot summer this wine will benefit from decanting to reveal the depth of its character – serve with brisket and red sauce pasta dishes.” – Winemaker’s Notes

2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs – “Presenting typical complexity and delicate flavors, this wine exemplifies the traditional Blanc de Blancs style. A crisp acidity accompanied by rich pear and honeysuckle with citrus, lemon, and ginger makes this Sparkling Wine vibrantly pleasant. Extended lees aging (tirage) gives earthy and toasty notes with a soft vanilla finish. Serve with rich foods such as caviar or salmon.” – Winemaker’s Notes

Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé – A festive sparkler made from 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes and crafted in the French Crémant style, according to the traditional method.  This delightful, sparkling rosé offers rich raspberry and strawberry aromas, lush cherry flavors and beautiful, delicate bubbles.

About the Finger Lakes Region

Home to over 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes region is the longstanding pillar of New York State’s wine industry.   The beautiful, narrow lakes of the region, named for their resemblance to fingers, were hewn from the land by Ice Age glaciers.  The lakes have a significant effect on the climate, keeping the air relatively warm in the winter and gradually pulling cool air down from the surrounding hillsides.  By the time spring comes, the lakes have cooled, which prevents the vineyards from budding too early, providing a safeguard against frost damage.  The major lakes of the wine region are Keuka, Seneca, Canandaigua and Cayuga.

Riesling and Gewurztraminer thrive in the cool northern climate of the region, producing wines with great acidity and minerality.  Grüner Veltliner, native to Austria, is proving to be a great fit for the Finger Lakes as well, quickly gaining recognition and praise.

The wines of the Finger Lakes region are not to be missed!   They present exceptional quality and value, and for those of us living in and around New York, a lovely, local wine option.