Growing up on Long Island, my palate developed in step with the (then) nascent wine industry there. Ever since, cool-climate and uncommon wines have held my imagination — hence my ongoing crush on the Loire Valley. Now that I write about food and drink at Seven Days, the alt-weekly in Burlington, Vermont, I’m once again watching a wine industry blossom, and I’m lucky enough to get to write about it. While our La Crescents, Marquettes and Seyval Blancs find their footing, our ice ciders, craft beers and small-batch spirits are already first-class.
Corin’s Top 5 Wines to Enjoy:
One white wine under $20 and widely available in the US:
- Macon Lugny “Les Charmes” Caves de Lugny Chardonnay, $14
This unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy is bright but balanced; even though it ferments in stainless steel, the wine is still touched by creaminess with hints of melon and stone fruit. It’s round and approachable enough to coax “I like it buttery!” Chardheads into the unoaked camp, yet versatile enough to travel the road from fish to fried chicken and back again.
One red wine under $20 and widely available in the US:
- Jovly Chino Cabernet Franc, $12
A love of Cabernet Franc is etched into my Long Island genes, but I also know that when it’s ill-rendered, it can have a stemmy, dirty rawness, or be as thin as rosewater. Not so with this affordable bottling France’s Loire Valley — it’s jammy and quaffable, like moving your tongue through a vat of sticky red fruit and violet petals, with wisps of tannins dusting their way along the sides of your mouth.
One splurge (whatever splurge might mean to you):
- Eden Ice Cider Northern Spy Ice Cider
This isn’t necessarily a splurge, price-wise, but this Vermont-made ice cider is velvety and sumptuous. Its two personae jostle again one another, in the best way — caramel and honeyed up front, and tart and subtly spicy on the finish. Each sip is like a tide of flavor.
…and two others of her own choosing (these may be either easy or hard to find):
- 2008 Arcane Cellars Pinot Noir
I don’t buy much American Pinot Noir, which can be kind of insipid unless you spend liberally. (I live on a writer’s salary, after all). But I swooned over this gentle, supple wine from Arcane Cellars in Willamette Valley. Made by an old college friend of mine, Jason Silva, it’s silky with layers of raspberry, rhubarb, and hints of clove and mint.
- Descendientes de José Palacios Bierzo
This isn’t the most summery of wines, but summer sometimes wears a chilly face in Vermont. One recent rainy evening, I opened a bottle from the 2007 vintage, and after one sip, I held the glass at arm’s length and just stared, as if this wine had just landed from another, more seductive planet. This Mencia is powerful — laden with midnight-black fruit and moody spices, intensely structured yet supple, but with a flirty, herbal edge.