I am not a wine snob, a wine connoisseur, or a sommelier in training, but I know what I like and I think I have a pretty good palate when it comes to food and wine. I navigate the world of wine by relying on those who know it well. I always ask to talk to a sommelier or in the right restaurant will ask my waiter for some advice because they know the wine list (or should) better than anyone. I also rely on some great local shops that have a small selection of excellent wine. Last, but certainly not least, I call mom because she knows wine. I have to admit that when I first heard about wines on Long Island I had my doubts about the wine and the wine country. Did Long Island really produce good wine? Are you sure there are wineries down there? I was definitely put in my place on a recent trip to Long Island Wine Country. On a recent work trip to Bedell Cellars, where I was a guest visiting the tasting room and vineyard, I was impressed, enchanted, and indulged.
Bedell Cellars is a picturesque vineyard with a talented and down to earth winemaker at the helm. What makes Bedell unique aside from their wines is the pairing of art and wine. From the labels designed by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close, Barbara Kruger, Eric Fischl, Sam Taylor Wood, Uta Barth and Sarah Morris to the sculptures on the grounds, the art adds another layer to the winery experience. Winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich, unlike some wine makers, is more passionate about the grapes and the wine itself than creating a story about it. I like the “organic”* approach that he takes to the wine making process. Machines are kept to a minimum and the wine is made without additional yeast, sugars or water. Bedell Cellars allows nature to run its course in creating the wines. With as little interference as possible from vine to “verre”(or glass).
As I mentioned before I am not an expert when it comes to wine, but I know that the Viognier was very interesting, full of floral and herb-like flavors, which is not my kind of wine, but it was very clean tasting and I would definitely recommend it to someone who likes a slightly sweeter, more floral wine. I fell head over heals for the Musée and the Chuck Close label is simply the “cherry on top”. Musée is 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Syrah. Musée is not inexpensive at $90 a bottle, but my philosophy with wine is to enjoy inexpensive but very good bottles on a regular basis so you can splurge on something fabulous every once in a while. Musée is just meant to be sipped with a gorgeous simply grilled steak or with a morsel of salty and creamy Gorgonzola.
I was a guest at Bedell Cellars for the tour and tasting. I do have a few bottles that I brought home with me including a bottle of Musée for a special occasion. Next time I head out to Bedell (and there will be a next time soon) I will definitely pick up a bottle or two of the sparkling rosé as well.
We started our tasting with the sparkling rosé. From early spring through late fall I keep several bottles of sparking rosé in the fridge. It’s a palate-pleaser for almost anyone regardless of what type of wine (dare I even say beer) they drink. The one I usually have has just a hint of sweetness, a crispness, and the festivity of bubbles. Bedell Cellar’s version is delicious and a bit more refined. It has the sense of celebration like a bottle of Champagne but the casual flair of a rosé. It’s like wearing the perfect black tie apparel with a cool and casual mussed up do so you don’t look like you’re trying too hard.
*By “organic” I am referring to a natural approach not the paper work seal of approval organic label kind.