Grape Expectations

Oenophiles prematurely celebrating last month’s Supreme Court ruling on interstate wine shipping might just have to sit back and let the intoxicating notion decant awhile. The ruling merely declared New York law unconstitutional, which makes it Albany’s headache. For now, the three-tier system (producer to wholesaler to retailer) is still firmly entrenched—which means wine geeks hoping for instant access to cult Cabs will have to wait. Until the issue wends its way through the courts, and all the compliance and tax issues are resolved, the best we can do is start fantasizing about snagging a coveted spot on a waiting list, or clearing cellar space for those elusive bottlings from tiny producers that, chances are, will remain just as unattainable should direct shipping become a reality. But you never know. If and when that day comes, and a case of Screaming Eagle is only a keyboard click away, we’ll toast our good fortune with West Coast wines we’ve only tasted in our imagination, like the ones we’ve listed below. And now that New York wines are something to be proud of, we’ve highlighted a few to keep in mind for shipping the other way—to all those doubting Thomases in reciprocal states who can’t tell their Wiemers from their Wölffers.

Photo: Carina Salvi

1Sean Thackrey Orion
The mad genius of Marin County is an iconoclastic, philosophical winemaker, known for unpredictably volatile, unique bottlings.

2Sine Qua Non
Manfred and Elaine Krankl’s Ventura, California, winery specializes in proprietary Rhone-style blends—here one season, gone the next.

3Harlan EstateCabernet Sauvignon
Impossible to get and intensely coveted, Harlan’s releases personify the California cult Cab.

4Marcassin Chardonnay
Helen Turley, Napa’s pioneering female winemaker, is renowned for her exquisite—and mostly spoken for—Chards and Pinots.

5Araujo Estate Sauvignon Blanc
Eclipsed by the winery’s better-known Cabernet Sauvignon, the white has its own devout fan club.

1Bedell Reserve Merlot
A new consultant with Opus One and Mouton-Rothschild on his résumé takes on Long Island’s signature varietal.

2Lenz Gewürztraminer
Rose-scented Alsatian-style Gewürz, bursting with litchi and refreshing acidity for under $20 a bottle.

3Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli
This ancient Eastern European grape yields a crisp, off-dry wine that’s big in (the republic of) Georgia, and an award winner here.

4Paumanok Late-Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
A lip-smacking dessert wine that might be the North Fork’s unassuming answer to Sauternes.

5Hermann J. Wiemer Johannisberg Riesling
Finger Lakes Rieslings are real attention-getters, ripe and lively and spectacular with food.

Grape Expectations