5 Local Wines to Take to a Dinner Party

These wines are sure to impress even the biggest wine geeks.

We're hosting a little holiday dinner party at our house this weekend -- a yearly tradition though this year's edition is far smaller than usual. Regardless, it's a chance to put our son to bed, sit down to a delicious meal with great friends and relax a bit before the chaos of Christmas and New Years.

Just about no one brings wine to my house. They know I've got a decent-sized cellar and put a lot of thought into the wines I serve with dinner. I think they are also afraid that I won't like what they bring, me being the 'wine guy' and all.

Well if any of my friends are reading this, here are five local wines that you're more than welcome to bring to my house. Or, if you don't bring them to my house, take them to the home of any wine-loving friend and I'll bet they enjoy them -- and probably invite you back.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($24): Extremely tropical, with aromas of papaya, passion fruit, peach and mandarin orange with just a subtle grassy note beneath this ripe, mouth-filling sauvignon. Fruit-driven with crisp acidity that creates tension on the mid-palate. The long, balanced finish brings a distinct mango note with a bit of grapefruit zest. 

2007 Pinot Noir ($24): Owner Russ McCall's 2007 Reserve is also impressive, but for the money – especially with food – I prefer his regular bottling. A classic pinot noses shows bright black berry and pomegranate aromas with a dusting of earthy spice, and light caramel notes. Medium-light in body with fresh acidity, the well-balanced palate brings straightforward, ripe black cherry and strawberry flavors with subtle spicy oak and a long finish that is a bit earthy. This is pinot done right ... from Long Island.

2007 Malbec ($35/500 ml): Merlot still rules the local red wine scene, but local winemakers are just scratching the surface of Malbec's potential here. The nose brings gobs of black fruit -- mostly blackberry and blueberry – with beautiful black licorice, black tea, subtle floral character and a decidedly earthy note. Big, earthy and concentrated, the palate offers more black fruit flavors with light vanilla oak nuance and a chocolate-mint note on the end of a medium-length finish.

Red Hook Winery 2008 "The Electric" ($42): Made in Brooklyn by cult-following winemaker Abe Schoener of California's Scholium Project from fruit grown at Jamesport Vineyards on the North Fork, this blend of 97 percent chardonnay and 3 percent riesling is a wine to ponder over the course of an evening. Honeyed and slightly oxidized in a Sherry-meets-late harvest white sort of way its aromas range from mixed nuts to orange peel to dried apricot and fig, to beeswax, and to apple cider. Full-bodied but with a jolt of balancing acidity, the palate is expansive, filling the mouth with more of those layered honey-apple-orange peel-nutty flavors.

2005 "Lambardo" Merlot ($30): Ultimately if you want to show of local wine, merlot is a good choice – and this one in particular over-delivers for $30. Intense and ripe on the nose, this blend of 77 percent merlot, 18 percent cabernet franc and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon shows blackberry and black cherry scents with hints of fig, chocolate-covered blueberries and an earthy-graphite edge. Plump – but with good structure – the palate is dominated by dark, brooding fruit with cocoa bean, wet earth, fig and well-integrated, toasty oak. Balanced acidity and ripe, round tannins point to good development in the cellar and give way to a lengthy, supple finish of fruit and fig.


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