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Brooklyn Uncorked 2011 by Edible Magazine

So much wine, so little time.  That’s a bit what it felt like walking in to the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night for the Brooklyn Uncorked festival put together by Edible Magazine (Manhattan, Brooklyn, and East End).  With 26 tables of wines and 14 food options (according to the website), this was a cornucopia of eating and drinking options showcasing the variety of Long Island wines as well as displaying culinary talents from Brooklyn and Manhattan.  My friend who went with me and I did our best to try to sample something from everyone, with apologies to those whom we missed.

It was good to see some wineries I’ve mentioned in previous posts at this event, too.  This definitely brought together newer vintners with older ones and showcased a variety of methodologies, philosophies, and grapes.  We stopped by the table where Brooklyn Oenology was featuring some of its collection to say hello to Josh, one of their staff, who was telling folks about how their wines are made from New York State grapes and the labels are designed by local, Brooklyn artists.  I think that their 2009 Social Club White is still one of my top picks for a Summer 2011 wine.  Their 2008 Voinier was the favorite pick of the label by the Austrian gentleman who was standing next to me.

I’d had wines from Bedell Cellars at another of Edible’s events earlier this year, so I was curious to see what other varieties they’d brought with them last night.  While I had enjoyed the wines I’d tried of theirs in the past, the 2010 Gewürztraminer did not hit the right notes with my palate.  I found it overly floral and a bit cloying, like a way-to-strong perfume.  On the other hand, another taste of Bouké‘s 2009 Perlant reconfirmed for me that this lightly-fizzy, crisp, clean fruit tasting wine is something that I need to add to my own collection.

In between sips, we also checked out a few of the food stations to see what creations the chefs had made to pair with the drinks.  From Katchkie Farm/GreatPerformances, this Beet-Cured Salmon with Shaved Radish, Fennel Salad and Salmon Roe Champagne Sabayon was a rich bite for the eye as well as for the tongue.  It had great salty, crunchy, rich notes that blended with several of the wines that we tasted, like some of the more acidic whites.

Gramercy Tavern, a favorite spot of one of my former co-workers, had what I would consider the most appropriate food festival bite of the evening.  Aside from just being a colorful combination, the Fresh Goat’s Milk Cheese with Shaved Asparagus dotted with red pepper was the perfect two-bite crunchy, smooth, delicate, woodsy nosh to serve while everyone was trying to maneuver through the tables of wine.  I’m sure that most, if not all of the ingredients were sourced from the Greenmarket, which means that even I might be able to replicate it.

Black Cod and Asparagus wrapped in Bacon dipped in Champagne Tempura and dressed with Jalapeno Aoli, these fried-to-order bites from Palo Santo were one of the more ambitions options of the evening.  I just wished they’d succeeded a bit more.  The exterior with the light crunchy crust and the creamy spice of the aoli was really tasty.  The interior didn’t fare so well, and I found it overly chewy and gummy.  That’s too bad, as I had had other good things from them at another event.

Still, there was more wine to try on the main level before heading upstairs where even more great things awaited. Baiting Hollow had a few that I really enjoyed.  Their 2008 White Satin blend delivered high acidity and great fruit flavors.  It would be a good match with summer grilled seafood.  Their 2006 Cabernet France reminded me of what I’ve been missing in a good, solid table red wine.  Not too spicy, but just bold enough, I could definitely feel the oak and the round fruit flavors.

Raphael had an interesting 2010 Chardeaux (66% Chardonnay/44% Sauvignon Blanc) that delivered crispness and fruitiness with a nice balance of minerality and acidity.  The Old Field winery had a Commodore Perry 2002 Reserve Merlot that had a lovely soft fruit finish to it.  A portion of the proceeds of the sale of every bottle will be going to the relief funds for Japan in honor of their ancestor who opened up that country to the Western World.

After some more snacks, including trying a delicious a new Spelt Bread from Orwasher’s, some samples from Rick’s Picks, and cheese and sausage from Organic Valley, it was time to head upstairs to see what other wonderful delights awaited us.  By the time we got there, I decided I was a little bit more interested in food than in wine, so I headed off to see what I could find on that front.  There were some really great options to try:

Vandaag had these smokey, crunchy, slightly spiced Ash-Cured Duck Breast slices on Beer Bread with Watercress and Buttermilk Ranch on top.

I now think I’m completely in love with the cool, creamy, sweet, delicate, slightly licorice-y Shrimp Rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound.  Could this spell the overthrow of lobster supremacy?

Neither my friend nor I are much for cold soups, but this Chilled Zucchini and Basil Soup with local Goat Feta and Black Olive Croutons from Buttermilk Channel was really delicious and refreshing.

The Venison Paté with Cranberries and Pistachios from Les Trois Petits Cochons was really amazing, meaty (not gamey) and hearty, a slab of this, on Orwasher’s bread, some cornichons, and a slather of the mustard they have made especially for them in France, and lunchtime would reach a whole new level of incredible.  Their silken, earthy Truffle Mousse and smooth, vegetal Spinach Terrine with Roquefort Cheese made their table a destination stop all evening long.

McInroe Organic Farm served up these Liverwurst bites on Eli’s Pumpernickle Bread with Pickled Onions.  As my friend said, they seemed more pate-esque than the liverwurst we remembered of old and were nice small tastes to keep us going.

My friend said she enjoyed the Grilled Baby Octopus with Spring Bean Salad and Fresh Herbs by Dressler

My eye was more drawn to the House-made Mortadella with Grainy Mustard and Cornichon from The Vanderbilt.  Although flavorful, I think the meat-to-bread ratio was out of proportion, with the mortadella being too thick or just too big of a piece.  The mustard, however, was fantastic.

This Buttermilk Biscuit with Braised Pork Belly from Flying Pigs Farm and Pickled Ramps from Blooming Hill Farm was gorgeous to look at and was very locavore in the process.

The Manchego cheese Fritter with Piquillo pepper, Asparagus, and White Anchovies from The Good Fork, tried to play several notes at once.  While the fritter was o.k., the asparagus with the anchovy was the best part of this plate.  I would have gone back for seconds on that.

The Cleaver Co‘s Wild Herb Paté was popular, as was their Rhubarb Brown Butter Cakes, which were all finished by the time I got to their table.

For me, however, the hit of the evening were these made-to-order Lamb Sausages with Spring Pickles, Mint Pesto and Feta by Rose Water.  Flavorful, juicy meat with cool, sharp cheese alongside of tangy pickles, I could have eaten several plates of these.

On the sweeter side of life, these little Shortcakes with Strawberries and Cream from Grow NYC/Greenmarket were completely wonderful.  I really hope that this is a sign of super-sweet-tart, fragrant berries to come this season.

The mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Walnut Frangipane were all gone from CAKEette by the time I made it to the back of the room to get one.  This poor Rhubarb Lollipop looked like s/he was hanging on for dear life as well.

At a certain point in the evening, my friend and I became separated in the crowd.  Thank goodness for text messaging, as that’s what reconnected us so that we could team up and try some more wines.

The 2005 Sherwood Manor Red Blend from Sherwood House Vineyards was a big hit with both my friend and I for its soft, round red fruit notes and light tannins.  They develop wines that can be kept for several years, and this is one that I’d like to try again as it develops even more complexity and character.

Sparkling Pointe lived up to its name with its variety of choices of sparkling wines.  The 2001 Brut Seduction was one that my friend enjoyed as sort of a champagne/prosecco feel and taste.  For me, it was all right, but not my top pick.  One thing I did learn last night, is that even slightly sweet wines are not at all for me.  The NV Cuvée Carnaval was discribed this way and was too sweet for my tastebuds.

Having some of the prettiest, most cheerful display of bottles, Croteaux Vineyards specializes in Rosés, which I was excited to see as I’m a fan of this beverage variety.  Unfortunately, the Croteaux Cuvée Sparkle and I did not mesh.  I found it way too sweet and almost too fruity in flavor.

The Grapes of Roth was a table my friend had wanted to visit.  (Isn’t that a great name for a vineyard?)  I’m not sure that there’s much I can add to the on-line review of their current vintage 2004 Merlot except to say that we both really enjoyed it.  It was lighter on the palate than several of the wines I tasted.  I picked up hints of plums and raspberries with tannic backnotes coming at the finish.  The 2009 Late Harvest Riesling was the first dessert wine we’d had all evening.  I could pick up a light caramel flavor as well as notes of fruit in it.

It was really at the end of the evening, maybe because we’d worked all our tasting muscles well, that we found some wines that we both thought were really good.  Mattabella Vineyards had several bottles that we both enjoyed.  The Rosé was full of summertime promise and romance with personality, unlike some of the lighter and more-insipid glasses I’d tried elsewhere.  The Chardonnay has no more than 20% oak, which gives it a lighter feel.  It is crisp and clean with apple/pear notes to it.  I might have preferred a bit more oak, but I really enjoyed its light side.  The Old World Red reinforced again that I could find a great-tasting, Italian-style table wine from NY State grapes.  Their tasting room opens in June, which might be enough to tempt me to get out of the city to head up there.

Water’s Crest Winery gave us our second dessert wine tasting of the evening.  The description of 2009 Late Harvest Night Watch from their site is perfect.  The only thing that I would add is that this is a lighter dessert wine than others I have tried, which makes it even more inviting to drink after a meal.  The 2007 Cabernet Franc had strong cherry and, to me, blackberry notes.  It would be an interesting wine to pair with food.  The Rosé was too light for me.  I was sort of surprised by it, as the other wines from this vineyard seem to be bolder in nature.

To take a break from the wines, there were also a few other beverage options for the evening to cleanse one’s palate:

GuS (Grown Up Soda) brought along several of their refreshing flavors.  My new favorite of theirs is Grape Black Currant.  The currants aren’t too overwhelming and the grape adds just the right bit of sweetness.  SerendipiTea brought along several flavors hot and cold to sooth everyone’s tastebuds.  For those wanting to end the evening with a jolt, Dallis Bros. Coffee delivered some much needed caffeine.

This was a really terrific event as far as being able to try out so many different offerings from New York State wineries.  It was easy to see the care and attention each one of the winemakers puts into his or her craft and the chemistry that goes into getting something into the bottle for us to enjoy.  This was a perfect opportunity to interact with some old favorites and to meet some new folks as well.  Pairing these wines with dishes from local restaurants just makes me appreciate even more the work that goes on in the local food system to bring us these amazing things to eat and drink.

Buon appetito!

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