Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lieb Cellars 2011 Reserve Blanc de Blancs, North Fork of Long Island

What’s weird about this picture? It has a flute and a beautiful bottle of bubbly. Nothing strange about that. Look closer. This wine isn’t from Champagne, California or Italy – but Long Island.

A Special Spot In New York

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that we are big advocates of New York State wine. Many people don’t realize that New York is the third largest wine producing state, trailing California and Washington. Oregon is fourth.

One of our favorite wine regions anywhere is New York’s Finger Lakes. But we have to give some love to another New York wine region: Long Island. Long Island is about two hours east of New York City and the region is relatively young, with the first vines being planted in 1973.

There are two AVA, the North Fork of Long Island and, in the south, the Hamptons AVA. There are many Bordeaux-style blends and we’ve enjoyed some dynamite Chardonnay from there as well.

Gift Bag O’ Bubbles

The subject of our article today arrived in a gift basket to our office staff, from our friend Patty in Minnesota. There were cookies, sweets and some savory cheeses. I’m sure she wouldn’t be surprised to know I dove directly into the wine-shaped box to see what it contained.

To my delight, I discovered the bottle of Lieb Cellars 2011 Reserve Blanc de Blancs. How cool. I’ve had some delicious sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes, but this would be my first taste of Long Island sparkling. We popped open the bottle during our annual staff holiday lunch.

The Lieb Cellars bubbly is made in the Traditional Method, just like Champagne with a second fermentation in the bottle to create those luscious bubbles. The main grapes from Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Lieb wine was made with Pinot Blanc. Since it uses only white grapes, it earns the label Blanc de Blancs.

North Fork Gains New Fans

Lieb focuses on small lot, reserve wines from its 85-acre estate. The Reserve Blanc de Blancs did not disappoint. It is aged on the lees for four years before it is disgorged (this is when the yeast and sediment is removed – quickly – and the bottle recapped).

This had nice persistent bubbles with notes of nuts, apple and citrus. We had a variety of dishes, everything from fish to a cheese steak sandwich. The Reserve Blanc de Blancs paired famously and, not surprisingly, was perfect for a holiday toast.

Lieb has produced a well-made sparkler than stands tall. I’ve got a preference for Traditional Method sparkling wine and the care spent making this wine via this very involved process is evident in the glass. It is tasty and tasteful. It has an SRP of $30, but drinks like twice the price. 

Distribution of Long Island sparkling wine is a tiny blip compared to California or Europe, but that just makes it even more of a treat. We highly recommend this bottle – grab it if you can. (It’s available online too.)

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