Empire Oenophile


Wine shipped long distances comes with a heavy carbon footprint. According to the New York Times, chardonnay trucked to the Big Apple from Napa generates twice the climate-warming emissions as an East Coast wine.

Alie Shaper, owner of and winemaker for Brooklyn Oenology, is making it easier to drink local with the release of her first two wines, a chardonnay and a merlot. Both were made on Long Island’s North Fork at Premium Wine Group, a custom-crush facility; eventually Shaper will bring the winemaking operation to Brooklyn.

For her 2005 Chardonnay ($15) Shaper bought grapes from three North Fork vineyards and crafted a wine that straddles New and Old World styles. A youthful nose offers citrus and apple aromas and just the faintest hints of baking spice. The fresh, lively palate is an amalgam of apples, mandarin oranges, and tropical fruit with a little vanilla and spice. The acidity is plentiful, barely tart on the finish.

The full-bodied, lush 2005 Merlot ($18), made with fruit from Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue, shows the ripeness of the vintage. The nose is expressive, dominated by crushed raspberries and blackberries. Intense and almost-sweet blackberry and black cherry flavors coat the palate with subtle vanilla and caramel.


To the north and west, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars is one of the Finger Lakes Region’s most respected wineries, and with good reason: the founder and namesake pioneered classic wine varieties in the Eastern United States. Riesling rules the Finger Lakes and Dr. Frank makes some of the region’s finest, but they also produce two classically styled sparkling wines that deserve more attention.

Chateau Frank 2000 Blanc de Blancs ($30) has lightly floral aromas of citrus, pear and a touch of honey. Delicate and fresh, it’s dry, but not harshly so, with great acid balance.
Chateau Frank 2002 Brut ($25) is a slightly toasty wine with aromas of roasted nuts and fresh-cut flowers. Dry and flavorful, white cherry and apple flavors offer a faint earthiness and a creamy finish.