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by Judy Crocker April 14, 2022 4 min read


90+ Point Favorites from the USA!

With Easter Sunday this weekend, we wanted to feature two wines that are not only outstanding selections but will also pair perfectly with your traditional Easter dinner. A few weeks back I tasted with Rick Rainey, Managing Partner at Forge Cellars. I really have not tasted many wines from the Finger Lakes, but I have heard from others in the industry how good the wines were from Forge, so I was excited to learn a bit. The wines were textbook examples of Dry Riesling with clean, precise flavors and salty minerality on the finish. I could not wait to take them in and enjoy them with oysters but when planning this week’s email, I figured their "Classique" bottling would also work great with ham. Traditionally, I make leg of lamb for Easter and this year will be no different. Rhone reds work well but so do many Napa Valley Cabernets that are elegant and have a depth of flavor rather than so many of the "fruit bombs" we see now. Band of Vintners is a wine we offer each vintage and I love talking about this small production Napa Cab to anyone who will listen.



Forge Cellars is an artisanal producer who specializes in Riesling. To be honest, my interest in New York wines has been low but Louis Barruol of Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas is a partner in Forge so that got my attention. Saint Cosme is one of the greatest producers in all of the Southern Rhone making not just 90-point wines but wines flirting with perfect 100's in many vintages. So, for him to choose Seneca Lake, NY to make wine where he could go anywhere was fascinating to me.

Forge makes Riesling from 16 different sites now, some only a hundred cases of each. I had the chance to taste the four wines available in Massachusetts. Each wine is very different in style, but the winemaking is the same. Riesling more than any other wine grape in the world tastes of its origin and any Riesling fan should search out these wines from Forge. The "Classique" we are offering today is a blend of each of the 16 sites to make one wine that Forge feels best represents what the small, 8 mile region of Seneca Lake can do with Riesling. I must admit, I was shocked when I saw the price. I figured this was at least a $25.00 bottle and was not surprised to see it was on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list a couple times in the last few years, including #31 with the 2018 vintage.

If you have not tasted Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon yet, this is a perfect time. Prices of quality Napa wines have skyrocketed, most of my old favorites that for years were $30 a bottle or so are now in the $50 to $75 price range. Band of Vintners began in 2014, as a group of seven wine lovers based in Napa Valley who decided to make one wine together, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. In just four vintages they have started a small “cult” like following for this wine. The group consists of four winemakers, two businessmen, and a Master Sommelier. In order to make an affordable yet overachieving wine, Band of Vintners buys juice from other estates in Napa. They do not tell anyone where the juice is sourced from, but members of the group are connected with some huge names in Napa Valley like, Cardinale, Harlan Estate, Lokoya, Spottswoode, and Massican to name a few. Tasted blind, I think it would easily be guessed as a wine costing $60+ a bottle, so at under $30 it is certainly one to try.

Rick from Forge Cellars told me they don’t really sell the wines as “Riesling,” more so as simply great white wines. They are not bottled in traditional Riesling bottles but bottles that look more like Chardonnay is inside. Regardless, they are terrific food wines, dry, crisp and full of flavor. Try it this weekend with your Easter dinner. I’ll be shucking oysters to have with the Riesling and enjoying leg of Lamb with the Cabernet Sauvignon!



Forge Cellars Riesling “Classique” 2019 – Finger Lakes, NY 750mL


91 Points - Wine Spectator
"Vibrant mustard flower, white peach and chamomile notes make this white racy and vivid, with mouthwatering cut on the finish" - James Molesworth




Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – Napa Valley, CA 750mL


92 Points - Wine Advocate
"Medium ruby-purple, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is very pretty on the nose, super floral with notes of blackcurrant bud, violet, bitter chocolate, cedar and classy new oak spices plus loads of red berry sparks. The palate is medium-bodied, lifted, floral and fresh, with a gently chalky texture and long, uplifted finish." - Erin Brooks

Judy Crocker
Judy Crocker

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