This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
The North Fork of Long Island’s Lieb Cellars was founded in 1992, and judging from a recent tasting of their wines, they have found a healthy rhythm. The wines shared a common thread: they’re bright, clean, refreshing and delicious. Lieb Cellars gets their juice from 11 classic vinifera varieties, which are planted in Tetris-like blocks across four different vineyards. This diversity appears to give Australian-born winemaker Russell Hearn a lot of options for blending.
They have a range of everyday-drinking wines, the Bridge Lane label (a white blend, a red blend and a Chardonnay), which are shockingly tasty and interesting for $15 a bottle. In addition to the typical bottle, these wines come in three-liter boxes and 20-liter plastic kegs. For big get-togethers, I could see a box or keg of Bridge Lane as an inexpensive but crowd-pleasing option, but they offer enough subtlety and complexity for wine lovers to appreciate, especially given the price. The “Reserve” label wines are unique expressions of their grapes and places, but the Cab Franc stole the show for my palate.
This wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted:
2014 Lieb Family Cellars Bridge Lane White Blend - New York
Bright lemon color. Gorgeous nose: white peach, green pears and limes topped with floral elements (honeysuckle and dandelion), crushed chalk and ocean spray. Fresh and bright but a playful feel on the palate. Flavors of white peaches, green pears and nectarines mix together nicely with flowers, white pepper, sea breeze and chalk. Clean and bright but a lot of complexity in here. Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and some white juice from Pinot Noir as well. Dry, no oak, no maloactic fermentation, 12.9% alcohol. (87 points)
2014 Lieb Family Cellars Chardonnay Bridge Lane - New York
Pale gold color. Bright and clean on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruit (papaya, yellow apples, nectarine) but also a refreshing sense of sea breeze, shells and honeysuckle. Crisp acid, a refreshing tartness on the palate but some richness as well. Yellow apples, pineapple, juicy nectarine fruit, topped with some sea salt, almond, honeysuckle and potpourri. Juicy, fun, refreshing, balanced, really impressive for the price. All stainless steel, no maloactic fermentation, 12.9% alcohol. (87 points)
Review: 2013 Lieb Family Cellars Bridge Lane Red Blend - New York, Long Island, North Fork
Deep ruby color. Nose of juicy black cherries, plums, raspberry jam, some violets, sweet red licorice. Medium-bodied, light tannins and moderate acid. Juicy black cherries, dark plums and blueberries, easy-drinking and fresh fruit, dashed with some violets, loamy soil and a kick of black pepper. Not too complex, but I like this open, fresh, easy-drinking approach. 70% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot. 12.9% alcohol. (86 points)
2013 Lieb Family Cellars Pinot Blanc Reserve - New York, Long Island, North Fork
Pale straw color. The aromas jump out of the glass with juicy white peaches, kiwi and pear nectar, backed up by some honeysuckle, dandelion and clovers. Light bodied but tangy acid, an unassuming wine but plenty of flavor. White peaches, nectarines, juicy pears, yellow apples, so much fruit and all of it farmer’s market fresh. I love the complex web of white and yellow flowers, some ginger, sea shells and quinine notes. Leaves the palate clean and the lips smacking for more. Very pretty, crowd-pleasing and would pair well with so many foods. Six months in stainless steel, this clocks in at a light and easy 11.9% alcohol. (88 points)
2013 Lieb Family Cellars Sparkling Rosé Reserve - New York, Long Island, North Fork
Pale copper color. Vibrant and bright aromas of grapefruit, red apples, wild strawberries, added together with sea shells, biscuits and a slight savory hint (mushroom?). Tart acid kicks off the palate and stays sharp throughout, moderate creaminess adds to the texture. McIntosh apple, strawberry and ruby red grapefruit (all of it crunchy and tangy), I like the notes of sea breeze and oyster shell, and I get that same savory kick, like earth and white mushrooms. Long, clean and crisp, there’s a lot to like here. I’d love to taste this with some local oysters. 13.3% alcohol, 16 months on the lees, 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. (88 points)
2013 Lieb Family Cellars Cabernet Franc Reserve - New York, Long Island, North Fork
Deep purple-ruby. Needs a bit of air but opens to show deep black cherries and red/black currants. Deeply fruit but laced with smoke, graphite, tobacco, chicory coffee and loamy soil. Medium body (12.8% alcohol). Velvety but dusty tannins and bright acid make for great balance. Fleshy red and black currant fruit, mix in some blueberries, but I also get a complex blend of earth, graphite, chewing tobacco, violets and loam. So pure and vibrant, lots of complexity. Pleasant now but a proper decant is a good idea. Includes 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot, aged 10 months in Hungarian oak. (90 points)