One complaint that I hear a lot about local wine is that it’s too expensive. Often this comes from people who are used to spending no more than $10 on a bottle of wine. If that’s you, you might want to look away, because this week’s “By the Bottle” pick might cause heart palpitations.
Bedell Cellars‘ 2014 Musee, the winery’s high-end blend of 60% merlot, 30% petite verdot and 10% cabernet sauvignon that is only made in the best vintages, retails for $125 at the winery.
Is that a lot of money for a single bottle of wine? Yes. It absolutely is. Is it over-priced? That’s too personal a judgement for me to say. I will tell you that it’s not a wine that I drink very often. But, it’s also an important wine in an important category for a region that wants to be taken more seriously than it is.
Remember, that just about all of the premier wine-growing regions of the world have luxury bottlings that top $100. That a Long Island winery can make—and sell—a wine like this is meaningful. And this isn’t the only wine in this price range.
It’s a special wine made in special vintages that is meant for special occasions. This isn’t your Thursday night pizza wine. Or maybe it is. I know it’s not that kind of wine for me on my budget.
It’s a small-production wine that isn’t made every year. Again, it’s meant to be special.
“There’s a high level of maturity that I’m looking for that isn’t achieved every single vintage—a fall-off-the-vine level of ripeness which includes super high sugar concentration along with dark inky color, low acid and rich, fully ripe tannin and flavor,” says Bedell winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich. “The goal is the same—producing a lush, richly flavored, complex and powerfully structured red wine that hits all the right notes. A wine that drinks beautifully young but also has the ‘right stuff’ to age for over a decade or more.”
The blend changes depending on what the season brings. Cabernet sauvignon doesn’t get ripe enough most years. In others you’ll find syrah or cabernet franc in the blend. In 2019, Olsen-Harbich says, “It looks like in 2019 we’ll have all these varieties to work with to make this wine.” So look for the 2019 Bedell Musee several years into the future.
“I always believe it’s important to make the best wine I can possibly make in any vintage so when nature gives us the ingredients, we are proud to make a wine of this caliber,” he says, adding, “I think it shows what the North Fork is capable of doing and proves that our region can produce big, yet elegant reds when given the chance. A wine like this can’t be made anywhere else and highlights our unique terroir with a combination of finesse and power.”
Though quite plush on the palate, it’s still elegant and medium-bodied. It shows ripe dark fruits but also layers of savory herbs, toasty, nutty oak and hints of dried flowers, cinnamon and licorice. It’s complex and evolves beautifully when open for several days—which often indicates possible longevity in your wine cellar as well.
I asked Olsen-Harbich what he likes to eat with this wine and his answer seems perfect as we head into the holiday season: “Musee is for special occasions and is meant to impress. Classic pairings would be prime cuts of steak, crown roasts, roast duck, osso bucco.”