Red Hook Winery – The Electric

by Chloé Mathieu Phillips & Dennis Phillips on March 31, 2010

in Drinks, Featured, New York

It’s not often that we are absolutely, completely shocked by a wine.   However, this aptly named wine — The Electric — from Red Hook Winery did just that at a recent tasting.   The winery is very new and this 2008 bottle is one of about 6 different wines making up their first line of commercial releases.

Before you get too excited about these new releases, we didn’t necessarily mean “shocked” in a good way.   In fact, after having a few sips it really fundamentally challenged our whole approach to drinking wine, and called into question whether a wine should be made with the consumer in mind or if it should simply be made to suit the whims of the winemaker.    But, before we give our opinion about whether one is better than the other, what do you think?   How much should consumer taste weigh in on winemaker’s decisions? Does a “boutique wine” maker  have any further license and justification to pursue strange paths of creativity than the makers of larger production wines?

Okay, so now our view…

We’d like to think that a fitting end to every wine bottle’s life is to be opened and enjoyed by someone… anyone. As a winemaker, the job is to create a pleasurable experience by putting your personality into the wine without overshadowing the natural flavors and character the environment imparts on the grapes.   However, when your personality starts to blur the purity of the grapes and the pleasure of the drinking experience, when the wine becomes more of a “project”, we’d argue the winemaker has gone too far.   There is a time and a place for experimenting with new techniques and blends or challenging commonly held traditions in winemaking… however, a flagship wine in its first commercial release is likely not that time.

But hey, that’s just our gut reaction to this wine.   We’d love to hear what you think.   Is it possible for a winemaker to ever go too far?

Anyway, at this point you might be asking “what is The Electric and what does it taste like?”   Well, it’s a blend of 95% Chardonnay (unoaked) and 5% botrytized Riesling from Long Island.   Botrytis is a fungus that causes the grapes to shrivel and dry, thus getting very sweet.   The wine smells like apple cider vinegar with some strong aromas of honey… it’s pretty rich and round in the mouth and has a nice long finish.   But truly tastes like two separate wines mixed together.   The best way of describing how it tastes is probably like imagining oxidized citrus fruit zest covered in wax.   We tried to think about possible things to pair with this and couldn’t come up with one thing.   Is it bad? Not really. Is it interesting? Certainly.

And how much will that psychedelic rainbow in your mouth cost?   A mere $42 per bottle.

Red Hook Winery 2008 The Electric| $42 at Brooklyn Wine Exchange, Brooklyn NY

Photo by / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Chloé Mathieu Phillips & Dennis Phillips

Chloé and Dennis’ passion for unique, local food and wine started
years ago around a shared plate of churros in the south of Spain. Chloé followed Dennis to New York, Dennis caught up with her appreciation for wine and food and together they quickly started eating and drinking their way around the world and making amazing, passionate friends along the way. They recently lived in Europe and backpacked their way back across Asia and South America. Dennis and Chloé now live in Greenpoint,
Brooklyn and are happily plotting their next move in the world of
food, wine and travel. They share their wine experiences on Tag:Wine
and on the more personal (and often written in French) chloe blogue.

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  • FireOnTheMountain

    I've had the Electric with hard, aged cheeses, stinky cheeses, & various preparations of red salmon (seared, slow-roasted, and tartare). In these cases, the oxidized character of the wine (as well as the somewhat savory mouth feeling) seemed highly complimentary to the foods at hand. A curious wine, however.

  • Don C

    I have never had the Electric. However – I always do enjoy a wine that challenges how I think about wine. It always helps frame what I do and don't like..

  • seabeard

    Thanks for the pairing recommendations! After the wine had been opened for a while, it definitely became sweeter and I can totally see it with a nice stinky cheese (like my favorite in the world, mariolles). Although, when it was first opened it was a lot more acidic and oxidized, which might work well with salmon.

  • Pingback: red hook lobster pound | Gastro Traveling()

  • mamashea

    We just paired the Electric with four different salmon-based dishes and every one of them was better than the last. I enjoyed the Electric on its own, but was dubious about how it would go with food. Truly, the wine simply got better and better with each dish.

  • Maggie

    That's awesome to hear, mamashea. I'll be drinking it with salmon asap! :)

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