Wine, Beef, and a Little Bit of Dirt

It was a sweaty August day in Long Island, when I discovered McCall Wines with tasting notes from proprietor Rusell McCall. Walking rows of color-changing Pinot Noir Russell clued me in on the ranch’s wines, beef, and outlook on conservation…all while plucking bruised berries, and seemingly unaware of my heat-induced exhaustion and bad hair.

Just a few minutes prior to hitting the rows and getting my McCall history lesson, I’d been sampling wines from the fruit of those vines’ (and Russel’s) labor–2009 Pinot Noir,  and Merlot from 2007 and 2008.  These were rich, hearty reds ideal for relaxing with a big country meal–one where carb counting is blasphemous, laughs are loud, and meat is central.

At McCall, raising grass-fed (and sooo fuzzy!) Charolais cattle makes the classic red wine and red meat combination deliciously possible.  Completely organic, the McCall herd grazes the 100 acre farm sans antibiotics or hormones of any type. (Wine and beef pairing dinner chez McCall anyone?)

Essentially, you could dismantle a cow and serve every bit of it with a McCall wine. Because of the fat and strong flavors in beef, it needs a powerful wine that can stand equally beside, and elevate the flavors. In essence, pairing the two is a dance between spices, preparation methods, accompaniments and the juice you can find. I’d put the Pinot I tried alongside a roast, and the Merlot with a chimichurri-drenched skirt steak.

Overall, These are farm guys, making wine that goes great with rich, hearty farm-fare–and you can even taste it in a stall. And yes, they appeal to my wine-loving side, and the completely rural, Western Massachusetts roots that I normally stifle in order to be an allegedly glamourous city chick. Gotta love being near the dirt that makes the goodness possible sometimes.

McCall Beef Mania Uncorked:

Happy Merlot berries await veraison

Laura Loves: Playing outside while it’s still warm!

Wine Spectator’s annual food issue–out this month–which highlighted beef with classic pairings, amazing recipes from star chefs, and a great beef primer. (I’m veritable USDA standards expert after it…)

Drinking experimentally despite recent terrible pairings like Pinot Gris and Bleu cheese.

Fun Facts: While Napa Cab is a go-to with steak, ordering Merlot or other wines will score way more value at restaurants. It’s a sommelier secret.

McCall wines at produced at a Custom Crush facility rather than on the premises.

McCall’s first vintage was 2007, though the family has been growing grapes since 1996.

Geek Alert Tasting Note 1: McCall 2007 Merlot juicy, ripe, and luscious this Merlot outright sang. Dark berry flavors characterized the juice, which also had hints of cinnamon and cedar. Scrumptious on a chilly night with aformentioned hearty farm meal.

Geek Alert Tasting Note 2: McCall 2009 Pinot Noir seduced me with its elegant, smooth finish that came after a delicate tastebud interplay between vanilla, strawberry, and oak.


  • August 31, 2012
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