Friday, January 19, 2018

The Best of Times To Drink Local in New Hampshire!

It is New Hampshire wine week, and I thought I would chime in, with a few of my favorites...that I have reviewed in the past. There's a lot of great wines being made in New Hampshire, as well as ciders, and much more. My list isn't as extensive as I'd like it to be. I need to travel the region a little more intensively, than I have recently. So many new businesses and artisans. A very exciting period in the state's history. A great time to be drinking in New Hampshire!

p.s. threw in a few distilled products as well!

Hermit Woods is my new exciting favorite in New England! Their Petite Blue is one of the best red wines in New England (and it's made from blueberries!). And their Deep Blue dessert wine is a massive treat. These folks are talented!

LaBelle winery is one of the largest and most successful in the region. Their Raspberry Dessert wine is among the best raspberry wines I've ever had! Makes for great sipping, and super Kir Royales.

In my opinion, Farnum Hill is the First Growth equivalent of cider in the world! It's the absolute best! From easy summer sippers, to some of the best ciders ever made, this is artisanal cider at it's best!

Peter Oldak is the father of modern winemaking in New Hampshire. He wasn't the first (that I know of) but he made it a burgeoning industry in the state. He organized and promoted. He's the kind of guy every region needs. In the meantime, he makes some great quality wines...for a long time now.  I love his Seyval Blanc, his Vignoles, and his Marechal Foch.

Flag Hill is among the most ubiquitous labels in New Hampshire, and is seemingly the grandaddy of New Hampshire wine. I love their Cayuga white, a great, bright, easy drinking wine. Their apple cranberry sounds like a cheesey fruit cocktail - but I guarantee you, it's an absolute crowd pleaser - a fantastic surprise. And their Cyder is excellent (I know, it says Vermont - but it's made in NH - don;t be a hater).

Fulchino is a wonderful little producer of Italian varietals. But this 603 label, made from local and estate grapes, is a wonderful Italian-styled table wine.

Zorvina Bacca Z is a solid, solid table wine. Enjoy!

The Silver Mountain Raspberry Apple wine is another big surprise. There's enough tartness to keep is honest and refreshing.

I like everything about Sweet Baby Vineyard except that they are hard to get a hold of. I need to get there! But I love what they are about. They give back, their local, and they make some terrific fruit wines. Amazing!

Clark & Chesterfield is one of the best liquor producers in the north east. Check 'em out. This bourbon, and their single malt whiskey are both exceptional.

The Smoky Quartz Single Malt Whiskey and the V5 Bourbon Whiskey are both impressive from this small boutique distillery. Another small distillery that ranks among the bet in the northeast.

Flag Hill is also distilling some wonderful things. I made a wonderful cocktail with their spice rum, but their bourbon is extremely tasty and can stand up to ice. A lovely dram.

Kingfish Rum Gold is one of the better aged rums in New England. Discover the beauty of local aged rum!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017



New York now Ranks in the Top Five in the U.S. for the Number of Craft Beverage Producers in every Category

340 New Businesses Join New York's Thriving Craft Beverage Industry Since Enactment of the Law

Modernizing Laws, Easing Regulations, Eliminating Fees and Lowering Taxes Drives Industry to Unprecedented Growth

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the number of craft beverage manufacturers has grown by 50 percent since the enactment of the Craft New York Act three years ago. A direct result of the Governor's Beer, Wine, Spirits and Cider Summits, the Craft Act went into effect on December 13, 2014, continuing the state's support of the growing craft beverage industry. Since then, 340 new craft beverage businesses have opened their doors across the state.

"This administration has worked hard to cut red tape, lower costs and roll back burdensome regulations for New York's craft beverage industry - efforts that are clearly paying off in every corner of this great state," Governor Cuomo said. "I'm proud of the continued growth of this sector, which has created jobs, spurred tourism, supported New York farms and led to the creation of top-notch world-renown products."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State has implemented a series of legislative and policy changes to capitalize on the soaring consumer demand for locally produced craft beverages and to make it easier to open and run a craft manufacturing business. These improvements include lowering taxes and fees, providing support for research, creating new licenses for farm breweries and cideries, rolling back restrictive regulations, cutting the time it takes to obtain a license in half and overhauling the state's antiquated Alcoholic Beverage Control law.

The 2014 Craft Act cut burdensome requirements placed on producers and eased restrictions regarding the marketing of craft products by: relaxing rules for conducting on and off-site tastings and sales; providing additional opportunities for small manufacturers to reach new customers; increasing annual production limits while keeping licensing fees low; allowing farm distilleries to open a no-fee offsite branch location; and launching a $2 million Craft Beverage Marketing and Promotion Grant Program and a $1 million Craft Beverage Industry Tourism Promotion Grant.

Since the Craft Act went into effect, New York State has experienced unprecedented growth in craft manufacturing, with an average of over two licenses issued each week for new breweries, distilleries, wineries and cideries throughout the state. In the three years since the Craft Act was enacted, 35 cideries, 60 wineries and farm wineries, 67 craft distillers and 178 craft breweries have opened for business in the state. Of those 340 new businesses, 260 are farm-based producers that use locally sourced ingredients in their production.

The number of craft beverage producers has increased in every region of the state since the signing of the Craft New York Act. Regional highlights can be viewed here. New York State now ranks in the top five in the U.S. for its number of craft beverage producers in every category. The state ranks fourth in the country for both the total number of wineries and the total number of breweries, second in the country for the number of craft distillers and first for the number of hard cider producers.

New York State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent G. Bradley said, "New York is being recognized across the country and across the world for our high-quality craft beverages. Governor Cuomo has fostered an environment in the state that allows these businesses to succeed and grow, and because of this, more and more producers are opening and contributing to the economy."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, "New York's craft beverage manufacturers are smart, innovative entrepreneurs with a dedication to excellence, and it shows in their products. As the industry grows, we are seeing more and more producers using local ingredients straight from the farm, which is beneficial to our agricultural sector and the regional economy. Because of Governor Cuomo's efforts to kick-start the industry, it is thriving and making a strong impression locally, nationally and around the world."

New York State Wine and Grape Foundation President Sam Filler said, "The Craft New York Act helped expand market opportunities for New York State wineries by permitting sales by the glass at all other farm beverage licenses, and in effect, fostering collaboration and relationships between the wine industry and beer, cider and spirits producers."

New York State Brewers Association Executive Director Paul Leone said, "As we celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Craft New York Act, we need to look at far we've come in these few short years. Simply allowing breweries to serve beer by the glass in their tasting rooms has been a game changer for the craft brewing industry in New York State. Not only did it provide breweries with a critical revenue stream that allowed further growth in the hiring of more employees, but also in expansions and infrastructure. Add the enhanced tourism aspect, and you have the perfect storm of economic growth from all 4 beverage sectors. We thank the Governor and his administration for supporting this critical piece of legislation."

New York Cider Association Executive Director Jenn Smith said, "By modernizing the regulatory atmosphere around the production and sale of craft beverages, supporting the growth initiatives of individual orchards and cideries, and nurturing collective promotional programs such as our Cider Week festivals, Governor Cuomo's Craft Beverage Act has made New York a fertile and prosperous environment for the farms and entrepreneurs making cider from New York apples. As a result, New York now leads the nation in number of cideries, and New York Cider is recognized internationally as a beverage of diversity and distinction. Our industry's advancement is an outcome of his vision."

New York State Distillers Guild President Cory Muscato said, "Having now been three years since the passage of the Craft Act, it is even more obvious how much this bill meant to New York's distilled spirits industry. A majority of our membership and industry have made significant investments in their own businesses due to the passage of this bill, including new tasting rooms, production facility equipment, and personnel. We can proudly serve our spirits alongside fellow New York-produced beer, wine, and cider by the glass, opening market access for producers which leads to more opportunities for growth. A tremendous thank you to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in making New York State the poster child of the nation's successful craft beverage industry."

Senator Rich Funke, Chair, Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation Committee said, "The innovation and development of New York's craft beverage industry in recent years has been vital to tourism throughout New York State, especially in the Finger Lakes Region. Whether it is agri-tourism farm visits, tastings at local breweries, or concerts and other events that draw people to New York this growth is a crucial element to many of our local economies. As Chair of the New York State Senate's Tourism Committee, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to support the advancement of the craft beverage industry."

Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture, said, "Each and every day, New Yorkers are looking to eat—and drink—locally made products. The potential of our craft beer industry is unlimited. With every step we take in unlocking that potential, we are not only supporting the industry, we are also creating jobs and boosting the bottom lines of our hardworking farmers. In recent years, I have been proud to spearhead changes that make it easier for our state's craft beverage producers to flourish and look forward to the continued growth of this booming industry."

Assembly member Daniel J. O'Donnell, Chair, Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development said, "The flourishing craft brewery industry is a major win for all New Yorkers- farmers, consumers, tourists, upstate, downstate- and beyond! I'm excited to see the continued success of these businesses and the communities that they support as the industry expands over the coming years."

Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture said, "The Craft New York Act has bolstered the craft beverage industry through legislative reforms of regulations, easing red tape and increasing interest in brewing craft beverage products, and adding new market outlets, allowing these businesses to become major contributors to our agricultural and tourism economies, and creating new jobs and opportunities across the state."

The changes have not only ushered in an explosion in the craft industry, but have also generated employment and economic development for supporting industries, including bottling, construction, freight, printing and advertising. New York agriculture has benefited directly from the Farm Brewery and Farm Cidery legislation through increased demand for locally sourced farm products. According to Cornell University, the acreage of hops grown in New York State has nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016, and the acreage of malting barley has increased by 374 percent in the same two-year time period, from 422 to approximately 2,000 acres. At the same time, to the growth of agritourism in the craft beverage sector further bolsters New York's massive $100 billion tourism industry.

Tousey Winery Improving With Every Vintage! (NY)

Let's start the conversation like this.... Tousey Winery is one of the best quality wine producers in the Hudson Valley. End of conversation....except....that's not quite true... you see, they're actually getting better....which is quite astonishing, when you figure that they started off pretty great.

I have known Ben and Kimberley Peacock at Tousey Winery for many years now. And I have always been impressed with their winemaking. Ben took the study of winemaking and viticulture very seriously. He studied under Peter Bell in the finger Lakes and worked with Steve Mudd in Long Island. That's an impressive coaching tree in reverse. So you're thinking he would know how to do his stuff. Kimberley meanwhile is a ubiquitous presence on the farm market and promotional scene in Columbia and Dutchess counties.

First of all, the tasting room at Tousey has been completely reconfigured for a bigger, bar, able to accommodate more folks!  They've also added a communal table to the place to add extra space for those hanging around a bit. And they've added taps and are selling local brews by the glass.

But the real point of this article is the wines. They're always been terrific. Now they are getting great!

The Tousey Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2014 is a fantastic wine that leads off it's attack with a cherry explosion of bright young red cherries, and dark sour cherries layer on on top of the other, along with lovely light strawberries. Classic notes of lavender and vanilla also come to the fore. This is easily one of the best Pinot Noirs made in the Hudson Valley, and really should be considered in any conversation about New York state Pinot Noir. 

The next wine that was even more of a revelation was the Tousey Estate Grown Cabernet Franc. First off,it's as dark as I have ever seen a Hudson Valley cab franc. And the color is matched with unprecedented taste. Big smacks of dark cherry and young cherry mash together with red raspberry and hints of cassis. It has layers of flavor with mocha and cocoa and graphite and vanilla all blending together. Well balanced with fruit and tannins Great structure. Easily one of the best Cabernet Francs I've had in New York state. Amazing!

Tousey The Loic Blanc de Blanc Inaugural Vintage 2011 was also a very especial wine. This first premiere in December of 2016. Mae from 100% whole cluster Chardonnay grapes, the whole thing i pressed at 34 F with the idea of preserving the freshness of the fruit. This sparkling wine is made with the methode champenoise method, and take three years to mature in the bottle. Peach and green apple and fresh apple all compete with other tropical notes and are swirled in hints of bread and spice. The wine ends with great acidity and a hint of creaminess. A very very excellent sparkling wine!

But what's that name from? Ben Peakcock retells the story, "It’s a long story. The name comes from a French chap who was AWOL from the French Foreign Legion. I went to Danish school with him and we became friendly. I invited him over to dinner and he revealed all his woes. AWOL, married a Danish chick but she’s doesn’t love him, probably going to get divorce etc, etc. 

"Tiger was only a baby back then. For reasons unknown, he told us his father had an embroidery business in the south of France. A week after the dinner a towel arrives with a tiger on it for the baby! We never saw him again. Fast forward to 2012 and we’re searching for baby names. Kimberley suggests Loic. And I say, no way am I retelling that boring as hell, random towel story for the rest of my life.... I lost."

Great story!

Again, I will say it, Ben Peacock and his wife Kimberly are producing extraordinary wines. One must simply go to Tousey. Period. And you MUST do two things: taste the wines, and secondly, pretend you don't already know the story about Loic, and get Ben to tell it again!