Monday, August 31, 2009

UNIONVILLE VINEYARDS THE BIG O


According to Unionville Vineyards, "The true hero of Unionville Vineyards is our winemaker. While single varietals have become well known, the true artisan crafts signature blends that inspire a very personal level of wine appreciation. No other label or brand will replicate these wines of the Artisan Series, which feature an inspired combination of tastes that awaken and delight the palate. Such creations cannot be found elsewhere as they are completely unique to Unionville. The Artisan series will vary year by year depending on the bounty of Mother Nature and the inspirations of the vine."

The Artisan Series of wines is one of the two higher level wines made at Unionville. It's not their inexpensive series of wines, and it's not their Single Vineyard designation series. The Big O is a blend of Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon. It's big, it's dark, with lots of deep dark fruit, and some nice acidity and tannins. A big wine. It's a grab for the proverbial brass ring. And it seems Unionville has done it. Cameron Stark, the winemaker at Uinionville has done an excellent job crafting a solid, beautiful red wine.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

INTERVIEW WITH LENN THOMPSON OF LENNDEVOURS: THE NEW YORK CORK REPORT

Lenndevours: The New York Cork Report is simply the most important wine blog in New York State. It covers the Finger Lakes and Long Island with equal zest. And they have started to pick up more on the Hudson Valley. Lenndevours is a champion of the burgeoning wine region, and one of it's greatest cheeleaders and critics. Lenn Thompson loves the New York wine scene almost as much as he loves his wife, son, his dog, and his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Between organizing wine blogging conferences and wine bar tastings and launches, Lenn is a ubiquitous presence in the east coast wine world. And he has assembled an excellent staff to cover the regions where he can't be everyday. While I have carried on email conversations with Lenn for the better part of almost four years, we have never actually met - though we have tried. I hope to be able to sometime soon.

Bio
Lenn Thompson, Founder and Editor-in-ChiefLenn, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island nearly a decade ago and promptly fell in love with the region's dynamic and emerging wine industry. An Internet marketing guru by profession, he founded LENNDEVOURS.com in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines of New York with his friends, family and readers. In five short years, the blog has become the premier source for New York wine commentary, tasting notes and news.
Formerly the editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette and a contributor to Edible Brooklyn, Lenn contributes to Edible East End, and is the wine columnist for Hamptons.com and Dan's Papers in the Hamptons. He is also a regional editor for Appellation America covering the Long Island and Hudson River Valley regions.
Lenn lives in Sound Beach, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson and trusty beagle, Ben Roethlisbeagle.


THE INTERVIEW
What is the biggest challenge facing wine in your state today?
That’s a tough question to answer because I think each region has its own set of challenges. On Long Island, there’s the unfair criticism that “the wines are overpriced.” Sure, there are some wines that are priced well above their quality, but there are also great values at most every price point — except the under-$10 category.

In the Finger Lakes, I think the biggest challenge is really an identity crisis. That region has existed for a long time, with a great many wineries making — and succeeding with — sweetish wines from hybrid and native grapes. Now, as a relatively small number of wineries focuses on drier, vinifera wines, it’s a region with two faces — the “festival” wineries and those dedicated to quality and raising the region’s profile on the world stage with riesling, gewürztraminer, cabernet franc and even pinot noir.

The Hudson Valley region often seems happy to cater to Manhattan daytrippers and other tourists, but if they want to move beyond that, they need to increase quality overall. Several wineries are on that path, which is great to see.

Those are just the three primary regions, of course.

If I had to point to one challenge that the entire state faces, I’d say that there is a dire lack of communication and cooperation between the regions. There isn’t a strong leader who can or will band the regions together and drive them forward.

What is the difference between wine in your region from ten years ago to today?
I’ve been living in New York for 10 years and drinking the wines here regularly almost as long, and I think the overall quality has improved tremendously.

On Long Island, where I live, growers have learned how to minimize the “green” flavors often associated with red wines on Long Island. They’ve learned how to reach sugar and phenolic ripeness much more consistently. Even in lesser growing years, very good wines are being made. 2006 is a fine example.

And, thankfully, most winemakers now understand that they need to make Long Island-style wines, rather than trying to make California-style or Bordeaux-style wines. Long Island is unique and that’s okay. In fact, it’s great.

Where do you think wine in your region will be 10 years from now?
It’s exciting to think about that — that’s for sure. I think that on Long Island, you’re going to see growers and winemakers really hone in on the site and techniques (not to mention clones and rootstocks) that will really raise the bar. I also think that you’ll see younger regions like Long Island and the Niagara Escarpment learning more about what works best. It’s important to remember just how young regions like these are — even Long Island, which was founded in 1973.

More specifically, I think you’re going to see Long Island get a lot of attention for wines made with sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc. In the Finger Lakes, I think you’re going to see a winery or two making top-notch pinot noir — not just for New York, but for the country.

Hybrids might continue to be the focus in the Hudson Valley, but I’m already starting to taste some hybrid wines that even the biggest vinifera snob would appreciate. With another ten years working with hybrids, I think you’ll see even better things.


Is there a new trend you expect to see in the next 2-3 years?
I think we’re going to see more wineries — even small ones — creating second labels so that they can offer more affordable wines meant for immediate or near-immediate consumption, without impacting their overall brand.

Do you find liquor stores and wine shops have been a good partner for your state grown wines? What have been some challenges?
I can only speak to this as a consumer, and I think it’s very hit and miss. Unfortunately, the ‘average’ Long Island wine shop may only carry wines from a handful of local wineries and those tend to be wines from the bottom rung of the quality ladder. There aren’t enough shop owners who are passionate enough about local wine to take the time to find the best wines for their customers rather than the ones they can make the most money on.

Region wineries sometimes find it hard to sell wines outside of their state. How easy or difficult is it for your wineries to export their wines to other states…countries?
I don’t think I can really answer this authoritatively.

How big a part do festivals and farm markets play in your state‘s wine distribution?
This year, I know that several Long Island wineries are selling their wines at New York City Greenmarkets and I hear it’s been very successful. Some Finger Lakes producers and one in particular, have been traveling down to Manhattan every week for some time. If they are willing to invest that time, they are clearly getting something out of it.


What are the challenges of getting your wines covered by local press and the wine media?
As a member of the media, my main comment here would be that it amazes me how many New York wineries lack basic media savvy. I’ve sent hundreds of un-returned query emails over the years.
The media is paying attention to NY wines more than ever — but are the wineries paying attention back?

Are there any fears you may have too many wineries in your state?
As a writer, there’s no such thing as too many wineries — the more wineries, the more stories to tell.

And even if there are too many wineries, I’m a big believer in natural selection…the best and best-run wineries will survive through any downturn.


Do you have any wine trails in your state? If so, how effective have they become? If not, why? How do your wineries effectively market themselves in groups? Or not? If not, why not?
This is something that I have many opinions about. I think that New York wineries, in general, do an awful job promoting themselves as a group. I’m not just talking about the lack of state-level promotion either. There are wine trails of course, and they do an okay job of pulling people to the regions for fairly lame events but beyond that, I can only think of one promotion group — Finger Lakes Wine Country — that has any impact beyond that. Or at least has had one to this point.

Are you finding there are enough grape growers to fill the demand created by wineries in your state?
Even with an expectedly smaller crop in 2009, I think there is still a grape glut. That said, I wanted to make some sauvignon blanc last year, but was unable to find any available here on Long Island.

Billsboro Pinot Gris 2008


Last night Dominique made broiled Sail Fish made with butter, lemon salt, and lots of pepper. She served it with fresh al dente buttered green beans and a nice maccaroni and cheese.

Winemaker Vincent Aliperti and his wife Kim with their family.
With it we enjoyed another of our bottles from Billsboro Winery.

The white was both refreshing and crisp. Very light. And there were hints of Clementine and grapefruit on the palate as promised This was an excellent light white. What a find!


Friday, August 28, 2009

BILLSBORO WINERY FINGER LAKES PINOT NOIR 2007

So I was in the Finger Lakes during the week. Concentrated on Keuka this time, with a little time on Seneca's norther shore. Very exciting things going on over there.

One of my favorite small wineries is Billsboro. I love the winemaker (though I never met him) and I love the wines.

He tends to make very fruit forward, light reds. And they tend to be excellent.


One of the ones Dominique and I opened first from my little trip was Billsboro's Pinot Noir 2007.

It's a light, translucent red, with some lovely notes. Vincent, the winemaker, claims this Pinot Noir to be "the best I've ever made!" As promised, the nose offers hints of English toffee and black currant with flavors of ripe cherry and cranberry. Nice, firm tannins.

A light, awesome Pinot Noir!
Bought a hat, many bottles, and took plenty of photos. A lot of fun!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bellview 2005 Cabernet Franc


Nestled in the New Jersey Pinelands, Bellview Winery was a long-time dream of owners Jim and Nancy Quarella. Jim, a successful fourth-generation farmer, learned a love of winemaking as a young man. Now he's turned his skills to crafting award-winning wines.

The winery is located on the same farm that Jim's great-grandfather, Angelo Quarella, purchased in 1914 after immigrating from Italy. He named his farm Bellview. Originally just the 20-acre plot on which the winery now sits, the farm has expanded to over 130 acres, 30 of which are planted in vineyards. The renovated barn that is today's winery houses Angelo's original wine cellar where, for decades, Quarellas have made their wines.



This wine is earthy and spicy, a smooth dry red. The hints of dried rose petals and white pepper with a cassis aroma come through as promised. It is well balanced, and has wonderful, round tannins for a great mouthfeel.



This wine is a winner:
2004: Winner of a Gold Medals in the 2006 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and New Jersey State Wine Competition.
2003: Winner of a Silver Medal in the 2005 Finger Lakes International Competition.

We drank this at my parents house with a mozarella and tomato and basil salad, some grilled focacia, and some olive oil dipping sauce laced with garlic and hot pepper.

It was delicious! Bright and dark cherries and some plum. A very nice medium bodied dry red wine. Very nice balance.

Excellent!

Chaddsford 2002 Merican - An Eastcoast Treasure!


Anyone who has read these pages for any length of time knows I like Chaddsford Merican. I have watched it grow up from a nice, pleasent red table wine, a pleasant vin de pays, to a mature, big-bodied, exceptional red. Clearly one of the best reds made on the eastcoast.

When having dinner Saturday night, we opened a 2002 Chaddsford Merican.

On June 5, 2008, Jonathan H. Newman, Chairman & CEO, Newman Wine & Spirits, wrote,
"With 25 years of experience in the town of Chadds Ford, Chaddsford Winery is probably Pennsylvania's best winery, and "Merican" is the top of their lineup."



Noah Rothbaum wrote in the August 2007 Mens Journal, "If the name "Brandywine Valley" didn't tip you off that Pennsylvania is wine country, a few small vineyards in the southeast should do the trick. The prime target is Chaddsford, in the town of Chadds Ford. Nab the excellent "Merican" red blend ($40); they make only 600 cases a year."

The wine is roughly 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10%Cabernet Franc from the Miller Estate Vineyard, and 5% PetiteVerdot.

We had it with grilled steak with creamy potato salad and a fresh salad of diced mozarella, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, dice ionions and beets.

It paired up beautifully! Big and rich. Big notes of dark fruits. An exceptional red.

Chaddsford Merican is one of the true treasurs of winemaking on the eastcoast!

Congrats to Eric and Lee Miller.

UNIONVILLE 1999 CHAMBOURCIN


It was one of those stupid, crazy weekends. We were fixing up our house for sale, and visiting old friends, and we drink a decent amount of wine...in an effort to get revenge for working so hard all weekend.

The fun part was raiding the old wine cellar and finding what we had. One of the wonderful suprises of the weekend was the Unionville 1999 Chambourcin. When it was brand new it had big notes of sour cherry, but with age it was totally different.

Now a mature wine, it had fared in the cellar well. And I noticed it had the old label...Unionville has changed their whole look!

A medium-bodied, dry red, it was filled with dark cherry and notes of chocolate and a touch of tomato.

We paired it with a plate of Hudson Valley and New Jersey made cheeses. The smellier they were, the better they tasted.

The wine was stupendous. A great surprise...dark, clear red (like Chianti), with nice mouthfeel, and a good dry finish. Nice balance of acids and tannins.


Excellent!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New York Wine & Food Classic 2009 Winners


Anthony Road Wine Company
takes “Governor’s Cup”
and
Sheldrake Point Vineyards
wins “Winery of the Year”

Watkins Glen, New York, AUGUST 18—Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes won the coveted “Governor’s Cup” trophy at the 2009 New York Wine & Food Classic competition, held on August 17 & 18 at the Glen Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen, NY. The “Winery of the Year” award went to Sheldrake Point Vineyards, another Finger Lakes winery.

The elegant Governor’s Cup, a large silver chalice, recognizes the “Best of Show” or top prize of all 805 entries in the Classic, known as “The Oscars” of New York wine. The “Winery of the Year” award is presented to the winery with the best overall showing based on the level and number of awards in relation to entries.

This year’s competition included 805 New York wines and spirits from the Long Island, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Niagara Escarpment, Lake Erie, and other regions of New York State. The Anthony Road 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling was also voted Best White Wine, Best Riesling and Best Medium Dry Riesling on its way to the ultimate award. Sheldrake Point Vineyards received 1 Double Gold, 2 Gold, 4 Silver, and 1 Bronze awards on its way to that honor.

A “Specialty Wine Champion” award was added last year to recognize consistent quality among the increasing number of wines made from fruits other than grapes, or honey. The 2009 winner was Montezuma Winery with 1 Double Gold, and 4 Silver awards.

The awards were based on blind tastings by 24 expert judges—6 from California, 12 from New York, and 6 from other states. Judges included prominent wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers, and wine educators. Four-judge panels determined the initial awards, with top-scoring wines evaluated by all 24 judges for Best of Category and Governor’s Cup awards.

Celebrating its 24th year, the Classic is organized by Teresa Knapp of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and is open to all 258 New York wineries from all regions. In 2009, a total of 26 Double Gold, 71 Gold, 266 Silver, and 279 Bronze medals were awarded. In addition, “Best of Category” and “Best of Class” designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in various areas. Double Gold medals require unanimity among a panel’s judges that a wine deserves a Gold medal, whereas Gold medals require a majority vote.

The “Best of Category” awards, all eligible for the Governor’s Cup, went to Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling for Best White, Miles Wine Cellars NV Wisteria for Best Blush, Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc for Best Red, Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2008 Late Harvest Riesling for Best Dessert Wine and Earle Estate Meadery NV Pear Mead for Best Specialty Wine.

The “Best of Class” awards for different varietals or proprietary blends, which were tasted off for “Best of Category” awards, went to Sherwood House 2007 Oregon Road Chardonnay for Best Chardonnay, Keuka Spring Vineyards 2008 Gewurztraminer for Best Gewurztraminer, Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling for Best Riesling, Belhurst Estate Winery 2008 for Best Dry Riesling, Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi Dry Riesling for Best Medium Dry Riesling, Billsboro Winery 2008 Riesling for Best Medium Sweet Riesling, Martha Clara Vineyards 2008 SO VIN ON BLONK for Best Sauvignon Blanc, Billsboro Winery 2008 Pinot Gris for Best Pinot Gris, Highland Cellars 2007 Cayuga White for Best Cayuga White, Knapp Winery NV Pasta White for Best Seyval, Goose Watch Winery 2008 Traminette for Best Traminette, Keuka Spring Vineyards NV Celebrate for Best Hybrid White Blend, Honeymoon Trail Winery NV Diamond for Best Diamond, Lakewood Vineyards 2008 Niagara for Best Niagara, Lucas Vineyards 2008 Captain’s Belle for Best Hybrid Blush, Miles Wine Cellars NV Wisteria for Best Native Blush, Glenora Wine Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Mason Vineyards for Best Cabernet Sauvignon, Fox Run Vineyards 2007 Merlot for Best Merlot, Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc for Best Cabernet Franc, Damiani Wine Cellars 2007 Meritage for Best Vinifera Red Blend, Swedish Hill Winery NV Viking Red for Best Hybrid Red Blend, Earle Estates Meadery NV Pear Mead for Best Mead, XXX for Best Fruit Wine, Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2008 Late Harvest Riesling for Late Harvest Wine, and Casa Larga Vineyards 2006 Fiori Delle Stella Vidal Ice Wine for Best Ice Wine.

The following wines were awarded Double Gold medals: Anthony Road Wine Company 2006 Tierce, Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Sweet Riesling, Atwater Estate Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc, Billsboro Winery 2008 Riesling, Billsboro Winery 2008 Pinot Gris, Cascata Winery 2008 Regatta Red, Dr. Konstanin Frank Wine Cellars 2007 Reserve Gewurztraminer, Earle Estates Meadery NV Pear Mead, Fox Run Vineyards 2007 Merlot, Goose Watch Winery 2008 Traminette, Highland Cellars 2007 Cayuga White, Honeymoon Trail Winery NV Apple, Keuka Lake Vineyards 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, Keuka Spring Vineyards 2008 Gewurztraminer, Keuka Spring Vineyards NV Celebrate, Knapp Winery NV Pasta White, Knapp Winery NV Prism Lucas Vineyards 2008 Captain’s Belle, Montezuma Winery NV Cranberry Bog, Rock Stream Vineyards NV Grappa, Rooster Hill Vineyards 2008 Estate Semi-Dry Riesling, Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2007 Riesling, Sherwood House Vineyards 2007 Oregon Road Chardonnay, Shinn Estate Vineyards 2006 Ultra Brut, Young Sommer Winery NV Cherry Breeze.

The following wines were awarded Gold medals: Americana Vineyards NV Crystal Lake, Atwater Estate Vineyards 2008 Riesling, Atwater Estate Vineyards 2008 Gewürztraminer, Belhurst Estate Winery 2008 Dry Riesling, Bet The Farm Winery 2008 Village White, Brotherhood, America's Oldest Winery NV Holiday Spiced Wine, Casa Larga Vineyards 2006 Fiora Delle StellaVidal Ice Wine, Castello di Borghese Vineyard 2008 Riesling, Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2008 Late Harvest Riesling, Damiani Wine Cellars 2007 Merlot Barrel Select, Damiani Wine Cellars 2007 Meritage, Duck Walk Vineyards 2007Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Eagle Crest Vineyards NV On-no-lee, Earle Estates Meadery NV Autumn Harvest, Earle Estates Meadery NV Apple Enchantment, Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Reserve Riesling, Fruit Yard Winery NV Natural Plum Wine, Fulkerson Winery 2007 Riesling Traminette, Glenora Wine Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Mason Vineyard and 2008 Meritage; Goose Watch Winery 2008 Diamond, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2008 Homestead Reserve Riesling, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris, Heart & Hands Wine Company 2007 Barrel Reserve Pinot Noir, Honeymoon Trail Winery NV Diamond and NV Honeymoon Sweet; Hosmer Winery 2008 Dry Riesling and 2008 Seyval; Imagine Moore 2008 Love Riesling, Keuka Lake Vineyards 2008 Dry Riesling, King Ferry Winery 2007 Treleaven Meritage, Lakewood Vineyards 2008 Niagara, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2007 Chardonnay Reserve, Liberty Vineyards & Winery NV Fredonia, Lucas Vineyards 2007Cabernet Franc, Magpie Farms NV Legendry Magpie Honey Mead, Martha Clara Vineyards 2008 SO VIN YON BLONK, Miles Wine Cellars NV Wisteria, Peconic Bay Winery 2006 Riesling, Pellegrini Vineyards 2007 Chardonnay, Pellegrini Vineyards 2005 Merlot, Penguin Bay Winery 2008 Surfside Chardonnay, Pindar Vineyards 2007 Johannisberg Riesling, Red Newt Cellars 2007 Cabernet Franc Red Newt Cellars 2007 Merlot, Rooster Hill Vineyards 2008 Semi-Sweet Riesling, Scarola Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc, Schwenk Wine Cellars NV Lake Breeze White, Sheldrake Point Vineyard NV Ice Apple Splash and 2008 Late Harvest Riesling; Sherwood House Vineyards 2004 Blanc de Blanc, Shinn Estate Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Franc, Standing Stone Vineyards 2008 Vidal Ice, Stoutridge Vineyard 2007 Cabernet Franc / Noiret, Swedish Hill Winery NV Naturel, 2008 Dry Riesling, NV Viking White, NV Viking Red, and 2007 Cabernet Franc; Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2008 Dry Riesling, 2008 Pinot Gris, 2008 Diamond, and 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir; Torrey Ridge Winery NV Summer Delight, Ventosa Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris, Ventosa Vineyards 2007Cabernet Franc, Villa Bellangelo 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, Wagner Vineyards 2007 Chardonnay Reserve, 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling, and 2007 Meritage; Young Sommer Winery NV Traminette, Semi-Dry.

Complete results of the 2009 Classic will soon be posted under “New York Gold” at http://www.newyorkwines.org/, which also includes Gold medal New York wines from other major competitions.

Media Contact: Jim Trezise, 585-394-3620, ext. 203

New York Wine & Food Classic
Judges
Mollie Battenhouse, DWS
Wine Director & Educator, International Wine Center, New York, New York

Dan Berger
Wine Journalist and Publisher, Santa Rosa, California

Shannon Brock
Wine Coordinator, New York Wine & Culinary Center, Canandaigua, New York

Rory Callahan
President, Wine & Food Associates,
New York, New York

Rene Chazottes
Wine Director, Maitre Sommelier, The Pacific Club, Newport Beach, California

Jim Clarke,
Wine Writer and Director, MEGU,
New York, New York

Doug Frost, M.W., M.S.
Wine Writer and Educator, Prairie Village, Kansas

Chris Gerling
Enology Extension Associate, Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences,
New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, New York

Lorraine Hems, CS, CWE
Lecturer of Wine Studies, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY & Instructor,
New York Wine & Culinary Center, Canandaigua, New York

Susan Kostrzewa
Senior Editor, Wine Enthusiast, New York, New York


Linda Lawry
Director, International Wine Center, New York, NY

Fred LeBrun
Columnist, Albany Times Union, Albany, New York
Ann Littlefield
Direct Wine Marketing Brand Champion,
Napa, California

Bill Mahoney
Wine Manager, Premium Wine & Spirits, Williamsville, New York

Anna Katharine Mansfield, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Enology, Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences,
New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, New York

Peter Marks, M.W.
Wine Educator, Icon Estates, St. Helena, California

Ann Miller
Marketing Specialist, Missouri Wine & Grape Board, Jefferson City, Missouri

Linda Murphy
Wine Journalist, Healdsburg, California

Jerry Pellegrino
Chef/Owner, CORKS & Abacrombie Fine Foods, Baltimore, Maryland

Mike Riley
Wine & Spirits Regional Manager, Wegmans East Coast Region Princeton, New Jersey

Maggie Rosen
Independent Journalist & Author, London, England

Coke Roth
Wine Consultant & Attorney, Kennewick, Washington

Dr. Bob Small
Director of Hospitality, Collins School of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly University &
Director, Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, Pomona, California

Eric White
Wine Consultant & Store Manager, The Winery,
New York, New York

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Adair Landmark Red


Mark Stopkie is the owner/winemaker at Adair Vineyards in New Paltz, New York. He makes so incredible wines. I have dreams about being able to make a light dessert wine like his Peche (which will never happen I know...sort of like some house painter hoping that someday he'll paint like Van Gogh).



The Stopkie's totes of grapes were used in the recent Hudson Valley magazine article about the valley, where Adair got a very, very nice write up!
And while the Peche grabs all the headlines, at the Bounty of the Hudson 2009 I found the 2009 Landmark Red. It had just recently won a Silver Medal. It was a wonderful surprise!

2008 LANDMARK RED
A light, dry red made from a blend of Frontenac, Millot, and Foch grapes aged in oak barrels for 4 months. This wine is loaded with ripe red berry flavors and a hint of oak. (60% Frontenac, 30% Millot, 10% Foch). It's a dry, delicious, smooth drinking red. Very, very nice. It's medium-bodied, well-balanced. A medium-to-dark garnet color, it's aromatic and tasty. Great with food. Buy a half a case and pour it for your friends when they come over to impress them.

Great job, Mark!

Baldwin Vineyards - Some Wonderful Wines!


Located 85 miles northwest of NYC in the beautiful Hudson River Region, Baldwin Vineyards is situated on a 35 acre vineyard with a pasture like setting... complete with a stone home built by the Hardenburghs in 1786.

Proprietors, Patricia and Jack Baldwin, planted the first Vineyard in 1982 and a second vineyard in 1983. By 1985, both were working full time to create a micro winery which offers a wide array of different styles of wine for the discerning palate.


But don't take my word for it....here's some other quotes....

“The Baldwins are noted for their Gold-Medal Chardonnay and Johannisberg Rieslings, but the family’s pride and joy is a very popular Strawberry Wine.” - The Star-Ledger

“...the most outstanding of the lot...should you stumble across a bottle, grab it....” - The Spectator

“...the nose leaps and dances...sleek and true to the fruit.” - Wine Access

“A strawberry jewel...tasting of pure strawberry.” - The Toronto Sun

Raspberry - made from black raspberries - “Splendid.” - The New York Times

I liked three wines:



Joseph's Vintage is a late harvest riesling, named after the Baldwin's grandson. It was bright, light, and very nice. A very refreshing, semi-sweet light white wine.


This is Pat and her grandson.


Strawberry Wine is made from 100% fresh strawberries. “One of the best 100 wines of the New World” as well as having won 5 Gold Medals. Best fruit wine in NY two years in a row. It's like smelling a bowl full of fresh strawberries soaked in wine. And it tastes just as good!

Fabulous!!!

Follow Up Reports from The Bounty of the Hudson 2009


I apologize to all the folks at the Bounty of the Hudson, since I am late in filing my reviews. Bad computer week!!!

It was held the same day as the Connecticut Wine Festival, so I was divided up....Saturday at the Bounty and Sunday in Connecticut.

So here are some of the reviews...and then I file a few individual reviews.



Palaia Vineyards Merlot
This is a very nice, smooth drinking Merlot. More light and medium bodied, than the heavy California versions. Also, not too heavily oaked. A touch of vanilla, but more smooth, with dark cherries. A very nice, easy drinking wine. A lovely, lovely example of what Valley vintners can do!


Brimstone Hill Vin Rouge Superieur
Let me tell you now...this wine is undernamed, under packaged...and under priced. A very, very nice wine by Dick Eldrige at Brimstone Hill. A smooth, easy drinking red, with a touch of oak. Some nice light and medium dark fruits on the nose and tongue. A smooth finish. A touch of both acid and tannin. This is a wine you should buy a case of and have lots of fun drinking. One of the biggest unsung wines of the valley!!!!!!!



Stoutridge Chancellor Erie
This is one of the best Chancellors I have had on the east coast. A nice, medium-bodied, garnet red. Nice soft fruit flavors up front and a nice touch of oak and acid at the end. Stoutridge has continued to expand its offerings, and grow into the winery it was meant to be. Steve Osborne just keeps on coming. This is as nice an expression of fruit as you will find in this grape. Excellent job, Steve!!!!!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sunset Meadow Vineyards Twisted Red


Sunset Meadow Vineyards is located in Goshen, Connecticut. This is a family owned and operated winery, sitting atop the hills of Litchfield. The farm itself is approximately 40 acres. The vineyards are impeccably kept, using sustainable farming methods. The farm has incredible views of Mohawk Mountain and Mt. Tom.


I sampled several wines from Sunset Meadows. The Cayuga White was a surprise, as it was off-dry (or mostly dry), which is not the usual custom with this grape. It produced a very nice, light white wine. I was impressed. But nothing prepared me for my final tasting.

Twisted Red is a proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger, and Chambourcin. It is aged ion French Oak. Hints of blackberry, black cherry, and plum come through as promised. This is a full-bodied, deep, dark, dry red.

Ken Lifshitz (owner/winemaker of Silver Stream Winery in the Hudson Valley) stopped by the other evening, on his way home from a meeting he ha up by us late last Monday night.

Dominique had made a large pot of Spanish rice, but had a large, catered event she had to attend. So the boys and I decided on something rustic. I opened up a can of black beans and can of corn, and I doused the rice with salt, pepper, and some other spices. Then I grilled two large kolbasi, and charred them beautifully.

Ken had brought a gift of watermelon, which the boys were only too eager to cut, especially wanting to each wield a knife that was bigger than both of them.

While Ken had brought a bottle of his Call Me a Cab, I asked him if he was in an adventurous wine mood, and he said he was. I pulled out my recently acquired bottle of SMV Twisted Red.


“Where’s it from? I never heard of them,” asked Ken. I told him, and he lifted his eyebrows. He shrugged. “Hmmm.”

I explained to him that the wine had won two medals: 2009 Grand Harvest Competition Silver Medal Winner and 2008 International Eastern States Competition Bronze Medal Winner.

The wine went into the glass, and it was a dark-red, purplish color. It had all the flavors the description had promised. It was a classy, big red wine. Big fruit up front. The acidity was not too overpowering. Soft tannins. Nice, dry finish. And it stood up to my very flavorful meal very, very well. As Ken and I chatted, the wine began to blossom and got better and better. Ken and I both commented on how it really began to improve.

Soon, the sausages and the rice were gone, and so were the boys, after they had slain the giant watermelon (with Ken’s help). That left just us and the bottle, which we soon, happily finished.

Sunset Meadow Vineyards Twisted Red easily steps up as one of the best reds in all of New England. And could compete against many reds from New York and the Middle-Atlantic states as well. It is a wine to find and savor. Decant it for about an hour or so, and you will be incredibly and beautifully rewarded.

Congrats to the folks at Sunset Meadows Vineyards.

Land of Nod 2008 Bianca



Land of Nod is located on a 200-acre farm, in East Canaan, Connecticut, nestled among rolling hills. The farm has been servicing the local community since the American Revolution, for nine generations. They planted their first vines in 1994, and opened their doors in 1998.

The winery offers grape and fruit wines. They are opened from April to October. They also have a sugarhouse.



I have wanted to visit them many a time, but it’s never worked out. While I was at the Connecticut Wine Festival, they happened to have a booth, and I was more than just a little curious.



I tasted several wines that were very good. But one blew me away.



2008 Bianca is an estate vinted and bottled wine from Malvasia Bianca grapes. It’s a light white wine. Very beautiful flavors. Super nose. An elegant, simple white. It’s like a lighter version of an off-dry Riesling. But it’s got the lightness of a Viognier. A very nice wine.

Jonathan Edwards Estate Pinot Gris – A Thing of Beauty



I’ve already blogged about how much I like Jonathan Edwards in Connecticut. Many of the reds are very, very good, and the grapes are sourced from California. But they are very serious, and very worthwhile.



He does produce estate wines. In fact, he has several beautiful estate whites…and they are beautiful.

The one I like most was the Pinot Gris.

It’s light, fresh, crisp, with a beautiful full bouquet. This is an elegant and refreshing wine. A fantastic accompaniment to fish, salad, soups, chicken, or even some lightly done pork.

Dominique and I shared one with our Hudson Valley cheese plate. Against the fresh, creamy goat cheese and hard-rind, Swiss style goat cheese, it sparkled.

At Jonathan Edwards, they are serious about beautiful wines. They are intent on being one of the best wineries in New England. This is a wine that shows how serious they are. Wonderful!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rhubarb Wine from White Silo Farm & WInery - A Nice Change of Pace


White Silo Farm is a small specialty winery. All of their wine is produced from their own farm grown fruit. Experience the charm of an earlier era by touring the old barn where the winery is located. Visit the fermentation, bottling, and corking rooms where the classical art of wine making has been preserved. The old dairy farm is now a raspberry farm and in season, September and October, you can Pick-Your-Own (PYO) delicious raspberries.


White Silo Farm and Winery isn't very big or elaborate. There's no 300-gallon fermentation bins, no oak barrels for aging, no fancy corking or bottling machinery. In fact, there are no grapes. Not one single grape. Yet, they've been featured in the Hartford Courant.


I met and talked with Eric Gorman, who along with his father Ralph Gorman, runs the farm. I spoke with him about winemaking. Eric told another blogger, " We have worked very hard to create a unique experience at our farm and winery. In addition to the art shows we will be hosting a series of special events such as our Asparagus Festival in May." They've even had Gary Vanderchunk appear at the farm this past June.

I tried a hearty Black Currant wine. Very drinkable. Would be great with a piece of apple pie and a slice of cheddar, or with chocolates. Eric prefers it with game or duck.


My favorite was a Rhubarb Wine. A light white, it was very, very tasty, and one of the better rhubarb wines I have ever had. My wife loves rhubarb wine, so I bought a bottle, knowing that was one I wouldn't get hollered at for.

Buy the Rhubarb Wine! Never thought I'd even write that, let alone say it. But it was a good, classy, distinctive white. C'mon! Try something new!

Same Old DiGrazia Vineyards - Still a Winner


I cut my teeth on local wineries back when DiGrazia was one of four or five wineries in the whole state back in the early 1980s. When I first went there, it was among a handful of small wineries that opened up my eyes to a whole world of new possibilities. I tried all their wines. And I am still a big fan of Autumn Spice. Still an absolute winner.

DiGrazia Vineyards was founded in 1978 by Dr. DiGrazia, and is dedicated to producing premium wines of quality and unique variety. Over 15 wines are offered, ranging from dry to sweet, using estate grown grapes, local fruit and honey. He makes crisp, flavorful wines.

Autumn Spice
White grapes are fermented with sugar pumpkin and honey, then lightly spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Aromatic with a hint of sweetness. Awards: 2006 ?Big E? New England Wine Competition ---Gold Medal. Absolutely still fantastic around the holidays.





Wind Ridge
This is a semi-dry Seyval Blanc. Light and crisp with a hint of sweetness. Seyval is known for it's apple-like flavors, and they come across like biting into a green apple. Great any time of year, whether as a cold summer sipper, or an accompaniment to any meal.

Two clean, crisp whites that are great for sipping and surprising your guests with.
DiGrazia is still a winner.

Lou's Red Another Nice Red From Connecticut


Welcome to Rosedale Farms & Vineyards! Since 1920, Rosedale has been offering the Simsbury community and beyond the freshest, highest-quality produce and friendliest service! We are a 5th-generation family farm, so you know our fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers are grown and nurtured with care and pride.

Rosedale Farms & Vineyards newest venture is a three-acre vineyard and wine bar offering tastings, private gatherings, wine discounts, and gifts. Their first vintage was in 2005, and since then Rosedale Vineyards has captured medals in several prestigious wine competitions.
Award

* 2009 Gold Medal and Best Connecticut Wine for Lou’s Red, Big E Northeast Gold Wine
Competition; Silver medal for Farmington River Red and Bronze for Serendipity
* 2007 Gold Medal for Farmington River Red, Big E New England Regional Wine Competition
* Silver Awards for Lou’s Red and for Serendipity, 2007 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition



Lou’s Red
Against a background of California Merlot grapes, Lou’s Red weaves in the brightness of Rosedale’s estate-grown St. Croix and the deep blackberry flavors of our Marechal Foch. The result is a delicate and complex fruit-forward wine with subdued tannins.375 ml: $9.99 ~ 750 ml: $17.99

As to who Lou is, well, no one seemed to know. However, one can surmise that it is named for Louis Epstein, of whom Marshall is a decendent.

Didn't matter. This is a blend of vinifera and hybrids.

Against a background of California Merlot grapes, Lou’s Red weaves in the brightness of Rosedale’s estate grown St. Croix and the deep blackberry flavors of our Marchal Foch. The result is a delicate and complex fruit forward wine with subdued tannins.

It's got the fruit and the acidity of the hybrids, and the classic structure of the vinifera. Something a little different. Dry. Tasty. Very, very interesting. A solid entry in the dry red category.



Had a short but great discussion with Marshall Epstein, pictured by me, and in a publicity still, who could not have been nicer or more helpful. He was eager to talk grapes, amidst the loud throngs. Obvious the is a smart farmer and vineyard manager even from a short conversation.

Nice oak. Very, very tasty. Very interesting and applaudable entry for dry reds. Here's hoping Marshall will follow up with another impressive red.

Miranda Vineyard Merlot is Smoooth and Goooood

Some sons learn how to fish from their fathers. Others learn how to play baseball. Manny Miranda learned how to make wine. As far back as he can remember, when summer turned to fall, he and his father and grandfather would be busy for days in the courtyard of the family house, crushing grapes, squeezing them in a hand press and fermenting the grapes into wine.



It took more than 50 years, but Manny and his wife Maria finally opened a winery. Recently they both retired, Manny from his own construction company, Maria as a school principal. And now they’re starting a whole new adventure.


Miranda Merlot is a nice, smooth, easy drinking red. It goes down very easy. It's a light to medium bodied dry red, aged in French oak. It is smoooth and gooood. Very nice!