Sunday, January 17, 2010


So David Jackson and Lenn Thompson (from the NY Cork Report), Dan Rowland (Clinton Vineyards), and I went to Benmarl to visit Matt Specarelli and Kristop Brown. Matt met us in the courtyard. From there, Kristop took us on a tour of the winery. First, we went down to the old cellar of Benmarl. We walked past a Christmas tree made of wine bottles, which was placed near an old print of Mark Miller, Benmarl's founder.

In the old cellar, they keep the old bottles of wine, since Benmarl dates back to the 1950s. A large iron-bar jail-cell type door. That let you into the inner sanctum.

Kristop walked us around the winery. We saw dozens of barrels of wine maturing in the wine cellars. Then he took us to the wine making area, where in two rooms, they had a blend of old tanks and new tanks. And lots of history. Kristop was entertaining, and passionate. Maybe that's why I like Kristop so much - he's so passionate.
I think Benmarl is very lucky - they have two young men, who are fired by passion - and are filled with youthful zeal. They are Benmarl's secret weapon. And that is why Benmarl will ultimately be a very successful. They are open to new ideas. And they are passionate about making good wine and growing their business.

For the afternoon, Matt then made lunch for us. We enjoyed roasted duck, and sweet potato hash browns, as well as a plate of Hudson Valley cheeses and artisanal breads.

So, here we were, enjoying our lunch. Victor Specarelli was a ubiquitous presence around the winery. He was giving folks tours, planning weddings, and working the winery.

This 1988 Late Harvest Vignoles was brought up from the old cellars. It was incredible. Especially with the Old Chatham Blue Cheese.

It was an excellent meal. Really fabulous. New York City quality. And Matt made it! With it, we had a 2005 Benmarl Baco Noir. Exceptional.

Slate Hill is one of my favorite whites. It's a blend of several different wines, including Vidal, Seyval, and several others. I also think their Riesling I tremendous.

Dechaunac is a tricky grape. It is planted throughout the Hudson Valley. The Benmarl version is one of the subtlest I have ever had. It had the classic DeChaunac nose, but without the classic sharp cinnamon nose that comes form incorrectly made DeChaunac. It's smooth and drinkable. Approachable. Very nice. A great table wine. Fruity. Dry. Very wonderful drinking wine.
We also had a great New York Can Franc. It was big, fruity, with an elegant dry finish. And we also had a wonderful, deep, New York Merlot.

Benmarl is a old winery, that the Specarelli family is reviving. And they are doing a great job. Maybe you won't get the treatment we did. But you can taste and buy some of the same wine we did. And more. Got to Benmarl and meet Matt and Kristop. You'll be thrilled.