Sunday, June 26, 2011

Altamont Vineyard & WInery (NY)

Altamont Vineyard can be found in the Upper Hudson Valley region. The Mohawk and Hudson Valleys of Upstate New York are being increasingly recognized as established wine regions within the United States and North America. At the intersection of these Valleys, Altamont Vineyard and Winery sits at the crest of the Helderberg mountains.

Louis DiCrescenzo, toiled for his grandfather begining at the age of five, worked the vines in their family vineyard in Monte San Biagio, just south of Rome, founded Altamont. Louis, his son Michael, and Deborah Crawford, bring their best techniques of European winemaking to Altamont Vineyard and Winery.

Michael and Louis showed me their place. They have an extensive vineyard, more than 12 acres planted to vines, with more than 20 varieties of grapes grown and harvested. They also buy in a few grapes as well. Michael explains that they grow a number of vines, but there's no question that they are spending a lot of time with Minnesota varieties, as well as those developed by Elmer Swenson, who really helped put Minnesota on the map when it came to grape breeding. I found several promising things. I think Minnesota is doing some wonderful things with their grape program.

I can't review all the wines I tasted, so I'll point to the ones that made an impression on me.

Riesling 2009
Harvested from a young award-winning vineyard in Lodi, NY, this wine is dry and crisp. Flavors of tangerine and grapefruit come through as promised. It's a light, bright, sophisticated refreshing dry white wine. Lovely. If you closed your eyes, you would have thought you were in the Finger Lakes. Very, very good! Deserves to be in any quality reisling conversation.

Cayuga 2008
This was more of a slightly off-dry light white, unsual, since many people prefer to make cayuga sweet. Lots of apple and lemon flavors, with high acidity and a quick finish. Aged in stainless steel. Another bright fresh white wine great to have with food.

St. Pepin 2008
I'd never had St. Pepin before. An Elmer Swenson entry from 1970. Unlike most modern grapes it is a pistillate female and so needs to be planted next to male vines from a close sibling variety to achieve pollination. It's very much resembles its parent Seyval Blanc. We bought a lovely medium-bodied white. Grassy and floral aromas dominate, as promised, with crisp and refreshing mineral flavors. A very nice surprise. Especially good with food.

Leon Millot Reserve
This is Altamont's flagship wine, and it would be a standout no matter what line-up it wa sold in. This Leon Millot is aged in French oak. A big, inky, deep purple wine, with great aromas and flavors. Very Burgundian in it's feel. Very much Rhone-ish in it's feel. Cherry predominates, with cassis and hints of dark raspberries. A slight whiff of vanilla and a hint of mocah or sadle leather. The acidity is not too high, and the tannin are nice but not overwhelming. Easily one of the better read wines of the Hudson Valley region.

Altamont is one of the rising stars of the Hudson Valley Region. They are gaining a solid following and are producing good wines. They are certainly a star in the Upper Hudson Valley area. If you're looking for a nice tastingroom setting, and a solid list of wines, Altamont isn't only a good bet, it's a great treat. Jessica Harding is behind the counter, and greets you with the friendly smile, while "Bottle Shock" plays behind her on a hi-def television. Treat yourself, and go visit them!