Sunday, November 13, 2011

Howard G. Goldberg Raves About the Hudson Valley

Below is a reprint of a post written by New York Times wine writer Howard G. Goldberg about his notes on a recent tasting of Hudson Valley wines.

A Sampler of Hudson Valley Pleasures
by Howard G. Goldberg
on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 1:25pm

As the beautiful Hudson Valley's remaining leaves turn further red, ocher, yellow and rusty, and crunchy underfoot, I recall and envy landscape painters of the 19th-century Hudson River School -- (its founder) Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt -- who recorded the unspoiled region's majesty.

Not having visited the area for some years I miss annual excursions to Millbrook, my friend John Dyson'simpressive, sprawling wine estate, and occasional trips to Clinton Vineyard, in Clinton Corners, another Jewel, established by my friend Ben Feder (now gone) and nurtured by Ben and Phyllis, his remarkable wife.

Another friend (and also my book publisher), the congenial Carlo DeVito, the padrone of Hudson-Chatham Winery, in Ghent, not long ago assembled a batch of wines that illustrate developments in the region, and a small group tasted them high above Columbus Circle, in Manhattan. He brought many of his own wines -- some I had tasted before -- and they made a strongly favorable impression pretty much across the board. The portfolio has deservedly gotten good ink lately. (Yes, I say all that objectively; no buttering-up goes on here.)

By now some of Carlo's and others' wines I tasted have yielded to later vintages, which, on the basis of my tasting, I'd be pleased to explore too.

My favorite was Warwick Valley Winery's nonvintage Black Dirt Red, an exuberant, succulent baco noir.

Close behind was Hudson-Chatham's 2008 Empire Reserve Red -- a clever, grapey, nuanced blend of Hudson Valley baco noir, Finger Lakes cabernet franc and Long Island merlot.

Next came Benmarl Winery's lovely, virtually sweet, lightly smoky, balanced 2009 baco noir.

Followed by Hudson-Chatham's 2009 Masson Place Vineyard, Pulteney Farm, Old Vines baco noir, which was succulent and juicy.

Two from Millbrook were pleasing: the 2007 Proprietor's Special Reserve pinot noir
(light, good varietal character, stylish) and 2008 cabernet franc (dense, earthy, spicy).

Then Hudson-Chatham's 2009 seyval blanc -- I have loved the grape and wine, from various producers, for years -- had a firm acid grip, perfumed nose and a tangy citric bite.

Benmarl's 2009 Slate Hill White, a blend of chardonnay, riesling and traminette, had a luscious texture, gooseberry-like acidity and a tangy grapefruity flavor.

Hudson-Chatham's rustic 2009 Casscels Vineyards chelois was pretty,opulent, a little cherry-like and seemed dotted with herbs. It was inward, and I had to aerate it a lot on my palate to get, rewardingly, at its character.

Hudson-Chatham’s 2009 Casscels Vineyards baco noir reserve was a juicy, gutsy knock-back carafe wine.

Whitecliff Vineyard’s 2009 gutsy gamay noir struck me as somewhat Beaujolais-like. While tasting it, I wanted to wash it down with a burger. The 2010 gamay noir, very light and best chilled, was a pleasant carafe wine.

The 2005 pinot noir from Oak Summit Vineyard, in Millbrook, a property wholly unknown to me, suggested that high seriousness was present and that subsequent vintages ought to be tracked.

Clinton Vineyard’s Cassis (half-bottle), an excellent dessert wine that oscillates on the palate between sweetness and dryness, was lean, dense and showed real breed. A fitting climax.

I would have brought the painter Thomas Cole along if a biographical fact hadn't gotten in the way: (1801-1848).

Read more at:!/notes/howard-g-goldberg/a-sampler-of-hudson-valley-pleasures/225231230877637