Benmarl is the original farm winery, licensed no. 1 in New York State. Mark Miller, the owner and founder of Benmarl (along with Ben Feder of Clinton Vineyards and John Dyson, now owner of Millbrook) helped create the farm winery bill in New York state.
When I first tried Benmarl Baco Noir it was a revelation for me. Fantastic! But Benmarl, in recent years, has gone through a very healthy and big transition, moving forward to vinifera such as Cab Franc. And in their push forward they've begun to adapt the model of blending, which I personally think is so smart.
There's two blends here, I think worth mentioning. First is Slate Hill White 2010, which is a lovely, bright, zippy white. The previous vintage of this wine was Chardonnay (65%), Riesling (30%) and Traminette (5%). I am assuming the blend ratio isn't that much different this time around.
Green apple, Bosc pear, and tropical fruit come through. A nice dose of lemon on the back end. A dry crisp finish. Lovely!!!!
Now I am not much for medals, but the Benmarl Proprietor's Reseve 2010 won a gold medal at the 2013 Finger Lakes Wine Competition! That's beating the big boys in New York. I have to say, I tasted this wine in March and I was astounded. This is a blend of 82% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec. Big dark cherry and ripe raspberry front this wine, blackberry and cassis making notable appearances. Vanilla, spice, and the slightest hint of fallen leaves. A lovely, lovely wine. A fantastic blend. Easily becomes the big red in their line up and a fabulous new red wine in the Hudson Valley that will shine very bright outside the region as well! Fantastic!
Benmarl's Cab Franc (not to be confused with their estate cab franc) is a lovely, lovely wine. It's bright raspberry and hints of cherry, with hints of darker fruits. Beautiful violet notes on the nose come through as promised. Bright red fruits come across again on the palate with a lovely smooth finih. A lovely, long lasting feel of fruit and vanilla lingers. A beautiful wine.
I have long been a fan of Benmarl. And I am certainly a fan of Matt and Casey who run the winery! Great folks. But there's no question that these wines show a big turn the winery is making. The winery, under Matt has attempted to go much more toward a vinifera profile, and is producing much, much better wines. I liked their wines already, as I said, so this up-tick in quality and style is a which has been slowly coming on over the last three years, is now at a profound moment. Benmarl is making some wonderful wines!!!!! I mean, they can compete out of state in a big way. I'm talking Long Island, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania brawl here. I could not be happier for them or for such as old and established a place as Benmarl.
Congrats to Matt and Casey! And congrats to the rest of us, who get to try this stuff!!!