Hudson River Schooled - TasteCamp 2014
I think that the libations of the Hudson Valley have experienced a similar arc and where at one time they may have been viewed askance or seen as rough around the edges, they are now getting the appreciation their craftsmanship truly deserves. Over the course of less than seventy-two hours, we certainly explored much more ground than we expected, met with many happy discoveries, settled on the fact that this place was for real, and we tasted more than a few things that touched upon the sublime.
Cabernet Franc is rocking the Hudson Valley. It may not yet be the “official” red grape of the region, but it seems pretty clear that this particular vitis vinifera likes it there. It buds a bit later than Cabernet Sauvignon, which can be a safety play against spring frost, and it manages to hang well into the autumn giving producers every last heating degree day they can manage to gain before the leaves fall. We tasted quite a range of expressions across the various wineries and one could do an entire Hudson Valley tour just to log the comparatives.
I’m going to leave the details of the Hillrock visit to the real aficionados, so I suggest that you read Evan Dawson’s New York Cork Report Article - “Terroir in Whiskey?” and Todd Godbout’s “Discovering Hudson valley Spirits Part 1″.
As promised there was quite an array of fine distillates for the sampling, but knowing it would be a long day, I visited just a few producers, one of which was the super bright couple at Harvest Spirits who I’d met earlier this year while visiting Carlo. Their handiwork inhabits a nondescript warehouse building within a rambling orchard farm complex in Valatie, NY. A humble steel exterior camouflages the oak capsuled treasures within. Derek Grout & Ashley Hartka make and offer Apple Jack, aged grappas, fruit infused brandies and a gorgeous pear eau-du-vie.
Top notch stuff and very reasonably priced with the Cornelius Apple Jack retailing at about $35-40 for a 750ml and the other more esoteric sips like the pear brandy costing less for the 375ml. Be forewarned, the batches are small, so check it while you can and follow up fast if you find something you like. This is impressive artisan distilling in action, and I recommend getting some if you are in the area.
Here’s a quick bit of video taken back in the spring. I need more of the pear brandy and must go back.