And the most amazing thing is, his rolodex is a who's who of east coast wine establishment. He numbers numerous writers and winemakers as friends, such as Lenn Thomson of the New York Cork Report, Montreal wine writer Remy Charest, Boston food and wine writer Richard Auffrey, and the famous Vermont wine doyenne and literary star Deirdre Heekin, among many others.
According to his New York Cork Report bio:
Todd is a north country native, and lifelong inhabitant of the northeast. Growing up in the Mohawk river and Lake Champlain Valleys, then attending Binghamton University, youthful adventures to ‘the city’ were more likely to target Montreal, than Manhattan. He made a lateral move to Vermont in 1991 for graduate school, and while he still lives in the Green Mountains, he is frequently found within the Blue Line of the Adirondack Park, or floating on the big lake in between.
As a third-generation Polish-Italian American, with family lore of Prohibition era winemaking on both sides, the probability of predisposed wine interest was high. A 1976 family trip through the Finger Lakes left a young Todd wondering why there weren’t vineyards back home on Lake Champlain, and in the Hudson Valley.
He trained his palate on the rise of the microbrew wave, and by rummaging wine racks in old country stores, searching out forgotten bottles. Numerous relationships with folks in the wine and restaurant trades, provide an ongoing education about food and wine culture in the north country, which he shares through the Vermont Wine Media project.
For several years, Todd has kept his ear to the ground for any signs of winegrowing in the far north. He is a volunteer and test winemaker at the Cornell Baker Farm, a cold-hardy hybrid trial vineyard, in Willsboro, NY, where his extended family resides. He home vinifies grapes harvested from the trial, as well as fruit acquired anywhere from Vermont to Chile. Todd’s professional life is as partner in a niche web application development firm. He lives and gardens with his wife, canine, feline, and donkey friends, at an old farmstead in Stockbridge, VT.
Happily, I have been able to score some trades with Mr. Trzaskos. A few bottles for tasting here and there. He covers the North Country, and his wines are a blend of locally grown grapes (traditional hybrids like Baco Noir, Marechel Foch, Leon Millot, and some of the new Minnesota hybrids like Briana, LeCrescent, Lacrosse, and others.
And that is why Todd Trzaskos is important - he's making quality wines with these grapes. Quality wines? Fabulous dry reds and dry whites. He is among a handful of winemakers on the east coast who are making truly quality wines with these varieties. And their not just good or passable - they are really impressive.
Take the tree wines pictured here.
I'll start with the Brianna grown in Vermont. I am telling you right now, this was a shocker. Bright, zippy, elegant, with a very nice nose. A lovely Loire-ish, Alsace-ish styled bright white that was absolutely lovely.
Then there was the LaCrescent grown in Vermont. This was a light, bright LaCrscenet, with a classic nose, full of bright tropical fruit, and gorgeous acidity. Like a toned down Vinho Verde blended with Gewuztraminer. Really, really lovely!
Finally their was the Lacrosse grown in Willsboro, NY. All the fruit was grown in Willsboro, Leon and Marechal can be quite heavy and in the French style, he added a little white blend to this wine.
Baker Farm, a Cornell Extension Experimental Station 352-acre farm, is located along Lake Champlain at the base of Willsboro Point. The farm has both clay and sandy soils, permitting a range of field experiments for optimizing management of agricultural resources. The farm was donated in 1982 by E. Vreeland Baker to Cornell University for agricultural research, and was formerly known as Cornell E. V. Baker Research Farm. A solid, white wine, with big fruit and nice acidity. Bursting with flavor, and a nice, refreshing finish.
All three of these were beautiful white wines that went fantastically with meals. They were wonderful food wines. Yes, you could drink them alone. They would show well in a tasting room, but my question is always - "But how does it go with food?" And these wines answered that question brilliantly.
I recently had the 2013 Champlain Crossroads White 2013. A blend of 60% Lacrosse and 40% LaCrescent, this was a fabulous, floral, and zesty white that went beautifully with a classic roasted chicken dinner. Stunning.
Lest you think he can only make reds, I recently sampled the Cote du Lac Rouge 2013. This was the second time I'd had this blend, having sampled the 2012 edition before that. This was 50% Marechal Foch, 40% Leon Millot, and 10% White Blend. This was a big, deep wine, despite the addition of white wine. But it was of a mature flavor, with big, dark cherry, dark raspberry, hints of vanilla and spice. A major accomplishment.
The thing is that is most impressive is this - he's using locally grown grapes from Vermont and New York. Exotic grapes few in the wine world are familiar with. And he's doing them as a home winemaker. This is not a guy who's working with stainless steel tanks, and fancy filters, and huge pumps and presses. This guy is doing small batches - by hand, with not a lot of money behind him. He's an artist.
Why am I featuring him? Do you need to ask? If you're a consumer, you need to follow him to know what's going on in that part of the country. He is well versed in wine, and his advice and selections are never wrong. With a wealth of wine knowledge, he's a sure bet as a reviewer. If you're a winemaker, especially in the region, you want to know Todd. He's working with weird and wonderful things. You will definitely learn from him. And if you're an owner, you absolutely want to know him. He can write about your winery - if you're making good wine.
But most of all, he's a winemaking diamond in the rough - a jewel waiting to be discovered. Some owner or backer better pick him up fast before he goes solo and you're shut out.
Here's the East Coast Wineries interview:
What is the biggest challenge facing wine in your state today?
Is there a new trend you expect to see in the next 2-3 years?
You're a pretty busy guy. What else do you have going on?
Any other thoughts on winemaking or grapes?
End of Interview
Hopefully, the title of this article is completely wrong. Hopefully you'll get to taste his wines. Matter of fact, I'm kinda of betting on it. - C. DeVito, Editor