Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fulkerson Burntray

So the other day I was in a wine store (big surprise?) and I saw this bottle of Fulkerson Burntray. It said it was a blend that featured Noiret. Noiret is a hybrid grape variety for use in red wine production. It was developed and named by Cornell University researchers working at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, and was officially released on July 7, 2006.

According to Wikipedia, Noiret is the result of a cross between the earlier hybrids NY65.0467.08 and Steuben in 1973; the predominant ancestors for these hybrids are Vitis labrusca varieties native to the northeastern region of North America and Vitis vinifera varieties, which are the classic European wine grapes. Noiret ripens mid-season, and according to Professor Bruce Reisch of Cornell, its wines "are free of the hybrid aromas typical of many other red hybrid grapes. The distinctive red wine is richly colored and has notes of green and black pepper, with raspberry and mint aromas, and a fine tannin structure."

I on the other hand, have never liked Noiret. Just haven't found he right one I guess. But I remain ever hopefull. So it was with some optimism I picked up a bottle of Fulkerson Burntray.

Fulkerson is one of the grand old names in New York state viticulture, and the family has grow grapes for more than 100 years. In 1805, Caleb Fulkerson journeyed from Somerville, NJ and staked out a piece of land on the fertile western slopes of Seneca Lake. He marked his spot in Dundee. From him, the land was handed down from generation to generation until it is now in Sayre's hands, the 6th generation to farm the land. Stephen Fulkerson will be the seventh. They started planting grapes sometime in the 1830's. Together Sayre and his Father, Roger expanded grape plantings during the 1970's. The Fulkersons celebrated the bicentennial anniversary of their farm on Sunday, July 24, 2005.

Sayre and his wife Nancy opened the winery in 1989 with a release of only 1,000 cases of wine. Sayre, also the winemaker, has slowly increased the production of wine over the ensuing years to maintain the distinctive fine quality that has awarded his wines with hundreds of medals. Fulkerson Winery currently produces 30,000+ cases annually for the winery's retail space and the wholesale market, which includes New York State, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Virginia and Florida.

The new Fulkerson Winery tasting room, expanded juice plant and retail/gift shop opened on February 18th, 2005 to great acclaim and fan fare.

So, Dominique made a lovely broiled chicken using Bone Suckin' Sauce, and augmented the meal with fresh peas and Spanish yellow rice. Out came the cork screw.

It turns out that Burntray is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Noiret. Black raspberry aromas mixed with white pepper on the nose, and black cherry, black currant, and elderberry on the palate.

Dominique can tend to be persnickety, especially with hybrids.But no so with this wine. We loved it right from the get go. Somehwat Burgundian in feel, it was of a medium palate with nice, lush fruit, good acidity, and low tannins. It played perfectly against the chicken.

It turned out to be a very lovely wine, and we drank the whole bottle with dinner. A lovely, lovely wine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where's Richard Olsen-Harbich?

Where's Richard Olsen-Harbich? It seems he's everywhere this winter...almost inescapable at this point.

In the fall he was featured on the Edible Blog.

Then this spring he appeard in Eric Miller's new book, THE WINEMAKER'S APPRENTICE (review to come).

The in Edible East End winter issue his first new wine at Bedell, First Crush, recieved a rave review from wine critic Robert Simonson. It was a Beaujolais styled wine made with Merlot and Cabernet Franc using carbonic maceration.

And he appeared in the same issue, under a separate article about Oz Clarke, who returned to his old neighborhood, Long Island, when he visited back in the Fall, and went to visit none-other-than, you guessed it, Richard Olsen-Harbich.

Why was he lavished with all this praise - well, my belief (and many others as well) is that Richard Olsen-Harbich is the most talented wine maker on the east coast.

He is an incredible talent. He is technically talented at the bench work in the lab. He understands what's going on in the vineyard, and good fruit in his hands is like a good brush in the hand of a masterpainter. And he loves to play on the cutting edge, constantly pushing the envelope of winemaking, experimenting with wild yeasts, natural fermentations, and other fun ideas.

Where's Richard Olsen-Harbich? Luckilly, he's on the east coast!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oregon Ducks Sell Wine in New York City

This is a wonderful example of how other regions view New York City as a n sales channel and influence maker.

From Wines & Vines
Oregon Wineries Romance New York
by Peter Mitham

New York, N.Y. —Residents of the Big Apple got a taste of Northwest fruit during a recent expedition to showcase the bounty of Oregon—and Willamette Valley wineries in particular.

“We brought fresh Dungeness crab with us, we brought mushrooms with us, we brought great wine with us, we brought a lot of great energy with us,” said Lynn Penner-Ash, winemaker and a principal of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars in Newberg, Ore.Winemakers from 50 wineries participated in what was billed as an “Oregon Wine Flight to New York” Feb. 14-15.

The events included a trade tasting that drew 300 participants, a 350-strong consumer tasting and a dinner for consumers showcasing Penner-Ash and two other wineries.The dinner attracted 65 people (and many more enquiries) and capitalized on the romance and experiences people associated with the state.

...“Whatever we do to bring attention to the wines of Oregon, it’s good for everybody,” Sue Horstmann, executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association said. “When people in New York discover our Pinots, they discover more about the state and they come to visit here. They will have opportunities to taste other varietals and go to other regions.”

Read more at:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3 - A Monticello Wine Trail, Virginia Meritage

"3" is a Bordeaux blend of three varietals in equal one-third portions from the 2009 vintage. The Merlot was crafted by Matthieu Finot from King Family Vineyards, the Petit Verdot by Emily Pelton from Veritas Winery, and the Cabernet Franc by Jake Busching from Pollak Vineyards. With more than 30 years of combined winemaking experience, these 3 winemakers carefully selected two barrels from their cellars that they felt would highlight their colleagues' wine. The resulting product is a wine with perfect proportion and balance. This wine is a limited edition crafted in friendship and bottled to show the unity of the industry. The expansion and quality of Virginia wine is mirrored in the growth of these three young winemakers' careers.

The premiere introduction of "3" was at Pollak Vineyards on Thursday, March 3, from 3:33 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Each winery will have 45 cases for sale at $33.33 per bottle.
Read more at:

2007 Trio - 3 Winery Effort for One Pennsylvania Meritage

I read about this while catching up on my reading of some older Paul Vigna posts. This is a remarkable effort that wsn't nearly publicized enough. This is like Tierce in New York, but in Pennsylvania. Great idea!!!

The 2007 Trio is a collaborative winemaking venture between Allegro Vineyards, Manatawny Creek Winery, and Pinnacle Ridge Winery.

What started as just an off-the-wall idea has matured into an imminently drinkable and ageable wine. The 2007 was a wonderful vintage, producing some of the best wines of this decade. They thought it would be an interesting concept to take the best of what they had in our cellars and blend it together. It turned out the blend is about as different as they are.

Each one of them--Joanne from Manatawny Creek, Brad from Pinnacle Ridge, and Carl Helrich from Allegro Vineyards--contributed 4 barrels each to the blend. (This mean there's not much of it to go around.) Kris contributed Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Joanne added Syrah and Cabernet Franc, and Brad brought in his Syrah and Merlot. So, it's basically one-third each of all the varietals. The wine was aged for about a year and a half at each one of their respective wineries, and then blended at Joanne's place. It was just recently bottled, and it already is showing well.

The wine is about as fruit-forward a wine as you'll ever see associated with Allegro. The oak is very tame, and the tannins are very supple. The wine has a core of dark fruit that lingers. It's hard to imagine how drinkable it is, and it still hasn't come out of the shock of being bottled yet.

"A lot of you might know that back in 2009 I teamed up with a couple other winemakers in Pennsylvania to create the first cooperative red blend in the state. We took as our model the wine Tierce produced by Fox Run, Red Newt, and Anthony Road up in the Finger Lakes in New York. But, being more interested in reds, we turned our thoughts to the really nice, full-bodied wines from the 2007 vintage," said Carl Helrich on his blog.

It's a great idea. Here's hoping I can get my hands on a bottle.

And here's Paul Vigna's much more complete post on the subject:

Brotherhood Pinot Noir

So we were at Brotherhood yesterday, and hung out with Tour Guide Dave. Dave has been leading tours and tastings at Brotherhood for 20 years. He's seen a few things happen there. We've tasted with him several times, when we can't get a hold of or don't want to bother Cesar Baeza, the President of Brothehood Winery.

So the first thing we tried with Dave was a Blanc de Blanc. It was a nice, smooth, lovely wine with lot's of fresh bread smell on the nose, and lovely fruit on the palate, with solid acidity and a nice dry finnish. At $10 a bottle, it's an outstanding value. I'd just reviewed it in February, so I was not surprised.

But the biggest surprise was when Dave said, "And the fruit comes from Columbia County!" Now, we've known that Brotherhood has vineyards in Columbia county, but we'd never had one of the wines pointed out to us.

Here was a fantastic wine grown right in Columbia County! The vineyards are overseen by Greg Esch. We see Greg, usually annually, at the grape growing seminars that happen each year in Kingston. The Brotherhood Blanc de Blanc is a real local wine.

I asked Dave if he had another wine that was from Greg esch's vineyards, and he pulled out the Pinot Noir. Now, I have to admit, I've been on a Pinot Noir jag lately. It's just where I am at. I still love a big heavy, over ripe California wine like Turley, for example, but more and more I'm moving back towar a more balanced, European style. More approachable wines.

So, any way we tried the Pinot Noir. Big fruit up front, lot's of fine cherry and a hint of plum and strawberry. It was bright, and fresh. with low acidity and low tannins. The wine finished dry and smooth. A very nice, light-to-medium bodied Pinot Noir. Perfect for spring and summer dishes, and great with some fresh, Hudson Valley cheese!

Two wonderful wines, and they are both grown in the vineyard on the Columbia County side of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. This was very, very good!

Congrats to Cesar, and Greg, and yes, Dave too!


Folks from Tuthilltown Distillery, Kegan Ales, Benmarl Winery, Harvest Spirits Distillery, and Berkshire Distillery were all featured. The Hudson Valley is becoming more and more well known amongs wine, beer, and spirit experts.

Above, Matt Specarelli, the ubiquitous general manager and winemaker at Benmarl Winery, can be found in a fashion spread of this month's Men's Journal.

And Harvest Spirits' Derek Grout is seen here standing next to his copper, wrench in hand. In the April issue (on newsstands now): Source Code’s Jake Gyllenhaal takes our writer on a rigorous, revealing bike ride and reflects on his new life as a leading man; Paul Solotaroff reports from Yellowstone National Park, where global warming wreaks havoc on flora and fauna; and we present our annual rundown of the best places to live in the U.S.

Congrats, gentlemen!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New York Wine Grape Growers - Meet Your Local Winemaker

I have recently read of the travails of the New York wine grape growers and the loss of contracted sales to Constellation. It seems Constellation is taking 5,000 fewer tons of grapes from our New York based farmers. So, what did the NY Grape Growers do? They ran to Albany to fight the big bad Constellation by joinging the WIGs argument, as if that would save them. That's a joke. That''s desperation. WIGs won't add 5% to the sales of wines made in New York. Franzia, Woodbridge, and Yellow Tail won't be taking your grapes, gentlemen.

What would have been better, what would be incredibly better still is to make friends with local wineries. If most of these farmers had five to ten smaller buyers, maybe they wouldn't be so exposed now when one of them went under. It's called diversification.

I know, 'Don't be so pissy.' I'm not a hard hearted SOB. I do feel for them. Anyone who grows anything from the dirt has my undying admiration. Truly. But to get pulled into Albany's cesspool of politics? That's silly.

There are plenty of wineries looking for grapes - the Hudson Valley, the Upper Hudson Valley, Thousand Islands, and the New England states as well. And then there's Pennsylvania which just elected to renounce quotas on state fruit. Seems Pennsylvania wineries didn't care if they were using Pennsylvania fruit. Maryland and New Jersey too would be willing, I'm sure, to buy some New York fruit. Why aren't the NYWGF and the other area winery associations (MD, NJ, MA, etc.) trying to hook up growers with small wineries? Why isn't the New York State Wine Grape Growers putting a hotline number on their website or setting up chat boards? Don't tell me there aren't wineries looking for grapes. I get calls all the time asking for information on just that subject. 5,000 tons? It's lot to be sure, but I am sure we could find some homes for a bunch of it.

And let's be honest, everyone knew Constellation was cutting contracts. For the last five years Constellation has been letting the grape growers down gently. It wasn't a secret. Constellation made no bones about it, they were getting out of some of these grapes and contracts. The growers have known for years what's been going on. This isn't a surprise. I know of several cases where wineries have taken leases dating back at least two years by now on small blocks abandoned by Constellation. In a few cases Constellation has tried to marry grape growers with other companies to try and stem the tide.

What the New York Wine Grape Growers group hasn't done a good job of is finding homes for their members' grapes. But there is still time.

I think we all genuinely do not want to see these farmers get hurt. Winemakers want to see grape growers succeed. I suggest the NYWGF and the Cornell Extension folks send out an email to all member wineries with all the grapes that are effectively available, and let's help those farmers meet some good old fashioned local winemaking artisans in New York...and in some of the toher states. If someone needs names, I can help give you the names of winery professionals in the other states.

We can all pull together and make something happen.

Finger Lakes grape growers seek new markets
By Julie Sherwood, staff writer
Messengr Post 3/14/2011

“It affects everybody,” said Brahm. “The whole Finger Lakes. Those grapes have to find a home.”

Like other growers across the region this week, the Brahms were pruning vines and planning for a new season.

Constellation Brands informed growers it would buy 5,000 tons fewer grapes from the 2012 harvest, citing changes in market conditions with supply and demand.

“The growers are very important to us,” said Constellation spokeswoman Angie Blackwell. “We very much regret knowing the impact this will have on growers.”

Constellation is working with growers to help them find other markets, she said.

Despite the economic downturn, said Blackwell, consumers are turning to more premium wines. Demand for those calls for fewer tons of certain grape varieties supplied locally, she said. Business is strong at Constellation’s Canandaigua facility, she added, with production of significant company products such Arbor Mist growing.

Constellation plans to buy about 20,000 tons of grapes from growers in New York and Pennsylvania in 2012, a drop from about $25,000 tons currently.

Jim Bedient, a grower from Yates County and former president of New York State Wine Grape Growers, said Constellation has relied on fewer local grapes in recent years.
About 10 years ago, it bought as much as 40,000 tons.

“The situation facing New York wine grape growers has reached a critical point,” said Don Tones, current president of NYSWGG, in a release last week. “We need an immediate, major market expansion to solve the problem.”

Here's a piece on it...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grayson Hartley Joins Haight-Brown Winery in Connecticut

Haight-Brown Vineyard Gets A New Addition
Submitted by Tina A Torizzo, Haight-Brown Vineyard, on 2011-03-10.
Hartford Courant

Grayson Hartley, winemaker.Haight-Brown Vineyard, the state's oldest winery, has recently recruited a new wine maker trained in Napa, California, to lead it into the future of wine making.

Grayson Hartley, originally from Connecticut then trained and ripened in Napa, still holds the traditional New England values that the historic winery is steeped in. The Browns purchased Haight Vineyard four years ago. Since then, they have made many changes to the interior and exterior of the winery. Hiring a new wine maker is the last piece of the puzzle.

Hartley will begin the year commanding rejuvenation and reconstruction of the vineyards and wines.You can have a chance to hear Grayson's story, his background and what he has in store for Haight-Brown Vineyard at the winery's upcoming Barrel Tasting on April 16 and 17.

Jamie Whetstone of Manifesto wines, wrote of Grayson, "Grayson Hartley, my partner on the winemaking front, is a f*%$ing incredible and insanely talented vigneron (a winemaker with deep roots in the vineyard). His read on the vineyard is tight and his progression in the cellar is something to watch." Well, that's an opinon.

Sounds like Haight-Brown has he right man though!

Wine Spectator Rates Finger Lakes Riesling

In the March 31, 2011 issue of Wine Spectator, James Molesworth rated 14 wines from the Finger Lakes.

91 - Herman J. Wiemer Riesling Dry Magdalena 2009
90 - Bloomer Creek Riesling Tanzen Dame Auten 2009
90 - Keuka Lake Riesling Drt Falling Man Vineyard 2009
90 - Ravines Riesling Dry 2009
90 - Herman J. Wiemer Riesling Dry Reserve
89 - Fox Run Riesling Dry 2009
88 - Heart & Hands Riesling 2009
88 - Roster Hill Riesling Dry 2009
88 - Herman J. Wiemer Riesling Dry 2009
88 - Herman J. Wiemer Late Harvest 2009
87 - White Springs Farm Riesling 2009
86 - Fox Run Riesling 2009 2009
86 - Hunt Country Riesing Sem-Dry 2009
86 - Hermann J. Wiemer 2009

Congrats to all!

Virginia Hauls it in Big at 2011 Grand Harvest Awards

Virginia took home a large number of medals for their wines at the 2011 Grand Harvest Awards held earlier in March.

Virginia (State Appellation)

Mountain Rose, Mountain Rose Vineyards, Inc., 09 Traminette, Mountain Rose Vineyards, $13.5
Williamsburg Winery, 08 Adagio/Merlot, $65

Annefield Vineyards, Annefield Plantation, LLC, 09 Cabernet Franc, Arrowhead, $24
Annefield Vineyards, Annefield Plantation, LLC, 09 Cabernet Sauvignon, Arrowhead, $26
Chateau Morrisette, 08 Frosty Dog, $18.99
Cooper Vineyards, 09 Soleil; Viogner, $25.00 (375 ml.)
Cooper Vineyards, 09 Viognier, $23
Cooper Vineyards, 08 Coopertage, $23
North Gate Vineyard, 09 Meritage, $20
Sunset Hills Vineyard, 08 Cabernet Franc, $24
Sunset Hills Vineyard, 08 Cabernet Sauvignon, $25
Williamsburg Winery, 06 Gabriel Archer Reserve, $32
Williamsburg Winery, 09 Acte 12 Chardonnay, $18
Williamsburg Winery, 07 Merlot Reserve, $28

Annefield Vineyards, Annefield Plantation, LLC, 09 Chardonnay, $18
Annefield Vineyards, Annefield Plantation, LLC, 09 Viognier, Arrowhead, $22
Barrel Oak Winery, 09 Viognier, $28
Barrel Oak Winery, 09 Chardonnay, $28
Barrel Oak Winery, 09 Merlot, $33
Chateau Morrisette, 08 Petit Verdot, $29.99
Chateau Morrisette, 08 Cabernet Sauvignon, $18.99
Chateau Morrisette, 09 Vidal Blanc, $9.99
Cooper Vineyards, 08 Petit Verdot, $20
Gray Ghost Vineyards, Gray Ghost Vineyards , 07 Cabnernet Sauvignon, reserve, $40
Gray Ghost Vineyards, Gray ghost vineyards, 08 Cabernet Sauvignon, $28
Gray Ghost Vineyards, 09 Chardonnay, reserve, $25
Mountain Rose, Mountain Rose Vineyards, Inc., 09 Merlot, Mountain Rose Vineyards, $15.25
North Gate Vineyard, 09 Meritage, $18
Sunset Hills Vineyard, 08 Petit Verdot, $24
Sunset Hills Vineyard, 09 Chardonnay, $22
Williamsburg Winery, 07 Virginia Trianon, $32

New Jersey Brings Home Medals From 2011 Grand Harvest Awards

2011 Grand Harvest Awards were completed earlier this month, and here are the winners from New Jersey

New Jersey
New Jersey (State Appellation)
Coda Rossa, NV Cabernet Franc, Coda Rossa, $12
Coda Rossa, NV Meritage, Coda Rossa, $18
Hopewell Valley Vineyards, 08 Chambourcin, Hopewell Valley Vineyards, $18
Unionville Vineyards, Unionville Vineyard LLC, 08 White Montage, Artisan series, $16.95
Unionville Vineyards, Unionville Vineyard LLC, 08 The Big O, Artisan series, $25.95

New Jersey
Outer Coastal Plain (AVA)
Heritage, Heritage Vineyards, 09 Chardonnay, $25

New Jersey
Warren Hills (AVA)
Alba Vineyard, 09 Riesling, $12.99
Alba Vineyard, 08 Chambourcin, $16.99
Alba Vineyard, 07 Vintage Port, $19.99
Alba Vineyard, NV Dolcina, $14.99
Alba Vineyard, 09 Gewurztraminer, $14.99

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fenwick Wine Cellars is Delaware's Newest and Smallest Winery...and Quite Good!

Adrian Mobilia is a fourth generation farmer, growing up on the shores of Lake Erie, an area of Pennsylvania rich in the traditions of agriculture. He was raised on his family’s 200-acre farm that consisted mainly of different varieties of grapes, apples, cherries, and peaches. Mobilia learned the family trade early, and enjoyed it so much, that he would continue on to study horticulture at Penn State. When Mobilia left the farm for college in the mid 90’s, the family business was well on its way to what would become the next successful venture. In 1980, they had already begun pressing their own grapes, and by 1989, the juice was going direct to wineries.

The wheels were then set into motion for the Mobilia family to open their own winery.
Working alongside his father Nick, planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Chambourcin, Pinot Grigio, and Merlot grapes, to the already existing varieties, Adrian Mobilia helped the family winery come to fruition. In 1999 the first bottle of the Mobilia family winery was produced, bottled as Arrowhead Wine Cellars. The winery added another facet to the already existing strong family legacy of farming. Today Adrian and his wife Shannon run the winery together.

According to the website, "The atmosphere is Tuscan chic, from the stone accents, to the orange hued walls; you may envision yourself in a winery in Tuscany, Italy, instead of Fenwick island. That's just what Fenwick Wine Cellars wants you to think! Take your perceptions on wine; your visions of the perfect sip, and visit Fenwick Wine Cellars. They're ready for your palate."

Fenwick is Delaware's newest farm winery. Reflections of Fenwick is a refreshing, clear Seyval Blanc blended with 7% Chardonnay. They also make a good Chambourcin with lots of black raspberry and cherry. Nice body. Great flavor. Black cherries, plums, oak are very prevalent in Fenwick's Merlot, which is aged 18 mos. in American oak barrels.

Read More at Ocean City Today:

Read more at Delaware Today:

USA Today Raves About Delaware Wine and Ale Trail

Mid-summer last year a new wine trail was opened in Delaware that linked the states wineries and breweries. The result? A fantastic time!
“Tourism employs 38,000 Delawareans, and small businesses – like our breweries and wineries – are driving job creation,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell. “The Wine and Ale Trail is a great example of how government, industry and other organizations can join forces to develop business and enhance the local community.”

The Delaware Wine and Ale Trail was created by a coalition initiated by the Delaware Tourism Office to capitalize on the growing craft brew and wine industries. The Trail encompasses a collection of wineries and breweries where visitors can enjoy and learn about Delaware’s distinctive craft brews and award-winning wines.

“A 1.7 trillion dollar business, travel and tourism is one of the most prominent and reliable industries in the nation,” says Linda Parkowski, Director of Tourism. “Enticing out-of-state visitors to Delaware can improve the local economy and enhance job creation.”

Another state that gets it, and is promoting its wine and brewing industry to promote tourism and revenues.

USA Today raved about the trail...read the article here...

25 Years of Fiore Winery and Fiore Zinnavo

Everyone knows that I have a soft spot in my heart for Mike Fiore. It was one of the first Maryland wines I tried that I liked, and since then I have tasted many more. And it's Fiore Winery's 25th Anniversary. But for me, Zinnavo is a special experience.

Zinnavo was or is, which ever you prefer, Maryland's first bi-coastal proprietary blend. Over the years the blend has changed, with differing amounts. The blend I most recently tasted is made up of 75 % Maryland Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with 25% Zinfandel. The wine is aged 18 months in a combination of Hungarian and Pennsylvanian oak barrels. It is then blended together in a single stainless steel tank and bottled without filtering.

The wine is a wonderful blend, with a deep, dark maroon color, though it still has an elegant clarity about it. The nose is huge with dark cherry, plum, and a hint of prune, maybe a hint of saddle leather? The flavors come through on the palate, with big, dark red fruits, and a nice balance of acidity and tannins, with a nice big finish. This is a wine that has definitely improved over the years into an elegant, and incredible red.

But don't just listen to me...how about the many judges that have put this wine up over the years so consistently. Here's the last few years medals & accolades:
Silver Medal 2008 Maryland Governor's Cup Competition
Silver Medal 2007 Maryland Governor's Cup Competition
Silver medal 2007 Amenti Del Vino international wine competition
Silver medal 2006 Amenti del Vino Wine Competition
Silver medal 2006 Tasters Guild International
Silver medal 2005 2005 Los Angeles County Fair-Wines of the World Competition
Silver medal 2005 Maryland Governor's Cup Competition
Silver medal 2003 Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition
Bronze Medal, 2010 Maryland Winemasters Choice Awards
Bronze Medal 2006 Maryland Governor's Cup Competition
Bronze medal 2005 Tasters Guild International
Bronze medal 2004 Maryland Governor's Cup
Bronze medal 2003 International Eastern Wine Competition

Mike and Rose, congratulations on 25 years! And congrats on Zinnavo, you've done it again!

Flying Fish Exit 6 Wallonian Rye

We all know I love big bottled beer. And one of my favorite lines is Flying Fish. The newest addition to the Exit Series is Exit 6. Founder and GM, Gene Muller, of Flying Fish Brewery reported that the company produced 1,400 cases and less than 100 kegs of Exit 6 Wallonian Rye. The beer was distributed in NJ, PA, MD, and DE.

According to the label description: “The fifth stop on our trip to explore New Jersey takes us to an area that puts the green in the Garden State. This part of Burlington County was settled in 1624 by Dutch Walloons (now Belgians) whose first order of business was to build a fort-and then a tavern. The area has always had a rich agricultural heritage and we’re using locally grown rye as an appreciation of our farmers past and present."

"Exit 6 is a deceptively simple recipe- pale malt augmented by 20 percent rye, fermented with a classic Belgian yeast. But then it gets interesting with the hops: English East Kent Goldings, Slovenian Styrian Goldings and Japanese Sorachi Ace. The result is a rich saffron color with a spicy character from the rye and lemony citrus notes from the unique Sorachi Ace hops.
Since this beer is being released during Philly Beer Week, we’ve made it a collaboration brew with Ric Hoffman from Stewart’s in Bear, DE and Gordon Grubb from Nodding Head in Philadelphia.”

Shared my most recent bottle with publishing guru and industry expert Bo Sacks and his lovvely wife Carole at their house in Copake, NY. We shared the big bottle with his signature Bo-ritos, which were spicy, flavorful, and delicious.

The beer went down easy with al the flavors and tastes described above. I cannot express enough my absolute amazement with the absolute quality Flying Fish has put into this series. It's what makes the craft revolution so important and fun. Absolutely delicious!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Benmarl Merlot 2008

Benmarl is one of my favorite wineries in the Hudson Valley. I am a sucker for history. And of all the places in the Valley, only one other operating winery has as much, nearby Brotherhood. Benmarl rests on the vineyards originally founded by Andrew Caywood, one of the grestest hybridizers in American history when it comes to grapes. It's his vineyards, originally established before the Civil War, that make Benmarl's vineyards the oldest continously operating vineyards in the United States.

Secondly, the winery, Benmarl, was the brain child of celebrted magazine illustrator Mark Miller, who established Benmarl in 1957, revitalizing Caywoods vineyards. Miller fought for the Farm Winery Act back in the 1970s with John Dyson, and was eventualy rewarded with bonded license No. 1 as the first farm winery in New York state. Mark Miller also made some nice wines. And his son, Eric Miller, eventually went on to start Chaddsford Winery in the Brandywine region of Pennsylvania, now that state's largest commercial winery.

Now Benmarl is owned by the Speccarelli family. Vic Speccarelli, Jr. is the owner, and his son Matt runs the winery now.

Last night Dominique and I were in the mood for a nice red. Normally when I think of Benmarl, I think of their Baco Noir, which is practically a cult wine here in the Valley. But instead I pulled out a Merlot 2008.

The color was a beautiful dark garnet red. The first whiffs of the wine yielded raspberry and and cherry, notes of vanilla and mocha. Tere was big, dark fruit up front on the palate, with dark raspberry and dark cherry coming through, with some leather or fall leaves...something earthy. This was a lovely wine to chew on. The fruit was balanced by medium acids, and medium tannins, which gave the wine great balance. The finish was smooth and comfortable, but just right. This was a lovely drinking merlot with lots of flavor and character.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Long Island Merlot in Context
Ma 12, 2011
by Jim Trezise

The Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA), whose winery members produce the unique "Merliance" wine, will be sponsoring a special tasting of the local wines in the context of some of the world's best known Merlots from Bordeaux, Napa, and Italy. The tasting is for wine media and trade.

The open-house style event runs from noon to 4 pm on Wednesday, April 27 at City Winery in Manhattan, and will feature a blind-tasting and rating of 14 wines from the 2007 vintage which will be either varietal Merlots or blends with Merlot representing at least 75%, and all in the same overall price range. Half of the wines will be from Long island, and the others from notable Merlot regions will be selected with the guidance of renowned wine importer David Milligan. All the wines, and their respective scores, will be revealed the next day.

For more information, contact LIMA Executive Director Donnell Brown at dbrown@londislandmerlot.com
Phone: 631-477-6207

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Jefferson Vineyards Shines in Virginia

At Jefferson Vineyards, they grow grapes and make wine from Thomas Jefferson's original vineyard sites, first planted in 1774 just one mile from Monticello. The replanted those iriginal vineyards in 1981, and have been making wine there since. Jefferson produces between 4000 and 8000 cases annually.

Andy Reagan is the winemaker and general while Missy Stevens is the tasting room and office manager.

I arrived on a beautiful autumn day, with a crips, clear blue sky, and red, orange, and yellow leaves dancing cross the driveway. Gorgeous! I've been drinking Jefferson Vineyards for quite a while now, and I always look forward to tasting their wines.

The first on the list I really liked was the Pinot Gris 2009. This wine won a double gold medal at the 2010 San Diego International WIne Competiton. It was a clean, light, bright expressive wine, with a fragrant nose and nice acidity. It ended with a citrus note, a slightly graefruity finish. Lovely.

I also enjoyed the Chardonnay Reserve 2009. This had won a gold medal at the 2009 Lodi Wine Awards. This was a minerally chard, with big fruit up fornt - green apple, crisp pear, a touch of citrus. Great acidity and nice balance. Refreshing. Not real heavy. Absolutely lovely.

The came my absolute favorite, the Viognier 2009. This also won a gold at San Diego in 2010. The nose was ripe with apricot, peach, and honeysuckle. And those flavors also were hinted at on the palate as well. Great acidity. A real touch of minerality. A real experience. Light, refreshing, but delicate, and powerful at the same time. Certainly among my favorite of all Virginia Viogniers. Wow!

Next came the Cabernet Franc 2009. This was a nice, medium-bodied red, with bright red raspberry and cherry on the nose. On the palate the cherry dominated more than the cherry, though both were present. There were hints of pepper as well. Nice balance of acidity and tannins. A very smooth drinking red.

Their Petit Verdot 2009 was also very, very nice, with lots of dark berry fruit - and a whiff of tobacco? On the plate is was a stew of blackberry, dark cherry, dark raspberry, maybe even a hint of black currant - and a touch of saddle leather or moacha? This was a very nice red, with great balance, wonderful big tannins, and long lasting fruit flavor.

And of course, my favorite, the Meritage 2007. This is usually a blend of about equal parts Cab Franc and Merlot, with a siable dose of Petit Verdot, and about 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, big black fruits, but a while the Petit Verdot has a much stronger up front blast, this was a mixture of blackberry with bright cherry, bright raspberry, and maybe a hint of red currant. These fruits came across on the palate as well, but they were rounded out by hints of mocha or esspresso? A hint of fall leaves. This is an elegant wine, that finishes delicate and beautiful. A real sophisticated red bordeaux-styled meritage. A really outstanding wine.


This is a serious issue confronting the folks of Maryland, and if Maryland loses this battle, it bodes badly for small wineries up and down the east coast. This plea is from RHE MARYLAND WINERIES ASSOCIATION. - Carlo DeVito

After years of gaining support in Maryland's General Assembly, we are closer than ever to passing a law to allow Maryland citizens to receive wine by mail from wineries and wine-of-the-month clubs.

We are asking you to call or email your legislator before Friday, March 4 (the day both bills will be heard by the respective legislative committees in Annapolis) to show your support for direct-to-consumer shipment of wine.

Even with the overwhelming support—a majority of the legislature—there are interest groups hard at work to cripple the bills, trying to limit WHICH wines can be shipped, and from WHICH sources (wineries OR retailers/wine-of-the-month clubs, etc.).

Please let your legislators know that you want: - a law based on national standards and the Comptroller's Study on Direct Shipping; - a law that allows you to receive wine from wineries and retailers; - a law that lets Maryland wineries ship to other states (like NY, which will only let MD wineries ship in if MD's law is based on national standards).
Read much more about the topic, the history of direct-to-consumer shipping!

How you can help
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR. If you want to be able to receive wine by mail from wineries and from wine of the month clubs, please CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR now using this form from Free the Grapes. Or call your legislator directly—they need to hear from constituents in support of HB234 and SB248.

Find Your Elected OfficialsVisit the Maryland State Board of Elections page to obtain names and contact information for your elected officials.Maryland State Board of Elections Lookup Pagehttp://m1e.net/c?48685465-OzOfEpZh5K/sY%406225567-5U1wo0zMBnx.Y

Thanks for helping us grow our industry and bring a great new ability to Maryland citizens!

New York Strike Gold in Northern California

New York Gold Rush in Northern California
by Jim Trezise, The Wine Press
March 5, 2011

New York wines brought home 62 medals from this week's Grand Harvest Awards in Sonoma County, CA, including 16 Gold, 23 Silver, and 23 Bronze awards.

Nine of the 16 Golds were Rieslings of various styles, with the other seven representing a rainbow of varietals and flavors within the context of high quality. In addition, two wineries--Liberty Vineyards & Winery in the Lake Erie region, and Thirsty Owl from the Finger Lakes--each won four Golds with a range of different wines.

Gold medals were awarded to Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Tierce Riesling (a collaborative wine made by the wine makers from that winery along with Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Cellars); Belhurst Estate Winery 2009 Dry Riesling and 2009 Semi-Dry Riesling; Hunt Country Vineyards Classic Red; King Ferry (Treleaven) 2008 Late Harvest Riesling; Liberty Vineyards & Winery 2010 Dry Riesling, Cat Noir, Diamond, and 2009 Traminette; Lucas Vineyards 2009 Dry Riesling; Thirsty Owl 2009 Dry Riesling, 2009 Riesling, 2009 Diamond, and 2009 Vidal Blanc; Ventosa Vineyards 2009 Riesling; and Winery of Ellicottville Vidal Blanc.

Grand Harvest is a unique competition focused on "terroir" and conceived by Bill Moffett and Hope Merletti, former owners of the Vineyard & Winery Management empire now owned and run by Rob Merletti. The concept, in addition to evaluating wines and awarding the best, is to try identifying common aroma and taste characteristics which may be reflective of the climate and soil in a particular region. When a sufficient number of entries from a region warrants it, they're grouped into "terroir" flights which include a range of varietals, styles, and colors, and the judges are asked to cite common characteristics. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes not, but it always stimulates discussion and the excitement of learning the region after guessing what it is.

I had the pleasure of judging with California wine journalist and winenut (that's his chosen email name) Dan Berger, one of the most knowledgeable, insightful and passionate wine people on the planet. He has also done more than anyone else in opening the minds and palates of wine judges nationwide to the wonderful diversity of grape varietes that can produce stunning wines if the grapes are great and the wine makers talented. His Riverside International competition was the first, years ago, to award "Best White Wine" to a non-Californian French-American variety (a Missouri Vignoles), as well as a Native American variety (a New York Diamond). We both identified the Finger Lakes "terroir" flight (and not just because of Rieslings), I got the Lake Erie one, he got a different one, and we both missed some but learned a lot in the process.

Grand Harvest is expertly organized by veteran wine judge Bill Traverso, supported by a terrific backroom crew. With the recent acquisition of the International Women's Wine Competition and the NextGen Wine Competition for Millennial Wine Drinkers, VWM has become the largest sponsor of wine competitions in the world. Other VWM competitions include the long-time International Eastern Wine Competition and the West Coast Wine Competition.

VWM is also the sponsor of the largest wine trade show in the Eastern United States, Wineries Unlimited, which will take place March 29-31 in Richmond, VA, with keynote speakers including that State's Governor and Agriculture Secretary along with Andy Beckstoffer, Randall Graham, and Jim Trezise (who's he?). For information and registration, visit www.wineriesunlimited.com.

Palaia Vineyards in the Hudson Valley

Palaia Vineyards, pronounced "Pa-Lie-Ahh", is named for the winemaker's grandfather, Angelo Palaia who emigrated here from Italy and passed his winemaking skills on to his son and grandson. Jan and Joe Palaggi bought Sweet Clover Farm that has been in the Hudson Valley for over 200 years. Once a dairy farm, it is now home to over 10 acres of vineyards with more planned for the future. The 200- year old bank barn had been restored over the last 3 years and is now a beautiful, clean winery on the lower level, with storage and a tasting room above preserving the look and feel of the historical building. The barn required major structural re-engineering, and was lovingly restored.

I recently visited Jan at the winery. First I went down stairs to see the tank room. To make the space usable down stairs, they had to lower the floor by almost three feet, and poured a brand new floor.

The size of the barn down stairs provided exceptional space for many, many tanks. At the far end of the barn, they had obliterated the floor, thus giving the downstairs a room that reaches more than 20 feet into the air, where they rested three huge 1,200 gallon variable capacity jacketed stainless steel tanks.

Everything was clean and bright, and well taken care of. Jan was right to be proud of her set up in the tank room.

Upstairs, I was pleased to see a beat-up, dog-eared copy of WOODSTOCK: Three Days That Rocked the World, Edited by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury with a foreword by Martin Scorsese on one of the tables in her tasting room, since it was published by Sterling Publishing Company. It might seem silly to point that out, but it's not. It's an important point about Palaia Vineyards - they were into Woodstock and classic rock. Peace signs and tie-dye are ubiquitous in the tastingroom, which is a part of who Jan and Joe are. And they love music.

The tastingroom is beautifully appointed. The walls of the tasting room say "old barn," but the style of the room is much more sophisticated than that. The room is festooned with antique furniture and shelves all of which feature their wines.

OK, the wines.

But first a note about the labels. They are very fun. Each label features a vintage photo that date as far back as the 1800’s on both sides of their family, but sometimes they sneak a modern one in there just for fun. The photos are on display at the winery along the stairway entrance to the tasting room.

The first wine I had was a Merlot 2005. The wine was incredible. It was a light-to-medium bodied red, with a nice medium-to-deep color. There was a lot of bright raspberry and vanilla on the nose, and both came through on the palate. Great fruit, with nice acidity and smooth tannins. It was very lovely, almost Burgundian in style. Wonderful!

The second wine I had was the Cabernet Franc 2006. The wine was a beautiful bright red in the glass. Here, there was bright cherry on the nose, with a whiff of vanilla. Again, beautiful light fruit up front, bright , bright sour cherry, almost like a Pinot Noir. But with the classic touch of pepper so common to Cab franc, it finished smooth, with medium acidity and soft but persistent tannins. Again, very, very nice.

The last one I tried was their Lemberger 2006. I am not a fan of Lemberger. I have had a slew of New York Lembergers and I have not been overwhelmed. The Lemberger I have liked best was down from New Jersey where their number of hot sunny days made the difference for me. Many NY state Lembergers are made into blends, but Palaia's is straight 100% estate grown Lemberger. So I tried Jan's Lemberger with some trepidation. Palaia's wine had a deeper color, with a nose that was a big hit of bright sour cherry. There was a touch of smokiness to it. But the fruit was bright and fresh. This was in actuality a nice, soft wine. The nice thing about Palaia's version of this grape was that the fruit was there, but it wasn't overpowering. Again, it was in the realm of a light-to-medium Pinot Noir. Many Lembergers are high in acidity with tannins of varying degrees. This had a nice combination of acidity and tannins. There was great mouthfeel on this wine. It finished smooth and evenly. A wonderful wine. Instantly my favorite New York state Lemberger!

Palaia is a fun place to visit. They have two large rooms off the tasting room - one is a banquet room, and the other is an enclosed, heated porch where often feature musical guests.