Tuesday, October 02, 2018

My New Piece for The Cork Report: Vineyard Designate: Sawmill Creek Vineyards

The Cork Report
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A block of pinot noir vines in Sawmill Creek Vineyards.

As you may or  may not know, I have started writing for The Cork Report. Here's a new piece I just wrote.....follow the link below to read the article in it's entirety.

Vineyard Designate: Sawmill Creek Vineyards

Editor’s note: Similar to the tastemakers series I write for the site, Carlo DeVito is going to showcase some of the best and most important vineyards sites on the East Coast and Midwest. We’re calling this new series “Vineyard Designate.”

Growers rarely get the headlines. It’s the winemakers who seem to set fashion and quality and grab all the headlines, feature articles, and photo ops. But there are growers who have become brand names in and of their own right.

A vineyard designated wine is a wine produced from grapes grown in a single vineyard with that vineyard’s name appearing on the wine label. Under United States wine law, if the name of vineyard appears on the label at least 95% of the grapes used to make the wine must come from that vineyard. According to columnist Dr. Vinny at Wine Spectator, “they certainly indicate a confidence that the wine is at least distinctive.”

The concept was best surmised by Stett Holbrook in the Los Angeles Times, who wrote, “In France, terroir is taken as gospel. Over the last two decades, California winemakers have also embraced the notion, and it’s become more and more common for wines to be marketed with a “single vineyard” designation. Winemakers have been talking less about winemaking and more about soil and microclimate and the uniqueness of vineyard character. You don’t often find the word on a wine label, but when the label touts a particular vineyard, that’s code for terroir.”

Heitz Cellars seems to have led the way with the Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvingnon. And St. St. Jean pretty much lead the way with their Chardonnays. These were the leaders in single-vineyard or single-vineyard designations. There are two kinds of single-vineyard designations. The first would be the single vineyards of a particular winery. And there are the single vineyards of professional grape growers. The later is more rare.

This is the first in a series of articles about the development of single-vineyard wines outside of the West Coast. “It was in the 1990s that vintners opted to go bigtime with vineyard-designated bottles. They said they were spurred by the extra complexity that certain sites exhibited, but that’s only half the story. The other half was that, by then, it was apparent the public would pay more for single vineyard wines,” wrote Steve Heimoff. “As I said, I’m not sure that the best, most wholesome and complete, not to mention satisfying, wines come from individual vineyards. But wine isn’t just about hedonism, it’s about intellectual fun. For me, as a wine lover and critic, I love these single vineyard or block designation wines because they’re so interesting in themselves, even if they’re sometimes a little lacking something essential.”

We happen to think it’s about terroir, first and foremost. Single vineyard designations offer the ultimate in terroir. And the concept has not only gained ground in the eastern winemaking regions as well, it has made headlines.

to read the rest go to:

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Publisher's Weekly Raves About "Big Whiskey" by Carlo DeVito

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Big Whiskey: Kentucky Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, the Rebirth of Rye and the Distilleries of America’s Premier Spirits Region
Carlo DeVito, with Richard Thomas and Emily West. Cider Mill, $29.95 (480p) ISBN 978-1-60433-776-1

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A former publishing executive, DeVito takes a deep dive into the spirit in this dazzling study, offering profiles of distilleries like Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Ky. (home to Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and the Parker’s Heritage lines), as well as craft distilleries and some of the key players who make bourbon such an intoxicating subject, such as Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam’s Booker Noe. Readers expecting bottle-by-bottle ratings and rankings won’t find that, as DeVito acts more as a tour guide and historian than purveyor, but the book is filled with enough recommendations for bottles and bars, barroom trivia and arguments (can Tennessee whiskey be classified as bourbon?) to keep the conversation going until the wee hours. If the book has a flaw, it’s the small type. Those who can muscle though are bound to appreciate DeVito’s clear love for the topic and informative entries, not to mention the book’s reverential portraits of its subject, the terroir, and the men and women behind some of the best bottles on the market. This is an entertaining accompaniment to a healthy pour and a nice cigar. (Aug.)


Friday, September 21, 2018

Valley Table magazine celebrates Hudson Valley Cider! (NY)

Great article in The Valley Table about the continued explosion of hard cider in the Hudson Valley! Written by Timothy Buzinski it's in the September/November 2018 issue. Super job!

10 Most Important Moments in the Hudson Valley Beverage Industry in Hudson Valley Wine magazine

In Hudson Valley Wine magazine's 10th Anniversary issue, there was a great article about the ten most important moments in the beverage industry in the last decade. An excellent article by publisher Linda Piero.  A great read. Excellent job!


Friday, August 31, 2018

Whitecliff Vineyards Two Cabs 2014 and Reserve Gamay Noir 2016 - Outstanding! (NY)

I have long been fans of Michael Migliroe and wife Yancey Stanforth-Migliore. They have built their winery up over the last 15 years like few people in New York state. They are one of the best promoters and producers in the Hudson Valley. However, in the last few years, with winemaker Brad Martz, the wines have been incredible. Last week I stopped by and tried two wines quickly before the shop closed!

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winemaker, Brad Martz

Always oustanding is their Gamay. The Whitecliff Reserve Gamay Noir 2016 was another exceptional wine. Light strawberry and bright cherry pop out of the glass, and the nose is only a tease. Cherry, strawberry, and light raspberry, swirl with a hint of earthiness, and a dollop of vanilla that turns this red wine into something other worldly. This is easily one of the best Gamay's on the east coast. Phenomenal. 

The Whitecliff Vineyards Two Cabs 2014 is made from almost equal parts from Hudson Valley grown Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit was harvested at 21 brix, went through malolactic fermentation, and was aged 14 months in American and Hungarian oak. 20% of that was new oak. This dry medium-bodied to dark red, had a lovely color, and oozes charm right from the get-go. It features bright and dark cherry, and red raspberry. All those come across on the palate as well as cassis, blackberry, minerality, and a healthy doe of tannins and a touch of black pepper. This is a wonderful wine, perfect for roast chicken, pork, or a lovely roasted veal. Another lovely step forward for red wine in the Hudson Valley.

Great job Mike and Brad. Great work! Outstanding!

Nostrano Vineyards - New and Ready For Prime Time! (NY)

So, in July of 2018 I finally made it down (with my friend Rich Srsich) to Nostrano Vineyards in Milton, New York. I hadn't told Nic Bozzo and Kayleigh Marquis Bozzo I was coming. I had first tasted Nostrano at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival held in September at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. And in a limited tasting, I fell in love instantly. I had felt badly that it had taken me so long to get there. I felt a little sheepish going in. But when I got there, both Nic and Kayleigh were there, and made me and my companion feel like we were family. And it was wonderful, because these are good people. Nostrano is a family run 75-acre farm, vineyard and winery in the Hudson Valley. They grow 10-acres of wine grapes (they also grow some table grapes, and also have 15 acres of apples. 

This is a fourth generation farm, and yet is one of the newest wineries in the Hudson Valley. The Trapani family has been farming this land for fruit since 1943. Joseph Trapani Sr.’s grandson, Nicolas Bozzo, planted the Nostrano vineyards in 2010. 


Nic is a passionate grower. He wants to make the best artisanal quality wine in the valley. And that's why it's easy to like him. He unpretentious. He's a farmer first. And that's why it's easy to respect what he and Kayleigh are accomplishing. Nic was born and raised on his family’s farm in Milton, NY; attended SUNY ESF at Syracuse University acquiring his Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture. During his Senior year of college he traveled to New Zealand to further his knowledge in Eco-Agricultural Tourism and Winery Design. Interested in Sustainability, Land Management and the shear beauty of a working landscape such as a vineyard, Nic saw potential back in the Hudson Valley at his family's farm.

Nic's Father

Kayleigh, who manages the tasting room and event director, is equally inspiring. She's friendly, very smart, out going, and very well liked. Kayleigh was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and graduated from The College of Saint Rose with a B.S in Business Administration. Having worked for several large Corporations in Human Resource Management, Finance & Supply Chain, Kayleigh works on the Operating end as well as our Event Director coordinating Annual Events, Weddings & Special Events in the Vineyards Barn & Tasting Room.

The Nostrano Estate Riesling 2015 opens with a big aromatic bouquet of succulent fresh peaches and apricots. The wine was made in stainless steel, and while it starts of with green apple and other tropical fruits, it ends semi-sweet, or off-dry. A light, delicate, gorgeous Riesling. Very, very good!

The Nostrano Estate Riesling 2016 is a completely different wine. Much more akin to their sold out 2014 vintage, this wine opens with a big nose of Granny Smith apple and ripe Bosc pear, and some other tropical notes. Where the 2015 had softened with the sweetness, this 2016 was huge with minerality and great acidity, finishing with a zesty, citrus-y pop! This was an exquisite off-dry Riesling. As good as anything from the Finger Lakes. Perhaps this 2016 may have been the best wine of the tasting (though I liked the reds) I thought this was the wine ready to stand on its own. A great accomplishment for a winery so young. Impressive.

The Nostrano Ava Rosé 2017 was an accomplishment. The ose gushed with fresh bright raspberry and juicy watermelon as promised. Yet the end was all lemon and lime zest, with a lovely finish. This was an impressive wine as well, and would easily compete with any of the many wines from Long Island or the Finger Lakes. A very eye catching entry into the market.A wonderful wine!!!!

I first tasted the Nostrano Estate Pinot Noir 2014 at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival, alonmg with their chardonnay. The 2014 Estate Pinot was as good as any Pinot Noir made in the Hudson Valley. Especially impressive, considering it was amongst their first offerings. The wine had been aged in American oak for 16 months. Lovely balance and holding layers of complexity, it showed the true promise of what the winery could produce. Easily my favorite wine that they have produced. 

The Nostrano Estate Pinot Noir 2015 was considerably lighter in color, more like a dark rose. But I embrace the notion that sometimes Pinot Noirs don;t have to be dark. Indeed, some of my favorites, from Santa Barbara, Oregon, and New York states all produce lightly colored but incredibly tasty wines.  The 2015 Estate Pinot Noir was released in August 2017. The wine displays lovely aromatics of bright cherry and bright plum, layered with light  cranberries, raspberries, and cherries. The flavors are very pretty and delicate but nonetheless, delicious. An easy sipper great for lunch or with fish, fowl, or pork. A great summer red. A wonderful Pinot Noir.

The Nostrano Estate Cabernet Franc 2016 is a light, but impressive red (aged in American oak for 12 months), with a nose that bursts with violet, bright raspberry, strawberry, hints of graphite, and a sizable dose of black pepper at the end. This is a Loire-ish styled Cabernet Franc, bursting with fruit, and flavor. It deserves slow sipping, as there are delicate flavors that will continue to evolve. 

Nostrano Vineyards may be a new-ish winery (they opened their doors just a few years ago. But they are clear in their desire to be considered among the Hudson Valley's and New York's top quality producers. Their opening statements have been impressive, have flashed some wonderful wines in small quantities, and are poised to make the jump from the small screen to the big screen. They are indeed ready for prime time! Love Nostrano Vineyards!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hudson Valley Craft Beverage Scene is Hot Ticket! (NY)

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Holy Hell! There's a lot going on in the beer business in the Hudson Valley!

Here's a quick recap for those of you who having been keeping score. Singlecut bought Shmaltz Brewery's production facility in Colonie in a bid to keep up production with their beer's popularity. Shmaltz will go back to contract brewing.

And Sloop Brewing, who moved to Elizaville, NY  in Columbia County, not that long ago, it headed for expansion in an old complex formerly owned by IBM in Fishkill, Dutchess County.

With the explosion of craft beer n the Hudson Valley, local government, chambers of commerce, and local banks and politicians are all playing their part in wooing companies from one place to another. As the agritourism/craft beverage tourism and production explodes, counties are vying for the hottest brands, helping to find financing, space, and deals to lure the hottest producers. 

admittedly, I meant to write about this activity months ago. These stories are old already to the local industry. But with more breweries, distilleries, and wineries planning to open in the region, and the aggressive growth of the sector continuing, the Hudson Valley is seemingly a hot ticket. There's probably a lot more to come, especially in the volatile beer industry as well as in the distilling business. Many of the big fish in the liquor business are looking for burgeoning craft distilleries to swallow up or to partner with. Executives from many of the major distributors have been coming the valley looking to make deals for brands and facilities.

Watch out!



Wolf Hollow Makes Front Page Yankee Brew News! (NY)

Wolf Hollow Brewing, located in Glenville, NY, (somewhere west of Schnectady) was profiled in Yankee Brew News, and was featured on the front page! Wolf Hollow has been around sometime now, and has rightfully gained a solid and loyal following. They make great beer. I've been lucky enough to work several events with them. Great folks, great beer, they deserve the recognition!