New York

Ben Feder Passed Away

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 | Hudson Valley, New York, Wine News | 1 Comment

I am sad to hear of the passing Clinton Vineyards’ Ben Feder, who died last Thursday. Clinton was one of the first Hudson Valley wineries I visited several years ago, and is just minutes from my home. I always enjoyed talking to Ben when I’d see him at a wine event or at the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market. He was quite a character and a memorable personality.

Ben and his wife Phyllis established Clinton Vineyards in 1977. I have not heard anything about what will happen to the vineyard. My sincerest condolences to his family.

Bouké White (Long Island)

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 | Long Island, New York, White Wine, Wines Under $20 | 4 Comments

I’m not a huge fan of Long Island wines, and I’ll spare you my usual explanation of why. Suffice it to say, generally I think they taste weird and cost too much. That doesn’t mean I don’t try them, though. Last fall I received a sample bottle of Bouké 2007 White Table Wine ($18). (Don’t forget that sassy accent mark over the “e”). Since I was newly pregnant and not drinking, I stuck it in my wine fridge, waiting for early summer.

A couple of weeks ago I made some jerk-spiced chicken and grilled some garlic-scape-infused summer squash with it. (How’s that for fancy sounding?) I thought that this wine, a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Gris, 18% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Gewurztraminer, would pair well. While our dinner cooked outside, Drew uncorked the bottle and poured us each a glass. The nose was citrusy with a bit of tropical fruit there, too. Quite promising. I took a sip and gave myself a moment to think about the flavors and it hit me: this wine tasted like lemon-scented Mr. Clean. That sounds a lot worse than it was. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant, but Drew agreed that there was a vague cleanser taste to the wine and it was a little odd. Not a great start.

Luckily, with a little time and the glass and with the food, the wine was quite enjoyable. The flavor evolved to a nice cleanser-less citrus taste, combined with a little Granny Smith apple and bright acidity. The flavors mellowed even more the next day and it held up well. So all in all, I thought this was a fairly decent wine, though not one I’m sure I’d pay $18 for. Personally, there are other similar whites that I like better. If you’re looking specifically for a Long Island wine, though, this one would not be a bad pick.

Brotherhood Winery Blanc de Blanc

Monday, July 6th, 2009 | Chardonnay, Food & Wine Pairing, Hudson Valley, New York, Sparkling Wine, White Wine, Wines Under $20 | 5 Comments

Brothehood Blanc de Blanc

I don’t know about you, but I love all things bubbly… seltzer, tonic, soda, and of course sparkling wine. Last summer at Bounty of the Hudson we purchased two bottles of this Blanc de Blanc from Brotherhood Winery, located right here in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Blanc de Blanc sparkling wines are made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. The grapes in this bottle are all from the Hudson Valley. We thought it was a great accompaniment to our steamed lobster tails. It’s dry and crisp, but certainly not bone dry. I have to admit that I was wracking my brain for the best way to describe this wine for you. Obviously I’m out of practice and, truthfully, while reading wine blogs as a non-drinker during the last several months, I became painfully aware of how snooty some of the descriptions sound. I suppose there’s really no way around that, but I really will try not to sound too obnoxious.

The nose had a hint of white fruit on it. Drew first mentioned peaches, but then decided it was more like apricots. The wine itself had a vague citrus taste to it, making me think of grapefruit pith (but in a good way. It was very easy drinking and a good choice for a warm summer evening on the deck. (At least we thought so!)

At $10.99, it’s a very affordable option when you want to drink something like champagne, but don’t want to shell out the bucks for the French stuff.

Crazy Wines and Crazy Good Cheese

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 | Dessert Wine, Hudson Valley, New York | 1 Comment

Although Pazdar Winerywas one of the first booths we saw, we decided to save it until the end because we noted that they were offering up sweet wines for tasting. With names like “Hot Sin” and ”Eden’s Pleasure” (both of which we tasted and ultimately purchased), I think Pazdar gets the star for most creative wine names. They create unique dessert wines from grapes, fruit juices, and herbs and spices. Eden’s Pleasure ($15), for example, has a very distinct chocolate-banana flavor. The chocolate is no coincidence, as the cocoa is ground at the winery to ensure its quality and then it is added to the wine. Similarly, the winemaker grinds the cinnamon that goes into Hot Sin ($12) which I purchased specifically to serve with apple pie this Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the winery is closed to the public, but you can order online or else catch them at wine events around the region. Their interesting wines are definitely worth a taste.

sprout creek farm

Also worth seeking out if you’re in the Hudson Valley is Sprout Creek Farm. They were offering samples of their delicious cheeses at Bounty of the Hudson and I am not one to ever pass up cheese. We ended up purchasing their goat cheese, Doe Re Mi, which might be the creamiest, most delicious goat cheese I’ve ever tasted. It is slightly tart and wonderfully fresh. We’ve simply been enjoying it spread on fresh baguette, but I’m sure there are more creative ways you could use this chevre. We also bought a chunk of smoked Ouray, which is a raw, cow’s milk cheese that has a slightly sharp yet buttery flavor. It has a firm texture and the smoked version has and extra dimension of flavor. It has an edible rind and we’ve enjoyed it as a snack with dry sausage and olives. We enjoyed everything they offered, but these two stood out for us.

Bounty of the Hudson 2008

Monday, July 28th, 2008 | Hudson Valley, New York | 1 Comment

bounty-watercolor.jpgWhat an amazing time we had at the 2008 Bounty of the Hudson Food & Wine Festival yesterday! I’ll be writing about some of the great wines in detail as the week goes on, but I just wanted to say how impressed I was with many of the wineries that attended. I kind of feel like the Hudson Valley is the Rodney Dangerfield of the New York wine world. You know — “We don’t get no respect!” And it is true that in the past, some of the wines have been less-than-great. But I think that these local wineries are really stepping it up and producing some great wines. We held back a bit and only came home with six bottles from the festival, but if we had a slightly bigger budget, there are a few more that I would have loved to add to our cellar. Stay tuned for details!

For Real, Millbrook?

Thursday, July 17th, 2008 | Hudson Valley, New York | 2 Comments

Shame on Millbrook I am one of those people who believes in doing something to the fullest. If you claim to be something, then be it with all your heart. Don’t try to dilute it by saying you’re just like something else.

Sunday night after the boys were in bed, I was relaxing while reading the newspaper. As I made my way through the front section, I noticed this ad for Millbrook Vineyards & Winery on page 6A of the Poughkeepsie Journal. Immediately I became annoyed. Check out the headline (which I circled in yellow) and maybe you’ll understand why. Millbrook enjoys the distinction of being probably the most recognized name in the Hudson Valley wine region. And although wines from this region are not as celebrated as those from Long Island or the Finger Lakes, I think that overall Millbrook makes a good showing as a New York winery in general.

Why then, did they choose that headline for their ad? “All the beauty of France, all the taste of California…” First let’s tackle “all the beauty of France.” Naturally, as a Hudson Valley resident, I am quite partial to this area and I think it is beautiful. I would agree that France is just as beautiful. But why make the comparison? Do people really think that quaint, little Millbrook is a dump? I seriously doubt it. This area gets plenty of “leafers” (to borrow a term from “The Family Guy”). There are many people from the city who have weekend homes up this way in order to get away from it all. So I think it’s safe to say that you don’t need to lure people with “the beauty of France.”

Next, and more important, let’s think about “the taste of California.” If I didn’t know better, that headline would make me think that all of Millbrook’s wines are made with juice shipped from California. Now, that’s true to an extent. Some of their wines aremade with California grapes. Millbrook’s Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, and Hunt Country White are all made with grapes grown on California’s Central Coast. But their Tocai Friulano, their Castle Hill Chardonnay, Chardonnay Proprietor’s Special Reserve, and their Hunt Country Rosé are made with New York grapes. Besides, Millbrook likes to make a big deal over their trellis system and the grape vines are first things you see as you drive up to the winery. They’re not making jam with all those grapes! 

Are Hudson Valley wines so bad that even the Hudson Valley wineries themselves feel the need to lure people here with promises of a California wine experience? If that’s true, people will be disappointed because wines from New York generally don’t taste very much like wines from the West Coast. Personally, I think the ad gives the wrong message. I’d hope that in the future Millbrook will use its status to do what it can to show people how to appreciate Hudson Valley wines for their unique character. After all, if I want a California wine, I’m going to drink a California wine. When I want something different, I’m going to look to other wine regions (like New York) to broaden my palate and create new wine experiences.

Around Town: Alison Winery

Saturday, July 12th, 2008 | Hudson Valley, New York | No Comments

This morning I decided I wanted to make blueberry cobbler, so bright and early we headed over to Greig Farm to pick some berries. Alison Winery is located there as well, and although it wasn’t open for tasting yet (this was all of 9:30 a.m., mind you), we hung around to enjoy the scenery. So, in lieu of actual wine content, I hope you’ll enjoy looking at a few photos of one of the nearby Hudson Valley wineries.

entrance to alison

wine barrels


barn at alison winery / greig farm

barn door

2008 Bounty of the Hudson, July 26 & 27

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 | Hudson Valley, Local Events, New York | 1 Comment

bounty-watercolor.jpgLast week our tickets arrived for the 12th annual Bounty of the Hudson Food & Wine Festival, and I am so excited to go! It is taking place from noon-5PM on July 26th and 27th at Benmarl Winery in Marlboro, New York. All 10 wineries from the Shawangunk Wine Trail will be offering tastings of their wines and a few other Hudson Valley wineries are slated to take part as well. In addition, area restaurants will have samples of their dishes, there will be cooking workshops, and of course — what’s a festival without great live music? The wines being tasted this year come from the 2007 growing season, one of the Hudson Valley’s best in recent years.

The 10 wineries that comprise the Shawangunk Wine Trail are Adair Vineyards, Applewood Winery, Baldwin Vineyards, Benmarl Vineyards, Brotherhood Winery, Glorie Farm Winery, Rivendell Winery, Stoutridge Vineyard, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, and Whitecliff Vineyards. I’m looking forward to tasting wines from a couple local favorites and discovering new local wineries, as well. There are a few that I’m completely unfamiliar with, so I can’t wait to see what they’ve got.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. You can also purchase a “designated driver” ticket for a few bucks less, which allows you to enjoy the food and fun, but no wine tasting or glass. Designated drivers will get special bracelets to wear during the festival. To purchace tickets online, visit Vintage New York. For more information on the event, visit the Shawangunk Wine Trail’s Web site.

I hope to see you there!

Cascade Mountain Vineyards NV Coeur de Lion

Thursday, April 10th, 2008 | Hudson Valley, New York, Red Wine | 1 Comment

Cascade Mountain Vineyards - Coeur de Lion

As I mentioned before, April is New York wine month. (It’s also Michigan wine month, apparently, but I’ve never seen a Michigan wine around here.) I have a line-up of wines from most of New York’s wine-growing regions and I thought I’d start with the Hudson Valley, since this is where I live. Believe it or not, even within New York it’s not easy to find wines produced here. Last week I decided to stop by Astor Square Wine & Liquor in Rhinebeck. It had been a long time since I’d last shopped there and I was curious what they’d have for local wines. Their New York section was rather small. They had a few wines from Bully Hill, a few wines from Cascade Mountain Vineyards, and I think they had something from Alison, too.

I quickly decided on a bottle of Coeur de Lion  from Cascade Mountain ($13.99). Drew and I visited Cascade Mountain Vineyards in Amenia, NY a few years ago and tasted many of their wines, including this one. I wasn’t keeping tasting notes at the time, so I looked forward to revisited the wine. It is a light-bodied red, often described as a “country wine.” The grapes are not listed on the label, but the wine is a blend of Marechal Foch and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the glass, the wine was a lovely shade of burgundy. When I smelled the wine, the first thing that came to mind was banana, followed by dark fruit, and lots of oak. I found the wine to be incredibly dry. It sucked the moisture off your tongue. Personally, I thought it was a bit too dry for such a light-bodied wine. There is a great deal of oak on this wine, but I was able to discern some tart berry flavors. The wine did open up a bit when I tried it again a few hours later and it had softened. Still, I wasn’t crazy about it. I might have liked it better if I’d paid under $10 for it, but that is my frugal nature rearing its head. Drew liked it slightly more than I did and thought it might appeal to people who enjoy wines from Burgundy.

I’m starting to realize that no matter what region, I tend to enjoy New York white wines and dessert wines more than the reds produced here. That’s not to say that New York doesn’t produce decent red wines; I’m realizing that they just don’t suit my tastes. And in the end it does come down to personal preferance. No wine is everything to all people, you know? Next time I’ll pick up a bottle of Summertide ($11.99), which is a semi-dry white made with Seyval and Vidal grapes and see I enjoy that a little bit more.

Celebrate New York Wine Month in April!

Friday, March 28th, 2008 | Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York, Niagara, Wine Events | 4 Comments

Image source: Uncork New York!

Although some might lead you to believe that the only wines produced in New York are those from Long Island or the Finger Lakes, there are in fact five main regions. The other three are the Hudson Valley, the Niagra Escarpment, and the Lake Erie Region. We have 32,000 acres of vineyards, with more being planted every year and approximately 175,000 tons of grapes are produced annually. There are 212 bonded wineries in New York, including Brotherhood — America’s first winery (located in the Hudson Valley Region).

April is New York Wine Month and many New York wineries will be unveiling their 2007 vintages in April, so it’s the perfect time to celebrate the fruits of their labor. In addition, a major “Taste of New York” public television series produced by WXXI in Rochester will begin airing in April, along with publication of a “Taste of New York” cookbook featuring New York wines and foods.

I’m going to spend the month of April focusing on wines from The Empire State and I am going to do my best to taste one from each of the five main regions. Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of Long Island wines, but maybe I’ll get lucky and find one that doesn’t taste like lemon pith or dried up autumn leaves. At any rate, it’s a great excuse to explore!

About Me

I'm Carol, mom to three, knitter, crocheter, writer, and oenophile. I used to co-own a wine shop but discovered that I prefer drinking wine to selling it.

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