Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hudson-Chatham Old Vines Baco Noir 2009

The weather finally cooled down enough on Sunday to enjoy a day on the Patio standing over the grill.  Just the three of us, but decided to have a little party of our own.  We grilled up some free range beef tenderloin steaks, chicken legs coated in Shirley's own bread crumb mix, shrimp on the barbie, corn on the cob, steamed beet greens and grilled radicchio.  It was also a right time to open up a nice full bodied red wine.  Just in time, my white wines were depleting fast with this long heat wave.  The wine of choice was from the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent NY.    The winery is situated on a former dairy farm, with views stretching to the Berkshires and the Catskills. It is Columbia County's first winery. This I believe was there first release of the Old Vines Baco Noir
The Baco Noir grape is a French hybrid and tends to be vigorous and fairly resistant to the common ills of grapes in the eastern U.S. and parts of Canada.  It is also gaining popularity in Oregon.
In New York there are an estimated 590 acres of Baco Noir currently grown.  Hopefully we'll be seeing more of the hardy red grape here in New York in the future.
About two years ago I tasted the Hudson-Chatham Reserve Baco Noir.  A very nice wine, but not on a par with the 2009 Old Vines. Lighter, medium body, with lots of cherry and plum.
The old vines is made from Finger Lakes grapes grown on 60 year old gnarly vines on the Masson Place Vineyards, which I cannot find any info on.  I believe it is located on the west side of Keuka Lake near Pulteney NY. The grapes are crushed at a local crush facility to retain the freshness of the fruit and then shipped approx. 200 miles to the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent. The wine is then placed in French oak barrels, racked in the early Spring, bottled in early autumn and released in November.
Whenever I open a dark red wine and smell aromas of tobacco, leather and some damp soil, I know I am in for a treat.  That is what I got.  Seconds on the sniffing brought out some black cherry and plums and hints of cranberry and vanilla.  Very pleasant taste of dark berries, black plum, some tobacco or herbal and a bit of pepper.  A nice finish, not overly long, was dry with blackberry, cranberry and a touch of pepper with some hints of chocolate.
The Hudson-Chatham Old Vines Baco Noir 2009($28) is one of the best New York red wines I have tasted in a long time. Think it's time to take a tour on the Hudson Valley Beverage Trail

Monday, July 25, 2011

Heron Hill Dry Riesling 2009

It's Friday night and I find my self getting a little ahead on the reviews.  Normally, I like to drink four or five or more wines per week and then pick one for a weekly review.  This past week though, I am finding that it may be damn difficult to chose one, so I've been drafting a few to publish later.  It may be the heat, but I really think it's just the fact I've been opening many of the outstanding wines I brought home from the Finger Lakes Wine Fest.
After another 100F day and another excellent Riesling opened just to sip while relaxing and watching the tube.  A Heron Hill dry Riesling 2009($14)
Color was nice, light straw and very bright.  Lots of nice aromas of peach, pear, some apple and a little floral with a very clean melon, lemon/lime and hints of mineral.  A nice, nice citrusy finish made this a perfect white wine to beat the heat.
After the first glass, Shirley made a dessert of Mascarpone cheese covered with fresh blueberries. Pairing was real nice, but I would have rather had the dessert with fresh strawberries. Even better would be a strawberry/blueberry mix. We'll settle that in the morning when we pick up our fruit and veggies for the week at the Central New York Regional Market.  Maybe even a nice peach dessert for next time.  Well, dessert really doen't matter as long as it's a great white wine from the Finger Lakes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli 2009

I've been wanting to try the Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli (Ar KATS see telly) ever since I first heard of it.  Why I waited till now, who knows?  But finally I have one to taste.
Not widely known about in western markets, this ancient white grape variety is broadly distributed across eastern European vineyards – mostly in former Soviet states like the Ukraine and Bulgaria. Its accepted origin is in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains bordering Armenia and Turkey. Here, the grape is known as Rkatsiteii and it still dominates wine production, accounting for up to half of the total volume of this most historic of wine producing nations.
Rkatsiteli yields good sugar levels in cold climates and has a high natural acidity. It makes noticeably acidic but balanced white wines with a full flavor profile and good body. Relatively floral and spicy aromatics are somewhat reminiscent of Gew├╝rztraminer and Riesling, and a lively spritz on the tongue adds to the appealing character of this quality grape variety.
Tonight I opened a Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli 2009 ($15)
Color was light, bright with a greenish hue, sort of like a Sauvignon Blanc.
I found the wine to be anything but sweet. Very dry aromas of wildflowers, apricot, asparagus and a little lemon.  In the mouth a taste of peach and lemon, but a bit of acidity.  A very long citrusy finish. I wish I could make my description sound better, because this was a very delicious wine.  I opened on a very hot evening just to sip while watching baseball on TV.  I did try with some light Havarti cheese and was pleased with the pairing. Also think this is what I was looking for to pair with Shirley's halupkis(stuffed cabbage).  Always had a hard time with that pairing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi Dry Riesling 2010.

Still blistering hot and still uncorking some nice Finger Lakes wines to help deal with the heat and still dining on summer salads, but added some corn on the cob to change it up a notch, I guess.
I am just interested in the cold wine.  I lowered my white wine zone in the fridge from 49F to 43F to chill down the wine to deal with the heat.  It doesn't take long once out of the fridge to start warming up.
Tonight it is a Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi Dry Riesling 2010($15).  I can't say this is a wine I found at the recent Wine Fest, it is one I went looking for.
Dr. Konstantin Frank ignited the “Vinifera Revolution” a movement that forever changed the course of wine growing in the Finger Lakes and the United States. Dr. Frank’s vision, knowledge and determination are credited with elevating the New York wine industry from a state of happy mediocrity to a level that today commands world attention.
In 1962, merely a decade after arriving in America, Dr. Frank founded Vinifera Wine Cellars. The winery quickly earned a reputation for spectacular Rieslings and its original planting of vines formed the backbone of New York’s world-class wines and champagnes.Dr. Frank’s Wine Cellars is proud of its international winemaking team with each member bringing in their particular expertise. The talented group includes winemakers from California, Australia, France and Germany. The focus on world class wines continues with each generation of the family, each member living up to the Frank Family tradition of excellence.
Tonight's Dr. Frank selection is an excellent example of the family tradition.
Very pleasant aromas of clementines, peach with a bit of pear, apple blossom and slate.
Nice and thick mouthfeel filled with pear, some nectarine and apricot. Long finish with peach, citrus and green apple.
I like my Riesling with fish or mild oriental foods.  This would be fantastic with a char-broiled salmon.  I also think I'll try with Shriley's BBQ chicken on the grill or even sipping with a few bites of light cheese.
I tell anybody that ask about trying Riesling, you can not go wrong with any Riesling from the Finger Lakes and although I may have other favorites, I will always recommend Dr. Konstantin Frank. Fantastic wine, nice price($15)

Red Newt Cellars Semi-Dry Riesling 2009

Close to 100F today, but feels like 120F.  Can't remember last time we had this long of a heat wave in Central New York. What it does mean though, is I get to chill some Finger Lakes Riesling to enjoy in the air-conditioned family room and that all outdoor yard work is cancelled till another day.
After watching my Phillies hammer the Cubs, I was forced by other family members to watch the Yankees game while dining on a Tuna/Macaroni salad for dinner. That is a nice summer salad to have with a nice summer wine, so to accommodate I opened a Red Newt Cellars semi-dry Riesling.  This is one of the many I brought home from the Finger Lakes Wine Fest last week-end.
Color was a very light yellow, almost clear. The aromas were somewhat complex.  Some lemony citrus, floral, some peach, pear and a little mineral. In the mouth the wine was very soft with lemon/lime and peach.  A little honey with citrus and peach gave the finish a nice quite hint of sweetness.  Was OK with the Tuna Salad, but can't wait to try my other bottle with some spicy oriental or a broiled Trout. Not turning the oven on, though, until the heat wave passes.  A nice wine and a nice price ($12).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finger Lakes Wine Fest 2011


This past Sunday, Shirley, Pam and I along with two good friends attended the Finger Lakes Wine Fest in Watkins Glen, NY.

My day started with a pace car ride around the 2.5  mile road track at Watkins Glen. This was my first time around any NASCAR race track. I now have a little(very little) of what each driver in a NASCAR road race must endure to finish the race. Glad I took the ride before drinking and/or tasting any wine..
A  surprise was meeting one of my favorite bloggers.  Evan Dawson was promoting his book "Summer in a Glass." He is also a contributor of the New York Cork Report, which is one of my favorite blogs. His book is about the coming of age of wine making in the Finger Lakes.

The rest of the day was tasting great wines and stocking my depleted wine fridge.
When coming to the Fest, I was positive that I would be taking home many of the great white wines offered by the Finger Lakes wineries, but what I found were many red wines that may be among the best.  When storing  the wines after retuning home, I found that I had tasted and selected more red wines than white, especially the Cabernet Franc.
Now it is taste and review, I think I will enjoy this summer on the patio immensely.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Concannon Central Coast Merlot 2008

It's been a lot of fun traveling the world through wine this past month.  This is something I wanted to do for the year and I will continue as long as I can find the wines.  I have a few more to try this month and then maybe a long break enabling me to get back to many of my favorites produced right here in the USA.  Tonight I am getting a head start with a very nice Merlot from one of my favorite California wineries, Concannon Vineyards. A 2008 Selected Vineyards, Central Coast Merlot($10).

Winemakers Notes:
The 2008 Merlot, Selected Vineyards is a luscious wine with soft edges and rich flavors.  It's lovely magenta hue introduces ripe fruit flavors of cherry, currant and plum.  Warm toasty oak on the nose accompanies the red fruit to the ling mid-palate and soft yet ample tannins lead to a smooth finish.
*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand
My Notes:
My sniffer was full of leather and earth and a bit of the toasty oak. Second sniffs drew out the black cherry and plum with a very light hint of rose. Surprised at the rose aroma and kept going back and kept getting that little bit of rose. Loved the way this wine felt in the mouth.  Very soft tannins, lots of fruit on the tongue and a very smooth and somewhat long finish.

Suggested pairings are prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, braised leg of lamb or filet mignon.  I'm not a fan of prosciutto and eat shrimp only in a cocktail.  Not that much into lamb either, but I can do the filet.  I would love to try this with a juicy black angus beef burger though.

This is a very nice, delicious soft Merlot.  It's also soft on the wallet. ($10)  It is widely available and one not to pass up.  Definitely worth twice or three times the price.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kir-Yianni Paranga 2009

Still hot, making it just right to empty my fridge of white wines just in time for the Finger Lakes Wine Fest next weekend.  But, Pam put a kink into that plan by bringing home pizza and wings for tonight's dinner. I am not breaking one of my personal wine rules:  "Red or White wine with anything I eat, except pizza.  Then it's always red."
For tonight's pizza I chose a Paranga 'vin de pay de Macedonia' Kir-Yianni 2009, a blend of Xinomavro, Merlot and Syrah.  The Xinomavro is another grape that I have never tasted.  For that matter, I never even heard of.  It is the predominant grape variety in the Macedonia region of Greece. The wines made from Xinomavro are known for their superb aging potential and their rich tannic character.  Their complex aromas combing such red fruits as gooseberry with hints of olives, spices and dried tomatoes.
The grapes come from the viticultural area of Agios Panteleimon in Florina in Northwestern Greece that lies at an altitude of 600 meters.  The usual grape yield does not exceed 40 hl/he.
The soil is sandy and poor, thus offering the possibility of producing wines of good quality and rich aromas.  The micro climate of the region is characterized by cold winters and warm summers, while the four neighboring lakes contribute to the existence of a mild continental climate.
Kir-Yianni Paranga is a unique combination of Xinomavro, Merlot and Syrah.  The color is a dark garnet with aromas of dark berries and basil with a hint of green pepper. Is green pepper a flaw or not? The pepper was there, but added to the complexity of what was very pleasing aromas.  Very soft mouth feel full of blackberry, black cherry, herbs with hints of clove.  Finish is dry, long with some spice.
A very delicious red wine, ready to drink now and should celler for many years.  Should be easily found at shops selling Greek wines and can be found at many on-line wine outlets for $17 - $21.
An excellent wine that will pair with any red meat, chicken, red sauces and of course, pizza.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kavaklidere Angora White Wine 2008

Very hot day today in Central New York,  so Sunday dinner turned out to be a couple of organic or free range hot dogs and a tomato/cucumber salad.  Decided to try a white wine from Turkey, that Shirley bought last March at 67Wine in Manhattan.
An Angora Sultana de Denizli from Turkey($12).  Needless to say, this was my first Turkish wine. Angora White is produced from Sultana grapes grown in Denizli to reveal the distinctive aromatic character of the “Sultana” grape. The grape is widely used to make raisins.
When selecting a wine for tonight, I found that my dual-temperature wine fridge is no longer a dual zone, so I had to chill the wine for a hour or so in the freezer.  That made the wine nice and cold when opened and that may have been a good thing.
Color was a pale yellow with very light aromas of apple, some peach, wildflowers with some mineral and a little yeasty.   Nice medium body with a thick mouthfeel and taste of tropical fruits and a little lemon.  Finish was semi-dry, moderately long with a little honeysuckle like sweetness.  As the wine warmed up I got more mineral, enough to almost overpower any of the fruit flavors.  I would suggest that if you have a chance to try this wine, you serve it very cold (under 40F).  There was nothing surprising about this wine and nothing that really would make it stand out above others, but for $12 (can find under $10 on-line) it's a nice wine to keep on hand for those very hot days of summer.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chateau Tellagh Medea Red Wine 2008

Wine from Algeria! Who would'a thunk.
Ok, for some reason I may have missed this in Geography class.  When I think of Algeria, I think of desert, sand, sun and boiling hot!  Just right for growing red grapes, right?   Well think again young man(that's me) and go back to school(wikipedia.com).
In this region, midday desert temperatures can be hot year round. After sunset, however, the clear, dry air permits rapid loss of heat, and the nights are cool to chilly. Enormous daily ranges in temperature are recorded. Algeria has always been noted for the fertility of its soil. 25% of Algerians are employed in the agricultural sector. Of the crops raised, wheat, barley and oats are the principal cereals. A great variety of vegetables and fruits, especially citrus products, are exported. Algeria also exports figs, dates, esparto grass, and cork. It is the largest oat market in Africa. Uh Oh, where's the grapes?
While not a significant force on the world's wine market today, Algeria has played an important role in the history of wine. Algeria's viticultural history dates back to its settlement by the Phoenicians and continued under Algeria's rule by the Roman empire. Just prior to the Algerian War of Independence, Algerian wine (along with the production of Morocco and Tunisia) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total international wine trade. With as much land under vine as the countries of Germany and South Africa, Algeria continues to maintain a wine industry with over 70 wineries in operation.
All of Algeria's vineyards are located in the Hauts Plateaux region extending towards the Moroccan border. Bordering the sea, this region has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and dry, hot summers and is very similar to the southern wine regions of Spain.
The main grapes of the region was Carignan, Cinsaut and Alicante Bouschet. Clairette and Ugni blanc have become the dominate grape varieties with some smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Mouvedre and Syrah. Algerian wines are characterized by their overripe fruit, high alcohol and low acidity.
You are all very welcome for the Geography lesson, but now, how I found the wine.
On our recent vacation we dined one early evening at the Zerza Mediterrano Restaurant on 6th St. and 2nd Ave. in  lower Manhattan (West Village) which features Moroccan Cooking.  I ordered duck and Shirley ordered lamb and I was in the mood to try a North African wine.  The Chateau Tellagh Medea red wine was the only one served by the glass and I was apprehensive about ordering a full bottle of Moroccan wine.  I thought the aromas were a little kinky, but the wine was actually very, very nice. So much so, that I bought a bottle of what is a $9 wine for $28 to bring home.  Tonight I opened that bottle. A blend of 40% Grenache, 25% Cinsault, 15% Carignan, 10% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aromas are still kinky.  At first, a little spray paint, but quietly turns to a woodsy, cherry cough drop aroma.  That cherry, a little spice and mixed red fruit came alive in the mouth.  The finish was a smooth and pretty long. Extraordinary with both the duck and the lamb, but tonight I had neither, so I opted for goat cheese from Lively Run Goat Dairy in Interlaken NY.  I cut up some Feta and Cayuga Blue.  OK with the Blue Cheese, fantastic with the Feta.
Unfortunately, this will be a very difficult wine to find.   If you are lucky enough to live near a large city like New York City, I recommend you pick a few of these up when you find them.  If not, they can be purchased on-line.  Check out Grand Wine and Liquor for ordering.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hosmer Winery Cabernet Franc 2008

Got home from work on this very humid night and just wanted a nicely chilled white wine to sip on while playing on the PC.  For some reason, the door on the wine fridge was open and both levels where reading 64F, so I was forced into pulling out one of my reds.  And the winner was: a Hosmer Winery Cabernet Franc 2008($18).  I did like many of the Finger Lakes '07 Cab/Francs, but this was my first '08 and I was not expecting anything grand after the fantastic red wines of '07.  Well, I was wrong to think that way.
Aromas were not real fruity, but more mineral, maybe some lavender and damp soil, a lot like you smell when walking through a dense evergreen forest. There were some hints of dark fruit, black raspberry or maybe black cherry.  The first sip just blew me away!  Some fruit in the back of the mouth, some nice earthy flavors in the front and a very, very velvety feel throughout. Nice soft tannins and a little pepper on a long finish.
Although, not very hungry, I did manage to dice up a little sharp cheddar and fontina cheese (twice).
More cheese than I should have, but it was just too nice to stop. Suggested pairings include poultry, lasagna, couscous with meat, Middle Eastern fare, veggie pizza, and Greek cuisine, I also think it would be a perfect red wine for charbroiled salmon.
To order from Hosmer Winery click here..