When I listen to the radio (yes, I’m still an ardent follower of “old media”), I listen to a variety of stations: Q 104.3 for classic rock; WFUV for keeping current with new artists, “80’s at 8” on CBS-FM when I play cards with the boys on Wednesdays; and when I want to see what’s happening in the world, I tune to 1010 WINS, one of the newsradio stations in New York. The same kind of variety exists for wine festivals. There are many great annual events in the NY metropolitan area: NY Drinks NY, Brooklyn Uncorked, the North Fork Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival, Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival and of course the Harvest East End Wine & Food Classic. Each one offers something a bit different. Some events highlight regional restaurants, some include wine from outside the region, some include other beverages (beer, gourmet sodas, spirits, even coffee), and some are more like parties with live music filling the air. And then there’s NY Drinks NY. Just like 1010 WINS is all about the news (“All the news all the time”), NY Drinks NY is all about the wine. While the other events are great fun, I do enjoy going to a wine tasting where the wine takes center stage.
Organized by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and sponsored by Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn and Taste NY, the raison d’être for NY Drinks NY is to showcase the wines of New York State. At this year’s event, there were 38 wineries and almost 200 wines. With so much to choose from, the first question is: Where to start? After checking out the program, I decided, like I often do, to begin with some bubbly. I started with a trio of sparklers from Long Island: Rosato Petillant Naturel from Channing Daughters, 2010 Blanc de Blanc from Lieb Cellars and the 2015 “Horses” Sparkling Cab Franc from Macari. I then moved to the Finger Lakes: 2014 Bollicini, a mostly Cayuga Sparkling wine from Damiani Wine Cellars; 2006 Brut from Glenora, and the 2010 Blanc de Blanc from Dr Frank. Because I want to keep this blog down to a reasonable length, I don’t have the space to comment on each wine. But I’ll just say this: New York State has a long history of producing sparkling wine (Great Western started back in 1860), but in recent years there has been a trend to move to non-traditional grapes. In addition to those listed above, Hazlitt now does a sparkling Gruner, Atwater does a bubbly Riesling and Christopher Tracy, winemaker at Channing Daughters, makes a sparkling from pretty much every grape imaginable. So, if you haven’t yet experienced the sparkling wines of New York, you’re missing out on some exciting stuff.
Next, I chose some wines I don’t often taste and wineries I don’t often visit. First was a stop in the Hudson Valley for the 2013 Merlot-Malbec blend from Whitecliff Vineyards, the 2008 Frontenac from Stoutridge Vineyard and the 2014 unoaked Chardonnay from Benmarl. Then to the Finger Lakes for the 2014 Saperavi (a grape from Eastern Europe) from Standing Stone and the 2014 Gamay Noir from Sheldrake Pointe. And finally a visit to the Niagara Escarpment: Trilogy Red (a blend of Cab Sauvignon, Chancellor and Marechal Foch) from Black Willow, 2014 Pinot Noir from Victorianbourg Wine Estate (a winery that was totally new to me) and the semi-dry Riesling from Arrowhead Springs. As you can see, diversity is the watchword of New York wines.
And finally some old favorites from Long Island (both wine and winemakers): 2015 Albarino from Palmer (and a chat with winemaker Miguel Martin), 2014 Chenin Blanc from Paumanok (and a chat with winemaker Kareem Massoud), the 2014 Malbec from Bedell Cellars (and a chat with winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich) and the 2014 Northville Blanc Chardonnay-Viognier Blend from Martha Clara (and a chat with winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez). I finished with As If Serendipity, the new White Blend (Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc) from Alie Shaper, the winemaker at Brooklyn Oenology. Not only is NY Drinks NY a great place to sample a large selection of wines, but it is also a rare opportunity to talk wine with the winemaker about the wines that they are producing, while you are tasting them.
One of the slogans from 1010 WINS is “Give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world.” At the “grand tasting” at NY Drinks NY, the slogan could have been “Give us two hours and we’ll show you the world of New York wine”. Only problem was that two hours wasn’t nearly enough time. Unfortunately, I was only able to scratch the surface. To really experience the length and breadth of what New York State has to offer you need to plan frequent trips to the various wine regions of NY Wine Country. To give it justice, I think 22 weeks would be a more realistic time frame. Talk about “All Wine All the Time”!