Thursday, August 28, 2014

#WineStudi​o Session XVI – Liquid Voices of Hudson Valley

#WineStudi​o Session XVI – Liquid Voices of Hudson Valley

August's #WineStudio featured an area I wasn't that familiar with, new York's Hudson Valley. I've been tasting the Finger Lakes region wines for a few years, so I thought I knew what to expect: good to great whites, decent to good reds. I was happy to be mistaken.

What I now know about the Hudson Valley:
  • Melting glaciers carved a deep trench, creating the valley and depositing shale, slate, schist, and limestone, perfect for growing grapes to create beautiful wines.
  • The winegrowers struggle with the weather (brutal heat and humidity in summer, freezing temps in winter), disease (black rot, powdery mildew), and competition ( agricultural uses and housing). They've overcome these problems by identifying appropriate vitis vinfera varietals along with hybrids to vinify food-friendly wines showcasing high acidity and relatively low alcohol.
Tasting Notes:

Whitecliff Vineyard (@WhitecliffVino on Twitter) - Owners and founders, Michael Migliore and Yancey Stanforth-Migliore, purchased an empty field thirty years ago and built the winery from the ground up! Establishing the vineyard has been an ongoing process since 1979. It involves years of trial and error to determine which varieties will produce good yields and quality wine, while withstanding the cold winters. The rigorous approach of science and engineering, along with a generous helping of pigheaded determination, has provided the knowledge and the strong base necessary to create a successful vineyard and winery.
White Rose 2013: Estate grown 75% Traminette-25% Gewürztraminer; fermented in stainless steel; faint lemon yellow in color; muskmelon, floral, and citrus aromas; honey, stone fruit, spice, and melon flavors into a citrusy finish; nice balance with plenty of acidity; surprisingly round mouthfeel; 12% ABV; synthetic cork closure; 7000 cases produced; SRP $18.
Brotherhood Winery (@BrotherhoodWine on Twitter): In 1810, a French Huguenot emigre named Jean Jaques purchased land in New York’s bucolic Hudson Valley and began planting grapes. By 1837, Mr. Jaques needed more land, so he purchased a plot in the quiet village of Washingtonville, NY, and planted another vineyard. By 1839, his first underground cellars were dug and Mr. Jaques fermented his first wine vintage. Those cellars, the oldest and largest in America, are still in use today at Brotherhood Winery.
“B” Sparkling Chardonnay NV: charmat method production; light golden straw color, visible small bubbles; green apple, citrus, and subtle yeast aromas; lemon, subtle yeast and melon flavors; low-key effervescence; bright acidity; ABV 12%; cork and wire closure; 1250 cases produced; SRP $11.99.
Millbrook Vineyards and Winery (@MillbrookWinery on Twitter): Millbrook is considered one of the top wineries across the Hudson River Valley and the entire state of New York. Millbrook's wine is cultivated on thirty of the vineyards' 130 acres. Current varietals include Chardonnay (13 acres) Pinot Noir (5 acres), Cabernet Franc (7 acres), Tocai Friulano (5 acres) and Riesling (5 acres). Our winemaker, John Graziano, has been crafting these high quality wines for Millbrook since 1984. He has been the only winemaker at Millbrook since its establishment. Currently, John is producing approximately 10,000 – 14,000 cases of wine annually from our own fruit, as well as fruit from across New York and our California vineyards.
Proprietor's Special Reserve Tocai Friulano 2013: No malolactic fermentation, no oak; clear and bright light yellow in color; grapefruit, starfruit, lime and white floral aromas; tropical fruit, Meyer lemon, melon, and subtle petrol flavors; very smooth mouthfeel with a great thread of acid ending in a pleasingly tart finish; on the sweeter side but nicely balanced overall; 13% ABV; 1060 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $20. Stood up nicely to a cheese and deli meat sandwich on seeded sour bread.

Proprietor's Special Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012: 95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot estate grapes; 100% malolactic fermentation; aged in barrel 14 months; deep garnet color with light ruby edges; red currant and dusty red berry aromas; stewed prunes, earth, smoke, dark cherry, and white pepper flavors into a tart red berry finish; smooth mouthfeel, decent acidity and some tannins rounding out a wine that opens up the longer it sits; 13% ABV; 336 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $30.
If you haven't experienced Hudson Valley wines, now is the time to start searching them out. Even better, go visit - the area looks amazing and, due partly to its proximity to the Big Apple, it has an established infrastructure catering to travelers of all ilks.

About #WineStudio and True Wine Culture: The True Wine Culture message is wine education, so that we may gain a better understanding of our world through wine and our part in that world – we’re continually searching and pioneering an American cultural perspective. #WineStudio prepares us to engage our brain and palate through this interactive online wine community. Thanks to Protocol Wine Studio for leading these monthly educational experiences!

Wines provided for tasting purposes -all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NapaQuake: The Aftershocks

#NapaQuake #NapaStrong

‪After the recent terrible news of a hugely destructive earthquake that hit the Napa region, there have been some silver linings. While there was a lot of property damage, it appears that there were no deaths and injuries were less than one might expect. Want to do something to help the ‪‎earthquake‬ area businesses? ‎Napa‬ is open for business! If you can visit, go and shop and support the local economy or physically volunteer. If not, raise a glass and drink wine from Napa. Every little bit helps.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Faust Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

When offered to review this Cabernet from Faust, I was doubly excited as I had not had any Faust wines before, though I'd heard good things about them. Agustin Huneeus is a legend in the winemaking world -  for all of the wines he has produced, the underlying premise has been that great wines must be a reflection of a great vineyard. With Faust Wine, he takes a different tact -- this wine is a tribute to Napa Valley’s noblest grape. He seeks out Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from his family-owned vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville, plus small lots from spectacular mountain and valley terroirs in Yountville, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak and St. Helena. Crafted by Charles Thomas of Quintessa, the Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Faust Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Tasting Notes:
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc grapes hand-picked, double-sorted and crushed, then cold-soaked and fermented in both French oak and stainless steel tanks; after an extended maceration, aged for 19 months in 100% French oak, 30% new; deep purple in color, with ruby notes; red currant, spice, vanilla, and earthy aromas; fruit forward with similar flavors to aromas with an added undercurrent of cocoa; full body with a nice balance between acidity and tannins; 14.2% ABV; cork closure; SRP $60.
Sample provided by the winery via Fineman PR: Fineman PR unites large-agency talent, small-agency responsiveness and internationally recognized strategic direction. We are a full-service agency specializing in Brand PR and crisis communications, creating and executing award-winning public relations programs.

Sample provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Winechat: Terroirs of Riesling: Austria, Alsace, Germany

"...because the glory of Riesling is in its multiplicity of styles…
and the problem of Riesling is in its multiplicity of styles..."

Winechat last night explored three unique terroirs through three outstanding old world Rieslings from Alsace, Austria and Germany. Soil, climate and topography are the major components of terroir. Soil not only governs vine growth, but also influences the taste of the grapes and character of the wines and must have a balanced proportion of primary nutrients.  Heavy clay promotes a citrus aroma.  Rieslings produced in mostly quartz soil yield lean, aromatic, high acid/low fruit wine. 

With this background, we delved into the wines themselves. The beauty of Riesling, mentioned by many throughout the hour, is its versatility and wide range of expression. The three wines could not have been more different from each other, yet certain aspects, like the mineral, floral and citrus properties (unique in each), came across in all three wines. 

Riesling's Old World terroirs in Alsace, Austria and Germany.

Rheingau, Germany - Schloss Schönborn Riesling Kabinett Erbacher Marcobrunn 2011:

Grapes from a vineyard with loess-loam, chalk, marl and sand soils; pale yellow in color; honey, stone fruit, and floral aromas; honeyed stone fruit, melon, mineral, tropical fruit into citrus flavors; crisp acidity, nicely balanced with a creamy finish; 9.5% ABV; SRP $24.

Kamptal, Austria - Brandl Reserve Riesling 2011:

Grapes farmed without the use of chemicals from the Heilingenstein vineyard - sandstone and siltstone soils; vinified in stainless steel; palest straw color; floral, mineral, and subtle citrus aromas; mineral, green apple, spice, melon, and white pear flavors; nice acid within a balanced framework; touch of sweetness on a lingering luxurious finish; 14% ABV; twist-off closure; 3350 bottles produced; SRP $34.

Alsace, France - Paul Blanck & Fils Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2010:

Grapes from the Schlossberg slope at 200-300m in elevation - granite soils; vinified in stainless steel; aged on lees in large wooden foudres for 12 months; aged in bottles for 2 to 3 years; pale straw color; citrus, herb, and white floral aromas; mineral, lemon, melon, honey, stonefruit, into tart grapefruit flavors; round, plush mouthfeel; bright acidity into a sweetish abrupt finish; 13% ABV; cork closure; SRP $35.

Riesling is an entry wine for many drinkers, as at its most basic it is a fruity and sweet wine that pleases all palates. The beauty of Riesling is that even the most basic wines have an acid backbone that pushes them beyond other basic whites. Riesling is also one of the most food-friendly wine s available, with the acidity, balance, and range of sweetness options making it a good fit for almost any cuisine. These three wines showed just a small range of what Riesling is capable of, and it was great fun to delve into the beauty of this grape across three very different terroirs.

Thanks to Teuwen Communications for providing samples. Teuwen Communications is a full-service public relations agency that specializes in marketing and brand strategies for the food, wine and spirits industries. Thanks also to Wines of Germany US, Austrian Wine USA, and Wines of Alsace for sharing your wines and passion with us.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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