The pinot noir flight at the HVWGA's 5th Annual Hudson Valley Wine Competition

By Lenn Thompson, Editor and Publisher

JudgesAs I mentioned last week,I was asked to judge the Hudson Valley Wine & Grape Association's 5th Annual Hudson Valley Wine Competition over the weekend, and I have to tell you, I had a blast doing it. I met some great people for the first time, including the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess, Colleen from Brotherhood Winery, Brian Simpson, Tish and the Beer Wench.

 The wines entered in the competition need to be made with 100% New York State grapes, preferably grapes grown in the Hudson Valley. There were 80 entries from approximately 15 Hudson Valley Wineries.

The full results of the competition should be released sometime this week, but I came away from my first judging experience having learned several things:

  • There are some very good wines being made with Hudson Valley-grown grapes, not just fruit purchased from Long Island and the Finger Lakes (though that is still widespread).
  • Judging at least 60 wines (I wasn't counting) is hard work. Fun too, but still hard work. 
  • It's true what they say about wines with 'something different' standing out. There was a cabernet with a distinct rosemary-eucalyptus note that I kept coming back to. It really made the wine stand out in that flight.
  • Red hybrids can bring some great flavors to the table, but wow, their acidity can be mouth slashing.
  • There are some terrific, thirst-quenching ciders being made in the Hudson Valley
  • Some interesting fortified dessert wines too.
  • Most of the white hybrids are still too sweet.
  • The overall quality, at least of the wines I tasted Saturday, seem to be improving.
  • A few wineries are charging a lot of money for middling wines made with hybrid grapes, as much as $30
  • Cabernet franc might be the grape of the future for the region.
  • And boy can judges differ in how they score wines. Amazing just how much.

Once the results are posted (and I get copies of my scoresheets back) I'll share more details on specific wines.

I'd like to thank the organizers for inviting me to judge and I look forward to judging the competition again next year.

In addition to the wine aspect of the day, it was interesting to see
just how interested (for the most part) people were in hearing about
blogging and Twitter.