ravines-meritage

There is a phenomena that is unique to the world of fine wine that gives some winemakers sleepless nights, sends collectors on quests that are akin to searches for the Holy Grail itself, and provides ample employment opportunities for wine writers and critics alike: Vintage Variation. For brewers and distillers, achieving consistency in their product is a common and overarching goal. But for producers of fine wines — particularly in cool climates — embracing inconsistency is more the norm. Most espouse the philosophy of “letting the grapes dictate the wine” by emphasizing the attractive characteristics that are presented by a…

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The scene at a recent barrel tasting at Macari Vineyards Drink Local-focused wine shop gets the props, fair weather event schedule is warming up, and some nice mentions for New York wineries in various pubs. NEWS Grape Collective – 4/14/2015 Praise for the vision, innovation and collaboration that helped lift Finger Lakes wines to world class stature. New York Times – 4/15/2015 Wölffer Estate Vineyard on Long Island is among hotel and winery destinations that offer packages in which visitors get to blend their own wine when they tour the winery. Napa Valley Register – 4/16/2015 Dan Berger gives Knapp a thumbs-up for their…

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I’m proud to share that my first piece for the Long Island Wine Press, which you can find in tasting rooms and elsewhere all over the East End, was also chosen as the cover story. The story, titled “What’s Old is New Again: Two Long Island winemakers are reviving the ancient method of making Petillant Naturel sparkling wines” focuses on the pet nat wines made by Regan Meador at Southold Farm + Cellar and Christopher Tracy at Channing Daughters Winery. If you can’t get you hands on a copy of the magazine, you can read about how the wines are…

Early spring vines at Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, ready to do their thing.

Early spring vines at Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, ready to do their thing. During the steep drive up to Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, in some spots the only thing you can see are rows of grapevines stretching to the horizon. The effect can be both eerie and disorienting — wasn’t I driving through the Hudson Valley a minute ago? — especially on a drizzly, raw April day when there’s not a soul, or leaf, in sight. Looks can be deceiving. Inside the beamed winery — a converted dairy barn — is the clamor and hum of machinery. It’s bottling day…

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It’s not always easy to know who made any individual wine at Boundary Breaks. They work with a few Finger Lakes winemakers and there isn’t any indication on the bottle or on their website which wines were made where, but Boundary Breaks Vineyard 2013 No. 239 Dry Riesling ($20) was made by Peter Bell at Fox Run Vineyards. Flinty and citrus blossom notes bring a bit of complexity to a nose that is driven by sweet lemons and just-ripe peaches. Citrusy and quite fruity and forward, the palate is juicy, with a bit of perceived sweetness even though it’s labeled…

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Photo via Alexandra Doniger, Assistant Winemaker, Hector Wine Company This week in New York wine news…changes that are happy, sad and historical on Long Island. While Upstate — dollars for wine support, and dollars that detract. NEWS Edible East End – 3/30/2015 Going deep into Long Island’s glacial soils, with a very cool visualization of how the island was formed by the retreating ice sheet. NorthForker – 4/7/2015 Long Island wine loses another long-time fixture as Robert Pellegrini passes away at age 76. Wyoming County Free Press – 4/7/2015 New York State provides $1.4 million in funding to support agricultural product research and…

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If it seems like I review some breweries’ offerings more than others here at the NYCR, I do. There are breweries, some large, some small, that are obvious standouts in my eyes. It may seem implicit, but when I’m at the beer store I almost always (try to) buy beer that I know I’m going to like. If I buy and review a beer I really dislike, it was probably by accident. Brewery Ommegang is one of the breweries that I can rely on to never put out crappy beer. I’m not saying every beer they make is great, but they…

Jan Palaggi Palaia Vineyard

Jan Palaggi from Palaia Vineyards They say wine, women and song are inseparable. Add a few good men and we have the family affair of Palaia Vineyards in Highland Mills, NY. I just visited with Jan Palaggi, self-proclaimed queen of the operation that she and her husband Joseph founded thirteen years ago. We explored the property, winery and event spaces and tasted some wines. Before sharing my impressions of the wine let me say that while making great juice is a big part of the Palaia family tradition, music, good food and festive events are too. Together they make a delightful experience to…

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I’ve been lucky when it comes to Gruner Veltliner, one of the great grapes of Austria. Through friends who have worked for various importers over the years, I’ve been introduced to some incredible renditions — expressive wines of intensity, balance and flat-out deliciousness. With that as context, I’ve been a bit let down by most New York Gruner. I used to chalk it up to young vines, poor picking decisions and winemakers getting their footing with it in the cellar. I still think that’s true in some cases, but I’ve also been guilty of not allowing the grapes to express what…