By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

More local than usual, this week's WWD offers a different kind of diversity…

Peconicbay_chardonnayLenn Thompson: Peconic Bay Winery 2007 Steel Fermented Chardonnay

Yesterday was Jackson's third birthday, so we had family in from upstate New York as well as Pittsburgh for a weekend of festivities. Of the course of a few nights, a lot of bottles were opened and enjoyed, but this one was the one I chose for WWD.

Why? Well for one, it was a magnum which is just plain fun for entertaining. There's just something celebratory about opening a large-format bottle (if we're talking good wine here, not jug stuff).

But the other reason I wanted to highlight it is that it was great at the beginning of the evening as an opener, but also great at the end of the night to enliven and refresh the palate after several reds.

It's not a complex wine — not one to ponder — but it brings bright pear flavors with hints of lemon balm and a fresh, minerally edge. The acidity is great and balances the ripe fruit very well.

It's satisfying and a pleasure to drink, really and I'm glad to have several more bottles (magnums) in the cellar. The next time you're at my house for a party, ask me to open one. I probably will.

RieslingsEvan Dawson: Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2001 Semi-Dry Riesling and Fox Run Vineyards 2001 Riesling

Over the weekend, I had a chance to compare both of these 9-year old Finger Lakes rieslings, and had the confidence that they'd been stored very well, because both came directly from the winery.

If you don't fear mature riesling flavors, these bottles remind us that the best local producers are making wines that age gracefully. That said, the Sheldrake Point is definitely in a "drink now" phase, while the Fox Run retains the freshness that portends more life.

That's what made the comparison so interesting.

The Sheldrake brought a rich, marmalade-meets-petrol aroma and palate. It offered some serious viscosity. The Fox Run remains more straw-colored, more youthful, with more slatey zip and lime.

Two lakes, two rieslings, one vintage. I'll keep saying it: Lay more bottles down. The results never fail to intrigue.

Hudson Andy Freedman: Tuthilltown Spirits Whiskeys

After attending this weekend’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival at la.venue in Manhattan, “What Didn’t I Drink” would perhaps be more fitting for me to be writing about. It was great to see so many local NY breweries and distillers represented at the event and showcasing their liquid assets.

Sixpoint Craft Ales was pouring its Sweet Action and Righteous Rye. Kelso of Brooklyn brought out its pilsner. Saranac had its pale ale and Imperial IPA and Southampton Brewing was serving its IPA and Imperial Porter. But the standout for me had to be the trio of Hudson bourbon whiskeys from Tuthilltown Spirits.

Based in Gardiner, New York (close to New Paltz and Poughkeepsie), Tuthilltown produces vodkas, whiskeys, rum, eau de vie, brandy and infusions. Their whiskeys are the only legally distilled and aged grain spirits produced in New York since Prohibition.

Distiller and Brand Ambassador Gable Erenzo was on-hand pouring the Hudson Unaged Corn Whiskey, the Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey, and the Hudson 4-Grain Bourbon. The Corn Whiskey, aka “moonshine”, is clear and made from 100% New York corn. It sips smoothly and serves as the base whiskey for the Baby Bourbon. The Baby Bourbon is aged in small, American oak barrels and was my favorite of the three. It had some nice oaky vanilla and caramel notes and a warm finish with a touch of corn sweetness. Each batch of the 4-Grain Bourbon starts with 800 lbs of grain which is ground at the distillery, cooked and fermented, then distilled twice. It’s then aged in small oak barrels for less than a year.

As for the bottle design, I like the signature medicine-bottle look with a wax-dipped top. But I guess it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and they’re doing a great job with that, too.

PeninsulaRidge_Meritage_2007 Bryan Calandrelli: Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery 2007 Meritage

picked this bottle up because it showed well among the many delicious
whites in the tasting room during my last visit to the Canadian side of
the Niagara wine region.

Knowing that 2007 was such a banner year for
reds, I’m all about seeing what each winery could do with grapes like cabernet franc and blends like this Meritage.
This one has great color and extraction with aromas of blackberry and
bing cherry with a touch of vanilla. Unfortunately I did pick out the
slightest hint of volatility in the nose but nothing that would be off
putting to anyone but a winemaker or chemist. The wine’s strong suit is
definitely its generous mouth feel thanks to some fleshy tannins. It
finishes with a lot of fruit which is the way I would prefer as opposed
to an oak inspired last impression.
I paid $22 for this bottle and it was worth every penny. It’s
interesting to note that the VQA label is Niagara Peninsula, which
means it can be a blend of any of the twelve sub regions including the
Niagara Lakeshore, Beamsville Bench, or even Niagara on the Lake

If it were from just one of these and labeled as such it
might have been closer to $30 in my experience.