Millbrook_08_block2west_chardBy Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Grape growing dates to 1677 in the Hudson River Region AVA, but that doesn't mean that its an easy endeavor.

Yes, the river that gives the region its name helps moderate the climate, but it's not nearly deep enough to have the same effect that the Finger Lakes do to the west.

It rains a lot in the Hudson Valley. It's also humid. And like the rest of New York, it's a cool-climate region with a relatively short growing season often with early and late frosts on either end.

Growing grapes, particularly vinifera, can be a challenge in the region, and many of the vinifera wines you see at local wineries are made with fruit or juice from Long Island or the Finger Lakes.

This Millbrook Vineyards 2008 Block Two West Chardonnay ($35) is the rare locally grown chardonnays that has crossed my tasting table.

The nose shows strong barrel (and 100% ML) influence in the form of vanilla, butterscotch and caramel with dried apricot, peach and distinct Bit-o-Honey candy notes.

Medium bodied with nicely balanced acidity, the palate offers gentle creaminess and a bit more pear, rather than peach, fruitiness behind the butterscotch and honey flavors. When allowed to warm to nearly room temperature some vaguely brioche-like flavors emerge, as do apple skin notes.

Though a bit dilute and hollow on the mid-palate, this chardonnay shows good length and balance.

Producer: Millbrook Vineyards
AVA: Hudson River Region
ABV: 13%
Harvest Brix: 22.2
Price: $35*
Rating: 84

(*Ratings Guide)