By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Tousey-pinotWhy do I explore every corner of New York wine country? Wines like this one. Yes, I taste a lot of mediocre (or worse) wine, but discovering a hidden gem of a wine like this one is what energizes and inspires me.

Tousey Winery, located in Clermont, NY in the Hudson River valley, is owned by Ben and Kimberly Peacock. Ben makes the wines but he's quick to point out that he is "merely a student."  "I find the term 'winemaker' hard to wear because that would put me in the same category l as Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards, our mentor, and that's certainly not the case," he said in a recent email.

The wines span several styles — from tasting room crowd-friendly off-dry rose and whites to more classic wines made with chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet franc. Creme de cassis, a black currant cordial made with estate-grown currants an honey, rounds out the portfolio. The Hudson Valley is carving out a niche for itself with cassis — but more on that someday soon.

The grapes for this Tousey Winery 2010 Pinot Noir ($24) were grown in the Finger Lakes at Miles Wine Cellars on the western shores of Seneca Lake, where Bell also consults.

Aromas of red raspberries, strawberries and cranberries mingle with slightly earthy, woodsy notes on a classic pinot noir nose.

Though fruity, the light-to-medium bodied palate shows some depth and richness. Its flavors, mostly red raspberry and cranberry with an earthy edge, are balanced by subtle tannins and food-friendly acidity that is well incorporated.

The finish isn't particularly long, but it has enough crunchy red fruit to invite another sip. This is a wine I hope to drink again before the mere 120 cases are sold.

For 2011, Peacock was hoping to make this wine from estate-grown fruit, but "the turkeys got it first." Instead, they're using fruit grown at the famed Sawmill Creek Vineyards on Seneca Lake.

Producer: Tousey Winery
AVA: New York
ABV: 12%  
Production: 120 cases
Price: $24*

(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

(*Ratings Guide)