By Len Dest, Former Director of Long Island Merlot Alliance

We participated in the New York Drinks New York on Monday 12 March at the Astor Center in Manhattan. The event was a great success with significant “to the trade” activity in the afternoon and, for the 350 lucky members of the public (sold out) in the evening, a great sampling of the wines of New York. Approximately 40 wineries from each region of New York participated in the pours, with strong participation from the Finger Lakes producers.

In discussions with both owners and winemakers from the Finger Lakes region, it is clear that the overall campaign by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation is having a very major positive impact on establishing new merchant channels and overall increased distribution lines for these upstate wineries.

While mass events such as New York Drinks New York make it difficult to develop in depth understanding of any winery’s wine, they does provide for an overall assessment of the general winemaking approaches and perhaps evolving trends.

As expected, lean wines with lower alcohol levels which are typical of New York wines, are being featured based upon current national and international trends.

Some Observations:

  1. The Long Island wineries were in general very conservative with what they poured. The 2007 100% merlot Tuthills Lane Vineyard from Paumanok Vineyards was and is a powerhouse red. However, few of the big 2010 reds were being poured. The exceptions and highlight was Channing Daughters. Larry Perrine and Chris Tracy were pouring some amazing wines; 2010 Blaufrankisch Mudd West Vineyard (well balanced flavors and acidity), 2010 Due Uve (spectacular red blend) 2010 Sylvanus (amazing flavors), and three of their rosatos. A bright star in the event.
  2. From the Hudson River Valley, Millbrook’s 2010 Pinot Noir made from Finger Lakes fruit is very interesting; light and lean but with considerable fruit benefitting from the warm 2010 season.
  3. Rare to find 2011 Gewürztraminer from Thousand Islands Winery and 2010 Cabernet Franc from Leonard Oakes Estate from the Nigara Escarpment.
  4. Scores of outstanding Finger Lake wines including; Dr. Konstantin Frank’s wonderful sparkling wine the 2006 Chateau Franc Blanc de Noirs made with 96% pinot noir, a delightful 2010 100% pinot gris from Sheldrake Point, wonderful Riesing from Fox Run , Lamoreaux Landing, and Red Newt; interesting 2008 Gewürztraminers from Standing Stone and Red Newt (Curry Creek Vineyards), and some very interesting and enjoyable Finger Lake reds including 2009 Lemberger from Fox Run, 2008 76 West blend from Lamoreaux Landing and the red blend 2008 Eclipse Red from Herron Hill.
  5. The absolute star from the Finger Lakes — and probably the overall event — were the wines from Johannes Reinhardt at Anthony Road. We had the distinct pleasure of Johannes pouring and describing for us each of the wines served; 2009 Spontaneous Riesling, 2009 Martini-Reinhardt Riesling, the 2010 semi-dry Riesling, 2011 Rose of Cab Franc and an outstanding — but still young — 2010 Cabernet Franc/Leberger that capture not only Johannes’ style but a strong European influence that makes his wines outstanding.

It was a great event celebrating New York Wines. Kudos to Chris Tracy and Johannes Reinhardt for making a promotional event something special.

Editor’s note: Our own Tracy Weiss attended New York Drinks New York yesterday at Astor Center in Manhattan, and we’ll have her story ready to go either later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, we have issued an open invite to any readers who attended to send us their thoughts. This is the first in what we hope is a series of posts.