The Niagara region of New York continually forces me to rethink what I know about recent vintages in New York. Often the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and Long Island have quite similar seasons. Hurricanes or frost events aside, if a year is warm and dry in the Finger Lakes, it tends to be in the Hudson Valley and here too.  It’s similar for cooler years.

Take 2008 for example. It was a cool, somewhat cloudy summer for much of the state and the wines, particularly the reds, reflect that.  That’s not a value judgement. That’s East Coast, cool-climate winemaking. Vintage variation is the reality.

But it was warmer in Niagara in 2008. Tasted with 2008 reds from Long Island and the Finger Lakes, Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2008 Meritage Reserve ($24) wine stood out as riper, richer and in some ways just more complete. Especially at the price point.

Aromas of plums, cherries and blueberries are accented on the nose by toasted oak and a distinct maple note.

Medium bodied and pleasantly juicy up front, the palate brings an array of black and red fruits with well-incorporated, balanced toasty oak notes, a light sprinkling of black pepper and just a drizzle of that maple character — all framed by well-integrated tannins that should provide some aging potential. The finish is medium-long and shows a wonderful savoriness.

Producer: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards
AVA: Niagara Escarpment
ABV: 13.3%
Price: $24*



(3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)