hudson-chatham-2011-cheloisHudson-Chatham Winery, located in Ghent, NY, has assumed a leadership position in the Hudson River Region AVA when it comes to focusing on quality versus tourism. There are other too, of course — places like Tousey Winery, Whitecliff Vineyard and Millbrook Winery — but what makes Hudson-Chatham unique is that owner Carlo DeVito and winemaker Steve Casscles are leading the region in quality primarily with hybrid grapes.

Hudson-Chatham is probably best known for its delicious and surprisingly age-worthy baco noir-based wines but one of the grape (and wine) that I find most interesting in the portfolio is chelois — a red wine grape only being grown by a few people (including Steve). Based on what I’ve tasted, the grape could have a real future in the Hudson Valley as well as other cool-to-cold climates.

Hudson-Chatham 2011 Chelois ($24) doesn’t quite stand up to the 2010 bottling, but it’s interesting none the less with its aromas of strawberry conserve, plum skin, red cherry and something slightly earthy and stemmy.

Medium-light in body — the mouthfeel reminds me of a middle-tier Beaujolais — the palate is fruity with strawberry and red cherry dominating. This is a lively, fresh wine where acidity is more prominent than tannin. There is a faint peppery note on the mid-palate but as the wine finishes in the mouth there is a stemmy/woody, slightly bitter flavor that is a bit rustic and makes this a wine best suited to the dinner table rather than as a cocktail replacement.

Producer: Hudson-Chatham Winery
AVA: Hudson River Region
Grapes: 100% Chelois
Price: $24*

(2.5 out of 5, Average-to-Very Good)