© Clay Williams claywilliamsphoto.com..

If you have a cold, it’s basically impossible to taste wine, or anything else for that matter. I got a message from Lenn that he wouldn’t be able to make it to the NY Drinks NY event at the Astor Center in New York City on March 17 because he’d developed a nasty cough and sore throat. He’d planned to attend the afternoon sessions — seminars on single-vineyard rieslings, cabernet franc across the state (no surprise that he wanted to go to that one, if you know him), and Long Island sustainability — and then we were going to meet up for the Grand Tasting at 6:00 p.m. With him in poor health, though, that was not going to happen.

My wife and I went anyway, because we know very little about the wines being produced in the Niagara, Lake Erie and Hudson Valley regions. I hoped to talk to people from those areas, and did meet Duncan Ross of Arrowhead Springs, Jonathan Oakes of Leonard Oakes, and Kris Kane from 21 Brix. I frankly hadn’t been hugely impressed in the past with the wines I’d had from up there, and having a chance to talk to the winemakers and owners was important to me since it’s served me well in understanding and appreciating wines from Long Island and the Finger Lakes. It helped here too. The wines from 21 Brix (Lake Erie Region) were a special surprise, as I’d never even heard of them. Their dry riesling was easily the equal of many Finger Lakes rieslings, and at $18 a bottle it’s priced right.

21 Brix winemaker Kris Kane pours his wines for attendees | © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com..

This is a winery to watch, I think.

Then we saw Wolffer, and all bets were off, especially since Roman Roth was pouring the new vintage of Wolffer’s rose, which has been my benchmark rose for ages. Right next to Wolffer, Kareem Massoud was pouring Paumanok’s 2013 Chenin Blanc, which grape I am loving more and more.

After that, we abandoned all plans and just wandered around to talk to people.

At Sheldrake Point’s table, Dave Breeden had their 2011 Gamay Noir, which is another grape I’m beginning to appreciate a lot (I’ll bet Michael Gorton likes hearing that); this was a typical gamay, juicy with nice acidity and I would have liked it with the pork chops I made the next night.

We finished up at Atwater’s table with their Big Blend. I love me some Bordeaux-style blends, and this was a good one — merlot-heavy this year but with a good percentage of cab sauv in the mix.

Several hundred attendees were crowding the room by this point in the evening. I don’t know whether this year’s event was more heavily attended than previous years’, but it’s good to see so many people who appreciate local wine. Or maybe they wandered in off the street because there was a line down Lafayette Street, and New Yorkers do love a line. Whatever the reason they were there, they got a good dose of the best of New York State.

Lenn: next year you’ve got to be at NY Drinks NY. (If only to stop Roman Roth from calling you a slacker again.)