Monday, May 8, 2017

NEW YORK STATE OF WINE

Back in the 70’s, Billy Joel wrote about being in a New York State of Mind. Had he written the song today, he might have changed his tune. New York may be the wine capital of the Eastern United States but it doesn’t get the same respect as its western counterparts, California, Washington, and Oregon. New York actually has the oldest operating winery in the country. So how is it that the state fell behind the west coast in quality and prestige? The answer seems to lie in the type of wines the state produced early on.

Vitis, or grapevines, is a genus of around 60 accepted species of vining plants. The most famous and important of these is Vitis Vinifera, which is native to Europe. Among the many varieties of this species are the most well-known grapes which are used to make the majority of the wine we drink. Instead of these grapes, New York’s early focus was on Vitis Lambrsca, which included sweeter, lesser quality grape varieties such as Concord and Catawba. In the late 1950’s, Dr. Konstantin Frank began experimenting with European vinifera grape stocks in the Finger Lakes, thus changing the course of the NY wine industry.

Dr. Frank was a European immigrant who arrived in the U.S. with family in 1951. He was a professor of plant science and held a PhD in viticulture and eventually ended up taking a position at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment station. It was there he came to the conclusion that it was the lack of proper rootstock and not the cold climate that had caused the failure of Vitis Vinifera vines in the Finger Lakes. He eventually found an ally in French Champagne maker Charles Fournier of Gold Seal Vineyards, who began producing the first European varieties in the Northeast. During the 70’s, even though the majority of wines were still coming from Concord and similar varietals, a handful of producers began producing fine wines, starting a shift toward the noble European varieties.
Another huge shift came in 1976 when the New York Farm Winery Act was passed, which allowed the small winemakers that used New York grown grapes to sell their wine directly to consumers rather than through wholesalers. This legislation helped kickstart the industry. At the time, there were 19 wineries statewide. Today there are more than 400.

The New York wine industry is still young and continually evolving as winemakers continue to learn, discover, experiment and take risks. Will New York wines ever take their place alongside the great regions? For a bit of perspective, the first official vineyard in Napa Valley was planted in 1859, but it wasn’t until the Judgment of Paris, where two California wines beat the highly regarded Bordeaux wines in a blind taste test, that the reputation of the region was cemented. That took place in May 1976, the same year New York passed the Farm Winery Act. Coincidence? Maybe, or possibly they realized a sea change was about to take place in the domestic wine industry.

We sample enough good quality New York wine that it’s a challenge to choose which ones to share with our customers. We’ve cultivated a section we believe offers a diverse selection of what the state has to offer. For those who would like to learn more about the producers, or better yet, pay them a visit (it’s much cheaper than a trip to Napa or Bordeaux) below are links to their websites.  Support local wine!!!

From Long Island

Shinn Winery works biodynamically, practices sustainable farming, gets energy from solar and wind power and utilizes holistic farming techniques. And if that wasn’t enough, they voluntarily include ingredients on their bottles.
http://shinnestatevineyards.com/vineyard/vineyard-history

Shinn Coalescence 2016 $14.99
A fresh and juicy white made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Shinn Estate Vineyards Red NV $14.99
A smooth quaffable red blend made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

The Osprey Dominion brand started in 2010 and they have quickly established themselves as a producer of award winning wines.

Osprey Dominion Merlot 2012 $16.99
Medium body, striking just the right balance of fruit, oak and tannin. Includes 16% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.

A father and son collaboration which began in 1986, Jamesport Vineyards is now a three-generation winery. Their winemaking approach is to interfere with nature as little as possible. Their wines can be found at many top restaurants throughout Long Island and Manhattan.

Jamesport Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $17.99
Aromatic with rich tropical flavor and citrus.

Another family winery, Paumanok was founded in 1983 by Ursula and Charles Massoud and their three sons. They strive to produce wines in the “Old World” style.

Paumanok Chenin Blanc 2015 $25.99
Dry and crisp with pineapple, apple and a hint of grapefruit.

Lieb Cellars is a small production, Estate Grown Winery whose brands also include Bridge Lane.

Lieb Cellars Cabernet Franc 2014 $27.99
Blackberry, tobacco & black pepper highlight this Old World style Cabernet Franc.

From Finger Lakes 
 Red Newt’s first vintage was in 1998 and in 2011 they were named as one of the top wineries of the year by Wine & Spirits magazine.

Red Newt Cellars Cabernet Franc 2014 $20.99
This Cabernet Franc sees no oak which brings out the pure expression of the grape. Refreshing with fresh red fruit.

Forge Cellars is a small, artisanal producer of exceptional Riesling and Pinot Noir. These wines are proof that New York is capable of producing terroir driven wines.
http://www.forgecellars.com/wine                                                                                                 
Forge Cellars Pinot Noir Classique 2014 
A beautiful example of a Finger Lakes Pinot Noir. Deep with cherry, raspberry & earth notes.

Red Hook Winery employs three winemakers, Robert Foley, Robert Nicolson, and cult winemaker, Abe Schoener. They are located in Brooklyn but source their grapes from the best vineyard sites in Long Island and Finger Lakes.

Red Hook Winery Riesling Seneca Lake 2013 $22.99
This Finger Lakes Riesling comes from winemaker Foley. It sees only stainless Steel and is dry with notes apple, apricot, lime and light honeycomb. 

Wines from Goose Watch Winery emphasis the more uncommon varietals found in New York such as Viognier, Pinot Grigio Lemberger and our selection, Traminette.

Goose Watch Winery Traminette 2015 $13.99
A dry, fruit wine with bright stone fruit and a spicy finish. 

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