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LENNDEVOURS

Interest in New York Wines

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As a freelance wine writer living here on Long Island, I drink (and write about) Long Island wines regularly, as well as some that I get from wineries in the Hudson Valley and even, on occasion, the Finger Lakes.

Does anyone outside of New York even realize how many good (and even a few great) wines come out of this region?

Unfortunately, there's a lot of sweet, poorly made wines out here too...and until recently those were in the vast majority.

That's the "history" of NY wine...and it's an uphill battle.

Does anyone outside of NY know about the good wines? Does anyone care?

Of course, the limitations on shipping don't help :)...but hopefully that won't be an issue soon :)

Had any NY wines you liked?


Lenn Thompson

Freelance Wine Writer

lenn@lenndevours.com

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Len, Welcome to eGullet! Unfortunately, I don't think too many New Yorkers are very familiar with NYS wines let alone out of staters. Even though I am from NY, enjoy wines and know that there are some very good ones, they are never my first thought for purchase or drinking unless I happen to be in the production area.

Any that you particularly recommend?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Yes, Len, welcome! We hope you will visit often and share your insights into the NY wine scene.

Oddly enough, we have a fine chardonnay produced here in Paso Robles from Long Island North Fork fruit. Check out the Silverstone 2000 Chardonnay, North Fork of Long Island.

Winemaker Dan Kleck was previously the winemaker at Hargrave and Palmer, before Jess Jackson wooed him away to work for Kendall-Jackson. After arriving in California, Dan decided to move to Paso Robles and start his own winery, where he continues to purchase and feature NY fruit. (His bio needs updating--he no longer lives on the Monterey Peninsula.)

But honestly, if it weren't for knowing Dan and his wife, Debbie, all I would know about NY wines is that they exist, and are often very, very good. . . we don't see them in our local markets.


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Well thanks for the warm welcome...I'll GLADLY visit often and offer insight into NY wines and wines at large!

I've definitely heard of Dan Kleck...and I've had that chard myself...it's for sale in a co-op tasting room out here (for smaller wineries without their own rooms).

As for others to try...without knowing what you like and what you're drinking lately...I wouldn't assume I could suggest something.

I just got a sample of Wolffer Estates Premier Cru Merlot sent to me...I'm going to enjoy that this week...for the first time. At $125 a bottle...I can't afford that often haha. And, I wouldn't accept a full bottle from them...so I asked them to send me a 375ml one!

Yes, Len, welcome!  We hope you will visit often and share your insights into the NY wine scene.

Oddly enough, we have a fine chardonnay produced here in Paso Robles from Long Island North Fork fruit.  Check out the Silverstone 2000 Chardonnay, North Fork of Long Island.

Winemaker Dan Kleck was previously the winemaker at Hargrave and Palmer, before Jess Jackson wooed him away to work for Kendall-Jackson.  After arriving in California, Dan decided to move to Paso Robles and start his own winery, where he continues to purchase and feature NY fruit.  (His bio needs updating--he no longer lives on the Monterey Peninsula.)

But honestly, if it weren't for knowing Dan and his wife, Debbie, all I would know about NY wines is that they exist, and are often very, very good. . .  we don't see them in our local markets.


Lenn Thompson

Freelance Wine Writer

lenn@lenndevours.com

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I had wines from a few wineries last year when photographing an outdoor dinner at Blue Hill Stone Barns: October 12, 2003. The winemakers were:

Fred Frank, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Vinifera Wine Cellars

Trent Preszler, Bedell Cellars

Christopher Tracy, Channing Daughters Winery

All of the wines I had were wonderful, in particular I liked the Bedell Cellars Merlot. I seem to remember something called "Churchill," but can't remember and can't find my photo. (It stood out because it's my husband's last name.)

That group, Outstanding in the Field, also did a dinner on Long Island in September, and featured Channing Daughters wines.

They will be returning to the North Fork next year on September 17. I think you would love these events. I did not take these photos!

Photos of Channing Daughters: looks like a totally cool place. I hope I can get to the Long Island dinner next year. I kind of have to pick and choose which ones I get to go to. I'm definitely going to insist on Hawaii, Alaska, and Mexico. :biggrin:

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Does anyone outside of New York even realize how many good (and even a few great) wines come out of this region?....

Does anyone outside of NY know about the good wines? Does anyone care?....

Had any NY wines you liked?

I visit the North Fork wineries every summer. The overall quality is very good, but it is a bit hit or miss vineyard by vineyard which compounds the problem.

Among my favorites are Bedell Cupola, Corey Creek Reserve Chardonnay, Palmer Select Reserve Red and Pelligrini Merlot and Vintner's Pride Chardonnay.

I also enjoy the turnips (and just about everything else) at the Modern Snack Bar whenever I visit.

Channing Daughters is on the South Fork. I haven't been there in quite a few years but I don't remember it as being particularly memorable compared to some of the others I preferred. Perhaps I should give it another try next summer.


Edited by Brent Kulman (log)

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Hi Len:

I am a wine importer and distributor in the Metropolitan area. I represent two vineyards from Long Island in NJ., they are Castello di Borghese and Gallucio Family Winery. The Gallucio wines do extremely well at the Hotel Borgata in AC and The Tropicana Hotel just added NY flights of wines from both these vineyards in the new Quarter Section. Both vineyards have really nice Chardonnays and reds. They are also in several really nice wine shops in NJ., and have had some promising reviews in NJ magazines and WS. People just need to keep an open mind, many of the wines are very Burgundian and Oregon like in style.


Bouquet du Vin

http://www.bouquetduvin.com

ameyer@bouquetduvin.com

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I just got a sample of Wolffer Estates Premier Cru Merlot sent to me...I'm going to enjoy that this week...for the first time. At $125 a bottle...I can't afford that often haha. And, I wouldn't accept a full bottle from them...so I asked them to send me a 375ml one!

Len, Is that the most expensive NY wine you know of? What makes it so expensive? I am not aware of any particular demand to justify the price. Do they actually sell it at that price? I'll be interested to read your impressions of it.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Len, Is that the most expensive NY wine you know of? What makes it so expensive? I am not aware of any particular demand to justify the price. Do they actually sell it at that price? I'll be interested to read your impressions of it.

Wow. I'm glad to see a few responses today.

First, I think that Channing Daughters makes very good wine. Their grounds are gorgeous and they do a lot of interesting experimentation with different varietals and blends. In fact, it's difficult to get their wines if you're not in their wine club...they sell out so quickly.

I will DEFINITELY keep an eye out for those events. I wasn't aware of them at all.

As for the $125 bottle of Merlot...I'm curious to taste it myself! They sent me some information on the wine that I haven't gone through yet...but Roman Roth (the winemaker there) is a maestro...and one of the top one or two winemakers on the Island. As to whether or not they actually sell it at that price, I can't really say.


Lenn Thompson

Freelance Wine Writer

lenn@lenndevours.com

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Hi Len:

I am a wine importer and distributor in the Metropolitan area.  I represent two vineyards from Long Island in NJ., they are Castello di  Borghese and Gallucio Family Winery.  The Gallucio wines do extremely well at the Hotel Borgata in AC and The Tropicana Hotel just added NY flights of wines from both these vineyards in the new Quarter Section.  Both vineyards have really nice Chardonnays and reds.  They are also in several really nice wine shops in NJ., and have had some promising reviews in NJ magazines and WS. People just need to keep an open mind, many of the wines are very Burgundian and Oregon like in style.

Can I ask how you picked Borghese and Gallucio? I'm always curious to hear how people pick wineries to distribute...Vincent (Gallucio) is a great guy though...very passionate.


Lenn Thompson

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lenn@lenndevours.com

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Does anyone outside of New York even realize how many good (and even a few great) wines come out of this region?

I think it's important to distinguish between good and good for the price, also known as value. In media and industry settings, I've tasted dozens of good wines from New York, although never a great one if by great we're talking about Conterno, Lafite and Grange. I've been out to some Long Island vineyards, they've been very nice, and I've tasted some good wines in their tasting rooms. And then I've looked at the prices.

For the most part, a New York wine is going to be expensive for its quality level. This is understandable from a cost-of-inputs standpoint: it's a lot more expensive to grow wine in New York than in California. But in order for it to be understandable from a consumer standpoint, there needs to be something in the bottle that justifies paying more. I just don't see that very often.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Does anyone outside of New York even realize how many good (and even a few great) wines come out of this region?

For the most part, a New York wine is going to be expensive for its quality level. This is understandable from a cost-of-inputs standpoint: it's a lot more expensive to grow wine in New York than in California. But in order for it to be understandable from a consumer standpoint, there needs to be something in the bottle that justifies paying more. I just don't see that very often.

You are absolutely right..at least when it comes to Long Island wineries (where the best wines are made). That is definitely something the LI winemakers have to battle...why should the consumer pay 20 bucks for a bottle of good Merlot when they can get one from Argentina for 15 (or less)?

I'd be curious to hear what LI wines you've had and what wineries you've visited...because, despite the price-value concern, there are some special wines...and some are actually good values. I'd point to the recently released Roanoke Vineyards Merlot...


Lenn Thompson

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lenn@lenndevours.com

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Having lived in Binghamton for 7 years, I became a big fan of Finger Lakes wines.

Just to name a couple --

Hermann J Weimer makes some excellent gewurtz and riesling for the price. For an every day summer quaff, I would love to be able to get some of the Seyval Blanc again (fave producer was Lucas). Upstate prices are much more reasonable in terms of QPR than Long Island prices


Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

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I did the Cuyuga Wine Trail in Ithaca several years ago and it was very nice. The wines (none of which I remember specifically, unfortunately) ranged from mediocre to very good. A lot of sweet, unbalanced wines, as has been mentioned previously.

I've not had the pleasure of trying any of the Long Island wines, but please keep the recommendations coming, as I've heard nothing but high praise for them and look forward to knowing which ones to seek out.


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You are absolutely right..at least when it comes to Long Island wineries (where the best wines are made). That is definitely something the LI winemakers have to battle...why should the consumer pay 20 bucks for a bottle of good Merlot when they can get one from Argentina for 15 (or less)?

I'd be curious to hear what LI wines you've had and what wineries you've visited...because, despite the price-value concern, there are some special wines...and some are actually good values. I'd point to the recently released Roanoke Vineyards Merlot...

My feeling is that it's more than a battle; it's the war. The only significant group of people that could be willing to pay a premium for New York wines would be New Yorkers (and I'm not sure even they are). Nationally and internationally, which was the concern raised at the beginning of this topic, why would anybody else be willing to pay that premium other than as an occasional novelty expenditure? It's not like there are New York dishes that call for the special terroir of New York wines. New York wine is not relevant to the restaurants and dishes from New York that are emulated elsewhere in the world. In order to sell New York wine to someone in California, you probably need to be able to make a pure value argument rather than a novelty or home-team argument.

The last time I was on Long Island, just before it got cold out, we visited the Lieb Family Cellars. It was a party, mostly for vendors, up at the big house, so we got to taste a range of wines. I enjoyed the range of offerings, and I wish the Liebs well, but I'm not planning to buy any Lieb wines on my own dime unless I do some sort of New York themed event. Otherwise the values I can get for <$10 out of many other regions are in my mind superior to those I can get for >$20 from Long Island.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hi Len:

I am a wine importer and distributor in the Metropolitan area.  I represent two vineyards from Long Island in NJ., they are Castello di  Borghese and Gallucio Family Winery.  The Gallucio wines do extremely well at the Hotel Borgata in AC and The Tropicana Hotel just added NY flights of wines from both these vineyards in the new Quarter Section.  Both vineyards have really nice Chardonnays and reds.  They are also in several really nice wine shops in NJ., and have had some promising reviews in NJ magazines and WS. People just need to keep an open mind, many of the wines are very Burgundian and Oregon like in style.

Can I ask how you picked Borghese and Gallucio? I'm always curious to hear how people pick wineries to distribute...Vincent (Gallucio) is a great guy though...very passionate.

Sorry, it took so long to come back and answer, I was at a Canadian Wine Tasting Event, tis the Season. I picked both vineyards after some preliminary research and going out and spending time with the owners and winemakers and of course sampling the wine. As you may know, Michel Rolland is the consulting winemaker at Gallucio and Louis Hargrave a pioneer in the Long Island Wine Scene was the former owner of Castello di Borghese. The new owner is a former Italian Prince, an interesting book to read on LI wines, is "The Vineyard" The Pleasures and Perils of Creating an American Family Winery. I met Louis sometime ago at Morrell's at an event, quite interesting and charming. Both these vineyards are showcased at The Tropicana Hotel in AC at a new wine bar and many of the Gallucio wines were originally selected by Inez Ribustello at the Hotel Borgata in AC., where they still are and do quite nicely. They both have unique styles, very burgundian, which really shows through with their French Oak. I think the longer growering season also is a plus for the grapes.


Bouquet du Vin

http://www.bouquetduvin.com

ameyer@bouquetduvin.com

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As a freelance wine writer living here on Long Island, I drink (and write about) Long Island wines regularly, as well as some that I get from wineries in the Hudson Valley and even, on occasion, the Finger Lakes.

Len -

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I visit the Long Island Wineries once each summer. I've probably been to three-quarters of the wineries at one time or another but I've gotten into a bit of a rut with Bedell, Pelligrini, Palmer and Lenz as the ones I hit first.

I would be very interested in a recommended itinerary from you.

Which ones are at the top of your list? Which would you avoid? (I understand if you don't want to answer the latter question.)

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Welcome, Len. Earlier this year, Copia (the wine/food/art museum here in Napa) did a weekend seminar on New York wines. I was lucky to attend and enjoyed tasting the wines as well as surprised to learn that New York state is the third largest producer of wines in the US (California is first and Oregon is second).

I have the full list of the forty or fifty wines I tasted over the weekend, but honestly, none of them knocked my socks off. Some were definitely enjoyable to me, like the Vidal, Syval Blanc, and Baco Noir -- perhaps because they were so remarkably different than what I was accostomed to. I am one who is always interested in different grape varietals. I still want to try a Norton from Virginia. For me, it is these odd grapes that make more interesting wine and seem more akin to their terroir.

I would love to taste more New York Rieslings and Ice Wines (a huge favorite of mine), but I found the Merlot and Cabs definitely wanting.

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Interested? Absolutely. The last time I was in New York I picked up a bottle of Heron Hill Meritage, and it was pretty good. Lean and somewhat vegetal, but attractive and tobacco-y. But as others have said, in the $20 range you're starting to get into serious money for me (my average bottle is less than $10). If the wineries were local and I could taste and choose, it might be worth it, but out here in California with no availability, it's not really worth the effort. I see more wine from Idaho and New Mexico than New York, as odd as that may be...

Walt


Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA

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As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I visit the Long Island Wineries once each summer. I've probably been to three-quarters of the wineries at one time or another but I've gotten into a bit of a rut with Bedell, Pelligrini, Palmer and Lenz as the ones I hit first.

try Paumanok, Pugliese and Osprey's Dominion. pugliese makes a wicked blanc de noir "nature" with no dosage. light salmon colored and a great dry finish. the blanc de blanc brut is good, too. we have had osprey's dominion fume blanc and johannesberg riesling and enjoyed them.


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Which ones are at the top of your list?  Which would you avoid?  (I understand if you don't want to answer the latter question.)

Brent,

Thanks for reponding. While I'll pass on mentioning the ones I'd say to avoid (there are some, feel free to email me if you'd really like to know).

As for ones you should definitely try:

- Lieb Family Cellars. Despite some of the comments above, they make extremely good wines. Sure, their Meritage is pricey at 50 bucks...but the Bridge Lane wines are good for the price.

- Shinn Estates Vineyard. They only do tastings after 3pm Saturday tours, and their offerings are limited (two wines now) but it's an experience I'd recommend to any wine lover. The owners (David Page and Barb Shinn) also own Home restaurant in Greenwich Village.

- The Tasting Room. It's a co-op tasting room for smaller producers, including Comtesse Therese (try ANY of their wines...which are much better priced than others), Broadfields (good reds), Sherwood House and Schneider.

- Macari Vineyards. Probably the best tasting room in terms of knowledgable and friendly staff. And, a great view of their vines.


Lenn Thompson

Freelance Wine Writer

lenn@lenndevours.com

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try Paumanok, Pugliese and Osprey's Dominion.  pugliese makes a wicked blanc de noir "nature" with no dosage.  light salmon colored and a great dry finish.  the blanc de blanc brut is good, too.  we have had osprey's dominion fume blanc and johannesberg riesling and enjoyed them.

Paumanok is certainly another good destination. I spent 3 hours last weekend with co-owner and winemaker Charles Massoud tasting his wines and also still-fermening samples of his 2004 vintage. He has a very smooth style...where the tannins are in the background...with nice fruit.

Pugliese does have make some fun sparkling wines and some simple, but tasty dessert wines. For a fun food wine, they make a sparkling Merlot that is pretty good.

Osprey Dominion does have a couple good wines, but overall, I'm not that big a fan.


Lenn Thompson

Freelance Wine Writer

lenn@lenndevours.com

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Having lived in Binghamton for 7 years, I became a big fan of Finger Lakes wines.

Just to name a couple --

Hermann J Weimer makes some excellent gewurtz and riesling for the price. For an every day summer quaff, I would love to be able to get some of the Seyval Blanc again (fave producer was Lucas). Upstate prices are much more reasonable in terms of QPR than Long Island prices

Ditto on the Weimer - He's making great juice consistently. I've had a few good Fox Run wines and the new Heron Hill Johannesberg Reisling is quite delicious.

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why should the consumer pay 20 bucks for a bottle of good Merlot when they can get one from Argentina for 15 (or less)?

FatGuy hit it on the head: because they're buying from and supporting the efforts of a domestic producer, i.e. the money stays at home. Can't speak for anyone else but I'm aware that I already buy many imported goods. I'll continue to do so when it's all that's available or there's such a price discrepancy re/value that it makes sense. If the quality is the same, $5 on a $15 or $20 bottle of wine isn't much of an upcharge. Carrying that percentage difference over to higher priced goods it does become an issue for most of us, as the difference per bottle creeps uo to $10

Oddly enough, perhaps due to marketing strategies or their position at the lower end of the price spectrum, Bully Hill is the one NY wine I've seen consistently in states outside of NY (but it's also one that I hear no raves about).

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Oddly enough, perhaps due to marketing strategies or their position at the lower end of the price spectrum, Bully Hill is the one NY wine I've seen consistently in states outside of NY (but it's also one that I hear no raves about).

Almost 100% marketing. The whole goat story and colorful labels appeal to non-wine drinkers and were pushed very hard.

However, they did also have the "first entrant" advantage, being amongst the first in upstate to place themselves as a positive alternative to jug wines from the big "evil empire" Taylor wines. This got them shelf space before the making and drinking of good wine became "hip".

To me, the product itself is pretty consistantly plonk.


Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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