Monday, October 09, 2006

New York State Wines

While in upstate New York we have, of course, been sampling the local wines. Back in the day, NYS wines were not considered to be any good. There was a lot of sweet stuff around and it was pretty awful.

Our current favorite white is this one from the Finger Lakes region of New York. It's dry and fruity and very tasty. This winemaker has been around for a lot of years and was one of the pioneers of New York State wines.

These days, however, wineries old and new have been improving their techniques and the resulting wines can be quite good. We've tried a number of them and have found three favorites so far.

I should say that our wine taste is very much influenced by French wines, particularly those in our region in the Loire Valley/Touraine. Whites are sauvignon blanc or chenin and reds are gamay or cabernet franc. These are light, fruity wines that are meant to be drunk young.

This is a Hudson Valley winery that we visited and toured on our way upstate from NYC. We tasted several of their wines, but this one was the best by far. It's a blend of several varietals and while it's alcohol level is at 13%, it's not too strong at all.

We do enjoy a good full-bodied red like a Bordeaux or Bourgogne of course, but most of what we drink is local to our region. While in California, we often bought French wines, although we did have our local favorites there, too. We found that many California reds were too bold for us and much too high in alcohol. Often those wines were 14 or 15 percent and while they paired well with certain foods, they were nonetheless very strong wines.

An old Finger Lakes favorite of mine, Walter Taylor's Bully Hill Vineyard always has something interesting to try. This chardonnay was dry and crisp in the French style; it may not have spent any time on oak since there was no hint of that buttery flavor that I really hate in a white wine.

Our local stuff in France is usually 11 or 12 percent and we find that those couple percentage points make a big difference in the "drinkability" of the wine. The NYS wines we've been trying are closer to the 11 to 12 percent range, they're fruity and drinkable at a young age, and we have been quite pleasantly surprised at how much we like them.

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