Uncork New York

Something of a surprise when the new Wine Spectator came through the mail: New York wines are on the front cover. Has our uncelebrated State finally won over the wine critics, we wonder, or has America’s leading wine-and-lifestyle magazine run out of cover stories?


It may be the latter. For while the accompanying feature notes that “a quiet wine revolution has been taking place in the Empire State,” the “Recommended New Releases” chart running alongside fails to find a single example worthy of a 90pt rating.

I don’t place as much credence as retailers and distributors do over Wine Spectator scores; they’re arbitrary and inconsistent. (And the region has just come off two very difficult vintages, 2003 and 2004.) But, Finger Lakes Rieslings aside, I myself can’t claim that my home State is yet producing “outstanding” or “classic” wines, let alone enough bargain bottles that satisfy the “quality-price-ratio.” So while the potential is evident, the promise is apparent, and the enthusiasm and energy is there for anyone to see should they visit the vineyards themselves, it’s still hit and miss when it comes to the taste test.

And that is essentially the point of the cover story: go visit and discover for yourself. After all, the Wine Spectator doubles as an upscale travel magazine these days, dominated by ads aimed at those with spare time and disposable income. For such people, I can only say that, having gone on wine-tasting trips to both the Finger Lakes and Long Island’s North Fork, and living as I do in the Hudson Valley, that these are all beautiful regions to visit. Keep your expectations high for the scenery, and modest for the wineries, and you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t do the Finger Lakes like I did, on a wet Saturday in the middle of Autumn.

The best of New York: the Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling

For what it’s worth, the Spectator’s top scoring wines are, from Long Island, Chardonnays by Macari and Corey Creek and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Raphael; from the Finger Lakes, a Riesling and Chardonnay from Standing Stone and a Riesling from Atwater Estate, and from the Hudson Valley, a Millbrook Cabernet Franc. Though I haven’t tasted anything from Raphael, I’ve visited Macari, Atwater and Standing Stone, and met with people from Millbrook, and agree that these are among the very best wineries in the State. But the Wine Spectator is always its own worst enemy: the failure to discuss or recommend the Hermann Wiemer winery anywhere in the entire story suggests that either the writer is not paying attention or that the winery has somehow upset the magazine along the way. Ask any wine store that knows its New York wine and they will confirm that the Herman Wiemer Riesling is not only the benchmark wine for the Finger Lakes; it’s quite possibly the best Riesling outside Germany. It also has a habit of selling out each year. Go get yourself a sample sip here.


More on New York Wine at iJamming:

My visit to the Finger Lakes part 1, part 2; Best Case Scenario
New York W(h)ines part 1
New York W(h)ines part 2
Cabernet Franc in New York State

iJamming! v1.0 Wine Archives
iJamming! v2.0 Wine Archives

More on New York wines in the Wine Spectator here

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November 2021