Hoping everyone is enjoying the longer format. I figured since I can’t write as often, I’d write more when I do… while I find quick reviews and tasting notes useful, anybody can do that, and I’d like to share my experiences and stories with you as well. After all, the experience is much if not all of enjoying a wine.
Last Saturday morning we visited a vineyard in the Hudson Valley AVA for the first time. Not only was it great to explore another upcoming wine region so close to home, but we managed to get some lucky travelers’ perks and upgrades given to members at our hotel. Other than a little traffic on the way back (and a tornado watch) we were impressed with the ease of a quick trip to the area. So while we only got to experience one of the wineries, there’s no doubt that getting back, and often, is on the agenda. We had never been on the Shawangunk wine trail, or to New Paltz, which we saw on the way out. It is a charming and quaint little town with B&B’s, restaurants, bars and shops, as well as a thriving college scene from SUNY New Paltz. Next time we go back we are staying here, rather than a chain hotel, although that WAS a good experience!
Robibero family vineyards is relatively new. They opened in 2010. Previously in this location was a vineyard called Rivendell. (Lord of the Rings reference anyone?) It is also the newest addition to the wine trail. The tasting room and deck overlooking the mountain ridge are elegant and beautiful and pets, and kids are welcome. In fact, they have a pet Yorkie, who’s also on the label of their “New Yorkie Rosé.” They also have regular events including live music, and “wine with your K9.” The head winemaker was formerly at nearby Benmarl winery, also on the trail. The people were very friendly; no snobbery here. The man who took us through the tasting, Kevin, clearly loves what he does, and we spent a good hour talking with him about life and wine and how we all became passionate about the subject. They were very gracious and since our two guests were unable to attend, they allowed us to taste all of the wines. They are all made in small lots, right there on their property. Kevin said they had just harvested the Merlot a few days before we had visited, and they had hand-corked all 2,500 bottles! That takes some strength, folks. Makes one appreciate how hard this work can be if you don’t have fancy expensive machines to do the job for you. We tasted ten wines in all, 4 whites, one rosé and 5 reds. They serve their wines at many restaurants in Westchester County, and they are available to buy in retail shops there as well as in New Paltz, and in Riverhead, NY at the entrance to the North Fork of Long Island. They also ship to you if you can’t find your favorite.
There were several nice whites, and I think they were the superior wines here. Before I get into my notes – I just want to clarify that I’m not at all saying the reds were bad. But I am such a red wine enthusiast with an amazing collection of and experience with reds from around the world, that I guess I’m hard to impress or am looking for something I hadn’t come across before. The following wine was exactly that. The “Rabbits Foot Red,” was a velvety, bright fruity wine with a really interesting and more importantly new taste to me, a blend of 75% Baco Noir, 15% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Baco I had heard of only in the production of Argmagnac, and that’s Baco 22A, aka Baco Blanc. Baco Noir is a French vitis vinifera hybrid of Folle Blanche, and also an American vitis riparia variety that is resistant to black rot and powdery and downy mildew (as well as phylloxera like most American roots) and so it does very well here. It was brought here in 1951 to many states but is most widely known and grown in Ontario, Canada. It also is a bit of an up-and-comer in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It was very smooth, and distinctly unique and peppery and smokey, which is what attracted me to it. The Merlot I believe adds smoothness, and the Cab a bit of structure. At $14.99, I bought two. My other favorite was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, but I found the price tag prohibitive. I do like to support local wineries in the US, and bought 6 bottles of my favorite wines. But for $26, I am looking for Napa or Bordeaux quality. So there you have it. Call it what you will. The rosé, while it had a cute name and label featuring their pet Yorkie, was really a white Merlot (with 6% Cab Franc) and had it been marketed as such, I’d probably have had a better first impression. I do like a white Merlot, having tried one at Sherwood House vineyards in March. For a white Merlot, it had its merits. Calling it a rosé just kind of threw me off. It had the bitterness and aroma characteristics of a tannic red wine for obvious reasons, and it just wasn’t what I think of in a rosé. I mentioned my thoughts on the matter, maybe they’ll give it some consideration, not that I’m anybody. Here’s the whites highlights:
The 2011 Dry Riesling was my favorite of their three Rieslings. It had citrus and pear aromas, was crisp and refreshing and had a nice finish, as well as some slate character and a bit of honey. A perfect dinner white. In reality, it was off-dry, but not much, so I think the name is fair, especially compared to the other two which are noticeably sweeter.
The 2010 Riesling had more of a peach and apricot palate and nose, and a bit more sweetness. A nice wine as well, but a better dessert wine.
This brings me to the 2011 Arctic Riesling which was the first time I ever had a Riesling that was oaked. For this reason I also picked up notes of French oak, which gave it a bit more structure and typical vanilla notes. But for this reason I found this wine exciting. I really go for unique wines where the winemaker is doing something of their own to make a wine special. While not super sweet, it was not as dry as the dry Riesling and not as sweet as the other. The range of styles they make the variety in is also appealing and shows that they are excited about making wine and trying to take it to another level.
The Serendipity was a blend of 35% Chardonnay and 65% Seyval Blanc, another cool-climate hybrid found in the Finger Lakes and England, though there are some issues there because it contains some non-vinifera genes. While I’ve had some nice white Burgundy, I’m usually the ABC type. ‘Anything but Chardonnay.’ Perhaps its all the cheap over-oaked American bulk Chard that I used to think was what all Chardonnay tasted like before my formal education. I am trying to change my perspective, and have had SOME that have made me happy. And the right pairing with food can make a big difference. I find that I like it more in a blend for sure, so this was no exception. It had a nice full body but was also crisp, with apple and floral notes. It works well together.
The last white I tried was the 87 North (named after the nearby interstate and complete with a local map and I-87 on the label), a crisp and well-balanced wine with honeydew melon and grapefruit aromas and flavor. It is 50% Vidal Blanc (of Canadian Ice Wine fame) and 50% Cayuga, another local American variety we encountered in the wines of Renault in New Jersey. The grapefruit on the palette I contribute to the Vidal, and the melon to the Cayuga. Cayuga is also an upstate New York lake and region in the vicinity of the Finger Lakes, and with a wine trail of its own. It was engineered specifically for the cold climate of the area by the brilliant Cornell University viticulture program. It is a cross of Seyval Blanc and Schuyler and is very frost-resistant. It is picked early, gives high yields and has floral aromas and acidity similar to that of Riesling, which also excels in the area. A very nice wine.
They also had a port made by nearby Brotherhood winery, which we look forward to opening on a special occasion. This is also where our new friend Kevin used to work. I tried it and it was very good port for a small American winery. I’ll review it when we open the bottle.
Visit them online at http://www.rnewyorkwine.com, or in person! They’re located at
714 Albany Post Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 255 wine (9463)