Blog: NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting 2014
For the third year in a row, guests flocked to the Astor Center on Monday night to pay homage to New York City’s ever-expanding wine regions. With some 353 wineries in the state and more than 180 million bottles in production every year, there is no shortage of local options to choose from during a routine visit to your local wine store. In celebration of the dynamic industry, the New York Wine and Grape Foundation held a two hour wine tasting event dedicated to expose guests to more than 200 local wines from varying areas within the state at an extraordinarily low price to attend. The resulting “NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting” was a testament to the fact that all great domestic wines are not bred strictly on the west coast.
Any New Yorker will tell you that a preponderance of local wines emanates from the Finger Lakes, an upstate region rich with Rieslings among any of the five different wine trails. Though the Lakes had full on representation in the Astor Center’s gallery space, the lounge was replete with 12 other wineries representing the likes of Brooklyn, Lake Erie, Long Island and even the Niagara wine regions. Upon entering, guests were welcomed to grab a tasting glass and a detailed booklet which outlined each winery’s offerings as well as a section for notes, contact information and retail price, most of which ranged in the $14-$18 range.
Having visited the Finger Lakes on several occasions, it was nice to re-visit some of our favorite wines from the five hour drive outside of the city limits. No trip to the Finger Lakes would be complete without a stop at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Wine Cellars whose 2012 “Dry Riesling” ($15) represents perhaps the style that best embodies the area. Clean with a fruity aroma, the finish is remarkably tight and refreshing and has us yearning for warmer weather. We were also pleased to find the folks at Anthony Road Wine Company also in attendance pouring five of their different varietals. Though we’ve grown quite fond of their “Devonian Red,” a deliciously affordable everyday table wine, their dry 2012 “Cabernet Franc/Lemberger” blend delivered a nice medium bodied, almost spicy wine that pleasantly caught us off guard. Fortunately, Anthony Road mans a booth weekly at the Union Square Farmer’s Market so traveling out to the Lakes for a case is no longer a necessity. Among the other area highlights were Fox Run’s uber-affordable string of wines (their 2013 “Chardonnay” is a veritable steal at just $11), Glenora Wine Cellars’ exceptional 2012 “Gewuztraminer” ($15) and their 2003 “Brut” ($25), Wagner Vineyards’ 2013 “Meritage” blend ($25) and Casa Larga Vineyards’ 2010 “Fiori Delle Stelle Vidal Blanc Ice Wine” ($40)- all of which stood out for different reasons, but each proved noteworthy amongst the Finger Lakes fray.
Each room was also provided with an assortment of meats, cheeses and other small snacks courtesy of Caroll Gardens’ caterers at Naturally Delicious, who continually replenished each spread as guests helped themselves to plates of sliced salami, prosciutto and sopressata. Heading toward the lounge area, which was equally as filled but never overcrowded which played a key factor in our enjoyment of the event, we discovered some new wines for the very first time. Brooklyn Oenology Winery from nearby Williamsburg was pouring a 2012 “Gewurztraminer ‘Orange’ Wine,” ($26) deep with citrus notes and even offered hints of ginger. We came to find out that the grapes were harvested in Cayuga Lake up in the Finger Lakes, so despite enjoying the new wine, we pressed on further. The butterscotch sweetness on the finish from 21 Brix’ 2012 “Chardonnay” ($15) was eye opening to say the least. The Lake Erie based winery poured 5 wines, but this reasonably priced bottle ranked amongst our favorites of the evening with a rich overall flavor profile. Bedell Cellars, also worthy of praise, seemingly has a table at every wine event that we frequent, and with good reason after tasting their $60 bottle of 2012 “Gallery,” a fantastic white blend that was delightfully crisp and full bodied.
The third annual “NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting” was but a small glimpse at some of the fine wines that our state has to offer. Somehow, despite our city being held in high regard, the New York state wine region is often underestimated and underappreciated. But tasting events like this one bring some of the finest winemakers on the east coast under one roof and showcase that winemaking is yet another feather in the collective cap of things that New Yorkers do well.
- Jane Van Arsdale