Events — 10 March 2016
NY Drinks NY at 5th Annual Grand Tasting

Blog: NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting 2016

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Some will argue that the country’s finest vineyards exist solely on the west coast where the likes of Napa, Santa Barbara and Oregon boast the production of some of the most acclaimed and highly rated wines in the entire world. But Tuesday night’s festivities in Manhattan proved that oenophiles need not get on an airplane to enjoy especially tasty wines, when an array of different wineries are located within just a few hours from the City’s center. The 5th Annual NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting emanated this year from the sizable space of Chelsea’s Altman Building, where nearly forty local winemakers would gather to the delight of a few hundred lovers of sweet and dry styles of vino.

With a region that is home to more than four hundred different wineries, New York State is the 3rd largest in terms of state-wide wine production. It’s no surprise then that seemingly each glass after poured glass that we sipped during the reasonably priced two-hour tasting event somehow managed to be better than the previous.  Pleasantly we quickly stumbled onto a handful of different wineries from the Finger Lakes who collectively trekked the four hour trip to be a part of the festivities.  A trip to the five lakes surrounded by vineyard after vineyard has become an annual spring visit for us at LocalBozo.com, so sipping on some of the fantastic pours from small producers like Damiani and Anthony Road (found weekly at the Union Square Greenmarket; ) was a pleasant trip down memory lane for us.  From Fox Run to Red Newt to Lakewood, all of the names that we can remember frequenting on our way up to a local B&B seemed to be assembled at Tuesday’s Grand Tasting.

Fortunately we made sure to stop and linger a bit at Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, who have continued to become a more notable presence at local events in recent months.  The $15 2014 “Dry Riesling” is as well executed as any varietal we’ve tasted in recent memory.  Pleasantly crisp, yielding an intense collection of ripe white fruits with a nice minerality, this is perhaps the region’s finest export (though Hermann J. Wiemer’s “Gewurztraminer” is no slouch either) in an area of the country known for their great rieslings and ice wines.  While we were certainly wooed by some old favorites, it turns out that other parts of the state are churning out some pretty good selections as well.

The North Fork of Long Island is also fairly well known for their wineries and breweries- a constant staple of the local birthday and bachelorette scene- and for good reason given Macari Vineyards nicely bodied 2013 “Cabernet Franc Reserve” ($40) and Palmer Vineyards’ 2012 “Cabernet Franc” ($29).  Both styles are made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes and are both entirely suitable depending on one’s budget.  We leaned slightly toward Macari’s pour given its nice acidity and an equally nice, long finish.  After some distinctive change of pace pours from Glenora Wine Cellars (a bubbly 2006 “Brut”) and Wolffer Estate Vineyard ( a 2015 “Dry Rose Cider”) to cleanse the palate, we snuck off to fill our plates with a selection of rich cheeses, salty charcuterie and some light fare courtesy of The New York Wine & Culinary Center, offering some locally sourced ingredients.

In rapid fashion, we devoured bite-sized helpings of “Pickled Free Range Eggs with Bacon & Onion Jam” and “Roasted Beet and Chevre Tartlets” before resuming our evening of tasting.  Nearly every table we visited offered a notable wine to enjoy.  The Hudson River Region’s Benmarl Winery served some of our favorite white wines of the evening- their 2014 “Sauvignon Blanc” was particularly light and refreshing while Arrowhead Spring Vineyards of the Niagara Region poured a nice 2013 “Un-Oaked Chardonnay,” replete with dried apricots and honey hints amid the nicely balanced swig.  We also managed a tip of the cap to the locals from Brooklyn Oenology pouring five of their staples including the 2012 “Motley Cru,” a zesty mash-up of red grapes that works together quite nicely.

In all, we sampled wines from nearly every table being showcased and despite just two hours of time to work with, we kept our mouths moving and our lips tasting nearly the entire evening.  The greater New York area may not have the ideal coastal conditions and climates for perfecting each grape harvest, but it’s certainly got a charm that allows our area to produce wines all it’s own.  Whether you’re a bigger fan of the east coast or the west coast, it matters very little when the wines go down this smoothly.

- Jane Van Arsdale

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