Hudson River Valley Wineries

This blog is dedicated to news, events, profiles and reviews of fine food and wine in the Hudson River Valley. We especially feature and spotlight the burgeoning wineries of the Hudson River Region. We accept and will relay information about releases, events, festivals and any toher happening related to food and wine in the Hudson River Valley. Send pertitnent information to

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Carlo DeVito is a long time wine lover, and author of books and magazine articles. He is the author of Wineries of the East Coast. He has traveled to wine regions in California, Canada, up and down the east coast, France, Spain and Chile. He was also a publisher at Running Press Book Publishers, where he published books from Wine Spectator, as well as books with Greg Moore (of Moore Bros.), Matt Kramer, Howard Goldberg, and many other wine writers. Mr. DeVito has also been the editor of many successful traditional trade books, including Strange Fruit by David Margolick, On the Shoulders of Giants by Stephen Hawking, and three titles by Malachy McCourt. Other authors include John and Mary Gribbin, Thomas Hoving, Philip Caputo, E. O. Wilson, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., John Edgar Wideman, Stanley Crouch, Dan Rather, Dee Brown, Susie Bright, and Eleanor Clift. He lives with his wife, pet publisher Dominique DeVito, their two sons, their two dogs, and their numerous goldfish.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hudson-Chatham, Whitecliff, and Millbrook Make Top Wines of 2014 from Passionate Foodie

Richard Auffrey is a Boston based food, wine, and spirits writer. His Passionate Foodie column is a popular blog. He also writes for other publications. Congrats to Hudson-Chatham Winery, Whitecliff Vineyards, and Millbrook Vineyards.

2014: Top Ten Wines Over $15
What were some of my favorite wines of the past year?

Welcome to my second Top Ten Wine List. Yesterday, I posted my Top Ten Wines Under $15, which I hope you enjoyed and found useful. Now it is time for my Top Ten Wines Over $15, though these wines also cost less than $50. In actuality, I have listed twelve wines, pairing three similar ones together from the same importer.

Like the prior list, this list includes wines that not only did I enjoy, but which I also found to be particularly compelling for various reasons. They might be especially delicious, something more unique or just excellent values for the price. They all stand out, for some particular reason, above the other wines at this price point that I have tasted this past year.

This is a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" wines out there. It is primarily the wines which spoke to me the loudest, even when they were subtle wines. These are all wines that I highly recommend and which I believe many other wine lovers will also enjoy.

The wines are not listed in any particular order and each choice is linked to my more detailed prior review. All of these wines are worth your consideration but please also note that the prices are approximations and the actual price may vary in your area. In addition, some of the wines might not be available in your local area, though you might be able to order them from the winery or an online store, dependent on your state's shipping laws.

1)  NV Vermut LaCuesta ($20)
At the Mohegan Sun WineFest, one of my favorite wines of the entire event was this impressive Spanish Vermouth. Tempranillo is the base of this fortified wine, and it presented with an intriguing herbal taste with only mild bitter elements and hints of sweetness. I tasted some of it on its own, as well as in a glass with ice, and in both instances, it was impressive. It is well balanced, and would be delicious on its own or in a cocktail. Highly recommended.

2) 2010 Inspiracion Valdemar Tempranillo Blanco ($30)
Made from 100% Tempranillo Blanco, a mutation of Tempranillo and only discovered relatively recently, this Spanish wine was aged on the lees in first year French oak. With a dark gold color, this wine had aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, accompanied by hints of honey, herbs and a touch of citrus. It possessed a very intriguing taste, good acidity and a long,pleasing finish. It is a wine to slowly sip and savor, though it pairs well with food too. A stunner of a wine.

3) Alexander Jules Sherries ($45)
Alexander Jules, kind of a negociant company, seeks out special Spanish sherry barrels, creating fascinating blends. I tasted their first three sherries, the Fino 22/85, Manzanilla 17/71, and Amontillado 6/26. All three were stunning examples, presenting plenty of complex and delicious flavors. These are Sherries to slowly enjoy each delectable taste, relishing the wonders found within each glass. I placed these three together because they are all special, share similar characteristics, and showcase the palate of the company's owner, Alexander Russan. These are the best sherries I have tasted all year.

4) Quinta de Santa Eufemia 10 Year Old White Port ($30)
A blend of Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Moscatel Galego, and Rabigato, this aged White Port, a rare category, has a beautiful amber color. It possesses an alluring nose of floral and herbal notes, and on the palate the taste is complex and intriguing, a bit of an oxidative style. It has a tough of honeyed sweetness though it finishes dry, and the finish lingers long in your mouth. It is surely a Port to slowly savor, enjoying the multitude of flavors that pass over your palate.

5) 2008 José Maria da Fonseca Domini Plus ($40)
A blend of 65% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz, & 15% Touriga Nacional, this Portuguese red wine spends about 12 months in new French oak. It possesses plenty of complexity and flavor, creating an elegant and enticing wine, that is still powerful yet restrained. This is a perfectly balanced wine, one to slowly sip and savor, thinking on everything to be found within your glass. It is an amazing wine, well worth the price, and which might cost twice as much in any other wine region.

6) 2011 Moric Blaufränkisch Reserve ($45)
This is am Austrian wine which stunned me with its complex pleasures. Each sip seemed to bring out different elements, from its blend of red and black fruits, to its strong minerality. There are intriguing notes of spice, herbs and even chocolate. The tannins are moderate but not overwhelming, and the wine lingers for quite a long time on your palate. One glass won't be enough for you, and this is a wine to impress your friends. Highly recommended.

7) Dopff et Irion NV Crémant D'Alsace Brut Rosé ($17)
This Alsatian Brut Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir and I likened it to a dish of strawberries and cream. Though dry and crisp, there was a rich creaminess to the wine, with plenty of delicious red fruit flavors, including plenty of strawberry. Complex and with a lingering finish, I found this to be a compelling wine, as well as an excellent value for the price.

8) 2012 Vina Koyle Gran Reserva Carmenere ($16.99)
This Chilean wine is a blend of 86.5% Carmenere, 8% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2.5% Petite Verdot. With a nose of black fruit and spice, I found this to be an elegant wine, with a delicious melange of black fruit, spice, minerality and hints of tobacco. It was silky smooth, with a long, satisfying finish. At this price, it is a good value for its complexity and quality.

9) 2013 Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir Old Vines ($18.95)
Made from 60 year old vines, this wine is made in Hudson Valley, New York, and was complex and intriguing, presenting a delicious melange of flavors, including ripe plum, blueberry, black cherry, vanilla and baking spices. It possessed a silky feel, was well balanced and had a lingering and pleasing finish. It may be a hybrid grape, but that shouldn't deter you from enjoying the high quality of this compelling wine.

10) 2012 Fausse Piste "Garde Manger" Syrah ($25)
A blend of Syrah from five vineyards in the Columbia Valley, there might be a tiny percentage of Viognier too. From your first sniff of the aromas of this wine, you'll probably be hooked. It possesses an alluring nose, a complex blend of appealing aromas, including lush fruit and a prominent earthiness. It brought to my mind wines from the Rhône. The taste of this wine lived up to the promise of its nose, and initially you'll be impressed by the depth of flavor within this wine, the complex melange of flavors that will flood your mouth, seducing your palate. Black fruit, spice, earthiness, minerality, and even more can be found within each sip. Silky tannins lead to a lengthy and satisfying finish. Everything is in balance in this wine, and it is absolutely compelling.

This is always my toughest list to compile because there are numerous other excellent wines which I could have added. I had to ponder long over which wines to actually select for the main list, meaning that I had to eliminate other worthy wines. To give some credit to those other worthy wines, for the second year in a row, I am adding an Honorable Mention list, to reference those other wines which nearly made my Top Ten list.

Honorable Mention
2011 Planeta Cerasuolo Di Vittoria Dorilli DOCG ($32.99)
2009 Cedro Do Noval ($22)
2013 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel Rosé ($20)
NV Willm Cremant d'Alsace Blanc de Noirs Brut ($16)
Spain occupies the most spots on my Top Ten list, with three spots and five wines. Potugal, with two spots, is the only other region which occupied multiple spots. The other regions represented include Austria, Alsace, Chile, California and New York. The list is also broken down into 1 Sparkling Wine, 1 White, 5 Reds and 5 Fortified Wines. If you look at the Honorable Mentions, you'll find wines from Italy, Portugal, France, Alsace, New York, Uruguay, and Spain.

I have plenty of other recommendations for wines at this price point on my blog. There are top notch wines from countries all over the world, made from an incredibly diverse selection of grapes and you can still find plenty of values too. My advice is that you seek out wines outside of your comfort zone. Explore the multitude of diversity in the wonderful world of wine. Taste and try anything new, unique or potentially interesting.  I am sure your search will lead to new favorites.

If you have some of your own recommendations for wines that are over $15 but under $50, please add them to the comments.

Edible Hudson Valley Profiles Coppersea Distilling

Great article about Coppersea Distilling in the Winter 2014-2015 issue by Peter Barrett. The distilling industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Very impressive. And it's nice to see it being recognized in the media. the Hudson Valley is a hotbed of distilling.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


The newest issue of Edible Hudson Valley contains a feature of Hudson Valley Winemaker Kristop Brown, who makes wine or consults for four different wineries in the valley as well as being the master brewer at Yard Owl Brewery. Kristop has a gift. He knows how to handle himself whether it's near a boiling kettle of wort or a barrel of wine. Great things just keep on coming from this incredibly talented winemaker.


Friday, November 28, 2014


TasteCamp At Hudson Valley: Hudson-Chatham Winery
The Passionate Foodie
November 1, 2014
by Richard Auffrey
In organizing TasteCamp in the Hudson Valley, Lenn Thompson had assistance from Carlo Devito (pictured above), an author, publisher, writer, winery owner and probably more. He and his wife, Dominique, own the Hudson-Chatham Winery, located in Ghent, and it was the first winery in the Colombia County. One of our TasteCamp visits was to his winery, where he served us lunch, sampled us through many of his wines, and ran a tasting of wines, ciders, and cassis from other local wineries and cideries

I've met Carlo before on other wine trips, and found him to be personable, jovial, self-deprecating, passionate about wine, and hard working. When you consider everything that he does, you might wonder when he finds time to sleep. For example, he has authored over 15 books, writes the blogs East Coast Wineries and Hudson River Valley Wineries, and operates Warren Street Books, And he still finds time to operate and promote his winery, a winery that has garnered attention from the national media.
Carlo and his wife purchased the 14 acre property in 2006, and planted about 1000 vines of mostly hybrids. In 2007, they opened their winery and would subsequently plant more vines, so that they now have about 5 acres of vineyards, mostly hybrids. They hired Steve Casscles as their winemaker, and expanded the winery in 2012, increasing production and storage capacity, and now produce about 4000 cases annually. Besides table wines, they also make Port-style wines, Sherry-style wines, Cassis and Grappa. Carlo has a diverse palate, and wants to emulate some of the wines he loves in the best way he can in the Hudson Valley.
On the day of our visit, they were pressing grapes. As you can see, this is a very hands-on, artisan operation.
Carlo loves Spanish Sherry and has a dream of making a Sherry-like wine that will taste like amazing aged Sherry. He created his own Solera, in a small building behind the tasting room. Using mainly 25 year old, Italian chestnut barrels, he is trying to make a three stage solera, drawing no more than 1/3 from a barrel each time he takes any wine. At this time, the wine is an average age of four years, though he wants the Solera to last for many more years, even though his children might be the ones that ultimately benefit from it. He knows that his dream will take many years to accomplish but that doesn't discourage him.

The building where the Solera is stored lacks air conditioning or heat. He wants the weather to affect the wine, to let it do its worst. So far, that hasn't hurt the wine in the least. Carlo isn't seeking to emulate any specific style of Sherry, though he has previously bottled a Cream-Sherry style wine. His primary goal is consistency, to make a product that is essentially similar each year, though it might gain in complexity with time. Unfortunately, he didn't have any of his Cream Sherry available for me to taste. Carlo also wants to make Port-style wines, generally in a Tawny style. I got to taste a barrel sample and it showed promise. Carlo has very ambitious, long-term plans,
Carlo led us through a tasting of more than a dozen of his wines and spirits. His wines are about 70% dry reds, and all are produced from New York state grapes, with 85% being made from Hudson Valley grapes. All of their wines are also single vineyard, hand made, and hand pressed, Their tasting room was busy on the day we were there, and the guests seemed to be enjoying the wines very much, and buying a number of bottles. It was good to see that his wines were so well received.

Carlo believes they are making some of the best red wines in New York, especially soft, approachable reds at very good value. Carlo also told me an interesting story which provided me a clear insight into his goals for his winery. He was once asked by someone, "What is it you are trying to do here?" As he is a a big sports fans, and has written much about sports, he replied, "This I the only way I know how to say this. If we were a sports team, my goal would be to make the playoffs every year and to win a championship or multiple championships. I'm not in it for any other reasons than that. I want us to be among the best of them every year." As I said, he is very ambitious.
I was impressed with many of their reds. The 2013 Pinot Noir is the first vintage they have made of this wine, and it uses grapes from the Hudson Valley. It spends almost four weeks on the skins and is aged in French oak for about nine months. With a light red color, this wine is light in body too, with pleasant cherry and raspberry flavors and a hint of spice. Easy drinking and tasty. The 2012 Chelois is an intriguing wine, made from a hybrid grape, and saw about nine months in oak. With a little spritz, the wine presented an intriguing blend of black fruit flavors, nice acidity, spicy undertones and nicely integrated tannins.

The 2011 Empire Reserve is a unique blend of three grapes from 3 different regions of New York, including Hudson Valley Baco Noir, Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and Long Island Merlot. It spends at least two years in oak. Smooth and easy drinking, it had a delicious and complex blend of red and black fruits, a spicy backbone and herbal notes. Good structure and acidity, it had a moderately long finish, and I'd enjoy a bottle with pork or beef. It's not a pure Hudson Valley wine, but was tasty and interesting anyways.
At the heart of the winery is their Baco Noir, another hybrid grape, and these wines have garnered lots of attention. Forget your preconceptions and prejudices about hybrids creating lesser wines compared to vinifera. If you tasted these wines blind, you would never suspect they were hybrids. These are well-crafted wines of character, possessed of excellent taste, and you really owe it to yourself to check them out.

The 2013 Baco Noir Cascades Middle Hope is from 45 year old vines, and the wine was aged for about 9 months in French oak. It possessed pleasant cherry and raspberry flavors, with an underlying spice, especially on the finish. Easy drinking, with mild tannins. The 2013 Baco Noir Reserve, Casscles Vineyard possesses more intense fruit flavors, and more ripe plum and black cherry flavors, with spicy accents throughout the taste. It was smooth, with nice acidity and a lengthy finish. Very tasty. The 2013 Baco Noir Block 3 North Creek Vineyard has a similar flavor profile as the Reserve, except that the spice notes and tannins are stronger in this wine.

My favorite of the Baco Noies was the 2013 Baco Noir Old Vines, which is made from 60 year old vines. It was complex and intriguing, presenting a delicious melange of flavors, including ripe plum, blueberry, black cherry, vanilla and baking spices. It possessed a silky feel, was well balanced and had a lingering and pleasing finish. This elegant and alluring wine is something to slowly sip with friends, savoring its complexity and quality. I bought a few bottles of this wine, and highly recommend it.
Even some of their Grappa is made from their Baco Noir! Essentially, this is a distilled spirit using grape skins, and they have the grappa produced by Harvest Spirits. The basic Grappa was aromatic and pleasant, with cherry and red berry flavors. The Grappa Reserve, which sees some oak, was even better, with a smoother taste, and the red fruit flavors enhanced by spice notes. This would be a pleasant digestive after a nice dinner.
In the "sports league" of New York wines, Hudson-Chatham Winery is definitely a worthy contender.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hudson Valley Brewers Shine in Handbook of Porters and Stouts

This month The Handbook of Porters and Stouts by Chad Polenz and Josh Christie just came out, and several Hudson Valley breweries are covered in the new book including Chatham Brewing, Brown's Brewing, Captain Lawrence, and the Beer Diviner. Chatham Brewing's Porter and Imperial Stout, Brown Brewing's Oatmeal Stout and Whiskey Barrel Aged Porter, as well as Captain Lawrence Frost Monster and Beer Diviner Got Your Back.
A great nod to the brewers of the Hudson Valley!!!



Hillrock Estate, Tuthilltown Featured in James Rodewald's AMERICAN SPIRIT

James Rodewald was the former Drinks Editor for Gourmet magazine (1998-2009). He has edited several wine and spirits books and authored a piece on the history of single-malt Scotch for Sterling Epicure's Barrels & Drams by William Dowd. His newest book is American Spirit" An Exploration of the Craft Distilling Revolution.
Library Journal wrote of this book in late summer, "This volume is best read with something on the rocks; it will make you thirsty. Fortunately, the content includes nine cocktail recipes, as well as a glossary of terms.”
More importantly, Rodewald, in Chapter 2, entitled "Rock Stars" features two Hudson Valley distilleries Hillrock Estate Distilling and Tuthillton Spirits.


This is a huge deal since Rodewald only featured a dozen or so distilleries in the book around the country, and featured two Hudson Valley producers in the same chapter. Says a lot about the distillery industry in the Hudson Valley. Congrats to the folks at Hillrock and at Tuthilltown!