Brimstone Hill Vidal Blanc 2010 (NY)
I have a soft spot in my heart for Brimstone Hill winery. I think they are a wonderufl, old, winery here in the Hudson Valley. They're not new and hip and flashy. They're solid and steady and forward thinking. And I just like their wines, especially the Vin Rouge.
Brimstone Hill is among the older group of Hudson Valley vineyards and wineries. The actual vineyard dates back to 1969 when Richard and Valerie Eldridge planted some 20 varieties of “French hybrid” grapes on approximately a half acre of sloping land. The Eldridges were (and still are) dedicated oenophiles. This tradition really stems from Valerie’s background. She was French by origin, and she grew up in an extended French winemaking family from the Loire Valley.
In the 1970s the Eldridge vineyards expanded to about 3-4 acres of grapes. The decision to try a small winery was made in 1978-79, a time period when there was considerable interest in establishing smaller wineries throughout the Hudson Valley. There was (and still is) much to learn about appropriate grape varieties, wine types and wine-making techniques for this region. Initially, the French-American hybrid grape varietals seemed to be the most appropriate for better wines. As the 1980s progressed some of the traditional European vitis vinifera varieties showed considerable promise.
Then, as Cornell became better focused on higher quality wine grape varieties (remember Cornell has had a grape breeding program for generations), some of their interspecific hybrid varieties have blossomed in the Hudson Valley. Brimstone Hill has worked with all of these categorical groupings in a strong effort to make distinctive regional wines, which they are proud of.
As for size, their vineyards have expanded considerably; they now have about 10 acres producing and about 3-4 acres, which are not yet in production. Their operation continues to be somewhat experimental in nature. One of the pioneering ventures they are very proud of is the development of a sparkling wine, which is made in the tradition of the French champagnes. Their current production is between 7,500 and 10,000 bottles per year.
I love Dick Eldridge. He can be crumedgeonly...but get him talking about grapes, with a glass in his hand, and he's a fun guy.
And I really like Vidal Blanc. Vidal Blanc is an inter-specific hybrid variety of white wine grape, a cross of Ugni Blanc and Rayon d'Or (Seibel 4986). It manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates while maintaining good acid levels.
Vidal Blanc was developed in the 1930s by French breeder Jean Louis Vidal; his primary goal in developing the variety was to produce vines suitable for the production of Cognac in the Charente region of France. However, due to its winter hardiness this grape variety is cultivated most extensively in Canada and in the north-eastern United States. It is somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.
The wine produced from Vidal Blanc is fruity, with grapefruit and pineapple notes. Due to its high acidity and fruitiness it is particularly suited to sweeter, dessert wines. In particular, because of the tough outer skin of the fruit, it is well adapted for the production of ice wine, especially in Ontario and the Great Lakes region of the United States.
Vidal is one of the most popularly planted white grapes in the northeast!
Brimstone Hill Vidal Blanc 2010 is a wonderful wine. It's off dry,with notes of apricot and honey, but also with citrus. And indeed, the sweetness is balanced by a good amount of acidity. The result is a wonderful wine, with a hint of sweetness, but with a ig dollop of of citrus which balances the wine beautifully.
A lovely wine. Congrats, Dick!