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 has been a published executive for more than 20 years. He shepherded the wine book program of Wine Spectator as well as worked with Kevin Zraly, Oz Clarke, Matt Kramer, Tom Stevenson, Evan Dawson, Greg Moore, Howard Goldberg, and many other wine writers. He has also published Salvatore Calabrese, Jim Meehan, Clay Risen, and Paul Knorr. Mr. DeVito is the inventor of the mini-kit which has sold more than 100,000,000 copies world wide. He has also publisher such writers as Stephen Hawking, E. O Wilson, Philip Caputo, Gilbert King, James McPherson, John and Mary Gribbin, Thomas Hoving, David Margolick, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., John Edgar Wideman, Stanley Crouch, Dan Rather, Dee Brown, Susie Bright, and Eleanor Clift. He is also the owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, co-founder of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail, and president of the Hudson Valley Wine Country.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Calling All Bordeaux-Styled Wines in the Valley - Come to Me!

Recently, on my East Coast Wineries blog, I wrote a piece entitled DOES THE FUTURE OF EAST 
COAST WINE LIE IN BORDEAUX?  In it I wrote that Americans had become obsessed with varietals. Originally, the US wine industry used the varietal idea to differentiate itself from Francs and Italy, and it worked. But in the east, the best course of action and the best results I’ve experienced have been blends for the most part.
Here’s a sample:

But in the east, this practice, especially with red wines of exceptional quality, is difficult. Because of varying weather, cold winters, shortened seasons, etc. these cool climate growing regions, especially New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, all of which make gorgeous wines, find their wines vary accordingly. In California for the last 10 years the concept of vintage has become obsolete. However, France and Italy still have the same issues as the east. The weather is too variable for them not to find some importance in the vintage.

With the rise in popularity of cool climate wines, and the increasing reputation of wines from New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, how do we ensure fine quality reds on an every year basis? …. The great reds of Europe tend not to be single varietals, but blends. What that blend mix should be I will not get into here (that’s a whole other article), just to say that red blends seems to me the sure fire way to create 90 point plus reds for the east coast. And thus create the final stage of serious red wine to make the east coast a serious and collectable wine producer in the world.

It’s obviously not just blending. It’s taking into account a blending of not just wines, but of techniques, massaging the various wines in American, Pennsylvanian, Hungarian, and French oak. We need to consier aging like the Spanish do for a minimum of one year, or two years, or three. The idea is to help raise the bar to guarantee better quality. I don’t think it needs to be standardized, but I think it needs to become standard practice.

As recently as last year, I heard winemakers from several east coast states complaining about the consistency of their own red varietals, as if blends were not as serious a sign of success and succeeding singularly with Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot etc.

And this is why I think the future of east coast wine lies in Bordeaux. For these wines to be as heartily desired as their European counterparts, the east coast needs to “creatively adapt” some of the best practices of Europe to ensure a whole generation of superb red wines.

The great houses of Bordeaux blended their wines because like those winemakers here on the east, the quality of their varietals was not consistent. The idea was to blend Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, and Malbec and Petite Verdot, and many other grape varieties in different mixtures to fill in where the holes of one varietal aided another. The other practice was to hold back a certain amount of wine each year to blend in with the wine next year, thus establishing a consistent flavor profile from year to year.

These practices hold sway even today. And French wines have never been more popular or collectible. The Top two growths don’t let most wine writers taste their top wines any more. The wine writers, no matter how effusive, cannot help increase the astronomical prices they are already getting, especially through the Hong Kong/Asian markets, where the popularity of wine has skyrocketed with the burgeoning Chinese middle class.

Ripasso is another style which east coast winemakers should employ more often. Pressing new grapes over the desiccated skins of previously crushed grapes, and adding them to the masceratin, helps add favors to your wines, and increases their fullness and roundness.

And we need to embrace the notion of terroir…at least of our own terroir. Dirt and location and sunshine and air drainage all make a place unique.

Truly, some of the best reds of the east already follow this pattern and I strongly urge other winemakers to consider this trend. And I strong recommend to consumers that you try some of these very good blends!

The valley should have a lot more dry red blends. For all the same reasons Virginia, Maryland, and other east coast regions are doing it. To make better quality reds, more consistently, that will compete in the marketplace.

Wonderful Bordeaux styled dry red blends and meritages available in the Hudson Valley currently include:

Benmarl Proprietor’s Reserve
Brimstone Hill Vin Rouge Superior
Hudson-Chatham Empire
Whitecliff Vineyards Sky Island Red

Glorie Farm Winery Synergy

Robibero 87 South



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