Bordeaux Grand Cru “Blizzard” Hits New York

By Christopher Matthews

Monday, January 26, 2015 was the Blizzard That Wasn’t in New York City. While it certainly snowed, and slowed the City down, it was, mercifully, far from the Snowpocalypse breathlessly predicted by media outlets.

January 26 was also the date of the biggest and most anticipated Bordeaux tasting of the year — the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) — which gamely went ahead at Cipriani 42nd Street despite the dire forecasts.

Normally, this tasting is a pulsing free-for-all for the wine trade and media, a chance to taste new releases of iconic Bordeaux producers, with plenty of company — and sharp elbows. But the snowy weather kept a good many away, making it a more relaxed, user-friendly event for those who showed up. For the chateaux reps, who really had nowhere else to go — airports were shut down, the wines already delivered — there was likely disappointment. Still, it afforded more civilized, personal exchanges amid the swirling and spitting. Call it quality time…

2015 Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, NY

2015 Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, NY

Amid all the legendary red Bordeaux, however, my focus was, perhaps surprisingly, on the Grand Cru whites. Continue reading

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Biodynamic Syrah, Naturally (from Chateau Maris)

By Christopher Matthews

Before going to our friends’ house for a Boxing Day gathering during the holidays, I stopped by Sipperly’s, our local wine shop upstate, for a gift bottle of wine.

As I’ve mentioned before, the store’s layout is chaotic, but if you can get past that, the selection isn’t bad, and the occasional gem turns up.

Looking up on a top shelf, apparently their (unidentified) organic section, an unusual forest green label with the clear wording “Biodynamic Syrah” caught my eye.

Chateau Maris' Natural Selection "Biodynamic Syrah"

Chateau Maris’ 2011 Natural Selection “Biodynamic Syrah”

I reached high and grabbed the bottle for a closer look. Turns out, it was produced by Chateau Maris, an ueber-organic/biodynamic domain from the Languedoc region of southern France — specifically in Minervois La Liviniere (one of my favorite appellations) — whose wines I had sampled before and enjoyed (like their “Old School Red”). At just $14.00, I asked the store’s wine buyer what she thought of it.”You’ll love it,” she said. “It’s a gift,” I clarified. “Then they’ll love it,” she assured. It was also the last bottle, but they had more on order. I resolved to come back for one myself… Continue reading

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New Zealand Value: Mud House Wines

By Christopher Matthews

When considering “value wines” for holiday imbibing — highly drinkable wines with attractive price/quality ratios — New Zealand (NZ), especially its copious, often palate-rocking Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs (SB), deserves to be in the discussion.

About the size of California, NZ has only 4.5 million people, but it’s the world’s 13th largest producer of wine, the majority of it (mainly Sauvignon Blanc) geared to export. In fact, at a holiday reception the other day, I was speaking with a newly arrived New Zealand diplomat who expressed amazement not only at the number of NZ wines available in New York City wine shops (entire shelves of SB in some cases!), but also their bargain prices relative to the domestic NZ market. More often than not, I have a screw top NZ SB in my fridge for everyday drinking, based on the dependable quality at a fair price, like Brancott ($12.99) or Oyster Bay ($13.99), both of which are nationally distributed.

Another widely available label that needs to be the value conversation, however — and not just for SB — is Mud House.

Mud House's Woolshed Vineyard

Mud House’s Woolshed Vineyard

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Dutch’s Spirits Takes Shape in Pine Plains

By Christopher Matthews

Dutch’s Spirit’s, a farm distillery in-the-making in Pine Plains, NY, located on the very same grounds where infamous mobster Dutch Schultz bankrolled an elaborate Prohibition-era bootlegging operation, is nearing (physical) completion.

Dutch’s Spirits @ Harvest Homestead Farm

Last weekend, on the 82nd anniversary of the Federal raid that shut down Schultz’s illicit underground booze factory (disguised as a turkey farm), the folks at Dutch’s Spirit’s threw a party for “family and friends” — and the supportive local community — to celebrate the progress to date. And while it wasn’t a “grand opening”, it was a good advertisement for where they are headed, i.e. a farm-based distillery with a tasting room, a farm-to-table eatery, a historical site with an amazing story (and “bunker” archeology) and a major agritourism draw for the area.

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2014 Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition: Millbrook, Clinton Vineyards Stand Out

By Christopher Matthews

hvwga_emblemFor the third year in a row, Millbrook Vineyard and Winery, the Hudson Valley’s perennial wine flagship, won the Hudson Valley Winery of the Year award at the 2014 Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits Competition. But it faced plenty of contenders for the accolade this year, especially from Clinton Vineyards, which scored a trifecta of top honors for its “Embrace” – a raspberry-based dessert wine — that won Best in Show, Best Overall Hudson Valley Wine (made with HV fruit) and Best Dessert Wine.

This Clinton triumph was backed up by other top awards, too, including Best Sparkling Wine for its Seyval Naturel (NV), and a Double Gold for its Cassis, which was my choice for Best Dessert Wine, and certainly one of the top entries of the competition.

A Happy Phyllis Feder, Owner of Clinton Vineyards

A Happy Phyllis Feder, Owner of Clinton Vineyards

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Hudson Valley (Belated) Blooms, 2014

By Christopher Matthews

Winter 2014 went into overtime in the Hudson Valley. Then spring sputtered; cool weather lingered. Daffodils and tulips came up more or less on schedule, but the second wave of spring blooms, like irises and peonies, have been several weeks behind.

Finally, May flowers bloom in June! And they were well worth the wait…

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Oriental Poppy

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The Official Wine of the NY Yankees…

By Christopher Matthews

Love them or hate them, the New York Yankees are one of the world’s most successful and iconic sports franchises. And now they have an official wine, too, one that reflects world-class taste AND aptly represents a home state, signature grape:

Anthony Road Wine Company’s 2013 Reserve Finger Lakes Dry Riesling.

NY (Yankees) Riesling

NY (Yankees) Riesling

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