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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Got Glögg? Hudson Valley has Hetta

By Christopher Matthews

In the early part of this Interminable Winter of 2014, I received a fitting assignment for the season from Edible Hudson Valley: to write a piece on Hetta Glögg, a bottled mulled wine in the Nordic tradition, produced in a small batches in Rhinecliff, NY (Dutchess County).

Hetta Gloegg

Hetta Gloegg

Traditionally offered during the holidays and cold-weather months, this spicy, aromatic tipple is served warm to arriving guests in Scandinavian countries, a gesture of hospitality, and an effective way of “breaking the ice”! This the spirit behind Hetta, which means “to heat” in Swedish.

“Researched” during January’s deep chill, Hetta’s story was, indeed, a warming experience… Continue reading

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Mountain Wines from Napa and Sonoma

By Christopher Matthews

Bacchus amat colles — Bacchus loves the hills.WMGlogo

This piece of wisdom comes from antiquity, when the ancient Greeks, then Romans, figured out that hillside vineyards, despite greater degrees of difficulty (challenging topography, labor intensity, erosion, etc.), often produce more compelling wines. Better sun exposures. Better drainage (both soil and air). More vine stress. Cooler nights. Lower yields. Higher quality fruit.

At the March 2014 Wine Media Guild (WMG) lunch, held recently at Felidia’s in Manhattan, members and guests were treated to some modern-day examples of this received wisdom, from the “mountain wineries” of (mostly) Napa Valley and Sonoma County, including: Jericho Canyon (Calistoga), Laurel Glen Vineyard (Sonoma Mountain), Smith-Madrone  and Philip Togni Vineyard (both Spring Mountain), Vinoce Vineyards and Mount Veeder Winery (Mount Veeder), Summit Lake Vineyards and Cimarossa (Howell Mountain) and Wise Acre Vineyard and Castello di Amorosa (Napa Valley Appellation).

Jericho Canyon (and Winery)

Jericho Canyon (and Winery)

As one might surmise, most of the wines, both at the walk-around tasting preceding the lunch, and those offered at the table, were Cabernet Sauvignon or Cab-based blends. Nevertheless, the standout wine for me at the tasting was a white: Smith-Madrone’s 2012 RieslingContinue reading

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