By Christopher Matthews
…with its 2016 Vidal Blanc from the Hudson River Region (HRR)!
Not only did Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery win Best in Show with its Vidal Blanc, but it also took Best Overall Hudson Valley Wine (using Hudson Valley fruit) and Best White Wine, a well-deserved trifecta for one of the HRR’s stalwart wineries. Well done!
Vidal Blanc is a versatile French-American hybrid grape that is winter-hardy, disease resistant and widely cultivated in the Northeast US, including the Hudson Valley. It’s also one of the most successful of these hybrids, which can sometimes be an acquired taste. No such problem with Whitecliff’s winner, a pretty, floral wine with citrus and stone fruit notes and excellent balance.
The Vidal edged out Robibero Family Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Franc for Best in Show, but for the second year in a row, Robibero took Best Red Wine with said (classic) Cab Franc, further underlining Cab Franc’s growing recognition as a signature red vinifera grape for the HRR.
For the coveted Winery of the Year award, it was a tie between two first-time winners, Benmarl Winery (which also took Best Sparkling with its 2012 Blanc de Blanc) and Tousey Winery (which garnered Best Rosé with its Double Gold-winning 2016 Rebellion Rosé).
As a cider buff, I found it fortuitous that my judging panel got the cider flight. And our consensus favorite — the Brooklyn Cider House (whose orchards are in New Paltz, NY) 2016 Half Sour — scored a Gold and won Best Cider, a lively drink, with pretty pear-like notes. That was it for major awards from my panel — perhaps we were a tad too strict — but we nonetheless tasted some excellent, Gold medal-winning wines. From my score sheet, three Gold medal wines from the same producer — Fjord Winery, last year’s Winery of the Year — stood out: the 2016 Albariño (HRR), 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Long Island fruit) and 2015 Merlot (Long Island fruit). In fact, I wish the Merlot had gone forward to the final round, because it would have been highly competitive with the finalists for Best Red.
Here are the other top 2017 award winners:
Best Fruit Wine: Christopher Jacobs Winery 2015 Appleoosa
Best Dessert Wine: Brotherhood Winery 2014 Late Harvest Riesling
Best Spirit: Hudson Valley Distillers Clear Mountain Gin
Many thanks to Debbie Gioquindo and her team for (again) running a smooth show!
For the full results, click here.