My infatuation with NYS wines evolved from a solid friendship and is bound for a lifelong devotion. The progress of my feelings is almost parallel to the evolution of NYS wine industry. Many things changed; the old guard left and the new one brought science and modern ideas. That combination of new with respect to the tradition brings us fantastic wines that are classy, delicious and local. The main official body representing, promoting and helping vine growers and wine makers is New York State Wine and Grape Foundation with incredibly knowledgeable and passionate Sam Filler. The foundation is organizing lately many webinars and other online events featuring individualities such as Jancis Robinson, Kevin Zraly, and Carlo DeVito.

Last week I had a chance to listen to three professionals representing three wineries from NYS and very eagerly taste their wines.  Carlo DeVito hosted the event.

There were three delicious bottles that I would like to tell you about. 

First: Dr Konstantin Frank 2017 Brut. Delightful sparkling wine made exactly the same way as Champagne (that is why the label says methode Champenoise) and using exactly the grapes French are using to make their sparkling and guarded by law sparkling juice in region of Champagne). Dr. Frank came to USA from Ukraine in 1951 with his PhD in viticulture and as the first one planted Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir on the East Coast. Doesn’t seem like a big deal now but without that step NYS wine table of content would look dramatically different and I dare say isolated from the major players that we all recognize and begin our wine journey with. 

Sparkling wines are “jewels of our portfolio” says Meaghan Frank, the granddaughter of Dr. Frank. The composition of this particular brut hasn’t changed since 1985 and remains as follows: 55% chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier. 3+ years on lees Fine beads forerunning delicate aromas of brioche, apple sauce and citrus. It is a brut so according to French nomenclature it is the driest of the lot.  It is dry in a very pleasant and mouthwatering way with a bright, lemon pie taste and lingering finish. Fabulous with food, no food, am or pm and without regrets.  Simply very enjoyable.

Second bottle came from Finger Lakes region as well. Good Earth, 2020 vintage from Silver Thread Vineyard that is solar powered.

Riesling based blend that, yes, sounds a bit mysterious but tastes clean, refreshing with bright acid, lovely fruit and a touch of minerality. All you curious souls striving for nerdy morsels: the other two varieties that stand for the rest of the blend are hybrids MI 45 and MI 81 – both from Cornell University breeding program. Also known as locally adapted varieties according to Silver Thread winemaker Paul Brady. Super addition to my vegetarian dinner or omnivorous’ pork-in-milk Tuscan recipe and many, many more.  It lingers for a moment sufficiently long to be describe as a medium finish. Very friendly and with 12.4% ABV light enough to drink alone and substantial as a food companion. It has a viscosity of Tokaji Friulano (Carlo DeVito said “it drinks like Tokaji”) and that quality makes it even lovelier. Try it, you won’t regret. 

After that light and beautiful indulgence next bottle was from Macari Vineyard in the North Fork of Long Island. The vineyard is located between Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound hence the name of this particular bottling: 2016 Dos Aguas – “between two waters” as explained by Gabriella Macari, the GM of the enterprise. Spanish came into the picture via her Argentinian mother. Macaris are very responsibly growing and making wine employing new ideas of locally grown algae to clean water, using the manure of their cows, horses and pigs to give back to the land.  The vineyard reciprocates with fruit that produces such an elegant wine as Dos Aquas. The compo is Bordeaux style of 62% Merlot, 14% Cab. S., 10% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot and 6% Cab. F. This beauty is round up in neutral oak presenting elegant 12.4% ABV. What a pleasure and rare opportunity to get this type with the finesse of cooler climate fruit, soft tannin and hum of acidity. It is hard to find Bordeaux blend that is so faithful to the idea of fruit rather than alcohol content. Phenomenal opening to any dinner or just a friend when one is alone. 

Celebrating with wines of NYS is easy: no complicated names or appellations, no dilemma to choose the right vintage of past century – just approachable, delicious and well-made wines with lots of love and care in them.