Every regional wine industry in America east of the Rockies should be cheering the breakthrough today for New York State wines.
Thanks to the loyalty of New York’s Sen. Charles Schumer, who happens to be overseeing inaugural festivities, New York wines will be on tables at President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Luncheon today in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
There are two regional wines on the menu. The 2010 Tierce, which means “third” in Latin, is a celebrated, limited-production dry Riesling made by three top winemakers in the Finger Lakes — Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards, Johannes Reinhardt of Anthony Road Winery and David Whiting of Red Newt Cellars — all on Seneca Lake. They decided about five or six years ago to create a blend that would reflect the terroir of each vineyard site. They create the blend together and rotate the site of production every year.
The red wine will be the 2009 Merlot from Bedell Cellars, grown on film executive Michael Lynne’s iconic estate on the North Fork of Long Island — a wine region where Merlot reigns as king. Veteran winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich masterminded the “North Fork of Long Island” appellation in 1986. He makes Merlots built to age for decades.
Insider tips on each winery (as gleaned from my past visits):
Fox Run: Winemaker Peter Bell makes knockout Cabernet Francs and Lemberger, not to mention complex, delicious Rieslings. Tricia Renshaw, assistant winemaker, has a laser-sharp palate for making Riesling.
Red Newt: David Whiting and late wife Deb spearheaded “local” cuisine at the bistro at their winery long before “local” was cool. The restaurant is the perfect showcase for Dave’s Rieslings, Gewurztraminers and Cabernet Francs.
Anthony Road: Winemaker Johannes Reinhardt rakes in awards for his Rieslings and late harvest dessert wines. If you get to taste with him, you will sense his intensity and passion, and he hs that German gene for cleanliness — you could eat off the floor of the facility.
Bedell Cellars: This is state of the art winemaking. Rich Olsen-Harbich’s Taste Red and Taste White blends with the Marilyn Monroe artist label are critically praised and, as I anticipated some years ago, cult wines.
Update on the Finger Lakes: Wines from Hunt Country Vineyards — Dry Riesling, Chardonnay and Alchemy — were poured Sunday night at the Green Inaugural Ball at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, an interactive museum dedicated to news and journalism. Hunt Country, on Keuka Lake, was chosen for its devotion to conservation and environmentally friendly growing and winemaking practices. Congrats to Art Hunt and family. And if you skip to Page 81 of the latest Wine Spectator you can check out the feature “Finger Lakes Forges Ahead” by James Molesworth. Pulling down 92 points are Rieslings from Anthony Road, Sheldrake Point and two Rieslings from Herman J. Wiemer. Scoring 91 points are Rieslings from Forge, Keuka Lake and Silver Thread, and Gewurztraminer Ice and Vidal Ice from Standing Stone.
Wine availability: Well, not in Michigan! But you can order them online at each winery’s Web site or better yet — plan a vacation around the Finger Lakes wine country and the North Fork of Long Island.