In upstate New York I visited Kevin Hall, proprietor of South Side Wine and Spirits in the city of Poughkeepsie. He generously poured servings of Monte Da Ravasqueira 2013 Rosé from the Alentejano region of Portugal, which includes 32 percent Syrah, and 68 percent Touriga Nacional (also called by some the ‘Merlot of Portugal’).
Kevin is knowledgeable about wine he sells, and not afraid to speak his mind.
“I like it,” he said about the wine we shared. “Portuguese Rosé is a little tougher to sell than Rosé from Provence. It’s a little different. You could almost do it with pasta, to cut through that sugar. This Rosé has enough fruit in it that it could hold up to a light pasta.”
We told of cooking lamb for dinner, and asked what wine he suggested.
“I would do Pinot Noir. Lamb is so rich, earthy, you want to kind of bring it down a little bit. I wouldn’t do big and sappy. Wouldn’t have to go too expensive, but you want a higher end Pinot. Try A to Z. It’s got nice fruit, but it’s flat, and I don’t mean that in a bad way because that means it’s not overly zealous, not big and cherry. You get some red fruit, but you’re not getting a California big spicy wine. That’s the Yuppies dream – the A to Z. It’s not assuming, not big and bold. Easy to drink.
“New York wine? There are 3,000 wineries in the Finger Lakes region, 27 wineries on Long Island, and about 25 wineries in the Hudson River Valley. I listen to Kevin Zraly [author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course] and like him a lot. He’s got a good personality, he knows his wine, but is not presumptuous about it. He has a very good palate, but he’s not the guy sitting there saying no that’s not how it is. Good down to earth guy with a sense of humor.
“I’m still not at the level where I can identify what grapes are in a wine. I don’t know how they can do that. Merlot now, if you get them from the right region, they taste like Cabs. You used to be able to go to a Malbec and say, it’s raspberry. Now it could be raspberry, could be blueberry. Could be light acidity, or heavy. You used to be able to say Merlot is cherry, plum, or raisin. Now there’s a little bit of blackberry, blueberry, black fruit. How do you know the grapes unless you know the terroir? I don’t think you’re tasting a lot of blueberry in French Merlot.”
I chose five easily available bottles of New York Riesling, four from the Finger Lakes, one from the Hudson River Region, and one with grapes sourced from throughout New York state. I then scored them for value – using an algorithm that combines multiple taste tests, price per bottle, and others factors that include availability. Value scoring is relative for wines from the same region.
‘Superlative ♫♫♫’ is the highest scoring, ‘Excellent ♫♫’ the second highest, and ‘Good ♫’ next. The results are below, and values are relative to comparable wines from the same regions. Mid-price New York Rieslings grow better by the year, though have room for improvement.
|Wine||Retail Price – US Dollars||Retail Price – Euros Equivalent||Value Score|
|Dr. Konstantin Frank 2013 Riesling (Finger Lakes)||$14.99||€ 13.79||Good Value ♫|
|Salmon Run 2013 Riesling (Finger Lakes)||$11.99||€ 11.03||Superlative Value ♫♫♫|
|Ravines 2013 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)||$17.99||€ 16.55||Good Value ♫|
|Glenora 2012 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)||$13.99||€ 12.87||Good Value ♫|
|Brotherhood 2013 Riesling (Hudson River Region)||$10.99||€ 10.11||Superlative Value ♫♫♫|
|Whitecliff Vineyards 2012 Riesling (New York State)||$15.99||€ 14.71||Excellent Value ♫♫|