Wine Consumer


New York's Finest

VegasSommelier, Derek Engles

New York has more than cold winters, lots of traffic, and poor attitudes.

New York State is known for a lot of things, but not exactly it's proficiency in blockbuster wines. As I have pointed out in this continuing look into the empire states wine industry, it often bears the stigma of undeveloped, 'green' wines. The cooler climate and shorter growing season lends itself to fruit that could have probably used a little more warmth, a touch more sunshine, and a higher level of alcohol. Ironically enough, the state shares the same lineage of the major growing areas of France; in relation to distance form the equator and days of sunshine. Then why is the constant mention of New York's inability to produce amazing wines prevalent in today's wine culture commentary?

The fact is that New York is on the way up; regardless of what popular wine publications would have you believe. We have an attention to detail, a stubborn attitude, and a warming climate going in our favor. We have years of experience at being the under-achiever, and underdogs are sometimes mistakenly overlooked. New York is pumping out some great wines, both white and red alike. More than just a dessert wine producer, we are evolving into a powerhouse for great cuvee, and we are breaking down the stigma of the American wines cold cousin of the east.

I have tasted, researched, tasted some more, read, and discussed New York wines and have put together a list of palette pleasing offerings that are sure to turn heads. Using Wine Consumer's 10-point rating system, here are the results from my work in trying to identify New York's Finest!


1. Corey Creek Chardonnay 'Reserve', North Fork Long Island. WC rating 8.

2004 was a quality offering with no over-oaking, good acidity, and crispness of a cooler climate. Good taste, good value, and great experience.

2. Macari Chardonnay, North Fork Long Island. WC rating 8.

2003 barrel fermented was a California style offering that had great taste and aromas, with decent value at best. By all accounts a good chardonnay.

3. Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes. WC rating 8.

Great all around wine, with crispness and just a touch of residual sugar. The 2004 was a crowd pleaser, along with the recently departed Dr. Frank himself. This wine would be an 11 if we counted the founder's personality and hospitality.

4. Standing Stone Chardonnay, Finger Lakes (Seneca Lake). WC rating 7.

A truly beautiful vineyard, this offering is great considering the frosts in October that they battle with. Great value and aromas, but just short on the finish as well as the experience. (2004)

5. Millbrook Chardonnay 'Reserve'. Hudson River Valley. WC rating 7.

Had to give this wine the nod, since I grew up just down the road. A must visit in the Dutchess County wine region, 2004 produced a balanced offering with good value, taste, and experience.



1. Wolffer Estate Merlot, 'Premier Cru'. The Hamptons, Long Island. WC rating 9.

The best wine offering in the state, in my humble opinion. It loses a point for value, but other than that, it is truly great. If you can find a bottle from any year, buy it. You will not be disappointed by this 2002 Merlot.

2. Raphael Cabernet Sauvignon. North Fork, Long Island. WC rating 8.

Another solid wine from Long Island, with good balanced attributes that make this 2001 Cab a great bottle. A lot of characteristics that you would associate with California. Loses a touch for value but is still great.

3. Wolffer Merlot 'Estate Selection'. The Hamptons, Long Island. WC rating 8.

A ringer by all accounts, this is the little brother of that awesome Premier Cru label that Wolffer offers. Simply put, get this wine! Loses a touch for value, but overall a great Merlot from anywhere, let alone New York. (2002)

4. Millbrook Cabernet Franc. Hudson River Valley. WC rating 7.

New York's self proclaimed red grape that has never impressed me, except for that sip of Chateau Cheval Blanc I once had. This dry but balanced offering has good value and balance, but loses out on color and depth of flavor. Never the less, a decent wine by all accounts. (2003)

5. Fox Run Meritage. Finger Lakes. WC rating 7.

A traditional blend style that retains a Cabernet Franc flavor, this wine is a great offering with a meal of red meat or game. Good color, flavor and balance. It lacks a little in finish but is a great red offering from a traditionally cold region. (2003)

New York has come of age with its wine production, and if you do not believe me, taste some of these wines and then we'll talk. Wolffer vineyards takes my top honors for wine production as of right now, but we will see how things turn out as the effects of global warming turn New York into even more of a grape growing powerhouse. The fact is, if you enjoy it, then who cares where it came from, right?


Derek E.