It has been unseasonably warm this fall so far. The end of September, and 80 degrees or more… while the weather may not be exactly seasonal, it has meant that those summer wines get a chance to shine a little longer. Between this climate and my ongoing “eat local, drink local” kick, a ton of New York wines have made a debut at my table. Today’s wine, a grape I only discovered this past year, is a summer favorite that should last anyone with an adventurous palate well into autumn, if not beyond.
New York has several AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas), of which I consider five to be important right now: Hudson River, Finger Lakes, Long Island, Lake Erie, and the Niagara Escarpment. The Hudson River region, a lovely valley that has been designated as a National Heritage Area, is home to the oldest vineyards still active in the state, and produces excellent Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir, among other things. The Finger Lakes region is now internationally known for its Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and I put it at the top of my list of New York AVA’s. Long Island has a maritime climate that is ideal for Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Lake Erie is still dominated by bulk production for grape juice; however, some serious artisanal wineries are beginning to crop up, putting forth delicious whites and reds for those willing to hunt.
Today’s wine, the 2012 Whitecliff Vineyards Traminette, is a Hudson River native. A hybrid based on Gewürztraminer that is brand new on the viticultural landscape, having only been crossed in 1965, Traminette’s standout features include excellent quality and character, high yields, partial resistance to several fungal diseases, and cold hardiness superior to its parent. In case it isn’t obvious, I just love this stuff. In the glass, a nice pale straw color, with perfumed aromatics and a floral palate. I noted delicate aromas of lychee, orange blossom, baking spice and dried rose petals. It finishes bone dry, and is a great companion to Asian fare. At $16 a bottle, you really just have to find some and see for yourself.