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Whitecliff Vineyards TraminetteIt 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.

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With Thanksgiving just finished, I thought I’d dash down another quick entry about one of my favorite New York State wines, produced by a pioneering family I have written up before: the Franks. Dr. Konstantin Frank, responsible for developing many Vinifera grape varietals and hybrids, such as Seyval Blanc, on New York soil. Their wines are always of high quality, consistently delicious, and remain good values from the Finger Lakes region. As it also happens, I find these wines perfect for the holiday season: they are generous, have some depth, but don’t crowd out anything else on the table. This wine, in particular, demonstrated some of its aging potential when I opened it while trying candidates for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. It has come a long way, to say the least.

In the glass, the 2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling is still a pale straw color, tinged green. The first swirl elicits aromas of summer peach, flint, and a touch of pear and petrol. In the mouth, this wine reveals an almost viscous texture balanced to incisive acidity, demonstrating great focus at this price point. In this 2008 vintage, we can easily observe the Riesling transparency: that sense that the fruit, each singular element of its personality, is right there. Finishes nice and smooth, with more soft peach notes, and some really interesting honeyed notes wreathed with a touch of smoke. 12% ABV; heavier than most German takes on what is essentially a Kabinett. I would pair this with… yep, turkey. Or possibly glazed pork loin with potatos and steamed vegetables. $16 nabs you a delicious Thanksgiving. Do it.