The Best Red Wines in New York

By Jeffrey Myers

Some may be surprised to learn that New York is home to over 300 vineyards/wineries. Although they can be found all over the state, the four major American Viticultural Areas (AVA) are the Finger Lakes, Hudson River, Lake Erie, and Long Island AVAs. The Long Island region is especially noted for its robust red wines; moderate temperatures and a long growing season led "Wine Spectator" magazine to dub the Long Island AVA "New York's Bordeau." Hudson Valley's Brotherhood Winery, which introduced its first commercial vintage in 1839, is the oldest operating winery in the United States. Since then New York wines have steadily increased in popularity and prestige.

The most popular red wines from New York include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah (also called Shiraz). The following are among the best New York red wines.

Owner's Reserve Sauvignon 2001, Chateau Lafayette Reneau - This award-winning wine made from 100 percent cabernet sauvignon grapes is described by the Finger Lakes region winery as an "elegant wine with layers of black cherry and plum fruit....with a silky finish of chocolate and spice." One of New York's most famous red wines, it will set the buyer back about $43.

2008 Reserve Merlot, Bedell Cellars - Considered one of the best New York red wines, it is produced from some of the oldest merlot vines on Long Ialand. Aged for 12 months in small oak barrels, Bedell Cellars 2008 Reserve Merlot is noted for its aroma of "violets, beach plums, and brambles."

2008 Estate Syrah, Arrowhead Spring - The small, family owned and operated Arrowhead Spring vineyard in the Niagara Escarpment area is known for using traditional methods to craft their wines by hand in small lots. "Wine Spectator" gave Arrowhead's 2008 Estate Syrah the highest score the magazine has ever given to a Syrah wine.

2002 Premier Cru Merlot, Wolffer Estate - 
This is the New York red wine to serve or order when wanting to impress a boss or client. At roughly $125 a bottle, it is the Long Island region's most expensive wine.

Meritage, Casa Larga
- This award-winning red wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc that has been aged for 18 months. The medium- to full-bodied wine has an aroma of dark berries.

Classic Red, Hunt Country
- This lightly-oaked red wine from the Finger Lakes region has a complex fruit character that is reminiscent of Chianti. It is especially appropriate to pour it with pizza or Italian foods.

Cabernet Franc, Swedish Hills
- Swedish Hills winery, established in 1986 in the Finger Lakes region, soon gained a reputation for producing a reasonably-priced superior product. The delicious Cabernet Franc, priced at only $15/bottle, is New York state's only three-time winner of the distinguished Governor's Award (1994, 2008 and 2010).

All of New York's wine-producing regions have winery tours that include the vineyards, production process, wine tasting, and often a delicious lunch. A wine lover's perfect day!

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