Yesterday, Carlos and I drove up the Teconic to visit a few award winning wineries in the Hudson River Valley, beginning with Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, in Millbrook, New York. Originally a dairy farm, purchased by John and Kathe Dyson in 1979, these 130 acres and converted barn make for a lovely day trip to the country side.
With 30 acres of vineyards, half of which are Chardonnay, (the other varietals grown here include-Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Tocai Friulano), Millbrook produces anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 cases a year, though not all from local grapes. Also the owners of Villa Pillo in Tuscany and Williams Selyem in California’s Russian River Valley, the Dysons frequently import refrigerated grapes from out west and around New York state.
We began with brief tour of the vineyards, which includes three manmade lakes, built to add moisture to the grapes. Inside the converted barn, the Chardonnays are fermented and aged in American and French oak barrels that have been caramelized, or charred, to add a toasty flavor to the wine. After the winemakers have filtered the diamonds (removed sediment), they begin the second fermentation (malolactic) which helps soften the tartness in red, and some white, wines. Aged for nine months, the 2006 Chardonnay Proprietor’s Special Reserve was awarded a gold medal by the HVWGA, while the Castle Hill Chardonnay is made from grapes grown on the lime-rich soil of Millbrook’s Castle Hill.
In the upstairs tasting room we paid our $7 for the Standard Tasting, sampled six wines, and kept the glass. (The Reserve Tasting will cost you a whopping $16 for four wines.) Only two were notable: The 2006 Chardonnay Proprietor’s Special Reserve, which had a buttery bouquet and was smooth on the palate with a touch of vanilla and oak, and a little spice at the end; and the 2006 Cabernet Franc, a deep red colored wine with hearty red and dark fruits, spice, and a hint of green.
Of the the wines offered on the Reserve Tasting, I later heard good things, but can’t speak. And though we didn’t buy any, their Villa Pillo Extra Virgin Olive Oil was particularly tasty.