In May, I attended the 8th annual Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival in Catskill, my home town. Had a great time - what a blend of high brow and street food culture! - and while not all the wines I tasted blew my mind, that's ok, and there were a lot of really good ones. I went home with a variety of different wines from local makers, and even a whisky from a new distillery in town - Hillrock. I want to capture my tasting notes, and impressions of these wines, starting with a Petit Syrah from Cerighino Smith, a boutique winery in Bloomington NY, which is about 2 hours north of Manhattan, on the west side of the Hudson.
My feeling is that wine is about a lot more than grapes and terroir. It's also about the people behind it, and their personality and character shine through in the glass. Not only does it influence the style and quality of the wine but as a drinker, you are buying into the story of the maker as much as the wine itself. And it influences how you experience it.
You can't help but fall in love with Paula Cereghino a little bit, even when meeting her briefly. She has a great backstory - her grandfather made wine, she started making wine in her apartment in the city, her husband is in the band Television…She just seems like a lot of fun and I love the rock and roll and city influence meets small town boutique winery. Also kind of cool, is that she knows her limits - as she told me, she lets the experts grow the wine, shipping grapes in from California (e.g. Suison Valley), and focuses instead on her area of expertise - the making of it.
I sampled a few of her wines at the festival. Honestly, I had had a lot to taste at that point (without spitting) and can't recall too much from what I tasted. I did love their beautiful labels and fun names (e.g. "eaten by bears"). To me, all of this is important, I am not just putting off the actual tasting notes…
I ultimately selected the Cereghino Smith 2012 Petit Syrah to take home and here is what I captured:
- Appearance: Clear, ruby color, medium intensity
- Nose: Clean, medium minus in terms of intensity
- Sweetness: Dry
- Acidity: Medium plus
- Tannin: Medium- Body: medium but luscious, deep, inky
- Flavor: Juicy berry vanilla jammy black cherry soft
- Finish: see below
Overall - I really enjoyed this wine, though I did detect a weird after taste / finish - kind of like toothpaste? I am not sure if this is the wine or me, as I just detected it again with a red wine - a cab from Cali - that I had last night. This may be my weird reaction to oaky, vanilla flavor characteristics…I am just hoping it does not mean these wines have artificial flavoring in them. That would be sad to me.
Also very sad - that I did not take a picture of this wine. Enjoy this image from the wine festival instead!