Tuesday, 19 March 2013

In praise of Bedell Vineyards

For BHO's second inaugural, there was Korbel's Californian Sparkling Brut Naturel and two wines from New York State, a Finger Lakes Riesling and Bedell's Musee Merlot from the North Fork of Long Island.

We happened to be in the US at the time and sampled the Korbel and various Bedell wines, the Riesling being available only from the two wineries which had collaborated in its production (not something you hear about very often!).

We also tried Korbel's Extra Dry and preferred it to the Naturel because the latter was rather neutral and the Extra Dry, although less dry had more character.

On a previous trip to America we had done a crawl of the North Fork vineyards of Long Island but had not tasted Bedell's wines as we were driving and had already tasted most everyone elses. We had no idea that here was perhaps the best Red wine produced in the state of New York. It appears that it has been going for 30 years, the last 13 of which have been under the ownership of Michael Lynne, a prominent film producer (Lord of the Rings).

The winemaker is Rich Olsen-Harbich who is known as a Merlot expert in the business. Bedell's website has it thus;

Bedell's Winemaker, 30-year veteran Rich Olsen-Harbich, wrote the North Fork of Long Island appellation into existence in 1986, and is the only Winemaker in Eastern North America to use entirely indigenous yeasts as part of a holistic natural winemaking program. Complementing this 30-year tradition with a critically acclaimed Artist Series, dynamic management team, and some of the oldest grapevines in the region, Bedell exists at the forefront of creativity and excellence in the modern American wine industry.

So far so good but even this didn't prepare us for the excellence of their wines.

Encouraged by this excellent wine we sought out two othe Bedell versions of Merlot. The first was called "First Crush". At modest alcohol and early release this was the epitome of lightness and freshness, so rare in American wines. It reminded us of something called "Merlesco" produced by Joseph Grillo in South Australia. If anything this was better.

For a version of the inauguration dinner back in London we served the 2008 Bedell Merlot - something between the First Crush and the Musee. This was perhaps the least sensational of the three but still really good.

When will someone succeed in importing these wines in Europe - or anywhere?

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