Friday, April 02, 2010


March 24, 2010
Hudson-Chatham Winery 2008 Chelois
By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Despite all the naysayers in the media and various wine geek circles, some Hudson River Valley wineries have really embraced hybrids and are making far more serious wines with them.
Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent is one such winery. They make a line of vinifera reds, but that fruit comes from Long Island. Their riesling is made with Finger Lakes fruit.
The most interesting wines in the portfolio -- the ones that deserve the most attention -- are hybrids like baco noir and this soon-to-be-released Chelois. Winemaker Steve Casscles has been growing and vinifying hybrids for years and makes some unique, expressive wines from them.
Before trying this wine, I had never tasted Chelois one of over 16,000 hybrids developed by Albert Seibel (1844-1936). Nearly 500 of them went on to be grown commercilaly.
The heritage of Chelois includes such vinifera as Alicante Bouschet and Grenache among others. For many years it was grown in Burgundy.
This Hudson-Chatham Winery 2008 Chelois ($22) is made entirely from fruit grown in Casscles own vineyard -- a 15 year-old block located on the rocky hills adjacent to the Hudson River.
Hand picked, the fruit was manually pressed and aged in French oak for nine months, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
It's interesting that the Chelois grape was once grown in Burgundy as there is something distantly Burgundian about it. The nose shows a lot of sweet vanilla and oak at first, but also red cherry, dried cranberry and a distant black pepper-crusted grilled mushroom note way in the back.
Soft and light bodied, the palate shows more of a vanilla oak than a toasty oak, with more dried cranberry and cherry flavor. The acidity is subtle but makes the medium-short finish fresh, dry and clean.

Without any tasting history with this grape, I won't delve into the potentially hyperbolic, but there certainly seems to be potential here. This is a good start.
AVA: Hudson River Region
Grapes: 100% Chelois
Production: 50 cases
Price: $22*


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