The owners of Whitecliff Vineyard have dug down into their private library of wines that are no longer available for sale in order to offer a vertical tasting over the next two weekends. A “vertical tasting” is wine jargon for a side by side tasting of different vintages of the same wine. It provides a sometimes eye opening glimpse of what aspects of the wine are unique to the grape, and what aspects are shaped by the weather in a given year. It’s a stimulating learning experience that teaches people to pay careful attention to subtle differences. 
They have been inspired to offer vertical tastings to compare 2009 with 2010 because they were such different years in the vineyard—the former cold and wet (remember the ruined tomato crop?), the later particularly hot and dry. Typically, hot, dry weather promotes high sugar, low acidity, and riper fruit flavors in the grapes, and cold, damp weather promotes higher acidity. While most people will likely think “Yum” in response to the first, and NOT to the second, acidity is in fact a key component of great wine. One of the interesting aspects of this tasting will be the opportunity to sample Whitecliff’s 2009 Riesling (a fairly high acid wine), which beat 1300 wines from 27 countries and 28 states to win a Double Gold Medal and Best White Wine in Show at the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Whitecliff’s Vertical Tasting Weekends will be the July 4th weekend, July 2nd through Monday the 4th, as long as our 2009 supplies last. Visitors will sample 3 of their current 2010 wines—Reserve Chardonnay, Gamay Noir and Riesling—along with the same wines from the previous 2009 vintage. 
Vertical tastings will be available all of each weekend, for either $8.50 a person, or $6.50 with a purchase of wine. Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery is located at 331 McKinstry Road in Gardiner, New York.