Finger Lakes Region of New York: Elegant, Ageworthy Wines (Part One)
Meandering through the Finger Lakes Wine Region proved to be most enjoyable and enlightening; the bucolic setting, the heartwarming people and the fabulous wines created quite a treat for the eyes, ears, nose and mouth; not to mention the spirit! There is no question that Riesling produced by talented grape growers and winemakers reigns supreme throughout the region, along with beautifully crafted hybrid wines that wow many followers from around the country. What DID surprise me in addition to the plethora of aromatic and ageworthy white wines were the red vinifera gems of distinction discovered here.
In fact there are so many gems to share, that I have included Part One for you to digest now; Part Two will follow in a couple of days:
Penguin Bay Winery NV (2011 bottling) Percussion: This tantalizing blend of 45% Cayuga White, 305 Valvin Muscat, 20% Melody and 5% Traminette displays floral aromas accenting juicy, sweet tropical fruit and a good level of acidity from start to finish. Lively, fresh and easy to quaff; a delightfully balanced summer sipper.
Penguin Bay Winery NV Lemberger-Pinot Noir: Spicy, smoky notes make way for an earthy, dark fruited dramatic entry with this 70% Lemberger, 30% Pinot Noir blend (vinified dry). Rustic and earth-tinged with black pepper notes joining the dark fruit mid to back palate; nicely balanced.
Penguin Bay Winery 2008 Cabernet Franc: Aromas of freshly picked red and black berries remain focused on the palate with savory spice and green bell pepper notes defining this oh-so varietally correct Cab Franc. Round and satisfying through the pretty, spicy finish.
Shaw Vineyards 2008 Riesling: Wet stones and petrol greet the nose and clearly shout out Riesling. I didn’t have the opportunity to visit this producer, but will add that to my list to contact during a future visit. A cornucopia of crisp pear and nectarine flavors artfully with lime zest and minerality. Enjoyed this gem with a fresh, grilled white fish entree – magnificent pairing!
Swedish Hill Winery 2011 Vidal Blanc: This expressive wine crafted from the hybrid grape Vidal Blanc hybrid (a descendant of Trebiano) opens with aromas of a bowlful of fresh peaches and apricots. Herbal notes highlight the succulent fruit and the 2.2% residual sugar is nicely streamlined with lively acidity.
Swedish Hill Winery NV Riesling Sparkling Cuvee; Crushed stones join a hint of yeast on the nose, and generous stone fruit blossoms fully on the palate. Fresh and buoyant with zingy acidity, and the balance echoes brightly on the finish.
Swedish Hill Winery NV Classic Catawba: As its name suggests, here is a classic example of this distinctive grape with foxy notes on the nose meeting fruity strawberry and bubble gum flavors swirling on the palate. A savory dash of herbs on the finish enhances the tasty package.
Swedish Hill Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc: Attractive perfumed aromas draw you into the glass, where you will revel in the rich berry and overlying green pepper essence – yummy! Well-structured with pretty tannins and generous acidity supporting the focused fruit and spice at the core.
Goose Watch Winery 2010 Viognier: Fresh sliced cucumbers join ripe white peach on the nose and are mirrored on the palate with tropical melon adding depth of flavor. Refreshing and lively with nice purity. The touch of residual sugar balancing the racy acidity creates harmony through the delightful finish.
Goose Watch Winery 2010 Villard Blanc: This French American hybrid is aromatically heady with its lemon grass and fresh green herb characteristics rising from the glass. Clean and fresh on the palate with notes of mild green apple and citrus fruit and a touch of sweetness lingering on the aftertaste.
Goose Watch Winery 2010 Traminette: Spicy, ever-so spicy and flirty is this aromatic wine made from the Traminette grape, a descendent of Gewurztraminer. Honeysuckle and crisp apple notes join the lively acidity on the palate. Well balanced, fresh and clean through the lifted finish.
Goose Watch Winery: 2010 Chambourcin: here is a delightful dry red wine crafted from the French American hybrid grape Chambourcin. Full of intriguing layers of dark raspberry, earthy, smoky notes and cherries galore. Medium bodied with soft, approachable tannins; easy to quaff, good wine to pair with pork dishes.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2002 Dry Riesling: Minerally nose joins apple skin on the entry and the acidity bursts forward on the palate. Beautifully aged with a trace of honeyed nuts on the lingering finish. A prime example of the age-ability of the complex, alcohol restrained Rieslings coming out of the Finger Lakes – delicious.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2004 Dry Riesling: Crisp green apple and oodles of minerality fill the senses and pleasing flavors are juicy, vibrant and pure on the palate. Magnificent mouth feel and plenty of verve through the lip smacking finish.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2006 Dry Riesling: This vintage showcases precise focus and complexity throughout. Invitingly aromatic and expressive with its stony minerality. Crisp Asian pear and jicama flavors join racy acidity on mid palate, and a nice thread of lemon zest adds further dimension.
Sheldrake Point Winery Pinot Gris 2011: Peach blossom aromas draw you into the glass where ripe peach, pear and nectarine flavors meld harmoniously with bright acidity. This light and pliable un-oaked Pinot Gris is a refreshing summer quaff with a touch of minerality on the pleasing finish.
Sheldrake Point Winery 1999 Cabernet Franc: Expressive aromatics of roasted bell pepper leave you salivating and there is no mistaking this is Cab Franc! Boasting a lush, round texture and firm structure, the blackberry and plum fruit at the core join candied berry notes accented by savory spice. This complex Cab Franc really hits the mark; a wine that has aged impressively.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2005 Cabernet Franc: This Cab Franc with a bit of Cab Sauv blended in displays ripe dark fruit on the nose, and remains consistent on the palate with cassis, capsicum and cocoa notes adding further dimension. Full bodied and well-structured with spicy green pepper notes kicking in on the lingering finish.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc: Classic green pepper notes greet the nose and frame juicy huckleberry and wild berry flavors bursting onto the palate. The firm backbone of tannins and good level of acidity harmonize with the fruit and suggest this is a wine of good age-worthiness.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc: Another beautifully varietally correct Cab Franc, this time from a cold, wet 2009 vintage. Well-crafted with green pepper notes meshing harmoniously with berry and plum fruits on the palate, this wine is balanced with a softer edge to it; light on its feet and oh so easy to quaff.
Sheldrake Point Winery 2010 Riesling Ice Wine: Inviting honey, nutty aromas draw you and weave through the butter-sautéed apples and caramel notes highlighted by a ribbon of lemon sweet tart frolicking through the palate; rich with a finely tuned balance and heavenly finish.
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2011 Dry Riesling: Alluring petrol and stone fruit aromas lead to a vibrant mouth full of peach and apricot flavors that intertwine with minerally notes and a hint of fresh herbs. Pure and lifted on the palate with a finish that lingers on and on.
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2010 Semi-Sweet Riesling: Aromatics of citrus infused pears are echoed along with juicy tropical fruit on the gratifying palate. A touch of honey gives this delightfully textured Riesling a round, lush quality without being overly sweet. Pure and clean through the lengthy finish.
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2007 Meritage: This complex, tightly wound blend of Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot opens with earthy, cassis aromas that hold firm through the flavor packed palate. Tobacco and anise spice joining dark berry, cassis and blueberry at the core, framed by firm tannins and nicely integrated oak. A pleasing hint of cookie dough delights on the persistent finish.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2006 Blanc de Noir: Evocative yeasty aromas command your attention with this 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Muenier beautifully crafted sparkling wine, and it is absolutely dazzling in the mouth. Creamy and full bodied with fresh baked bread notes framing white cherries and sautéed pears accented with cinnamon. A generous lift of acidity pulls everything into perfect balance, and the finish is long and memorable.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2011 Gruner Veltliner: Fresh picked herbs greet the nose and join a bright mouth full of fresh lettuce, hearts of celery, a trace of earth, white pepper and herbal tea spice – wow! Light and airy, artfully balanced and incredibly refreshing.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2011 Dry Riesling: Beautiful expression of terroir in this flinty, minerally Keuka Vineyard gem. White peach and citrus notes are showcased alongside slate and petrol accents. Deliciously mouthwatering and precise from start to lasting finish.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2011 Semi Dry Riesling: Deeper, loamy soils on Seneca Lake set the stage for this impeccably balanced and pure Riesling. Juicy apricot and peach flavors abound on the palate, with underlying minerality ever so present. Another prime example of the exquisitely made Finger Lakes Rieslings.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2011 Bunch Select Late Harvest Riesling: This delectable Botrytis enhanced treasure is irresistible with its floral, orange peel aromas meshing with caramelized nuts, crème brulee and a swirl of honey decadently filling the mouth. Talk about aroma therapy – you don’t even have to drink it to appreciate its charm!
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2009 Lemberger: This early ripening red grape displays ripe raspberries and wild berries on the nose and the juicy fruit flavors are nicely mirrored on the palate. Smooth and richly textured with anise spice and cherry notes joining the deep berry flavors; elegant and well balanced start to finish.
Heron Hill Winery 2009 Ingle Vineyard Un-oaked Chardonnay: Pretty and precise, with a beautiful focus on the grape. Lemon grass and crisp apple take center stage with a nice zesty tartness and light touch of minerality adding another dimension. Fresh, vibrant and easy to quaff.
Heron Hill Winery 2009 Ingle Vineyard Riesling: Lemon and lime sweet tart aromas join minerally notes, and layers of fresh green apple, key lime pie and lemon zest flavors unfolding delightfully on the palate. Well defined, crisp and balanced with racy acidity throughout.
Heron Hill Winery 2009 Reserve Riesling: Stony, flinty aromas lift from the glass and fresh white grapefruit, sweet and tart Pippin apple flavors, and lime peel accents charm the palate – wow. Minerally notes throughout; finishing with a sassy dash of lemon infused herbs.
Heron Hill Winery Late Harvest 2008 Vidal Blanc: Decadent with honeysuckle and floral aromas making way for juicy ripe peach, mango gelato, honey and lightly sugar dusted almonds creating a kaleidoscope of flavors that pair nicely with bright acidity on the palate. Complex with a touch of candied orange peel on the lasting finish.
To be continued in Part Two, stay tuned for more stunning gems from the Finger Lakes!