Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Finger Lakes Winemaker Interview

Readers of this blog have been asking me for more in-depth postings about Finger Lakes wine and winemakers and now, through the generosity of the fine winemakers of The Finger Lakes, I will be posting Q&A's with Finger Lakes Winemakers.

My first Q & A is with one of the premier winemakers in the region, Thomas Laszlo - Vice President of Winemaking Operations at Heron Hill Winery. Laszlo crafted top-notch wines with wineries in Canada and Hungary, before coming to Heron Hill in 2002, and he is especially praised for his ice wines.

WW: Briefly describe Your Philosophy of Winemaking:
TL: Attention to detail in the vineyard and the winery. Intervene only when
intervention will yield the best results.

WW: What is your favorite thing about making wine?
TL: It is a great creative outlet. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of
winemaking science with creative intuition.

WW: If you were dropped on an island and could have any 3
wines, what would they be?
TL: Chateau Pajzos 2000 Tokaji Aszueszencia, J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr
1990 Riesling Auslese, Heron Hill 2003 Estate Riesling Icewine

WW: Do you prefer real cork, synthetic cork, or screw cap and why?
TL: Real cork. I like the feel and texture of cork. I like to see how cork
ages and changes in bottle after decades yet still seals the wine perfectly.

WW: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a winemaker?
TL: Drink a lot of different wine all the time for 4 solid years. During this
time read all that you can about viticulture and winemaking. Look to
apprentice under somtimes difficult, opinionated winemakers who are at the
top in their class.

WW: What wine tasting advice would you give to someone
visiting the Finger Lakes for the first time?
TL: Taste all the whites and know that Riesling is World Class in the Finger
Lakes. Taste the red wines and keep an open mind. Do not compare to other
red wine growing regions. Find out what is special in our reds.

WW: What makes the Finger Lakes area special to you?
TL: The best terroir for Riesling in North America and maybe the best in all
of the New World. Scenic and undisturbed.

WW: What is the wine you are most proud of making and why:
TL: Heron Hill Riesling Reserve Dry and Icewine from our Estate vineyard
planted in my birth year: 1968. Intense MINERAL!

WW: What new wines are in the works for your winery:
> 2005 Ingle Vineyard Select Late Harvest Chardonnay (Botrytis affected)
2005 "Old Vines" Riesling (youngest 32 years and oldest 38 years), 2005 Late
Harvest Muscat

WW: Who are your 3 favorite Finger Lakes winemakers?
TL: Herman Wiemer, Morton Hallgren, Peter Bell

WW: What are your 3 favorite Non-Finger Lakes wines?
TL: Chat.Calon Segur (3rd Growth St.Estephe) Chat. Lafite-Rothschild,
Egon Muller Scharzhof Riesling, Saar,Germany

WW: If you had to be something else besides a winemaker, what would it be?
TL: Master Carpenter

WW: Who has been the most important person to you in your
development as a winemaker and why?
TL: My Wife. She introduced me to winegrowing in Niagara,Ontario during
college. She has always supported and sacrificed for my pursuit in winemaking.

WW: Who is your favorite musical artist or band?
TL: Grateful Dead

WW: Who is your favorite movie actor?
TL: Clint Eastwood

WW: Any other comments you would like to add?
TL: Every now and again when you have some extra cash buy a really top notch
wine of pedigree and prepare a simple Sunday meal around it and enjoy with
one to three other persons.

Once again, Thanks to Thomas Laszlo for taking the time to answer my questions. Heron Hill is a first-class operation and is a must-see winery for anyone visiting the Finger Lakes. For more information on Heron Hill Winery, visit their website and see my blog post (Look in November archives at right side of page) on my visit there last year. Stay tuned for more winemaker Q&A's.


Lenn said...

Well done! Love seeing the more in-depth info.

I'll send you an email this week about a little project i have going that you may want in on...

Spindrift said...

Greetings, I was reading some blogs and came across your blog. I'm quite impressed , with how it has a good feel. This is one to watch.