Saturday, April 26, 2008

Finger Lakes Winery Reports - April 2008

We've had amazing weather in the Finger Lakes with temperatures in the 70's and even some 80's, and it's good to be back out on the wine trails. Here are my latest reports:

Glenora Wine Cellars- Glenora has a Premium Selections tasting list that is well worth trying, although, of course, they also come with premium prices. My tasting note highlights are:

> 2006 Signature, $23.99, blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling, layers of apple & pear, with undertones of toasty oak into a finish longer than the Democratic primaries, exquisitely balanced with excellent structure. I really like this wine!

> 2006 Vintner’s Select Dry Riesling, $23.99, .98 RS, Glenora does not call it a Late Harvest wine, but the grapes were left on the vines a few weeks longer than the rest and harvested in late October, excellent framework of apple and citrus into a long finish.

> 2006 Gewurztraminer, $16.99, a lighter style of Gewurz, aromatic with light spice.

> 2005 Syrah, $18.99, California fruit, very soft with cherry, pepper, and light clove, Nice.

- Knapp Winery- > 2006 Barrel Reserve Chardonnay, $13.95, .02 RS, aged in French oak, lots of spicy oak balanced with hints of butter and citrus, deep and spicy.

> 2005 Seyval Blanc, $9.95, 1.1% RS, revisiting this hidden little gem, light lemon and sweet oak spice with a finish of the most incredible vivid vanilla, this wine has developed into an amazing steal at $9.95!

> Cayuga White, $9.95, 3% RS, candied orange rind and light lime.

> Vignoles, $10.95, 5% RS, bold pineapple and tropical citrus with balanced sweetness.
> Valvin Muscat, $9.95, 4.75% RS, this is one of the newest grapes developed by Cornell, I got unique floral and strong herbal aromas and flavors that were a little “strange“ to me, I’m going to have to try more of this grape to form an educated opinion.

- Heron Hill Winery (Seneca Lake site), > 2006 Chardonnay, $12.99, .44% RS, soft light apple with light citrus and a firm structure, excellent value.

> 2006 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, $17.99, 12.5% RS, Heron Hill knows how to make great dessert wines, I get lots of honeyed nectarine from this one, Yum.

- Ventosa Vineyards, > 2007 Tocai Friulano, click here for more info about this grape, $15.95, .9% RS, Ventosa is the only Finger Lakes winery to grow it with 3 acres planted, citrus blossoms and peach on the nose, lots of peach and a touch of melon, but very hot at 13.8% alcohol.

> 2007 Pinot Gris, $15.95, .5% RS, crisp with nice acidity, but still a bit hot for me at 13.3% alcohol, I’ll try it again with a few more months of bottle aging.

> 2006 Saggio, $19.95, blend of 40% Pinot Gris/ 36% Chardonnay/ 12% Tocai Friulano/ 12% Riesling, soft pear with a subtle nuttiness, soft acidity (anyone for an oxymoron) on a long finish, me likey but 19.95? C’mon, I’m a cheapskate.

> 2006 Rosa, $10.95, .8% RS, blend of 36% Sangiovese/ 64% Pinot Noir, beautiful pale ruby/ peach color, light strawberry flavor but again, the alcohol’s a bit hot for me for a rose’.

> 2005 Cabernet Franc, $22.95, 0% RS, cherry tobacco on the nose, cherry, strawberry in the deep palate, and cocoa on the finish.

-Villa Bellangelo, Villa Bellangelo is a little off the main trail, but I am more impressed with their wines every time I stop in and I love the new Flying Angel logo. Winemaker Michael Litterio always manages to impart an elegant style to his wines, which are light but still full of flavor, and he manages to get a very soft mouthfeel out of his wines.

> Pinot Grigio, $14.99, 0% RS, soft pear and apple into a slightly spicy finish.

> 2006 Bella Bianca, $9.99, 1.3% RS, Seyval Blanc, layers of delicate pear and apple with an amazingly soft mouthfeel, excellent value.

> 2006 Gewurztraminer, $17.99, 1.5% RS, again very soft mouthfeel with light citrus and spice. > 2006 Riesling, $17.99, soft layered pear and peach, light but still very flavorful.

> 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, $23.99, 0% RS, aged 22 months in French & American oak, very soft with tones of chocolate and hints of pepper on the finish, an excellent Finger Lakes Cab Sauv!

> 2005 Sangiovese, $36.99, 0% RS, California Fruit, beautiful smoky black cherry and even at 14.5% alcohol, it does not overpower. I like this grape and I believe that a couple of wineries are trying to grow it in the Finger Lakes.

> 2005 Porto Elena, $21.99, 9.5% RS, a lot of ports try to bowl you over with excessive sweetness and alcohol but this one wants you to savor its delicate honeyed fruit tones, very nice. > The Scooter series are Villa Bellangelo’s sweeter value wines, > 2006 Blue Scooter, $13.99, 4% RS, Riesling, lots of honey and delicate apricot in this sweet Riesling. > 2006 White Scooter, $8.99, 7.5% RS, Niagara, soft with light grape and honey tones, good value.

I just have to say that, while I am writing this report, I am enjoying a Dr. Frank 2006 Semi-dry Riesling and it is just spectacular. To me, the amazing thing about Dr. Frank’s Rieslings are how aromatic they are and how the flavors expand in your mouth. Mineral, juicy ripe peach, and smooth lime grow in intensity through the middle and into a mouthwatering finish. There is good reason why Dr. Frank is the standard-bearer for Finger Lakes Riesling. But there are others catching up.

I visited Cayuga Lake over the last few weekends and one thing that I always enjoy when I taste Cayuga Lake wines is the spicy Cayuga mineral finish that I get in a lot of the wines. It’s more intense than Seneca or Keuka mineral and some may find it a bit too intense, but I enjoy it.

Also, one thing to remember as you taste new releases is a concept called "bottle shock". When a wine is newly bottled, it can exhibit imbalances such as being overly acidic. In my experience, within a few months for whites especially, the wine will settle down and become more balanced. So I try not to judge brand new releases at this time of year from the most current vintage too harshly. If I find them unbalanced, I will attempt to go back and try them a few months later.

-Goose Watch Winery, > 2007 Pinot Grigio, new release, I’m seeing a lot more Pinot Grigio/Gris being released in the Finger Lakes, $16.00, .5% RS, light peach and pear up front with a very spicy mineral finish, may need some bottle aging to smooth the edges, but not bad right now.
> 2006 Vidal Blanc Barrel Reserve, $15.00 , .2% RS, sweet oak, vanilla, and spicy Cayuga mineral into a long finish (that goes on much longer then Kristy Lee Cook lasted on American Idol, right Kevin?).
> 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, $15.00, well integrated cherry, tobacco, leather, pepper, and oak into a nice long finish. This wine shows that when you let Finger Lakes reds age a while, they show beautiful complexity.

-Buttonwood Grove Winery, > 2005 Reserve Chardonnay, $15.99, vanilla, sweet oak, and spice and mineral on the finish.

> 2005 Riesling, $14.99, lots of mead-like honey with balanced mineral, very nice.

> Trillium Gold, $9.99, blend of Cayuga White/Vidal Blanc/& Vignoles, citrus, honey, with honeyed spice on the finish.

> Buttonwood Blush, 10.99, unique blend of Delaware/Golden Muscat/& Vincent, aromatic grape with flavors of strawberry and light citrus, nice sipper, excellent value.

- Swedish Hill, > 2006 Vidal Blanc, $10.99, 2.5% RS, abundant pear with a crisp mineral finish.
> Blanc de Blanc Champagne, $13.99, 2.5% RS, made from Cayuga White, fruity with bubbly citrus.
> Niagara Frost, $12.49 for 1.5L bottle, 6.1% RS, sweet but balanced, light and grapey, excellent value for this sweet sipper.

> 2005 Cabernet Franc, $16.99, cherry and tobacco with deep leather undertones, nice.
> Raspberry Infusion, $25 for 375ml bottle, 11% RS, raspberries soaked in grape brandy, powerful raspberry aroma and taste, very unique, Wow!

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