Monday, June 30, 2008

Finger Lakes Winery Report - Red Newt Wine Cellars

Red Newt Cellars (east side of Seneca Lake) is the home of two of the most prominent Finger Lakes wine and food people, Dave & Deb Whiting. Both are passionate about food and wine and their winery and restaurant (Red Newt Bistro) are always both at the top of "Best Of" lists. Dave graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to share some barrel tastings of upcoming releases and I also tasted the current releases. Here are the highlights of my tasting notes:

> 2006 Gewurztraminer, $18.50, Very Aromatic floral perfume on the nose, a lighter style Gewurz but still very flavorful with light lychee tones and complex spice and herbal highlights. Dave shared a barrel tasting of the '07 Gewurz and it is a BIG Gewurz, big on aromatics and big on flavor with lots of ginger and smooth spice. I have tasted a few '07 Gewurz's and they have been very good, it looks like '07 was a good year for Finger Lakes Gewurz.

> 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling, $13.50, 3% RS, Wow! This is a great Semi-dry Riesling, layers of apricot, orange, tangerine, and juicy ripe peach. At $13.50, it won't last long so get it while you can.
> 2006 Tierce Dry Riesling, $30, The newest Tierce, which is a collaboration of Dave Whiting (Red Newt), Peter Bell (Fox Run), and Johannes Reinhardt (Anthony Road), 3 of the regions premier winemakers has just been released. Each winemaker contributes one third of the wine and their goal is to produce a unique expression of terroir combining the 3 Finger Lakes regions where they are located. In my opinion, some years it has worked out well and some years it has not. This year's is my favorite of the 3 that have been released. This wine conveys citrus and a little flint on the nose with plentiful lime and grapefruit on the attack and mouthwatering lime and mineral on the finish. But I do have a problem with the $30 price point. This is a good wine that will develop even further, but I can't bring myself to part with $30 for it.

From the '07 vintage, the Tierce Brothers will not be doing a Riesling but they plan on collaborating on a Red Tierce to take advantage of the wonderful '07 reds. It will be a blend of Cab Franc, Lemberger, and Syrah. Sounds very interesting.

> 2005 Viridescens, $45.50, blend of Cab Sauv/Cab Franc/Merlot/Syrah, wonderful cherry and blackberry fruit with ripe medium tannins make this an ageworthy wine. This wine is worth every penny of the $45.50 and is actually a terrific value. The '07 Viridescens is scheduled to be released soon and will be a Meritage-style blend. A barrel tasting revealed smoky blackberry and loganberry in this young wine.

> 2005 Cabernet Franc, $19.50, from the excellent '05 vintage, deep cherry and coffee flavors mingle with perfect balance between all elements in this multi-award winning wine.
> Red Newt offers some value sippers whose elegance belies their value price points. Salamander White (Pinot Gris/Vidal Blanc/Cayuga White/Chardonnay/$12.49) offers citrus, lemongrass, and crisp apple. Red Newt White (Cayuga White/Vidal Blanc/$9.99) offers up refreshing fruit with nice acidity. Blue Newt White (Niagara Blend/$8.99) offers crisp fruitiness without being too grapey.

> 2006 Red Eft, $14.99, Cab Franc/Cab Sauv/Merlot/Pinot Noir/Syrah- everything but the kitchen sink but it works nicely, Fruit-forward cherry and blackberry make this wine taste sweeter than its .8% RS.

Additional Notes: Grower Jim Hazlitt at Sawmill Creek Vineyards has again provided amazing fruit to Red Newt in the new '07 Syrah. The combination of the skilled vineyard operations of Jim Hazlitt with the winemaking skills of Dave Whiting make them "The Masters of Syrah" in the Finger Lakes, in my opinion. Most people would call them crazy to even try Syrah in The Finger Lakes. But try they do, and they actually succeed. A barrel tasting of the '07 Syrah showed lots of plum with white pepper highlights. This should be excellent.
Red Newt will also be using the Syrah in a unique sweet blend (5% RS) with the new Cornell grape, Noiret. It will be amusingly called Soiree. Also, Red Newt's new Port (Cab Franc/Cab Sauv/Syrah) will be released in July and Dave is planning a unique '07 Cab Franc strategy. He will be crafting 3 separate single vineyard '07 Cab Franc bottlings from 3 separate growers to express the unique terroirs associated with each vineyard. I can't wait to taste them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finger Lakes Winery Report - Silver Springs Winery

A winetasting at Silver Springs Winery (east side of Seneca Lake) is like attending a Wine Appreciation Course, with your professor being owner John Zuccarino. John doesn't want you to just taste wine, he wants you to be an educated wine taster. He is passionate about wine education, as proven by his weekly educational videos - click here to watch. I guarantee that you will come out of Silver Springs more knowledgable about wine than you came in. John and his wife Sari are hands-on owners and it is refreshing to be able to talk directly with the owners when you come in for a tasting. Silver Spring's red wines are some of the best in The Finger Lakes and you can taste their passion for crafting fine wines.

Here are the highlights of my tasting notes:
> 2002 Cabernet Franc (with 10% Cab Sauv), $19.95, 18 months in French oak, coffee and rounded oak overtones, exquisitely balanced and smooth, it is wonderful to taste aged Finger Lakes reds, a few years in the bottle really brings out the best in Finger Lakes reds. Too many times I think that Finger Lakes wineries bring out their reds too early (although I do understand that a lot of times they need to have new product out so they are forced into releasing their reds perhaps before they should).
> 2003 Cabernet Franc, $21.95, Nuanced coffee overtones with abundant cherry and hints of anise, medium tannins that drink well now but will also age well, an excellent example of an ageworthy Finger Lakes Cab Franc.
> 2003 Merlot, $21.95, 18 months in oak, flavors of mocha, plum, cherry, and blackberry with tannins softening nicely.
> 2003 Bold Merlot, 2 1/4 years in French oak!, full-bodied with deep coffee undertones with hints of cocoa and licorice, medium tannins, John says its got 15 years until it peaks but I like it just fine right now.
Lest you think that Silver Springs just does good reds, they've got some fine whites also.
> 2004 Cayuga White, 3% RS, $11.99, This '04 is still putting out great flavor with perfectly balanced pineapple/grapefruit and ripe peach. A 5% RS '04 Cayuga White is also available for those who prefer a touch more sweetness.
> 2007 Vintners Select Pinot Grigio, $18.95, 1% RS, I have been lamenting the lack of complex multidimensional Pinot Grigio in The Finger Lakes but Silver Springs gives me hope with this full-flavored and complex Grigio, loads of apple and pear with brisk acidity. John attributes late harvesting as a major factor in enhancing the flavor profile of his Grigio.
> 2004 Gewurztraminer Ice Wine, $42, 15% RS, What a Special Treat this is!, layers of apricot, tangerine, raisins, and honey! This is a world-class Ice Wine and is a bargain at $42. Too bad the vines that made this are no longer with us. I drink a toast to those vines. Get a taste of this while it lasts!

New York State Fair Wine Competition Results

Winery, Year, Label Designation, Medal
Americana Vineyards & Winery, Inc. 2007 Riesling Double Gold
Anthony Road Wine Company 2007 Dry Riesling Double Gold
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2007 Riesling, Dry Double Gold
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2006 Rkatsiteli Double Gold
Goose Watch Winery 2007 Viognier Double Gold
Goose Watch Winery NV Snow Goose Double Gold
Heron Hill Winery 2006 Semi- Sweet Riesling Double Gold
Heron Hill Winery 2006 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc Double Gold
Hosmer Winery 2007 Vintners Reserve Riesling Double Gold
Hunt Country Vineyards 2006 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine Estate Bottled Double Gold
Jason's Vineyard 2000 Meritage, Estate Grown Double Gold
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2005 Merlot Double Gold
Long Point Winery 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Long Point Winery Double Gold
Mazza Chautauqua Cellars 2006 Ice Wine of Vidal Blanc Double Gold
Penguin Bay Winery NV Percussion Double Gold
Pindar Vineyards 2007 Johannisburg Riesling Double Gold
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2007 Riesling Ice Double Gold
Swedish Hill Winery 2006 Maréchal Foch Double Gold
Torry Ridge Winery NV Scarlet Red Double Gold
Americana Vineyards & Winery, Inc. 2007 Americana White Gold
Anyela's Vineyards 2006 Riesling Gold
Arbor Hill Winery NV Rhine Street Red Gold
Buttonwood Grove Winery 2007 Blackberry Briar Gold
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2006 Gewürztraminer Gold
Heron Hill Winery 2005 Eclipse White Gold
Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars NV Liquid Wisdom Gold
Hosmer Winery 2007 Riesling Gold
Hosmer Winery 2006 Cabernet Franc Gold
Hudson-Chatham Winery NV Paperbirch Raspberry Fine Ruby Gold
Imagine Moore 2006 LOVE Gold
Keuka Spring Vineyards NV Crooked Lake White Gold
Keuka Spring Vineyards 2007 Seyval Blanc Gold
Knapp Winery NV Curiosity Gold
Long Point Winery 2007 Riesling Semi Dry Long Point Winery Gold
Lucas Vineyards 2007 Blues Gold
Magpie Farms NV Red Raspberry Mead Gold
Palmer Vineyards 2007 North Fork of Long Island Sauvignon Blanc Gold
Pindar Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay Late Harvest Gold
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2007 Gewürztraminer Gold
Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Riesling Gold
Swedish Hill Winery NV Country Concord Gold
Swedish Hill Winery NV Svenska Red Gold
Swedish Hill Winery NV Blanc de Blanc Gold
Torry Ridge Winery NV Diamond Gold
Wagner Vineyards 2006 Vidal Blanc Ice Gold

Monday, June 23, 2008

-It's official- The newest winery on Seneca Lake will be opening soon and yes, the name is Pompous Ass winery! More to come on this new winery.

- The following Finger Lakes wineries won Gold at the Big E Wine Competition earlier this month:

Double Gold Medal Winners:
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2007 Dry Riesling (see my recent review of this excellent wine)

Torrey Ridge Winery NV Summer Delight

Gold Medal Winners:

Glenora Wine Cellars 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling

Lucas Vineyards 2007 Vignoles

Torrey Ridge Winery NV Concord

Hunt Country Vrds 2006 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Hunt Country Vrds 2007 Late Harvest Vignoles

See the complete results here.

- More Finger Lakes Gold Medal Winners at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition:

Best White Wine of Show:
Goose Watch Winery, 2007 Traminette, $12.00. Goose Watch and its sister wineries, Swedish Hill & Penguin Bay, continue to claim gold medal after gold medal at this years wine competitions with the Goose Watch 2007 Traminette winning Best White Wine out of over 900 International entries at LA International Wine Competition. Very Impressive!!!

Best of Class:
Heron Hill Winery Riesling, Select Late Harvest, 2006, $74.99
Penguin Bay Winery 2007 Gewurztraminer, $17.00
Swedish Hill Winery, Svenska Red, $7.49
Swedish Hill Winery, Svenska White, $7.49
Swedish Hill Winery, 2007 Cayuga White, $8.99

Dr. Konstantin Frank, 2007 Dry Riesling
Heron Hill Winery Vidal, Late Harvest 2006

Penguin Bay, Maroon Four

Swedish Hill, 2005 Cabernet Franc

Swedish Hill, 2007 Marechal Foch

Swedish Hill, 2007 Vidal Blanc

Swedish Hill, Doobie Blues

Chateau Frank Blanc de Blanc,

Chateau Frank, Blanc de Noir

Knapp Winery, Sovereign Opal

See the complete results here.

- 2 new books showcase the Finger Lakes area
- Proposed Finger Lakes Museum gains more support
- Check out this amazing photo of a Finger Lakes sunrise. I really have to get out and see the Ontario County Arts Council's current exhibit.
- Finger Lakes wineries dodged the recent hail damage, but upstate Apple crop not as fortunate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Big Wine Sale at Fulkerson Winery

Attention all you Bargain Wine Shoppers out there, Fulkerson Winery is having a "Summer Splash" Wine Sale with some great bargains on some great wine. I know I'll be stopping by to load up the van. See below for details:

Dundee, NY – June 17, 2008 – Summer is just around the corner and the staff at Fulkerson Winery would like you to be aware of our
“Big Summer Splash Wine Specials” that are on sale at the winery for the months of June and July.

Buy one bottle at regular price, get the second bottle (same variety) 40% off on the following premium Fulkerson Wines: *

Centennial $13.99 - per bottle @ reg. price
2005 Delaware $ 6.99
2006 Diamond $ 6.99
2006 Chardonnay $10.99
2006 Gewurztraminer $15.99
2006 Dornfelder $15.99
2006 Lemberger $15.99

2006 Traminette $11.99- per bottle @ reg. price
2005 Delaware $ 6.99
Sunset Blush $ 6.49
Sunset Blush $ 6.49
Centennial $13.99
2006 Dornfelder $15.99
2006 Cabernet Franc $13.99

Riesling 4-Pack:
Available exclusively at Fulkerson Winery, our exciting and refreshing “Summer Riesling 4 Pack”,
with discounts of 20% off 2 bottles of 2006 Dry Riesling & 2 bottles of 2006 Semi-Dry Riesling in a pre-packaged 4-pack.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Winery Visit Report - Dr. Frank Wine Cellars, June 2008

This time around, I tasted the white wines at Dr. Frank in their stylish new tasting room overlooking Keuka Lake on a hot but beautiful day. Here are my tasting notes:
> 2007 Dry Riesling, $17.99, The Doctor has done it again. Dr. Frank’s 2007 Dry Riesling is out and it is superb, but haven't we come to expect nothing less than superb from Dr. Frank Riesling. This wine opens up with amazing aromatics, which is a trademark of Dr. Frank Riesling. Beautifully fragrant floral highlights mixed with citrus blossoms lets you know that you are about to partake of something special. On the palate, it is complex with layers of peach, pear, and that distinctive unmistakable Dr. Frank lime and mineral on the mouthwatering finish. Is it the terroir? Is it those wonderful old vines? Is it the great winemaking team? All I know is that everything seems to come together year after year to craft one of the finest Rieslings in the world, in my opinion.
> 2006 Pinot Gris, $19.99, I think most everyone in the Finger Lakes has put out a Pinot Gris (Grigio) this year and, unfortunately, most have disappointed. Dr. Franks version has some nice pear but that distinctive lime and acidity that makes the Riesling so wonderful sort of overpowers in the Pinot Gris.
> 2005 Chardonnay, $14.99, Nice hints of pear and that distinctive acidity give it a nice backbone, but it fades a bit on the finish.
> 2006 Rkatsiteli, $19.99, The Russian grape that was the talk of the region last year, Clean citrus with unique herbal hints, but with age, it is now giving out some grapefruit on the finish, still a unique treat.
> 2006 Gewurztraminer, $19.99, lots of clean lychee and lime,Big Flavors here, a wonderful Gewurz.
> 2006 Semi-Dry Riesling, $15.99, this is a wonderful wine that I reviewed last year, but after tasting the ’07 Dry Riesling, it just didn’t stand a chance. No disrespect to the ’06 intended, but I can’t wait to taste the ’07 Semi-Dry. Unfortunately, that probably won’t be available for a while until the ’06 supply is sold. Maybe Fred will let me sneak a taste next time I’m there (hint, hint). > And last but certainly not least, the Celebre’ (Riesling Champagne ), $19.99, from the 2002 Riesling vintage, beautiful acidity with a touch of honeysuckle sweetness. This is my pick for any special occasion.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finger Lakes Wineries Do Well at the Decanter Wine Awards

The Following Finger Lakes wines placed well at the prestigious Decanter Wine Awards:

Casa Larga Vineyards Fiori Vidal Ice Wine Limited Edition 2005New York State, United States
(White - Sweet)
US price: $38.00

Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs 2000New York State, United States
(White - Sparkling)
US price: $29.99

Chateau Lafayette Reneau Dry Riesling 2006New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $14.99 USAS USWSLG

Glenora Wine Cellars Dry Riesling 2006New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $15.99 Empire Merchants North (845 33

Glenora Wine Cellars Dry Riesling Vintner's Select 2006New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $23.99

Glenora Wine Cellars Riesling 2007New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $15.99

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2006New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $10.79 USSWSA USTOT

Heron Hill Winery Ingle Vineyard Riesling 2005New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $17.99 USNLW

Red Tail Ridge Winery Semi-Dry Riesling 2006New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $22.00

Sheldrake Point Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2005New York State, United States
(Red - Still)
US price: $16.99

Sheldrake Point Vineyard Riesling 2006New York State, United States
(White - Still)
US price: $14.99

Sheldrake Point Vineyard Riesling Ice Wine 2007New York State, United States
(White - Sweet)
US price: $74.99

See the complete results here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Finger Lakes News & Notes

-The Critics Challenge Wine Awards have been announced and the following Finger Lakes wineries won awards:

Chateau Frank
Critics Platinum 2000 Blanc de Blanc Finger Lakes $29.99

Chateau Lafayette Reneau
Critics Silver, 2005 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, $14.99
Critics Silver 2006 Dry Riesling Finger Lakes $14.99

Glenora Wine Cellars
Critics Silver 2001 Brut, Méthode Champenoise, $24.99
Critics Silver 2007 Pinot Blanc Finger Lakes $19.99
Critics Silver 2006 Dry Riesling, Vintner's Select Finger Lakes $23.99
Critics Silver 2007 Riesling Finger Lakes $17.99

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyard
Critics Silver 2005 Cabernet Franc Finger Lakes $17.99
Critics Silver 2006 Chardonnay Finger Lakes $9.99
Critics Silver 2007 Riesling, Homestead Reserve Finger Lakes $17.99
Critics Silver 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Finger Lakes $12.99

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard
Critics Silver 2006 Gewürztraminer Dry Finger Lakes $20.00

Knapp Vineyards & Winery
Critics Gold 2006 Dry Riesling Cayuga Lake $18.95

Lakewood Vineyards
Critics Silver 2006 Gewürztraminer Finger Lakes $16.99
Critics Gold 2007 Dry Riesling Finger Lakes $12.99
Critics Silver 2006 Riesling Finger Lakes $12.99

Lucas Vineyards
Critics Silver 2007 Vignoles Finger Lakes $10.99
Critics Platinum 2007 Dry Riesling Finger Lakes $12.99

- Ventosa Vineyards received a Vinum Cum Laude prize for its 2007 Pinot Gris at the 18th annual Wine Literary Award ceremony in San Francisco. A group of 90 wine journalists tasted about 1,000 wines from around the world, with only 20 (2%) receiving the Vinum Cum Laude accolades.

- Lakewood Vineyards reports that their new 2007 (already award-winning) Riesling will be available at their tasting room in a few months. Also, for you fellow Lakewood Port fans out there, Liz tells me that a delay in receiving bottles has delayed the new Port's release, but it should be out by August. I've got one bottle left in my cellar and I don't know if it's going to last that long!

- Fox Run Vineyards has received national attention concerning four of its wines. The June 2008 issue of Wine & Spirits magazine has chosen Fox Run’s 2006 Reserve Riesling ($30) as one of its Critics’ Picks and rated the Riesling at 93 points – the highest ever in the Finger Lakes! Fox Run’s 2006 Riesling (sold out) was chosen as a "100 Top Values" and the magazine gave this wine 91 points! The magazine has also given Fox Run’s 2006 Dry Riesling ($15) 91 points and described it as follows, "The flavors come in layers – white peach, passion fruit, nectarine – and that fruit is supported by a slatey minerality that give the wine a fine, gripping texture." Fox Run’s 2006 Gewurztraminer ($20) was rated with 91 points as well, "…peach flavors balanced against a mineral edge."

- If you've seen a new tasting-room like building being erected just north of Watkins Glen on the west side of Seneca Lake, word on the street has it that another new winery is being built. The rumored new name of the winery is quite bold and just might stir up some controversy. Stay Tuned.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Golden Nose- Part 2

What a fun weekend it was at The Golden Nose event with the largest number of participants yet! Starting with the Friday night reception at the phenomenal Rockwell Museum of Western Art where we got to see the premiere of the new Ansel Adams exhibit and mingle with the other judges, to the Training and Judging sessions on Saturday, it is always a fun and educational experience.

Some of the highlights for me were a surprise special seminar for the returning alum of Golden Nose (4 of us) with Dave Whiting of Red Newt Wine Cellars and Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards, where we did a blind tasting of Rieslings from 6 different regions in the world. I guessed them all wrong, but I got to pick 2 of my favorite winemakers brains for a while.

Of course, the judging is always a treat and I had a real treat with another favorite Finger Lakes winemaker, Derek Wilber of White Springs Winery, as the group leader of my judging group. Derek's wealth of experience was a joy to listen to and learn from. To me, it's just a lot of fun to compare tasting notes with others who are passionate about wine. In my group of 6 judges, there were 2 that had vineyards, 2 of us were amateur winemakers, 1 worked at a winery, and 1 was a reporter for a Toronto newspaper. I don't know whether we were super picky or not, but our group did not give out one single Gold medal. But then again, we did not have any Riesling or Cab Franc flights to judge.

Then of course, there was the Awards Dinner with fabulous food and all the wine you could ever hope to taste. I also got to perform a couple of songs, but the star of the show was Paul, our host from the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, dancing to Devo's "Whip It", as performed by Virgil Cain, our entertainer for the night who is a sensational multi-instrumentalist and singer. I sure hope somebody got some video of Paul cracking the whip.

This was my third year at The Golden Nose and it just keeps getting bigger and better. I can't wait until next year!
The 1st picture is John from Fulkerson Winery and Glenda from the Seneca Lake Wine Trail welcoming the judges on Saturday morning.
This is my judging group led by Derek Wilber of White Springs Winery.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Golden Nose Results

- My 3rd Golden Nose Wine Judging Event is now history and I can honestly say that it is still my favorite wine event to attend. Once again, Paul & Glenda of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail as well as many volunteers from the member wineries put on a great event. I will do a seperate post reviewing the entire event, but for now, here are the top award winners:

Best of Class:

Sheldrake Point, Summer White
Lakewood, Riesling
Goose Watch, Viognier
Goose Watch, Cabernet Sauvignon
Hickory Hollow, Liquid Wisdom
Seneca Shore, Sherry
Red Newt, Cabernet Franc

Double Gold:

Glenora, Alpine White
Lakewood, Dry Riesling
Torrey Ridge, Niagara
Earle Estates Meadery, Peach Perfection
Billsboro, Cabernet Franc
Hosmer, Riesling