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.

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