Sunday, August 24, 2008

Acclaimed Glass Maker Georg Riedel visits the Finger Lakes

Click on photographs to see larger view

The current patriarch of the acclaimed glass crafting and manufacturing company Riedel Glass, Georg Riedel (pronounced like "needle"), made a visit to the Finger Lakes area this week and I was fortunate to be invited to his seminar at Inn at Glenora. Many Thanks to the Cayuga Wine Trail and Finger Lakes Wine Country for inviting me and to Gene Pierce and Inn at Glenora for their hospitality.

The premise of the seminar was that the shape and size of a wine glass contributes to the aroma and taste profile of the wine in the glass and Mr. Riedel

was here to help Finger Lakes wineries deduce the perfect Riedel wine glass for Finger Lakes Riesling. Winery owners had attended an earlier session and had decided their preferences. The preferences of those of us at this evening session would be compared to the earlier session.

It was certainly an honor to be in the presence of glassware royalty. The Riedel family tradition of skilled glass craftsmanship extends back to the 1600's! The history of the company is a fascinating read as the Riedel family overcame the continuing obstacles of wars affecting their

homeland and stayed on the "cutting edge" of glassware advances. Click here to read more about the history of Riedel.

But our task at hand in this seminar was to detect the subtle changes that each of the 6 different Riedel wine glasses (and the obligatory plastic cup which gave no aromas) on our table brought to the same wine.

The charming and humorous Mr. Riedel opened the seminar with his impressions of the Finger Lakes region ("It's easier to find wine than gas here") and a short primer on wine tasting. Then
we got into the tastings. With the same Finger Lakes Riesling in each glass, we sniffed each glass first and noted the aromatic changes and then we tasted each glass and noted the taste differences for each glass. Riedel's theory, based on their many years of testing, is that different shapes and sizes of wine glasses direct the aromatic and flavor components of the wine to your tastebuds and olfactory senses in different ways and that wine glasses can be designed specifically to facilitate optimal tasting of the varietal characteristics of each wine. We did three rounds of tastings with three different Finger Lakes Rieslings.

There can be no doubt in my mind that there were different aromatic and taste profiles presented by each glass holding the same exact wine. And by hand vote of the seminar participants, there seemed to be a consensus that 2 of the glasses were preferable to the others, and this agreed with the winery owners' preferences in the earlier session. But I do not know if I can accept the premise that these differences are primarily attributable to the glass alone. Mr. Riedel advanced the concept that the width of the opening and height of the glass directs the flow of the wine into your mouth differently, thereby hitting different parts of your mouth at different times and bringing out more acidity for a certain glass or more softness for a certain glass, etc. But when I taste wine, I don't pour it directly into my mouth, but I hold my sip for all wines that I taste in the front part of my mouth while I "slurp" it against my lips to aerate it and then I swish it to all parts of my mouth. So that would seem to dismiss that theory in my mind. There is the possibility, though, that the shape and size of each glass is directing the vapors of the wine into my mouth differently and the vapors are directed to different parts of my mouth and olfactory senses at different times, thereby changing how I am perceiving the wine. And, as Mr. Riedel pointed out, human taste perception is 80 percent smell.

Another problem that I had was that Mr. Riedel gave us his own perceptions of how each glass affected the wines before most of us had a chance to develop our own perceptions, thereby influencing our own impressions by his suggestions. I do understand that Mr. Riedel's primary goal is to sell glassware and that this was certainly not a scientific undertaking by any means.

Overall, the seminar was very interesting and certainly raises the question of just how much influence the wine glass has on our sensory perceptions of the wine within it. In the home of Mrs. Wino and myself, we have a wide variety of glassware acquired from a variety of sources and now I have to wonder if the two of us and the guests that we pour wine for are each getting completely different impressions of the same wine. It's just another one of those things that makes you go Hmmmmm.

New York Wine and Food Classic Results

It seems like every post I've been writing about the wine awards being won by the Peterson family's trio of wineries Swedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Penguin Bay, and the accolades keep pouring in with Swedish Hill Winery winning the prestigious Governors Cup and Winery of the Year award at the New York Wine and Food Classic competition. A well-deserved congratulations goes to Swedish Hill Winery!

I continue to be surprised at the number of Native and Hybrid grape varieties and blends that are winning top awards in wine competitions this year. The surprise is not that they are winning, because I have been touting the quality of these wines for some time, but the surprise is that "professional" wine judges who have been historically skimpy at givng these wines their due seem to be warming up to these often sweeter style wines. I believe it is marking a paradigm shift in wine judging. As usual, the "professionals" are late to this shift as consumers seem to have already made the trend shift. Also noteworthy is the number of "value" wines under $10 that won Gold medals in this competition. Like I have said ad nauseum, you don't have to spend a fortune to find well-crafted, balanced, and flavorful wine.

See the full list of awards here.

Best of Class Awards
Best Native Sparkling Wine: Swedish Hill Winery NV Spumante Blush
Best Dry Riesling Wine: Lakewood Vineyards 2007 Dry Riesling
Best Semi-Dry Riesling Wine: Hosmer 2007 Riesling
Best Semi-Sweet Riesling Wine: Paumanok Vineyards 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling
Best Chardonnay Wine: Castello di Borghese 2006 Chardonnay
Best Sauvignon Blanc Wine: Macari Vineyards 2007 Katherine's Field Sauvignon Blanc
Best White Vinifera Blend: McGregor Vineyards 2007 Rkatsiteli-Sereksiya
Best Traminette Wine: Whitecliff Vineyards 2007 Traminette
Best Vidal Blanc Wine: Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Vidal Blanc
Best White Hybrid Blend: Rooster Hill Vineyards 2007 Silver Pencil
Best Other Native White Wine: Arbor Hill Grapery 2007 Vergennes
Best Niagara Wine: Hickory Hollow Cellars Liquid Wisdom
Best Blush or Rose Wine: Anthony Road Wine Company 2007 Dry Rose
Best Concord Wine: Torrey Ridge Winery Blue Sapphire
Best Baco Noir Wine: Barrington Cellars Baco Noir
Best Red Hybrid Blend: Swedish Hill Winery Viking Red
Best Cabernet Franc Wine: Red Newt Cellars 2005 Cabernet Franc
Best Merlot Wine: Osprey's Dominion 2005 Reserve Merlot
Best Cabernet Sauvignon Wine: Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Best Red Vinifera Blend: Bedell Cellars 2006 Musee
Best Mead: Earle Estates Meadery Creamy Apricot
Best Late Harvest Wine: Heron Hill 2006 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc
Best Ice Wine: Casa Larga Vineyards 2005 Fiori Vidal Ice Wine
Best of Category Awards
Best Sparkling Wine: Swedish Hill Winery NV Spumante Blush
Best White Wine: Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Vidal Blanc
Best Blush or Rose Wine: Anthony Road Wine Company 2007 Dry Rose
Best Red Wine: Bedell Cellars 2006 Musee
Best Specialty Wine: Earle Estates Meadery Creamy Apricot
Best Dessert Wine: Casa Larga Vineyards 2005 Fiori Vidal Ice Wine

New York Wine & Food Classic 2008 Double Gold & Gold for Finger Lakes wineries:
Double Gold
Hosmer Winery 2007 Vintners Reserve Riesling FL/ Cayuga $25.00
Hosmer Winery 2007 Riesling FL/ Cayuga $12.00
Miles Wine Cellars 2002 Milestone FL/ Seneca $29.95
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2006 Reserve Riesling Reserve FL/ Cayuga $23.99
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2007 Riesling Ice FL/ Cayuga $64.99
Swedish Hill Winery NV Spumante Blush FL/ Cayuga $11.99
Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Vidal Blanc FL/ Cayuga $10.99

Americana Vineyards & Winery NV Riesling FL/ Cayuga $15.99
Americana Vineyards & Winery 2007 Americana White FL/ Cayuga $8.99
Anthony Road Wine Company 2007 Dry Rose Seneca Lake FL/ Seneca $9.99
Anthony Road Wine Company 2006 Vignoles Berry Selection Seneca Lake FL/ Seneca $45.00
Arbor Hill Grapery 2007 Vergennes FL/ Canandaigua $11.95
Atwater Estate Vineyards 2007 Dry Riesling FL/ Seneca $18.00
Atwater Estate Vineyards 2007 Riesling FL/ Seneca $17.00
Barrington Cellars NV Baco Noir FL/ Keuka $9.50
Billsboro Winery 2007 Dry Riesling FL/ Seneca $16.00
Casa Larga Vineyards 2005 Fiori Vidal Ice Wine Finger Lakes $34.99
Cascata Winery NV Fireside Chardonnay FL/ Seneca $18.95
Cascata Winery 2007 Regatta Red FL/ Seneca $8.95
Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled FL/ Seneca $19.99
Clovis Point Wines 2005 Chardonnay LI/ North Fork $15.00
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2007 Gew├╝rztraminer FL/ Keuka $17.99
Earle Estates Meadery NV Creamy Apricot FL/ Seneca $13.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards NV Bramble Berry FL/ Seneca $8.99
Heron Hill Winery 2005 Ingle Vineyard Cabernet Franc FL/ Keuka $34.99
Heron Hill Winery 2006 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc FL/ Keuka $19.99
Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars NV Liquid Wisdom FL/ Seneca $7.99
Hosmer Winery 2007 Dry Riesling FL/ Cayuga $12.00
Imagine Moore 2006 Passion Ice Wine FL/ Canandaigua $30.00
Lakewood Vineyards 2007 Dry Riesling FL/ Seneca $12.99
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2006 Chardonnay Reserve FL/ Seneca $19.99
Lucas Vineyards 2007 Semi Dry Riesling FL/ Cayuga $12.99
Lucas Vineyards 2007 Vignoles FL/ Cayuga $11.99
McGregor Vineyard 2007 Riesling Estate Grown FL/ Keuka $17.99
McGregor Vineyard 2007 Rkatsiteli - Sereksiya Estate Grown FL/ Keuka $24.99
Montezuma Winery NV Semi Sweet Mead Finger Lakes $10.99
Red Newt Cellars 2005 Cabernet Franc FL/ Seneca $19.50
Rooster Hill Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay FL/ Keuka $14.99
Rooster Hill Vineyards 2007 Silver Pencil FL/ Keuka $10.99
Six Mile Creek Vineyard 2007 Semi Sweet Riesling FL/ Cayuga $13.50
Six Mile Creek Vineyard NV Pasa Tiempo FL/ Cayuga $8.50
Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Dry Riesling FL/ Cayuga $14.99
Swedish Hill Winery NV Viking Red FL/ Cayuga $7.99
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2007 Diamond FL/ Cayuga $8.95
Torrey Ridge Winery NV Diamond FL/ Seneca $9.99
Torrey Ridge Winery NV Blue Sapphire FL/ Seneca $9.99
Torrey Ridge Winery NV Scarlet Red FL/ Seneca $14.99
Ventosa Vineyards 2007 Riesling FL/ Seneca $17.95
Ventosa Vineyards 2007 Tocai Friulano FL/ Seneca $15.95
Ventosa Vineyards 2005 Saggio FL/ Seneca $23.95
White Springs Winery 2005 Riesling FL/ Seneca $12.99

Monday, August 11, 2008

Finger Lakes News & Notes - Aug. 12, 2008

- The Finger Lakes Weekend Wino (that’s me) will be performing this Saturday at Artizanns in Naples NY from Noon to 3pm. Come out and enjoy my tunes and the amazing artwork and crafts at Artizanns!

- Jason Feulner opines about Pompous Ass Winery

- Photography Tips for your Finger Lakes Vacation

- Company uses Finger Lakes Ice Cream Trail in business

- Enjoy outdoor dining at these Canandaigua eateries

- NY sommelier is passionate about Riesling

- Recap of Long Island Wine Conference (with some Finger Lakes winemakers attending) here
and here

- “Staycations” is the new buzzword for vacationing close to home

- Forest Fest to honor 25th Anniversary of Finger Lakes National Forest

- Prejean Winery is profiled

- Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel offers new lodging option in Finger Lakes

- Hot Wheels 40th Anniversary Celebration comes to Watkins Glen Sept. 5th

- White Springs Riesling wins medal at Best of Riesling Competition

- Balance Photo’s blog reviews their recent Finger Lakes trip

- Finger Lakes Events for this week from Scan & Plan

- Pickin In The Pasture, the Finger Lakes Bluegrass Event is Aug. 21-24

- Another sommelier reviews the Finger Lakes

- A winery's perspective on the Finger Lakes Wine Festival here
and here and here

- Casa Larga champagne gets high rating from Beverage Testing Institute

- Swedish Hill's latest newsletter is out

- Thomas Laszlo, winemaker of Heron Hill reveals the tribulations of Ice Wine and owner John Ingle gives this mid-summer crop report:
"The relatively mild winter of 07-08 has set up a bountiful crop potential for the fall. Early surges of temperatures into the 90's in April got the vines off to a quick start, almost too quick since later spring frosts were still to come. By burning hay bales in the vineyard on those frosty nights we were able to avert frost damage, thus minimizing bud loss. Plentiful rain in late June and July helped to relieve the drought-like conditions of the late spring and the vines have grown lush. On Keuka Lake we suffered some mild hail damage in late July from severe thunderstorms but the verdant health of the vines has kept them from being overly traumatized. As we get closer to harvest we will continue hand manicuring the vines to allow for good air and sun penetration. This is the cornerstone of sustainable viticulture, a hands-on approach that is reflected in the quality wines we produce."


Friday, August 08, 2008

Finger Lake Photos

I have not done a Photo Post in a while, so here are some photos that I have taken in 2008. Click on the photos for larger view.

It had been a while since I hiked through Watkins Glen State Park and it is still one of the most beautiful hikes with waterfalls around every corner.

The gas prices have not affected the sailboats on Seneca Lake.

The dark clouds make way for a rainbow over Seneca Lake.

Doug Hazlitt, Sales Mgr Steve Cruty, and Winemaker Tim Benedict in the fun atmosphere of Hazlitt Winery's tasting room.

The Weekend Winos perform at The Finger Lakes Wine Festival.

The Toga Parade at the Launch of The Lakes Party is always an interesting sight.

Dave Peterson at the Festival Media Event. Dave is having a very good 2008 with major wine competition wins for his 3 wineries, Swedish Hill, Penguin Bay, & Goose Watch.

The new Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen makes it debut.