Show Intro: Welcome to the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino Favorite Finger Lakes Wines of 2008 Award Show. (cue the dancing corks and cue the FLWW Band led once again this year by who else – Paul Shaffer of Late Night with David Letterman, because he seems to be the leader every band on every television special).
And cue our first performer, the artist formerly known as Prince and then he was some incomprehensible symbol, singing Purple Rain (wine, purple, he's all we could afford) (we were going to get Don Ho to sing Tiny Bubbles, but then we found out that he was dead, so we decided not to bother him). Prince finishes his song and proceeds to moon the crowd. We can’t afford a 5-second delay so everybody in TV Land got to see Prince’s ass (it’s actually very tiny and almost non-existent, so we don’t think that the fine from the FCC will be that bad – certainly not as much as the Super Bowl fiasco. Gee, why did we hire the same producer that produced that? Note to self…)
And now Ladies & Gentlemen your host for this evenings festivities, the One, the Only Robin Williams (we were lucky Robin was available because our backup was Don Rickles – yes, he’s actually still alive, but we could not afford all the medical personnel that would have been required. Actually we can't afford Robin either. We just hope he doesn't try to cash the check until he gets home).
Robin Williams: What the f@#$ am I doing here? My manager is a dead man, Nanu Nanu (the crowd goes wild). Robin proceeds to do a half hour of the funniest incomprehensible improv comedy I’ve ever seen, laced with at least 276 words of profanity. I am laughing and crying at the same time (and I think I peed myself).
Robin Williams: And now, this is what you poor pathetic people have been waiting for, The Finger Lakes Weekend Wino 2008 Wine Awards (Robin proceeds to give everybody The Finger and storms off the stage spewing profanity in alien languages).
Announcer: These are wines that are rated as Excellent in the Weekend Wino's Tasting Notes for 2008. He visited 92 Finger Lakes wineries in 2008 and sampled over 700 Finger Lakes wines, blah blah blah. The wines listed showed Excellent Balance and Depth of Flavor and could leap small insects in a single bound. Based on the nebulous criteria from some dubious wino, here are the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino Favorite Finger Lake Wines of 2008 in no particular order (the awards scroll on the screen and the announcer gives everybody The Finger and also storms off the stage):
>>> Standing Stone Vineyards, East Seneca Lake, Owners Tom & Marti Macinski produce some of the most consistently well-crafted wines in the Finger Lakes, with excellent balance and expression of fruit. > 2007 Riesling, $13.99, 2.6%RS, Standing Stone Riesling’s are always at the top of my Favorites list. These are some of the oldest Riesling vines in the area and located at one of the prime growing locations on Seneca Lake, This wine is a great expression of Finger Lakes Riesling, with beautiful balance of tropical fruit tones and a nicely structured mineral backbone. > Smokehouse Vidal, $8.99, Semi-Dry, The Macinski’s also craft some of the best Vidal’s. Vidal Blanc doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but in my opinion, that is the fault of the winemaker and not the grape itself. Having made a good many Vidal’s myself, I know that you have to let it tell you where it wants to go (dry, semi-dry, even sweet), there are no formulas for Vidal. This Smokehouse Vidal gives an elegance of structure that belies its price, excellent value. > 2006 Cailloux (pronounced kai-you), $24.99, This is an ice wine that is a blend of Chardonnay (53%), Gewurztraminer (4%), Pinot Blanc (4%), Pinot Gris(4%), Pinot Meunier (4%), Muscat Ottonel (4%), Riesling (7%) and Vidal (20%), I’d love to attend that blending session!, Candied citrus fruits jitterbug across the tongue and the sweet finish does the lindy on your deep palate, Yum. > Vidal Ice, $24.99, the sweet flesh of apricots holds your tastebuds hostage with bonds of sweet tropical juices, but your tongue will refuse to pay the ransom.
>>> Bloomer Creek Vineyard, East Seneca Lake, My 2007 Winery of The Year continues to produce beautifully structured wines. > 2007 Gewurztraminer, BIG with a Capital B.I.G., I love these ’07 Gewurz’s, Bold but Balanced with seamlessly integrated spice tones. > 2007 Gamay Noir, $16, a dry rose’ with soft layers of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. > 2007 Cabernet Franc, $24, 10 months in oak, smooth deep cherry with vanilla highlights, medium tannins, will age well.
>>> Cascata Winery, Seneca Lake, I was very impressed with Cascata in 2008, with Chris Stamp of Lakewood Vineyards taking on the winemaking duties and as usual, doing impressive work. > Fireside Chardonnay, $18.95, This wine got a well-deserved 87 rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine, Aged in French & American oak with well-integrated vanilla, oak, & butter without overpowering the Chard fruit. > Cascade Riesling, $16.95, a lighter-style Riesling with soft apple highlights and undertones of tangerine/citrus. > Sweet Iris, 2.9%RS, $6.95,Delaware grape, light sweet grape flavors into a solid well-balanced finish. In my opinion, the Delaware grape is underappreciated and this is a nice semi-sweet style and an excellent value.
>>> Villa Bellangelo, Seneca Lake, Owner Michael Litterio specializes in soft rounded lighter style wines that do not compromise on flavor. > Bella Bianca, $9.99, Seyval Blanc/Vidal Blanc, soft pear tones with nice acidity and a tinge of sweetness make this an excellent value sipper or dinner wine. > 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, $23.99, 22 months in French & American oak, nice chocolate undertones with hints of pepper on the finish, a very nice Finger Lakes red. > 2005 Sangiovese, (full disclosure – This is California fruit), $36.99, 22 months in French & American oak. Obviously the Finger Lakes is inhospitable for Sangiovese and this is a bit pricey, but I do love being able to experience Sangiovese in The Finger Lakes. I am Not opposed to importing fruit, but I DO want it to be fully disclosed. This wine reveals ripe smoky cherry that is in complete balance with the oak structure of the wine in a nice expression of “Finger Lakes” Sangiovese.
>>> Rock Stream Vineyards, Seneca Lake, Owner Mark Karasz specializes in crafting some unique port-style wines. One of my predictions for 2009 is a trend toward production of more of these non-traditional port-style wines. > Vignoles Port, $24.99, 18% Alcohol, 10%RS, perfectly sweet without being overbearing with candied citrus overtones and impeccably balanced with the citrus and tropical fruit highlights from the Vignoles grape shining through. > Castel Port, $19.99, 18% Alcohol, 10%RS, from the Castel grape, has a beautiful deep purple color and produces complex and layered flavors of candied plum, raspberry, and strawberry, producing a wonderful apertif or dessert wine.
>>> Lakewood Vineyards, Seneca Lake, Owner & Winemaker Chris Stamp crafts wines with impeccable balance and depth of flavor. > 2006 Chardonnay, $12.99, well balanced and well integrated fruit, vanilla, and oak and did I really taste a hint of cinnamon in this Chardonnay, nicely done. > 2006 Cabernet Franc, $15.99, aging nicely, very smooth with soft cherry highlights. > 2007 Port, $15.99, Baco Noir grapes, A perfectly delicious port! Velvety and warm without the alcohol burn, Get it while you can, it sells out very quickly.
>>> Lucas Vineyards, Cayuga Lake, Winemaker Jeff Houck makes expressive multi-layered wines that make Lucas Vineyards one of the premier wineries in The Finger Lakes. > 2007 Blues, 1.8%RS, $8.00, unique Seyval/Cayuga blend, very clean with bright citrus tones, an excellent value. > 2007 Vignoles, $11.99, 5.5%RS, crisp pink grapefruit flavors into a honeyed apricot finish, lots of flavor in this sweet Vignoles. > Extra Dry Sparkling Wine, $18.99, 1.1%RS, Cayuga grape, Beautiful crisp apple and pear notes, Great for any celebration!
Parts 2,3,4........ to come, if you can stand it!