Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rendezvous with Riesling Report & New Finger Lakes Releases

- It was an eventful weekend this past weekend, with me and Mrs. Wino attending the Rendezvous with Riesling event at the New York Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC) in Canandaigua on Friday night, which showcased Rieslings from over 30 New York wineries. My goal at this event was to try and get an idea of how the ‘08 Finger Lakes Rieslings were shaping up, but there were only six ‘08’s there and many of them were recently bottled and still suffering from some “bottle shock” and not showing their full potential yet. I find that Finger Lakes Rieslings, especially the dry Rieslings, show very bold acidity right after bottling and it takes a while for them to settle down and smooth out. I will try them again in a few months.

The most interesting Riesling to me was the new ‘08 “Value” Semi-dry Riesling from Red Newt, which they are calling Circle Riesling because of the circular label. Red Newt owner Dave Whiting hopes that this Riesling will be Finger Lakes answer to those other out of state produced value-priced Rieslings, and he hopes that this wine will showcase the quality of Finger Lakes Riesling to a broader audience because of its modest $11.99 price point. After tasting it, I think Dave’s theory may prove correct. This wine shows clean aromas with fresh stone fruit and citrus flavors with honeyed overtones, a good introduction to Finger Lakes Riesling for those who have not tried them yet. 2500 cases produced and it is available now. Click here for a good article about this wine from Evan Dawson at LennDevours blog and a lively discussion in the Comments section.

- Actually, what impressed me more than the wines at the Rendezvous with Riesling was the amazing food! NYWCC Executive Chef Carlo Peretti was cooking up a variety of Risotto recipes that would have impressed even Hell’s Kitchens not easily pleased maestro Gordon Ramsey. In fact, Carlo said that he has tried out for that show, so maybe he will get to cook risotto for the hotheaded fellow Brit Ramsey. Also on hand were truly impressive and tasty samples from Hartmann’s Old World Sausage (delicious meats) , Simply Crepes (heavenly apple crepes), Muranda Cheese (veteran milk producer who recently decided to produce cheese and these are very high quality cheeses), The Pierogie Guy (with a unique pulled pork pierogie), and Renee Suzette’s Chocolate (truly decadent chocolates). Mrs. Wino & I were in culinary heaven. I will be writing more about these quality New York state food producers in my Food & Wine column in Mountain Home magazine.

-On Saturday, I visited Fulkerson Winery for 2 reasons. First, they have just released their first Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and I was anxious to try it. This is one of the few Finger Lakes Cab Franc Ice Wines that I know of, but after tasting it, I think other wineries may want to add one of their own to their wine production. I have long thought, after tasting several sweeter Cab Franc’s, that it’s flavors really start to pop at higher residual sugar levels and that is certainly the case here. This wine possesses some of the most bold but still defined flavors of any ice wine that I have encountered. Full flavored but detailed layers of cherry and strawberry pirouette across your tongue like some crazed ballerina on steroids, and the 16.2% Residual Sugar is kept in check by the full flavor profile. At $44.99, this is not an everyday wine, but it is a perfect special occasion treat or for when you really want to impress someone.

The other reason that I was at Fulkerson was because the Finger Lakes own syndicated TV Chef, Chef William, was doing cooking demonstrations and book signings, and I was there to interview him for an article. Chef William’s story is a truly inspiring one and you can tell that he really loves what he does. I’ll let you know when the article comes out.

- Also in my travels this weekend, I stopped at Villa Bellangelo Winery to see what was new and owner Mike Litterio and his crew were very busy with a full tasting room, but they were very excited to have me try their newest wine addition, a sparkling Moscato ($16.99), made from the Cornell-produced hybrid grape Valvin Muscat. There are a few other Valvin Muscat’s being produced in the Finger Lakes, but this is the first sparkling one that I know of. The unique herbal quality of this grape is sometimes a little off-putting for me, but the low alcohol (6%) and sparkling components of Villa Bellangelo’s offering seems to mute that herbal quality and bring out more zingy pineapple and apricot flavors, producing a refreshing and flavorful low alcohol sipper that is going to be a big seller, especially for the summer. In fact, Mike says that only 112 cases were produced and they are going fast, so get it while you can.

- Memorial Day weekend coming up and it’s going to be another busy week. Remember to try and Buy Local when you can and always Drink Well and Be Safe!!!

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