Every wine book and wine study course introduces two wines when discussing the Finger Lakes region (FLX) of New York, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. The climate of FLX is ideally suited for these two cool weather, acidic grapes. But the small production wineries, now numbering close to 400, that dot the three lakes of this region (Seneca, Cayuga and Keuka) are producing wines from a number of grape varieties. Many of the wines they are producing are quite good.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference in FLX last month, I had an opportunity to taste through many of the local wines at the speed tastings where the wines were poured with such dizzying speed, they were hard to keep up with. Each winemaker had 5 minutes to pour and present her or his wine. It was a fun and lively way to get plunged into the wines of the Finger Lakes, tasting through 10 wines in less than an hour. I was, also able to taste many of the local wines during the lunches, dinners and excursions of the week-end, allowing the opportunity to explore the wines of Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and Keuka Lake.
Along with some really good Cabernet Francs and Rieslings, FLX is making some nice Chardonnays, Pinot Gris’, Rosés, and even some nice, big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. They are making good wines from hybrid grapes and they are making ice wines, sparkling wines and orange wines.
I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover the diversity of wines coming out of the FLX. There are so many wineries willing to try new grape varieties and experiment with the old varieties. Happily, many of their experiments have been quite successful.
Exploring the wines of the Finger Lakes is like a lucrative treasure hunt, with so much diversity done so well. The Rieslings and Cabernet Francs are lovely. The varieties beyond these two steadfast grapes are intriguing and delightful.
Here are some of my tasting notes from the week-end by grape color.
Hosmer Winery, 2013 Pinot Gris, estate grown, one month on lees; beer, perfume, flowers, rich body
Laoreaux, 2014 Dry Red Oak Riesling; yellow apple, peach, apricot, honey with a touch of petrol. Nice balance.
Casa Larga Ice Wine; honey, sweet yellow apples, dried apricots, dessert in a glass.
Boundary Breaks Riesling; apple, lemon zest, tart and tangy with juicy fruit
Hazlitt Vineyards, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc; grass, grapefruit zest, lime, some lees aging
Montezuma, 2014 Edelzwicker, late fall apple, lemon zest, rich mouth feel
Idol Ridge Vidal Blance Ice Wine, frozen on the vine, lush, honeyed yellow apples
Goose Watch, 2014 Traminette (Gewurztraminer cross); yellow apple, floral, spice, ginger, crisp
Lucas Vineyards 2014 semi-dry Riesling; fresh and fruity, tangy and juicy with a touchof petrol
Herman J Wiemer, 2009 Blanc de Blanc, 100% Chardonnay, barrel fermented cuvée aged on lees; crisp fruit, light and delightful
Standing Stone, 2013 Gewurztraminer, spicy with a rich body
Atwater, Chardonnay; tangy apples, citrus, oak. Very rich.
Sheldrake Point, Cabernet Franc Rosé; strawberry, cranberry, watermelon, tart and juicy with a subtle mineral finish
Knapp Rosé, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir blend; tart fruit, crisp acidity
Heron Hill, Bordeaux blend; soft red cherries, anise, silky tannins
Dr. Frank,2012 Cabernet Sauvignon; dark bing cherries, soft vanilla, great acidity
Chateau Lafayette Reneau, 2013 Meritage, oak aged; dark plums, oak, bing cherry, velvet tannins
Standing Stone, 2013, Saperavi (a teinturier grape from the country of Georgia) dried fruit, figs, dried cherries
Fox Run, 2012 Lemberger; earthy, dark bing cherries with a hint of chocolate on the finish
J R Dill Winery, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon; big dark cherries, with a soft touch of oak, slightly herbal
Ventosa, 2011, Cabernet Franc; sassy, playful red fruit with a whisper of purple flowers. Great acidity!
Damiani, 2012 Cabernet Franc; ripe, rich, dark fruit, oak, chocolate, very lush.