Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Day in the Finger Lakes

I am just sitting back enjoying one of the many New York Finger Lakes wines I brought home from last weeks tour.
Shirley and I started out a little late, but were able to taste some outstanding wines at five equally outstanding wineries along the southern east side of the Seneca Lake Trail and the west side of Keuka Lake.
Our first stop was at Damiani Wine Cellars. I put this stop first because it is definitely my favorite New York winery. We got to meet Amy Cheatle and the staff and tasted some of my favorites and some new reds along with a surprisingly nice Sauvignon Blanc and I must admit a real nice Syrah. Amy talked me into trying the Syrah, a wine not very high on my list of favorites. Amy also saved the best for last, an '07 Meritage recently bottled for a September release. Think I could have spent the day there, but had to leave to see what else the Finger Lakes had to offer.
A short ride north of Damiani is the Red Newt Cellars. I listed this stop because of referals from friends and wine shops, a great web-site and a Bistro that was, unfortunately, not open on Mondays. There I tasted more reds and found an interesting blend 'Viridescens', a bordeaux style blend of Cab Franc, Cab/Sauv and Merlot. A bit pricey but one of those 'have to have' wines. It was also a 2005, which I learned on this tour was a long summer and a fantastic year for the Finger Lakes reds.
Our final Seneca Trail stop was at the scenic Chateau Lafayette Reneau. I was told that this is the most photographed winery on the lake. Just pulling into the parking lot one can see why. Chateau Lafayette offers a wide choice of many award winning wines. I was impressed with the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Franc. Shirley was also impressed with the store and filled a nice selection of chocolates and crackers into her bag.
Because of our late start, we decided to head to Watkins Glen for a snack and then head over to Keuka Lake. From there we would head north and stop for dinner in Penn Yan. Instead of stopping to eat, we munched on the crackers and chocolates with a few pieces of fruit we brought along.
The ride to Hammondsport was not as long as I thought so we were able to stop at two more wineries before heading home . The first was a must do. Last week I received a complimentary bottle of Heron Hill Blaufrankisch from Kitty Oliver of Heron Hill marketing. I was hoping to meet her to say thank you, but this was a day she decided to head home early and I missed that meeting. I did though, get to spend some time with John in the tasting room. John introduced me to just about all the reds on hand and I was very pleased with what he was delivering. I had already done a review on the 2004 Eclipse, so we skipped that one. He also let me compare the Classic Pinot Noir against their Premium Ingle Vineyards Pinot Noir and the Classic Cabernet Franc against the their Premium Ingle Vineyards CF. That ended up in a tie. I took home a bottle of the Classic Pinot Noir and the Ingle Vineyards Cabernet Franc. But, here's the real shocker!! John suggested I try a CabFranc dry Rose'. The last time I had a Rose' was before I got married (1971). They were all sweet. So, I spend the next 38 years believing all Rose' wine was sweet. Never looked at another one til now. Can't wait to open the one I took home. Thank you John and Heron Hill. Before I forget, a Gamebird red also went home, another interesting Heron Hill wine. This is were Shirley took over the driving duties till we got home. Just can't bear to spit out good wine!
With time for one more stop, we were able to visit the 'Grandaddy' of all Finger Lakes Wineries, Dr. Konstantin Frank. I have heard so much of Dr. Frank wines over the years, I can't believe that I have never tried any until last year when I was stocking up on Finger Lakes 'dry' Rieslings. I knew how good the Rieslings were, but on this trip I was searching out reds. And, Dr. Frank delivered some of the finest reds of the day. Also, for a true amateur like me, it was like going to school to learn about wine and the Finger Lakes region. Serving at the tasting bar was Dick Schied, a gentleman with a wealth of knowledge about his wines and the region. Just listening to his answers of my queries and explanations of the varietals, the hybrids and the viniferas was worth the trip. Cheers Dick, hope we get to meet again. Among the wines going home from Dr. Franks was a Lemberger and a Cuvee d'Amour. The Lemberger was the best I have tasted and it would make for a good comparison when opening the Heron Hill Blaufrankisch. The Cuvee d'Amour was just absolutely the winner for best wine tasted on this day. Both the Lemberger and the Cuvee d'Amour can only be purchased on-line or at the winery store. Sure hope they have some at the WineFest.
Overall it was a beautiful day. I met an awful lot of great people and tasted an awful lot of good Finger Lakes wines. We enjoyed a great meal at the Essenhause Restaurant in Penn Yan and brought home a fridge full of great wine. Next up is the Finger Lakes Wine Festival at the race track in Watkins Glen and another tour in September.
Now the fun starts, I have to chose a few of these wonderful wines for my Joeshico Wine Reviews. Maybe, I'll need a few more of each.


The Wine Whore said...

That Dry Rose sounds pretty cool... I can't wait to hear more about it!

I hear so many great things about Finger Lakes... I really need to check out some of these wineries. If only there was something like this in Florida... I think I really need to move. :)


Kitty Oliver said...

I'm so sorry that I didn't get to meet you - figures that it's the only day I had to leave early. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to the FLX, sounds like you got to visit a few great wineries! Cheers, hope to meet you next time.

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Your reviews of the Finger Lakes region have been great! Hopefully, we will make the trek next spring to see for ourselves.

We do not often get a chance to taste wines from the region since few are imported to the west coast. Those we have tried have backed up what we read.

As a big fan of Austian Blaufrankisch I am glad to see it being grown in the US. A little is grown in Washington state but most vintages we have tried have fallen short of what we would consider great.

Thanks for the great reviews.


pennwino said...

doing wine tour in Pennsylvania this week-end. Nothing like you have in the Finger Lakes. Maybe get there next summer. Your post makes it sound to good to pass up.

Shelly said...

What a great trip. Sounds like you had a wonderful time and came home with some great wines. Glad you were able to get away and thanks for sharing your experience, It was almost as good as being there.

Morgen McLaughlin said...

Glad you had a nice trip to the Finger Lakes!


very good

bibliochef said...

Nice choices of where to visit. Have you been to Shalestone? I recommend that. And a restruarant called the Stone Cat Cafe