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.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Quinta Da Cortezia Reserva 2004

One of the most difficult time's I have on a short vacation is waiting for the train to take me home. To kill time I visit or window shop the shops at the station and sometimes get awful lucky by finding a great deal. This past week-end was one of those days and that great deal was in a wine shop. The shop had a small selection of Portuguese wines and I only had about $15 in my wallet, so I chose a inexpensive Quinta Da Cortezia 2004 Reserva. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Merlot and Tinta Roriz (tempranillo)

Winemaker's Notes:
"The reserve is a very deep black ruby in colour. The aromas of appealing ripe red cherries and plum with plenty of complementary sweet, toasted vanilla-like french oak. The mouthful is soft and round yet has a burst of cherry and plum sweet flavours. The structure here is firm and powerful, being a flavourful wine is also a good wine to age. The initial entry palate is soft, but the flavours and intensity of the wine builds across the mid-palate ending with a long finish. Drink now or through the next 5 years."

My Notes:
The color is dark garnet red. On the nose I get dark plum and black cherry with leather. Aromas are light and pleasant. This wine really sits well on the palate. It's soft and full of flavor with a hint of tobacco. Rich in tannins it gives a very long finish. Gonna save some for a few day's because Shirley has a pork loin in the fridge and this wine would be a perfect compliment.
On second thought, I think I'll drink it all now and find something else for the pork loin.

I found this in NYC at Penn Wines on the Long Island Platform in Penn Station. I have been having a hard time finding Portuguese wines here at home so I guess I'll have to plan another trip to the Big Apple and bring home a few bottles of this one. Especially, at only $10,

Take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008

I really enjoy shopping for wine and finding one that I never tried and end up putting it on my list of must have wines. Today, I stopped in to buy a Sauvignon Blanc for the evening. I knew what I wanted, one that is already on that list, but also found a new one sitting next to mine and decided to take one home to try. Today, I chose a good one. A Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008.
One of New Zealand’s largest family-owned wine companies, Babich Wines was established in 1916 and has evolved as a major producer, now exporting to numerous markets around the world.
Babich Wines combines the craftsmanship of today with the experience won from years of pioneering viticulture and winemaking. Sustainable production and a willingness to invest in the future ensures that this approach will continue to deliver fine wines which fully reflect the fruit of the variety and the terroir of the land.
These are wines that are designed to be enjoyed. Over 90 years on from its foundation, Babich offers wines at several price points, all of them great value.
Tasting Notes:
This wine displays lifted tropical fruits with notes of lantana and capsicum. There is a passion fruit entry on the palate coupled with citrus and wild cape gooseberry notes that linger, and are quite literally mouthwatering! This is a balanced wine, with a texture that will match well with food but is equally enjoyable on its own.
My Notes:

Still can't imagine anyone getting so many aromas in a wine and every time I research a wine, most "connoiseurs" get everything from doggie do do to Jo Malone fragrances. I think they are just trying to impress. I read a half dozen reviews on this wine and every one got something different from fresh cut green grass to peppermint. Please, if your really going to review a wine, blow your nose before you start. In six different reviews this is what I read, in no particular order: Peach, Grapefruit, Jalapeno Pepper, Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruits, Wild Herbs, Kiwi, Passion Fruit, Musk, Mineral, Green Grass, Floral, Ripe Melon, Apple, Green Apple, Pear, Citrus, Lime, Gooseberry, Peppermint and the ever popular Lantana and Capsicum. I must have a screwed up nose. The tropical fruits I get with a little grapefruit and slate and a little fresh mowed green grass. What the heck is lantana and capsicum? A very alluring light green color makes this actually eye appealling in the glass.
I bought this wine because it was sitting next to the Kim Crawford I was looking for and I always try to buy something new when in a wine shop. I knew nothing of the Babich winery, but now I'll be looking for other Babich wines.
This wine is awesome! First glass was on it's own and great. Second was with Tuna Salad and it was great. Third was with a Chocolate Rasberry dessert and it was fantastic. Fourth and final glass was on its own again and still great. Should have bought two. Better yet at only $11,
Take it from an amateur wine lover....Great Buy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

I have a daughter that is living at home right now while she fixes up a house she bought a few months ago. She is very much into eating healthy and buys only organic veggies and fruits and free range meats, eggs and cheeses.
I kinda surprised her this evening by opening a California Cabernet Sauvignon made with organic grapes. I did not know that fact when I bought the wine. I just wanted something reasonably priced for a dinner of sausage, peppers and onions with fresh asparagus and a great chef salad. That's a regular fair in my house and I like Cab/Sav with that meal.
The wine was a 2007 Bonterra Vinyards Cabernet.

Bonterra's holistic approach to winemaking took root in 1987, when they were experimenting with wine and food pairings. The fruits, vegetables and herbs they used came from their extensive organic garden. The purity, intensity and freshness of the flavors were amazing. From that point on, they committed themselves to growing grapes organically. Today they are one of the standard bearers for organic wines in California.

Winemakers notes:
This organic Cabernet Sauvignon offers aromas of bing cherry, currants and raspberries, with spicy notes of cedar and dried cranberry, and gentle vanilla notes. In the glass you'll find juicy red berry flavors, and a very approachable, medium-bodied mouthfeel.

My notes:
I sniff and I sniff and I sniff....Where do they find all these aromas? Definitely cherry, what kind of cherry beats me and a little spicy note of cedar and hint of vanilla and a bunch of plum. I love red plums, eat them all the time and this aroma was really like a fresh bag of plums.
Very smooth on the palate and the finish was just short of magnificato.

This was not just a good 'organic' wine, it was a great organic wine. Bonterra adds a little Merlot and Syrah to expand it's flavor and texture.

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon is a definite buy again wine and at only $16

Take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Heron Hill Eclipse 2004

I have no idea what occurred between the early 1980's and present in the case of New York Finger Lakes red wines. I honestly tried many of them between 1973 when I moved into the region until, I gave up on them around 1980. After that, I basically stayed with my favorite European red wines. Last year, on the Cayuga Wine Trail, I finally found a few very nice reds and this past year discovered a new Finger Lakes winery that is producing some very excellent reds, the Damiani Wine Cellars.

At a recent night out, a very nice lady and I got into a conversation about local wines. Her favorite was a red table wine from Heron Hill Wines. Today, I found a bottle of Eclipse 2004 on the shelf of a local Mom and Pop shop and decided I should give it a try.

The wine is a bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but more of a medium body and a bit fruity. A nice cherry aroma with a little cranberry or mixed cran/blueberry. Light tannins, a little acidity and not overpowering. Monday nights are usually Pizza and wings at my house and this wine was a perfect match. Left a few glasses to sip on while I do my updates and enjoyed every bit.

Another real nice Finger Lakes red and at only $17,

Take it from an amateur wine lover: Great Buy!