About 5:15 pm yesterday I was thinking about how wine touring in the Finger Lakes really sucks. Not because of all the nice wines and great food (more on the food later), but because there is just not enough time in the day to stop by and visit all the wineries on your list. When you are leaving one winery and approaching Rte 414 and there is only 20 minutes til closing (for most wineries) and you check your list and there are at least four more wineries that you really wanted to visit, a choice must me made. I'll just have to wait til July and the annual FLX Wine Fest or talk Shirley into another trip to Seneca Lake. Maybe both!!
The day started at one winery that was not on the list. Turned out to be one of the highlights of the day. Originally we (Shirley, friend and fellow wino Mark and I) were going to visit Zugibe Vineyards on the north end of Seneca Lake and then head south. We showed up a little before the tasting room opened, so we headed over to Three Brothers Winery located less than a mile away. Hard to describe one of the most, if not most unique stops on the tour. Three unique wineries and a microbrewery all in one estate.
After visiting all four venues, owner Dave Mansfield gave us a tour of the winery and tapped a few of his finest wines from the stainless steel tanks lying beneath the Stoney Lonesome Estate tasting room. One in particular was a "white" Merlot which was being bottled in the adjoining room. Thanks Dave for the still unsealed bottle. It will not be in my rack long.
Riesling, Riesling and more Riesling was why I was visiting on this day and there was no shortage of good Rieslings, starting with a nice dry 2007 at Zugibe Vineyards. After reviewing the semi-dry earlier this month, I was anxious to try the dry and sweeter wines here. I was not disappointed. I also tasted and brought home a 2008 Gewurztraminer.
Our next stops were Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars and Wagner Vineyards. Lamoreaux had just released five 2009's Rieslings. The '09 Yellow Dog Vineyard was my pick over the Red Oak Vineyard and the Round Rock Vineyard, but I thought I should at least bring one of each home along with the '08 Reserve for further tasting. Mark, who loves his Chardonnay, found his best of the day with the '07 Chard and the '07 Reserve Chard. A short ride down to Wagner found more delicious '07 dry Riesling and an even better '07 semi-dry along with another Chardonnay for Mark, an '07 French oak-aged Reserve.
Back on the road and headed to Red Newt Cellars and Bistro for one fantastic lunch and of course more fantastic wines. But here is where today's wines were completely out done by the food. We all shared two appetizers. One a grilled shrimp and pineapple skewers over spicy greens, rice noodles, red bell pepper and a lemon vinaigrette and the other an Artisan cheese platter with Mediterranean olives, house relish of roasted red pepper, a home made baguette with maple verjooz drizzle and three excellent cheeses, an old German Weissa Kase, a Samun Cheddar and a mountain home wood smoked Cheddar. Main course for Shirley was a wonderful veggie wrap and Mark chose the thick free range burger with free range bacon, cheddar and avocado, while I took honors of best pick with a Southwestern Burrito special. The Burrito was filled heavily with pulled chicken, onions, cilantro, celery, fresh jalapenos, tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese and loads of black beans served with spicy tomato rice. All that and a flight of off-dry Rieslings. WoW!!!
One incident did occur while at the Bistro. Clumsy Mark dumped a full glass of water on Shirley's lap. Thankfully one of the busboys (I think), who was well trained in spills, came from the kitchen and expertly wiped the spill. His name was Dave and he was a very busy employee and had a little pull. He couldn't stay long and chat, but he did make sure we were to be treated well in the tasting room after our dessert. He should get a raise. Thanks Dave for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by.
More great Rieslings in the Red Newt tasting room. Of course, I didn't expect less. As I am writing this post I am sipping on a 2008 RNC dry Riesling, one of a few now in my cooler. I will be taking a case of Finger Lakes Rieslings to PA this week end for my brother John and his wife Carolyn who are avid wine drinkers. Sorry guys, but you are not getting any of my Red Newt, their staying here.
We lost a lot of time at Red Newt and this is where we had to decide on one more winery for the day. Not an easy decision, but it was on to Atwater Estate Vineyards. Very lucky to get there at the same time winemaker Vincent Aliperti and owner Ted Marks were in the tasting room. Very unlucky that both were very busy with a VIP from NYC, but Ted did break away for awhile to come over and chat. He then left us in the good hands of tasting room employee Allison (hope the spelling's right) to run through the gamut of what I believe, at this time, are the best wines on Seneca Lake. The dry Riesling and the Riesling, which is more of a semi-dry at 2.2% RS were beautiful as was the Gewurztraminer. Filled up with a few whites and also picked up one Atwater Estates Syrah. I know today was a Riesling day, but I can never pass by an Atwater Syrah without picking up at least one.
I now have a good supply of my summer wines. I know I should expand the varietals a bit, but when Finger Lakes Rieslings are on hand, WHY!! Clean up the grill, summer is now officially here.