Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Day in the Finger Lakes 4 "Wine and Food"

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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chateau Lafayette Reneau dry and semidry Riesling 2008

With May and New York Riesling month coming to close soon, it is safe to say that I tasted more Riesling this month than any one year in my life.  The hard part was deciding which ones I would post on the blog.  After this article I will post once more on a NY Riesling and may list all those I have had. I also chose a few, either drier or sweeter Rieslings, that were previously reviewed.  This turned out to be a little difficult for me to compare a dry I tasted this week to a semi-dry that I tasted six to eight months ago.  There were some differences in what I posted in aromas and I tried to remember what differences there may have been in some of the floral and citrus characteristics.  I guess I should have been keeping notes and making them more accurate.  It's also a reminder that I may be out of pre-school when it comes to wine tasting, but I still haven't made it to Jr. High.

This week I decided to open a dry and semi-dry from the same winery to compare and I chose one of the nicest Rieslings so far; Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2008. Both were opened with a BBQ chicken dinner. Since I do prefer drier wines, I uncorked the semi-dry first.  Why, I'm not sure.  Maybe it was the idea of saving the better for last.  Anyway, I did find them different, but not necessarily one being better than the other.


Winemakers notes: semi-dry ($15)

Pale gold color with pineapple and honeysuckle aroma.  Lovely in the mouth with a long, lingering spicy pear finish.  Abundance of Riesling character.

My notes:

Aromas of melon, floral(honeysuckle) and grapefruit with a mouthful of grapefruit finishing long, citrusy and sweet, but not as sweet as I expected. I actually liked this one better with the chicken and fresh asparagus.

Winemakers notes: dry ($15)

An appealing apple-like tartness perfectly structured to enhance any meal. Pale straw in color, this elegant wine is light in the mouth and reveals notable citrus character.

My notes:

I found this wine to have a much lighter aroma with some citrus, honeydew melon and honeysuckle.  More zing, pink grapefruit and thicker feel of honey in the mouth. Finish was long, dry with some sweet taste like you get when eating honey. Truly enjoyable.  The dry Riesling was my favorite of the two. Of course, that's me.  But, the semi-dry paired better with the chicken. Either way you can't lose.

This week I will be visiting the east side of Seneca Lake and hope I have time to re-visit  Chateau Lafayette Reneau.  I have some relatives in PA that will absolutely love these wines and I'll be there on Friday with a case of NY Rieslings.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Long Point Winery semi-dry Riesling 2008

This past Monday evening was a first for me on-line.  Because of my work schedule and Shirley's extra long 'honey-do' list I never have the chance to do a tweet up on Twitter or follow a wine party on Facebook.

During the month of May at 8 pm on Mondays anyone can open a bottle of  Riesling from any Finger Lakes winery and join in on Facebook or Twitter to chat about what wine you are having for the evening.  You can add comments or photos or just sit back, relax, read what others are having and just sip away on your own wine.

My choice for the evening was a 2008 semi-dry Riesling($14) from the Long Point Winery. Long Point Winery is located on the east side of Cayuga Lake on scenic Route 90 in Aurora, New York. The winery sits on 72 acres of land overlooking beautiful Cayuga Lake. Guests are treated to a tasting of fine wines and the spectacular view that the tasting room provides.

The wine had light aromas of apple and citrus.  Did not get any floral aromas like I've been finding in all the other Rieslings I've had this month.  All from the Seneca Lake wineries. Don't know if there is a difference between the two lakes.  A little less mineral also. In the mouth there was lot's of melon, some tropical fruit and some great citrus, even a little pineapple. This wine that started out light on the aroma's really came through on the palate and finished crisp and long.

Paired very well with Shirley's home-made taco's made with ground turkey, chili sauce and green pepper smothered with Green Mountain salsa.  A bit spicy meant most of the bottle disappeared at the dinner table, but I did save a glass for later to enjoy while chatting with some new friends on Facebook and Twitter. Beautiful way to cap off a busy day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Zugibe semi-dry Riesling 2008

This past weeks edition of the Syracuse New Times, a weekly alternative newspaper published in Syracuse, New York, contained an interesting article on Finger Lakes Riesling.  Titled 'Grape Expectations,'  the article promoted Riesling month in the Finger Lakes and interviewed the proprietor (Gary Decker) of one of my favorite wine shops (Vinomania) in Syracuse. Gary noted four wineries, one of which I vaguely remember from an article written by Evan Dawson for the New York Cork Report.  Evan is passionate about Finger Lakes wines and authors some of the most interesting articles on the subject. His article "Life, Death and Rebirth at Zugibe" is the story of a winery, that survived the death of their founder just weeks before their first vintage.  Their rise out of adversity is signified by the Phoenix found on the Zubibe labels.

This past Saturday I was able stop by Vinomania and pick up the Rieslings mentioned in the New Times article.   The only one sold out was Ravines, but I did bring home the other three.  The first one I opened was the Zugibe semi-dry 2008($14).  Shirley did not feel like working in the kitchen today so we dined on Chinese take-out.  I was the only one drinking wine and that meant a pairing with chicken and broccoli.  After tonight, Riesling will now be my wine of choice with that meal.

All the characteristic aromas of Finger Lakes Riesling were present.  A nice blend of grapefruit, floral (honeysuckle) with some melon lead to a nice mouthful of citrus, melon and peach and a hint of sweetness.  Sipping later was delightful.

I was starting to put together an itinerary for a May 26 wine tour and just added Zugibe Vineyards to the top of my list.  We will probably stay on the east side of Seneca Lake this time and plan to do a Cayuga Trail tour in June.  Getting ready for some fun.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brotherhood Dry Riesling 2008

To continue Riesling month here in New York, I wanted to find something other than my favorites from the Finger Lakes region.  Doing so seemed almost impossible.  Other than ordering on line, it is very difficult to find New York wines other than Finger Lakes and Adirondack wineries in the local shops.  Thankfully, my son was able to obtain some from the Hudson Valley through one of the distributors he uses for his lounge.
This past week-end, my pal Mark and I were able to taste two Rieslings from the Brotherhood Winery located in Washingtonville (Hudson Valley) NY on the Shawangunk Wine Trail.  Brotherhood also happens to be America's oldest winery.
In 1810, a French Huguenot emigre named Jean Jacques purchased land in New York's bucolic Hudson Valley and began planting grapes.  By 1837, Mr. Jacques needed more land, so he purchased a plot in the quiet village of Washingtonville, NY, and planted another vineyard.  By 1839, his first underground cellars were dug and Mr. Jacques fermented his first wine vintage.  Those cellars, the oldest and largest in America, are still in use today at Brotherhood Winery.
Enough history. To learn more about the winery, please visit their website at

The two wines we tasted were the 2008 Riesling and the 2008 'dry' Riesling.  Mark was more into the sweeter Riesling.  This was confirmed last July at the Finger Lakes wine fest were we blind tasted four different Rieslings.  He noted the floral and citrus aromas with some tropical fruits and enjoyed the pairing with his Mediterranean flat bread pizza. His wine was just a tad too sweet for my palate, although I am now finding enjoyable semi-sweet wines and gradually accepting sweeter white wines.
I also snacked on the Mediterranean pizza (two cheeses, roasted red peppers and kalamata olives), my favorite item on his menu and always with a red wine.  This time, though, I paired with the 'dry' Riesling.

Winemaker's notes:
Crisp, dry and racy, with grapefruit and pear scents, this Riesling-for-food shows the ripe fruit flavors and slightly mineral qualities of its fine European relatives.

My notes:
Aromas of grapefruit, a light floral scent of honeysuckle with some peach or apricot. Nice dry and fruity with a long finish of slate and citrus.  Surprised the hell out of me at how well the wine paired with my pizza and with a side of dutch fries (french fries covered with a dutch mayo, onions and peanut sauce).

The Brotherhood Rieslings($10), from the Hudson Valley region of New York, are as good as many of my favorite Finger Lakes Rieslings and can be purchased on line or at many shops around the country, if you are lucky enough to live near the ones given on their web site. Now looking forward to 4 day trip to New York City and some Long Island Merlots and some more Hudson Valley wines.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Red Tail Ridge semi-dry Riesling 2008

Just finished watching the movie "Avatar" while sipping on my first Riesling of the summer.  A Finger Lakes Riesling of course.
This month is Riesling month in New York and this will be the first of many I'll enjoy over the next 30 days.

The 2008 Red Tail Ridge semi-dry Riesling was suggested by my sister-in-law.  Now Cyn has always favored a Riesling from another State, which I won't mention, until just recently. This is now one of her favorites.

Before watching the movie I was treated to some take-home left overs that Shirley brought home after a night out with our daughter Pam. Breaded chicken stuffed with crab finished in a white sauce with salmon roe and capers. Sound good?  You wouldn't believe how good.  Meal needed something crispy and white for the accompaniment and Cyn's suggestion filled the need.

Winemakers notes:
Tropical aromas of pineapple, banana, and mango, followed by sweet juicy pear and crisp citrus flavors on the palate, with a little grapefruit zing in the finish. *Fruit sourced from Red Tail Ridge Vineyard, Seneca Lake.

My notes:
Lots of tangerine, grapefruit and apple aromas, followed by green apple and grapefruit on the palate.  The zing was pink grapefruit with a little sugar on top.

Great wine to start off Riesling month and great price at $16. May is going to be an exciting month.  Lot's of New York Rieslings to try and a day touring on the Finger Lakes in a few weeks.  What else is better!