Monday, August 29, 2011

Ravines Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2008

It's Saturday night and just sitting here waiting for the rains from Hurricane Irene to start coming down.  Fortunately, all we are going to get here in Central New York is about 16 hours of rain with very mild winds. My friends in the D.C. and Virginia Beach area are not so lucky, so I'll wait out the storm thinking of them and praying that all is OK. But, I am not going to do that without sipping on a nice wine.
Today, one of my neighbors six year old was celebrating his birthday, so Shirley and I were invited to spend some time and enjoy a smorgasbord of Philippine cuisine. Nothing spicy in a vast selection of chicken, beef and fish selections with noodles and veggies all done in traditional Philippine manner. And nothing better to pair with the food then a 2008 Ravines Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($18) that I just brought home from our recent Keuka Lake Wine Tour.

Much more body than my favorite Sauvignon Blanc's from Chile with more mineral aromas on the nose with citrus and floral and a very clean aroma almost like baby powder. The wine was very thick in the mouth with soft citrus and honeysuckle. The finish was smooth and long and smooth and long and smooth. Very nice finish.

Paired very nicely with all the selections, especially the fish which I wasn't going to try because it looked like a pan of dead wrinkly fish with heads and tail still attached.  Not appetizing at all to look at, but very tasty.  I didn't ask what it was, but it seemed to be garnished or baked with a little lemon grass.

As I am writing this post, I am finishing the last glass with a few bits of Lively Run Goat Dairy Feta cheese. I have mentioned this before, I do not like Feta cheese and I do not like goat cheese of any kind, but I am addicted to this Feta from Lively Run and more so when paired with the right wine, that being a Finger Lakes white (or red). Tonight it just happens to be a very nice Sauvignon Blanc from Ravines Wine Cellars.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Day In the Finger Lakes 6 - Keuka Lake

Finally got to do something other than working around the house on my week off.  Shirley, I and our good friend Mark did a little day trip south on rte 54A and then around the South end of Keuka Lake to head North on rte 54.  Just so happens that Keuka Lake is the home of some of the finest wineries in the Finger Lakes.  We did have to miss a few, but we did get to tastes some outstanding wines, have a fantastic lunch, meet and talk with some very knowledgeable wine people and view one of the most scenic lakes in the region.
Our first stop was at Hunt Country Vineyards.  We got there just as US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was leaving a question and answer session with the local farmers and entrepreneurs. We did get in to do a little shopping while a make shift tasting area was being moved back indoors.  Our gracious server Char poured our wines, allowing us as many as we wanted because we waited for the crowd to clear out and for her to set up the tasting bar.  My favorite was the '09 Cayuga White.  Imagine that, me liking a semi-sweet (2.5% RS) over some real tasty dry wines.
Well, we had places to go and people to see, so back on the road heading for Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars. My second visit here and Mark's first, but I was stopping to pick up a limited release 2009 Cuvee d' Amour along with tasting some of what may be considered the most famous of all Finger Lakes wines. Mark was smiling widely tasting both the Dr. Frank and the Salmon Run Chardonnay while I could just not believe the 2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank Meritage. Our server Mark (not to be confused with my friend Mark) allowed us to taste this limited release wine.  WoW! this wine is fantastic, the best Finger Lakes Meritage and my hit of the day! (at least for now). We did not taste the Merlot or the Lemberger, but were amazed with the Gruner Veltliner and the Pinot Noir.  Shirley also likes the gift shop at Dr. Frank's and as last time here, she was able to cross off many of our Xmas gifts for this year.
Our next stop was a food break. Time for lunch, and guess what?? Sitting up on a hill overlooking the lake was the Blue Heron Café and one of my favorite wineries, Heron Hill Winery. I did plan it that way, but was able to keep a straight face and act a bit surprised. We all shared a Calabrese Wrap, a roasted Portabella Panini and a white Pizza with a glass of classic Chardonnay for Mark and a semi-dry Riesling for me.  Our first time at the Blue Heron and will definitely return when back in the region.  Oh wow, there's a tasting room right here in the same building, we may as well stop in and see what they have available. I don't think Shirley bought that, but what the hell there's a gift shop and she has the credit cards.
Inside we tasted the classic Heron Hill wines and some real nice Ingle Vineyard wines.  Mark of course was won over by the HH classic Chard while I enjoyed both the classic and Ingle Vineyard Pinot Noir and I was not leaving home without the 2008 Blaufrankisch.  Still saving the 2007 Blaufrankisch and I will lay this one down for a few years because this is the best Lemberger in the Finger Lakes, just not quite ready.  Each night I pray, dear Lord keep be going at least 10 more years, but a least remind me before my final days to open my Heron Hill Blaufrankisch. Our server was one of my earliest Finger Lakes contacts and a sometimes commenter on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, Tambi Schwiezer.  Always feels good to finally meet people you know only through social networking. Tambi is a do-all employee at the winery and one of the most personable servers I've encountered on my few trips through the region.  A real joy to talk with and discuss Heron Hill wines.  I also got to finally meet Kitty Oliver, Heron Hill's marketing and PR director whom I have been in contact with since the very beginning of the blog.  Could have stayed and chatted wine all day with both, but time was short and we had to move on.
Around the lake and now heading north on the East side our first stop was Ravines Wine Cellars. I could not wait to visit Ravines.  Two years ago, I fell in love with their 2007 Cabernet Franc.  Although I have tasted some awful good Cab Francs since, that one is still my favorite and may be the wine that finally convinced me that the Finger Lakes region is capable of producing some world class red wines. I would have enjoyed a Q and A session with owner and winemaker Morten Hallgren, but we were extremely honored to have his brother in law Abel serve and talk Ravines wine. I was here to taste the red wines, but the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2008 Argetsinger Vineyard Dry Riesling stole the show. I also enjoyed the 2008 Meritage. I am convinced that Bordeaux style Meritage is the direction the Finger Lakes should be heading as I am finding many very nice Meritage on all three trails.  That's another issue and maybe another post, but now is time to head to Mcgregor Vinyards and start swallowing.  It's getting late and I have already wasted some good wine to the spittoon. After all, Shirley is our DD and I am getting tired of driving.
A little bit off the path, but a very pleasant winery to visit.  No tasting bar, but tables where you can sit and chat about wine with your server.  You name the wines you wish to taste and they bring each out one at time and discuss each one as you relax and sip.  Our server for the day was Sue and her knowledge was extensive. Some very nice reds and delicious whites, but my favorite was the 2010 Rosé d' Cabernet Franc. I also found the surprise wine of the day and my hit of the day(sorry Dr. Frank),  a 2007 Black Russian Red - 30 Month Barrel Reserve made from Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni grapes which are unique to the McGregor Vineyards. These are Georgian grapes from the Black Sea area and are very intense and complex.  The 2007 is very ready for now, but will cellar for many years to come. They also serve a very nice cheese, chocolate and pesto with cracker plate with the tasting.
It was getting late and we had time for one more visit before heading home.  This turned out to be the most enjoyable visit of the day.  Lot's of wine knowledge and lot's of fun with Sharon and Beth at Rooster Hill Vineyards made our day. May have been because we were near the end of the day and for awhile the only ones in the tasting room, but for pleasant, funny at times and knowing each and every wine with very honest and accurate descriptions, Mark and I both agreed our most enjoyable stop on the tour. One wine of note was a blended white wine named Silver Pencil, but did not get what grapes and can't find what grapes are used for the blend.  Does taste a bit like Vidal Blanc, but still an awful nice summer wine.  We also had the opportunity to taste a Port wine that was just ready for bottling.  I am not a fan at all of Port wines, but this one was very tame and not overly sweet like most I've tasted.  We were visiting one day short of bottling and will have to wait a few months before ordering, but this is a delicious Port just begging to be paired with Shirley's chocolate lava cake with fresh raspberries and a drizzle of Chambord over the whipped cream.
That was it for the day.  Wish we could have visited a few more wineries, especially Keuka Spring. I brought home a few real nice Keuka Spring wines from this years Wine Fest and was hoping to taste a few more today.  Next time, East side of lake first.  Also known as Crooked Lake this is one of the most gorgeous sites in the region.  Not far from the Pennsylvania State Line makes this a great vacation spot and of course a nice place to visit for great wine.  The Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anyela's Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2007

"The story of Anyela's Vineyards began three generations ago in Eastern Europe and continues today on the hillside high above Skaneateles Lake. The Nocek family combines its viticultural experience with the cooler climate patterns and fertile soil to grow our select grapes.

Unlike other vineyards along neighboring Finger Lakes, we protect our vines from the cold after the fall harvest. One by one, we carefully remove them from the trellises and bury them in the rich earth to insulate the sensitive primary buds, which eventually become the fruit. In spring, we re-trellis the vine for maximum sun exposure. We also control our grape yield to cultivate the ripest, most flavorful fruit.

The above is a re-print from the home page of Anyela's Vineyards on Skaneateles Lake which is a Finger Lake, but lies on the cusp of the Finger Lakes Wine Region.  In fact, Anyela's is the lone winery on this beautiful lake which is the most eastern of the major Finger Lakes.

I found Anyela's wines at a local wine shop and was very surprised to find a Finger Lakes winery of this size and quality somewhat off the beaten path of what I knew as the FLX wine region. I had already finished the two white wines and found them very enjoyable, so this afternoon I chose to open and try their 2007 Cabernet Franc ($14).  I did this because Shirley had mentioned she may roast a chicken or do some BBQ chicken today if the rain holds up.

A glass in the early afternoon won't hurt, especially with such wonderful aromas of cherry, spice, a little leather and plum.  The mouthfeel was thick and fruity, very smooth with a feel of sweetness and loaded with lots of plum and a super finish.  This is a very good Cab Franc and will pair very well with tonight's chicken:

ALERT: WARNING: Oh no, not now!  I opened a red wine and you're making a Bouillabaisse??
That's mussels, fish and shrimp with lot's of veggies made with two cups of Riesling. 
Yep, that's what happened.  So, I brought my half filled glass of Cab/Franc to the table with an unopened bottle of white wine as a back up.  After the first taste of the red wine with the seafood soup I put the white wine away and brought out the rest of the Anyela's Cabernet Franc.  I could not believe how well they paired. So much for red with meat and white with fish.  I may even try this with my next steak and burger cook out.

I have not yet visited this winery, but since it is less than an hour from Syracuse it will make a very nice day trip this autumn or as soon as I can make some rack space for more great Cabernet Franc.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tapiz Malbec 2009

The temperature cooled down a bit tonight, but the humidity was terribly high, so when I got home from work I immediately turned on the air in the Man-Cave and decided tonight was a ginger-ale evening or at best a very cold Corona. After a few minutes catching up on today's emails, that insatiable yearning for a nice glass of wine took control.  Nights like tonight I usually go through my white wines, but for some reason, I just wanted, or better yet, yearned for a nice red and a Tapiz Malbec 2009 ($12) that was in the fridge since January was just the ticket.
One of the traditional Bordeaux varietals, Malbec has characteristics that fall somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  It can bring very deep color, ample tannin and a particular plum like flavor to add complexity to claret blends.
Originating from the Bordeaux region of France, this grape is among the "big six" for red wine grapes. However, with the exception of Cahors, its fame and fortune in France often ends there, as Malbec is generally a grape used for blending, with very little vine being devoted to its improvement or success. The story in Argentina is quite the opposite. Malbec has found both fame and glory in the sun-drenched climate of Argentina. This is Argentina's signature grape and it is quickly making a new name for itself with red wine lovers.  For, at least, the last three years I have said that this is the new FAD wine and inexpensive Malbec like this one from Tapiz is the reason why.
Aromas of black cherry, tobacco and a little bit of red raspberry and mocha with a bit of soil were very pleasant on the nose.  In the mouth there was lots of plum, blackberry with some mocha and a little spice that lead to a long finish with taste of black plum, tobacco and spice. Drank this with a milky Brie and crackers and enjoyed every bit.  This is a very smooth, low tannin wine that will pair really well with the summer grill.  Weather it's burgers, steak or chicken, this is a BBQ must have.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Salmon Run Meritage 2008

Grilled a few NY strip steaks this past week-end and looked forward to opening a nice red wine for change.  Seemed to be stuck on Finger Lakes white wines all summer.  I did pass on a few nice California reds though and stayed with the Finger Lakes and a Salmon Run Meritage 2008 ($11), a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 39.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Merlot.
In 1993, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars expanded production with the introduction of a value brand, Salmon Run, which is in honor of the majestic landlocked Salmon and beautiful Keuka Lake. I found the Salmon Run Meritage to be a lot more than expected for a value brand.
Lots of nice aromas.  Little licorice, some black currant, a dose of blueberry, a hint of smoke and a deep forest woodsy aroma on the nose.  Like the aromas there were lots of nice fruit flavors in the mouth of currant, plum, blackberry and a little spice.  The finish was nice and long, spicy, dry with a taste of currant.
Very nice choice with the grilled steak.  Had a glass later in the evening with a Yancy's Fancy Champagne Chedder cheese, made right here in the Finger Lakes.  This is becoming a favorite of mine.  A nice light flavor and soft texture cheese which I found pairs well with all my favorite white and red wines.  New York Cheese and New York Wine, two great reasons to love New York and the Finger Lakes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Keuka Spring Gewurztraminer 2010

Just dawned on me that I have to make room in the wine fridge for the wines I'll be bringing home from the Finger Lakes Riesling Fest on Sunday.  I just finished a nice Finger Lakes Gewurztraminer and was looking forward to a comparison with a few more I have on hand.
Tonight, I opened a 2010 Keuka Spring Gewurztraminer after work just to sip, relax and maybe toss in a bit of cheese.  It's no longer surprising when I uncork a Finger Lakes white wine and not just enjoy, but savor what is being produce in my own back yard and tonight was no exception. The wine: Keuka Spring Gewurztraminer 2010 ($17)
Can't say this any other way, but very sexy floral aromas with grapefruit and kiwi with a touch of banana, more like a banana walnut cake. Not anything like the banana aroma's I get with Beaujolais Nouveau, but a little softer and nuttier.
A real nice fullness in the mouth with taste of grapefruit, honey and again that very supple hint of banana bread. The finish was a tad short, but thick with a honey like taste and feel.
I tried a few cheeses and found some to be OK and some not.  A locally made Trillium cheese was a definite no-no. A light Havarati did nothing and a Greek Feta was pretty good.  Would have really liked to try an extra sharp Cheddar, but had none.  Maybe next time.  I also would like to try this on one of Shirley's zesty BBQ sauces or even pizza and 'hot' wings, well 'medium hot' anyway. For you white wine lovers, another must try, but then again, what Finger Lakes white wine isn't.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two From Red Newt Cellars

Tonight started out like any normal night around my house.  Day off, pleasant weather and a great night for grilling on the patio.  Shirley prepared a chicken breast marinated in Italian dressing and roasted carrots and yams. Of course, the magic is in the grilling and that's my job.  Choosing the wine is also my job, so tonight I chose a Gewurztraminer from Red Newt Cellars.  Love it, when I make a great wine choice.
I have often heard that the Finger Lakes makes great Riesling, but not much else. Bullshit on those that even think that. Finger Lakes is a cool climate region and does remarkably well on all cool climate grapes. If not a believer, then pour yourself a 2008 Red Newt Gewurztraminer.($16)
Aromas of peach, lychee and melon and a hint of honeysuckle with a little mineral and a nice smooth mouthfeel with taste of peach and some clementine orange. Ample dry finish that may pair well with spicy oriental, but was fantastic with the Italian seasoned grilled chicken,
The Gewurztraminer finished too fast and I just wanted to sit out on the patio until the skeeters arrived so to the wine fridge I went  and pulled out a Red Newt 2010  'circle' Riesling ($13).
Now most of my readers know, I am not into sweet wines,  My tolerance is about the 2.5%RS and the 'circle' Riesling comes in at 3.4%.  But, if there was ever a better evening to expand the palate, it was now.
Lots of peach, pear and honeysuckle in the sniffer. Just pleasant aromas. In the mouth I found some dry citrus with lots or ripe peach and melon.  A perfect wine to just sit on the patio, daydream, watch the neighbors walk by and know their probably finishing the evening with a cold Budweiser.
Should be emptying the fridge of my Rieslings.  This coming week-end is the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival, but tonight I am just enjoying wines from Red Newt Cellars. I can live with that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Finger Lakes Riesling Festival 2011

I posted this article a few hours ago and been told by Pam & Shirley that I have my dates confused about last year and that I am beginning to show my age, after all the memory does go first.  In the first post (since deleted) I mentioned the fact that I was unable to attend last years Finger Lakes Riesling Festival and that the '09 Fest was a torrential down pour.  I was quietly informed that it was last year Shirley and I attend the Festival in the rain and not '09. I knew I was in recovery from surgery, but did forget that Shirley drove me to Canandaigua on that very rainy Sunday in August. So I had to immediately delete the post and start all over.  I really did not have to delete that much of the post. so what follows is the original post minus the lapses.
  August 13-14, 2011  
This year's event promises to be bigger and better and I hope much drier than the last one I attended. 
Experts agree—Finger Lakes Rieslings are truly world class! And you can experience them for yourself in the Wine Garden! The area’s top wineries will be on hand, offering samples of their award-winning Rieslings and you can purchase Rieslings by the bottle for off-site consumption. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy live entertainment throughout the weekend in this adults-only venue.
Wegmans will be hosting the New York State Craft Beer Tent, located in the Wine Garden. For $10, festival goers will have the opportunity to sample beer from local breweries while enjoying live music.
Educational seminars every hour, both Saturday and Sunday and the New York Wine & Culinary Center will provide food demonstrations.
For the kids, there is Arts & Crafts, games, a bounce house and an inflatable obstacle course.
There will be a 5K Riesling Run and an Auto Show.  Can be a very busy and enjoyable weekend on the shores of Canadaigua Lake. Shirley and I will be there on Sunday the 14th.
For more info and directions visit the official web site here ... Finger Lakes Riesling Festival.  See you there.