Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Day At The Wine Fest

I'm going to start by saying that spending one day at the annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival is not enough. I still have not had an opportunity to spend the entire three days at the Glen, but on the other hand, I may just not have the space for all the wine I would be bringing home.  If that opportunity ever does arrive, I would have to visit all the local wine outlets before the Fest to collect an inventory of all the wines I can purchase locally and concentrate on the wines that are sold only at the wineries and festival.

This year, I went with the intent of stocking up on just Finger Lakes white and rosé wines, but did end up with a few reds after giving them a quick taste.  As always, there were a few big surprises.  Most of them are only because of my own ignorance of what is happening in the New York wine industry, not only in the Finger Lakes, but with other AVA's within the State.  Some of them were because I have failed to visit some of these wineries when I had the chance or have never took the time to taste their wines.  That is one of the reasons I like to attend these larger festivals.  Along with just stopping by my favorite wineries just to say Hi, I get to visit new wineries and taste their wines. I also wanted to take a ride around the Watkins Glen Race Track again.  Last time, I rode in one of the trucks.  This time I wanted to ride in one of the pace cars, but the line was already pretty long when we got there. So, I delayed the ride until later in the afternoon.  By then, I tasted too much wine to even think about taking curves at 100+ mph.  I passed the ride until next year.  For Shirley and Pam, the festival means lots of shopping for gifts and gourmet foods.  This year they were kind to our banking account.  When asked why so little, they remarked that they were a little disappointed in what was offered.  Many vendors, but not much made or grown in New York.  I do agree with their reasoning.  Local festival should showcase more local foods and more local arts and crafts.   As for me and my buddy Mark, we came for the wine.

First bit of business to take care of was visiting Carlo DeVito, owner of the Hudson Chatham Winery in Ghent NY and to taste his Port style wines.  I tasted one of them a few weeks earlier at the Owego Strawberry Festival and he promised to have all his Ports at the Glen.  Indeed he did.  I don't know anyone that gets more excited behind the tasting table, pouring and talking about their wines than Carlo, and he has every reason to do so.  I just recently became a fan of Port wines and was not expecting much from a NY winery,  but three of his five wines were brought home and will be opened at the next opportunity.  More on these wines in a later post.  I also had the privilege of being talked into sampling a red wine, although I had already explained to Tambi at Heron Hill Winery, that I was holding off the reds this trip.  But, she is so persistent. "Taste this one. It will be released in about three weeks and may be one of our best Eclipse Reds yet."   I did review the Eclipse 2004 about four years ago and feel an update or review on the new vintage will be coming soon.  A stop at Keuka Springs Winery, which is producing some of my favorite Finger Lakes whites also led to another red wine tasting that was simply to good to pass up buying.  Their Cabernet Franc will not be in the rack for long.  

Surprises were like, Surprising.  How else can you say that?  These, what I call surprises, may not be that astonishing to the few that know these wines and wineries, but for me!!!
The first was a banner we noticed behind a winery from Clayton NY.  Clayton is way up North on the St. Lawrence River where there is too much snow and way too cold for Eskimos in the winter.  At least, that is how I see Clayton.  The banner read " 2013 Finger Lakes Winery of the Year."   The award was won at the New York International Wine Competition in May of 2013. Over 3500 wines from 20 different countries and all 50 States were entered. Very Impressive honor, but what about their wines.  Are they really that tasty?  Mark and I just had to find out for ourselves.  The short answer is, YES!  Look for future postings on wines from Coyote Moon Vineyards. Also was a bit surprised at a few of the wines we tasted from Eagle Crest Vineyards, one of New York State's oldest wineries, located on Hemlock Lake in Conesus, NY.  This winery supplies almost all the altar wine used by churches all along the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic for over 140 years. Their white wines are pretty descent, especially the blends. We also stopped by the large tent displaying New York State's best selling wine,  Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Red Cat, the ultimate party wine at frat and sorority houses in many States. Way too sweet for me, but I was tempted to pick one up for my tax man and favorite Clam Bar bartender, who lives on Red Cat wine. Please, don't make the mistake I have always made by assuming that was the only style of wine produced at Hazlett.  Their flight of white wines displayed and poured in a smaller booth may have been the best wines we tasted all day. The Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Rieslings were all outstanding.  And then there was Emma and Alexandra.   Emma is the tasting room manager and Alexandra is the Assistant Wine Maker and Marketing Mgr. at Hector Wine Company, located on Seneca Lake in Hector NY.  Both these young ladies were extremely knowledgeable of their wines, vineyards and history and were very pleasant, courteous and very excited talking about the Company and the wines. This winery opened their doors in 2010 and are already producing great tasting, high quality wines.  Hazlitt, may have had the best flight of white wines at the Festival, but a yet to be released project, available for tasting, was the best wine I tasted all day.  Hopefully, when I visit in September that wine will be ready and waiting.
Until my next trip to the Finger Lakes, I will be enjoying the car load of wine now in the fridge, on the rack or on the floor waiting for space to open up in the cooler.  Many will be reviewed, I'm sure.  Just where do I begin???


Alexandra Doniger said...

Hi Joe! Alexandra from HWC here. Thanks for the great review. Just curious- what yet to be released project are you referring to?

joeshico said...

Wasn't quite sure of the release time. But, the 'Forge' wines we tasted I understood were not yet released. Let me know if a correction is warrented.

joeshico said...

Just cleared some spelling mistakes on this post and did learn that all the wines tasted at HWC are available at the Winery.