Wines That Will Wow You, Flourish in the Finger Lakes
By John Dunham with Alison Blackman
Looking for wines that are cool, affordable, different for Summer sipping and soirees? You might not have considered New York State Wines lately, but you should: wines that will wow you, flourish in the Finger Lakes! The Advice Sisters got a chance to sample and savor some of the region’s best varietals, during Finger Lakes Wine Month.
Finger Lakes Wine Month is an opportunity for those in the wine industry, the media, and consumers to learn more about the wide range of “wow!” in Finger Lakes wines. It’s an annual partnership program with Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association concentrating on trade, media, and some consumer promotion of Finger Lakes wines, Events both in personal and online are held in May throughout New York State and beyond.
While the Advice Sisters didn’t get a chance to visit the Finger Lakes in upstate New York in person this time, we have visited in the past. Visiting the many wineries in the regions is a fun way to spend a long weekend in Upstate New York. This time, we participated.in the last online Wine Hour/Wine Chat to celebrate the end of Finger Lakes Wine Month. The virtual event brought together vintners, wine experts and media for a Tweetup to taste and discuss a wide range of wines from the region. In addition, we samples four Finger Lakes wines and our tasting notes are below along with photos taken during the virtual wine chat, at our desk while we were tweeting.
The Finger Lakes are already known for some of the best American Riesling wines, but it also produces a wide range of traditional and local varietals. In fact, the Finger Lakes AVA (American Viticultural Area) is the largest wine-growing region in New York State and contains over 100 wineries surrounding Canandaigua Lake, Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. The wines sampled during the Virtual Wine Chat showcased the wide range that wines from the region offer both in aroma, taste and personality. From a dry Riesling to a Syrah all four were well constructed representations of their specific varietals.
The tasting began with a Dry Riesling from the Boundary Breaks vineyard located on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. The winery only produces Riesling and works with other wineries in the region to produce a range of small batch, single-vineyard wines. During the tasting we sampled the #239 Boundary Breaks Dry Riesling (2013) ($20) which was produced at Fox Run. The name is that of the grape clone used in the wine which was pale yellow in color with a kind of flinty mushroomy nose. The wine itself was light and slightly sweet with good structure and acid. There was honey on the finish but this dissipated quickly. A solid Riesling with some non-traditional characteristics, this would pair well particularly with spicy foods or served very chilled with some wine and cheese for your outdoor cocktail hour!
Another varietal that the Finger Lakes AVA is known for is Gewurztraminer, a German grape varietal that developed in South Tyrol, the German-speaking province in what is now northern Italy. We tasted the Glenora 2013 Gewurztraminer ($15). The wine was pale yellow in color and had a nose that was floral in nature with dominant notes of honeysuckle. The wine was bright with good acidity. There was a lot of minerality on the front of the palate and the wine finished strong with flavors of dried apricot and citrus. This is a good fish wine which will do well paired with shellfish, salmon or even fish tacos. Glenora is one of the region’s largest wineries hosting an inn and restaurant along with the winery and tasting room. It is located on the southwestern corner of Seneca Lake.
One of Alison’s favorite varietals is Cabernet Franc, and it is a varietal that works well in the Northeastern United States . Cabernet Franc is highly aromatic, a Bordeaux varietal traditionally used as a blending wine in France, but more often than not bottled as a varietal wine in New York and Pennsylvania. At the Tweetup we tasted the Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2012 Cabernet Franc ($20) which was just bottled in April of 2015. The winery is located on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake across from Glenora. This winery also has an inn and produces a range of small production wines. In fact, only 75 cases of the 2012 Cabernet Franc were produced. The wine itself was ruby in color with a nose featuring black fruits and some cassis. The palate was well balanced with soft tannins and was very fruit forward. Cherries, black fruits and chocolate featured prominently. This is a wine that could age but is showing very well young. It is a good Bordeaux choice for drinking with heavier foods like beef or lamb and a good value too!
The final wine was actually a wow and a surprise. As with everything The Advice Sisters review, personal tastes are highly subjective and neither Alison nor I are particularly fond of traditional Syrah wines. But the Hector Wine Company, which is a relatively young winery located on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, has produced a Syrah that really did wow us. This Rhone grape might not be expected to do well in the cooler Finger Lakes region, but the wine is quite good, even though it does not have the same flavor profile as a French Rhone or Australian Shiraz. The Hector Wine Company 2013 Syrah ($26) was garnet in color with a spicy nose overlaid with black fruits. The palate featured soft supple tannins, not what one expects from this grape, and flavors of black cherry, plum and some spice on the finish. The smooth, well balanced wine would work with a range of foods from barbecue to beef. This is a wine that will impress your guests, and makes a nice hostess gift as well.
The Finger Lakes AVA is one of America’s largest wine regions outside of California, and is located less than a day’s drive from New York City, Philadelphia, or Boston. The region is an excellent destination for wine tastings and produces some surprisingly wonderful wines. For more information visit the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance web site . Also Visit the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance on Facebook