A Taste of New York in London

The beautiful Finger Lakes

Regular reader will know that I loved touring  New York’s Finger Lake region last year. It is a very beautiful place and extremely interesting from a wine point of view. It produces some superb wines too and I was thrilled by the wines that I found there. It is very easy to write these more unusual places off as makers of novelty wines, but what they make in the Finger Lakes is often very good indeed and shows that it is a wine region of real quality that can hold its head up in the wine world and be taken on its own merits.

The only downside is that all the wineries are tiny boutique places really, so there is precious little made and what they do have is mainly sold at the winery door. Finger Lake wines hardly ever leaves the state before it is sold, let alone the country. I thought that was a shame and decided to try and make them available to a wider audience, albeit in a small way. So I managed to ship a small amount of the  most exciting Finger Lake wines over to the UK.

The result is that I am leading a tasting of the best of the Finger Lakes in London on 7 March 2012. It will be at the West London Wine School in Fulham, places are limited and will sell out fast, so book early – who knows, it might be your only chance to try them.

We will try some superb sparkling wine, a Meritage blend, an amazing and unusual Chardonnay, some world-class Riesling, great Pinot Noir, whacky but exciting local blends and more. So join me there for some lovely wines and a rare experience.

Sheldrake Point – the Finger Lakes explained

I really enjoyed visiting the Sheldrake Point Vineyard, it seemed to encapsulate the Finger Lakes wine region – or the modern take on it anyway. Sheldrake Point is a new winery, founded in 1997 by winemaker Bob Madill and managing partner Chuck Tauck and – like the region’s pioneers Dr Frank and Hermann Wiemer – they chose a sheltered site on the western shore of one of the Finger Lakes – Cayuga Lake in this instance. Continue reading

A Touch of Europe or Local Terroir?

The Hermann J Wiemer vineyard & winery

This was one of my favourite winery visits of my recent trip to New York. The Hermann J Wiemer winery made wines that really thrilled and spoke to me, as their literature states ‘wines in the finest European tradition from the heart of the Finger Lakes’.

I am not convinced that their wines are made entirely in the European tradition, but they do have a delicacy and a finesse that is very attractive. In my opinion though these are Finger Lake wines rather than European and I think that is how it should be. Continue reading

I’m back…

Well I am finally back from the New York Finger Lakes and the Niagara Peninsula in Canada. I had a great time, saw some amazing sights and met many wonderful people. After my last piece I visited the Finger Lakes Wine Festival at Watkins Glen where I experienced the American wine consumer up close.

It was great fun with lots of wines to try as well as interesting foods, local beers and some terrific music. Continue reading

Finger Lakes New York – part 5, Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake from Château Lafayette Reneau

Seneca Lake from Château Lafayette Reneau

What a day it was, action packed to such a degree that I have run out of time.

I visited some wineries in a tight area around Seneca Lake, which at almost 650 feet is the deepest of the Finger Lakes. As a consequence the conditions are that little bit warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, as the water below the surface stays pretty much the same temperature all year round.

This enables the growers around here to put a greater emphasise on red varietals than their neighbours around the other Finger Lakes, as long as the vines can actually see the water, these conditions are very localised. So, I was able to taste a couple of really fascinating examples of Cabernet Sauvignon blends as well as the local signature grape, Cabernet Franc and the newly emerging local star – Lemburger/Blaufrankish.

The best wines, to my mind continue to be the whites, especially the Rieslings and I tasted some terrific examples – they tend to be a little richer and softer than German, Alsace or Austrian Rieslings, which is great as they seem to have something of their own style over here and the grape really suits the conditions.

My stand out wines of the day were:

2008 Tierce Dry Riesling
Tierce is made as a joint venture by three local wineries as a joint project: Fox Run, Anthony Road & Red Newt.
Stony and limey with some richer feel bringing an apricot quality – this makes it softer and richer than I expected.
It has a nice clean cut of mandarin acidity and a slightly oily texture to the palate leading to a rich acidic citrus texture to the finish, very interesting and very good and also amongst the driest of the local Rieslings – 90/100.

2008 Lamoreaux Landing T23 (tank 23)
Unoaked Cabernet Franc

This was a lovely, unassuming red from the lovely Lamoreaux Landing estate which is the winery created by Mark Wagner, whose family also own the neighbouring Wagner Winery, which is one of the pioneers of the region.

The colour was a pale translucent light red cherry colour.
The nose offered a lovely waft of red cherry and rose hip syrup, together with a slight touch of earthy notes.
The palate was soft, juicy and very pleasurable with good balance and real delicacy.
Very nice to drink, soft tannins and a touch of acidity keeping it bright – nice texture with red fruit, it would be lovely chilled as a big rosé too- 87/100.

2007 Tierce Dry Red
Another impressive wine made as a joint venture by Fox RunAnthony RoadRed Newt
The blend was unusual: 33% Merlot, 33% Lemberger, 12% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc & 11% Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose was fragrant and attractive offering plums, black cherry and nice oak – cedar spice, a hint of chocolate and something savoury/smoky from the oak.
The palate had a lovely fresh texture and bright black fruit, soft, smooth ripe tannins and a hint of smoky oak. Lovely pleasurable and drinkable, perfect concentration and not trying too hard to impress, which meant that it did – 91/100.

Anyway that is all I have time for right now as another day beckons – remember, if you want to follow my journey you can refer to my piece about the region hereUncork New York and my two maps – New York’s wine regions and the Finger Lakes region. Check back for more soon

Finger Lakes New York – part 4, Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake

It was another wonderful day in the beautiful Finger Lake region of New York and I had a packed itinerary, visiting four of the important wineries around Keuka Lake. This is actually a Y shaped lake and has beautiful scenery on its shores as well as some attractive little towns that would repay a leisurely visit. Hammondsport, in particular, looked a lovely place to spend a little time. Continue reading

Finger Lakes New York – part 3, Senaca & Cayuga

This is a great trip, the countryside of the Finger Lakes region is lovely, I keep passing the most perfect looking American white clapperboard houses with rocking chairs on their porches. It is a very agricultural area of farms punctuated by incredibly attractive little towns with wide streets of grand houses, some larger versions of the white clapperboard and some looking for all the world like Georgian mansions. I think the area would make a super holiday destination.

Yesterday was a day packed with exciting experiences on my trip, so I will grab a few minutes to share some of them with you.

My first port of call was Swedish Hill Vineyard in Romulus near Cayuga Lake, where I was given a tasting by Ian Barry, the head winemaker. This was fascinating as this winery grows native grapes and hybrids as well as Vitis Vinifera, so I was able to try some things that so far had eluded me. Continue reading