A Virtual Trip to the Finger Lakes

This August, I will be heading up to the Finger Lakes Wine Region for the first time. That statement even surprises me–I have been to Sonoma and Napa countless times, Santa Barbara, Woodinville Washington, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon a couple of times each. I just got back from Lodi, California, and visited Paso Robles last summer. Heck, I have even been to Long Island and Dutchess County Wine Countries, both in New York State.

Then there are the regions in Europe I have visited: Champagne, Burgundy, the Loire, Alsace, and Provence countless times, the Rhône (briefly), Bordeaux, the Dordogne, the Mosel, and Tuscany, all at least once. But I have never been to perhaps the premier wine growing region on the East Coast, a scant three-hour drive from where I am sitting right now,

What makes it even more appalling is the Finger Lakes is one of the more active supporters of beginning wine writers (I am pretty sure they sent me my first ever wine samples).

So why have I not been?

Really, I have no idea.

That will all be rectified, however, by the time my birthday rolls around this summer.

Not too long ago, the kind folks at the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance sent me a few bottles to sample during one of their many Twitter virtual tastings. I was unable to partake in the virtual tasting as I was conducting an actual tasting of my own in the neighborhood. Instead, I tasted the following wines over the course of several days with dinner. The wines were, for the most part, very nice and served to increase the level of anticipation for what awaits me in August.

FoxRunLemberger2012 Fox Run Vineyards Lemberger Finger Lakes: Retail $21. Surprisingly fruity both on the nose and palate, this is really a fun wine and certainly one that will impress some of the wine geeks in your life. But at the price? This is a wine that you can enjoy even without your stuffy wine-snob friends. Fire up the grill and throw some animal flesh on there–this wine will make it sing. Very Good 86-88 Points.

2012 Fulkerson Estate Lemberger Finger Lakes: Retail $16. I tried really hard to give this wine its due. Upon opening, there was a raspberry characteristic that was very appealing, but there was also a “meatiness” that was not. It was hard to place, though, so I gave the wine another day. On day two, that odd odor was still there, but this time I was able to place it: hotdog water–or perhaps more precisely, the smell of a jar of Vienna sausages upon opening. Other than that? Well, as I mentioned, there was good fruit and acidity. I doubt this is how the wine maker intended the wine to show, but honestly I can’t find what wine flaw smells like old hot dog water. It might be Brett, but really unlike any of my past experiences with it. Nonetheless, I am going to say that this is Flawed.

LakewoodLemberger2012 Lakewood Vineyards Lemberger: Retail $16. Now this is much more like it. Black raspberry fruit with a touch of gaminess leads to a really pleasant mouthfeel–not overwhelming but ample fruit and bright acidity. There is a bit of chalkiness on the finish that seems a bit out of place, but all in all, this is a solid effort. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

Damiani Cab Franc2012 Damiani Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc Finger Lakes: Retail $22. Fairly dark in the glass with peppery raspberry on the nose. On the palate, this is quite nice with fruit and spice upfront, followed by an earthy and complex mid-palate. The finish, though, is a bit short, but that does not detract that much from the overall impression–this is Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.

Heron Hill Cab Franc 20112012 Herron Hill Cabernet Franc Finger Lakes: Retail $17, OK, there is a critter on this label, but that should not dissuade you—this is a fine bottle of wine. Dark red fruit and plenty of pepper abound before the first taste and once past the lips, both types of pepper (black and bell) greet you instantly, followed by some lovely, though restrained, fruit. Good balance throughout, but a tad short on the finish. Very Good. 88-90 Points.

McGregor Cabernet Franc2012 McGregor Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Franc: Retail $25. A bit more restrained than the other two Cab Francs, but that is not a bad thing. Peppered raspberry predominant initially, with a really nice mouthfeel–not too big, not too shy. A hint of mocha here in addition to the pepper, spice, and dark berry fruit. Some nice grip on the palate hints that this could use a bit more time, but very tasty right now. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, Lemberger, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Virtual Trip to the Finger Lakes

  1. robinskone says:

    Sounds like they’re making some good wines at reasonable prices. I love Paso Robles which is the nearest wine country to me, but it is growing and in danger of becoming “Napa-fied.” Still, there are some family-owned and run wineries that are a joy to visit. Have a wonderful trip to the Finger Lakes and Happy Birthday!


  2. Hot dog water? I think that is a first when it comes to describing a wine, lol. But glad for you the others where good.


  3. kriskkaria says:

    You’ve been to Woodinville to taste Washington wine? Did you visit the warehouse district with a tasting room every few feet or one of the wineries outside town, like Chateau St. Michelle? I live in the area and we visit the warehouse district tasting rooms every summer for a party thrown by several wineries.


    • We have done both. It really is amazing all the tasting rooms there without a vine in sight! We only get out there every third year or so, but I make it a point to hit some of them when we do get up there….

      Liked by 1 person

      • kriskkaria says:

        All the vines are on the other side of the mountains in eastern Washington where its hot and dry. Its a bit of a drive from Seattle but you can fly into Wenatchee or Yakima. then its a short trip to the vines along with the wineries. We visited Lake Chelan last year, lots of vineyards and wineries with spectacular views.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I have always wanted to drive over there to have a look around, but since we are there to ostensibly visit my wife’s family, it would be rather poor form to take off for a few days….


  4. Sarah J says:

    The Heron Hill Cab Franc and the Fox Run Lemberger are also some of my favorites. We live here, and we love the abundance of cheap but good wine and beer. Our craft beer scene is also getting to be pretty big. Hope you enjoy your time in our area.


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