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.
2012 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.
2012 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.
2012 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.
2012 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.
2012 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.