A long-distance wine tasting may sound like an implausible way to sample the creations of a wine appellation, but those creative folks of New York's Finger Lakes Alliance didn't let that slow them down.
They invited a cross-section of wine writers from around the country to sample a half-dozen different wines from the region that were shipped to them in advance, then discuss them with the winemakers and each other on a conference call. Here is a rundown on the samples.
–Rooster Hill Estate Gewurtztraminer 2006: This is a single-vineyard wine from the Keuka Lake complex, the second crop off these particular vines planted in 2003. The floral nose quickly gives way to a complex set of flavors offering apple, pineapple and more florals.
Winemaker Barry Tortolon used two different yeasts to emphasize the floral aroma as well as the long taste. It will work well with multi-flavored meals or as a standalone wine. Retail price: $15.99.
–White Springs Finger Lakes 2006 Gewurtztraminer: This gewurtz is from a relatively new winery located in Geneva, N.Y., on Seneca Lake, founded in 2003 by Carl Fribolin. It is described as "highly fragrant," but I found the nose faint and the flavor gentle but pleasant.
It is not a big gewurtz by any means, but would pair well with creamy cheeses, vinaigrette-dressed salads, nuts and even mild smoked fishes. Retail price: $14.99.
–Sheldrake Point Bunch Select Riesling 2006: The winery is located on a jut of glacial soil extending into Cayuga Lake near Ithaca, N.Y. This example of winemaker Dave Breeden's work sprang from a lucky infestation of the botryitis fungus that concentrates the riesling grapes into fruit ideal for this dessert-style wine.
The 6 percent residual sugar is nicely balanced with the acid to form a very drinkable wine that, well-chilled, would be a perfect after-dinner finisher. Notes of honey, melon and the luscious riesling itself all come through in a perfectly-made product. Retail price: $19.99.
–Lakewood Vineyards 2005 Port: True port is, of course, a product of Portugal. But, where there's a will there's a way, as we can see from the efforts of this winery on Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen.
This is just the fourth edition of the Lakewood port made from very ripe, partially raisined baco noir grapes. Previous harvests in 1998, 1999 and 2001 were well received by consumer, but this one may be the best of the bunch. From the classically-designed bottle to the deep red color and heady aroma of the wine, this is an impressive port. Retail price: $14.99.
–Chateau Frank 2000 Blanc de Noirs: Quality wines are expected from the Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars operation that twice (2001, 2006) has been named New York's "Winery of the Year." This bubbly was originally developed by the late Willy Frank, son of Konstantin and father of the current owner, Fred.
Pinpoint bubbles and notes of green apple and kiwi mark this "methode champenoise" wine made from fruit grown during a classic season — 90 percent pinot blanc and 10 percent pinot meunier, a pair of classic champagne grapes. Well structured, lengthy and bold. Retail price: $29.99.
–Sweet Dream 2006 Seneca Lake Vignoles: Since 2000, Johannes Reinhardt, a native of Germany whose family has been involved in the wine business since 1438, has been the winemaker at this Seneca Lake facility.
This dessert wine has 7 percent residual sugar, nicely balanced with a touch of acidity that prevents the cloying effect lesser such wines exhibit. Retail price: $16.99.
(William M. Dowd covers the beverage world at BillDowd.com.)
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