Surprise Finds from The Finger Lakes
By Christopher J. Davies
Wine Country International magazine
New York's largest wine region, The Finger Lakes Wine AVA lies just 6 hours Northwest from Long Island. The wine growing conditions are in most cases more difficult, where vintners face a colder and wetter climate.
If Long Island can be best compared to Bordeaux, The Finger Lakes should be compared to Rheingau region of Germany. And just as the Rheingau has been respected for producing noble Rieslings, The Finger Lakes has cut its teeth making Riesling its signature grape.
I am a big fan of Finger Lake Rieslings. They are the e-harmony of wines... they come in a kaleidoscope of sugar levels from sweet to bone dry. I love their compatibility with just about any food on the planet. With my home now based outside New York, I have found it difficult to find any New York wines for sale in the State of Colorado.
So when I received an invitation from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance to participate in their Vintner's Roundtable, I quickly responded yes! A week after receiving the telephone call, UPS arrived with a box containing six different wines. After opening the carton, I was surprised that it contained 6 different RED wines from the Finger Lakes. Could this be a mistake? Obviously not!
The Finger Lakes Vintner's Roundtable was an imaginative way to guide wine reviewers across the country to taste wines with the winemakers and proprietors almost virtually. The tasting was conducted from a remote location in upstate New York, while wine writers including myself called into a toll free number and were patched in live to the presenters.
The instructions that came with my wines were simple:
Have a corkscrew and glasses available.
Not a problem for me!
One by one we tasted 6 different red wines over the telephone with the Finger Lakes producers. The tastings, questions and answers took approximately 90 minutes. I am glad that they took the time to expose us to these delicious wines!
Hats off for the most imaginative form of Guerilla Marketing that I have seen in the wine business this year!
Surprise Finds! Finger Lakes Red Wines
Billsboro 2006 Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
, 13%, $18
A light red that spent 5 1/2 months in light oak (neutral & new French barrels). This is the winemaker's first vintage of Cabernet Franc, harvested in a difficult year. The result is a light and refreshing red with finesse. Pair with Portobello mushrooms or mild fish dishes.
Fox Run 2005 Reserve Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
, 12%, $24
A rich and wonderfully flavored wine made from 100% estate grown grapes. This wine is reminiscent of an elegant Bordeaux. Blend of 77% Cab Franc, 15% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Open one hour in advance of your tasting for maximum enjoyment. Try with Lamb chops or red sauces.
Hunt Country Vineyards, 2005 Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
, 13%, $22
100% Cabernet Franc harvested during a very dry season. The wine is medium bodied, with a beautiful ruby color and hints of pepper and smoky flavors. If you are a fan of Syrah this will be a pleasant alternative. Pair with fine cuts of lamb or beef, eggplant and soft, creamy cheeses.
Sheldrake Point, 2005 Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
, 12.5%, $17
A very interesting, one time blend of grapes from the Finger Lakes with grapes from California: 87% Cabernet Franc, 4.5% Cabernet Sauvignon & 8.5% California Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in a combination of old & new oak.
Excellent color, tannins and long finish. This wine is versatile with foods. Try it with steak, Italian red sauces and hearty meats.
Ravines, 2005 Meritage, Finger Lakes
, 12.5%, $25
A classic Bordeaux barrel blended wine made from Finger Lakes grapes.
45% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot. European born Morten Hallgren has seamlessly transferred his winemaking style from Provence to the Finger Lakes. The result is a bold and big red that is fruit forward with great balance. This wine has great potential for cellaring. Pair with Prime Rib, Lamb or Pork Loin.
Standing Stone Vineyards, Pinnacle, Finger Lakes
, 12.5%, $21
Estate harvested and appropriately named for achieving greatness by growing Cabernet Sauvignon in the Finger Lakes! Mae West bodied, consisting of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot. The result is a bright tasting, colorful wine with European elegance. Pair with venison, cheese or even the proprietors' favorite Asian cuisine!
I have now become a true believer in the potential and possibilities of Finger Lakes reds. I only wish that they produced a greater quantity. I guess I now have found a new excuse to visit Finger Lakes Wine Country this summer!
If you reside in New York State you can order these wines directly from the producers. They may also be found at select wine stores & restaurants. The biggest seller of New York wines is Vintage New York, which has two retail locations in Manhattan (SoHo & Uptown). Visit them online: