A Changing of the Grapes

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Editor’s Note: I’ve been writing a biweekly column for northforker.com since November 2014, but this is my first piece after taking over the wine column space in the print editions of The Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review from long-time wine columnist Louisa Hargrave. I’ll be publishing an excerpt of each column here on NYCR and linking over to the full piece. How do you replace a pioneer — an icon, really — who was literally there when a wine industry was born? You don’t because you can’t. I can never fill Louisa Hargrave’s shoes, but I do hope to fill her old column…

Heart & Hands Wine Company 2013 Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling

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When Tom and Susan Higgins set out to create Heart & Hands Wine Company, pinot noir was to be the focus — and it is. Tom is making some of the best pinot on the East Coast. At the same time, the riesling program has grown beyond what the couple expected (I tasted more than a half dozen bottlings on a recent visit) and offers outstanding quality as well. The fruit used to make Heart & Hands Wine Company 2013 Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling ($28) was grown on the west side of Cayuga Lake on a site that consistently produces ripe, fruit-forward rieslings. That’s…

Thoughts on the Finger Lakes’ Sh!##iest Vintage Ever

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“No reserve wines in 2009 due to shittiest vintage ever.” It was one of the greatest tweets I’ve ever read, because it came from a winery employee. The tweet is long since deleted, but that is close to a word-for-word recollection. How could I forget it? I admired it instantly. Wine and food writers are often sifting through spin, and this was unvarnished. That was the summer that wasn’t, as my wife calls it. Almost never sniffed 90 degrees, and spent most of July in the low-to-mid 70s. Ripening was slow, and when frost came in October, it was, for…

Weekly New York Wine News — August 24, 2015

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Cabernet Sauvignon Verasion at Sawmill Creek Vineyards Fall festivals are starting to fill the calendar, while conferences and competitions have been under way. More legal support for local producers, help with marketing, and feedback on the destination that New York has become. NEWS Star Gazette – 8/11/2015 Field report from the New York Wine & Food Classic where judges evaluated the annual crop of the state’s wines as the industry continues to grow. Time Warner Cable News – 8/14/2015 Annual Wine Bloggers Conference was held in Corning, NY to scratch the surface of the Finger Lakes’ depth…and is the main…

Hermann J. Wiemer 2013 Cabernet Franc

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Even though I’ve been writing wine reviews for many years now, I never stop asking myself about their real value, whether or not I’m approaching them in the right way or how I can improve my process. Looking out at the rest of the industry — I’m talking more about printed publications, who tend to be a bit more transparent with how they taste and review wines — there don’t seem to be any set rules. Some critics taste wine “blind” but not really — because they know the region the wines are made, so any bias they may have for…

With Lacey Magruder Winery, the Hundertmarks Live Their Dreams

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Jim Hundertmark is a man who is living his dream. Most mornings he leaves his modest farmhouse home and walks a few dozen steps across his property to work. For Hundertmark, his workplace is the small, “boutique” winery on the west side of Seneca Lake that he owns and operates with his wife Ruth. Their winery, Lacey Magruder Winery, bears the name of the paternal grandmothers from each of their families. The couple’s path to the Finger Lakes began in their hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Like many who live in the DMV area surrounding the nation’s capital, Mrs. Hundertmark built…

Billsboro Winery 2012 Pinot Noir

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Billsboro Winery 2010 Pinot Noir ($25) offers aromas of black cherry sprinkled with potpurri, root beer and smoke and toasted oak that is just a little distracting. The fresh, nicely concentrated palate brings more cherries — black and maraschino — a bit of chocolate and subtle. It’s less oaky than the nose and has soft, supple tannins and a nice bit of juicy acidity. Producer: Billsboro Winery AVA: Finger Lakes ABV: 12.5% Price: $25 (sample) (3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

Paumanok Vineyards Wins Winery of the Year; Ventosa 2011 Lemberger Wins 2015 Governor’s Cup

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If you’re interested in such things and have been anywhere near Facebook or Twitter today, you’ve no doubt read that the 2015 New York Wine & Food Classic was yesterday. Over the years, we’ve been critical of all competitions like this one (not just this one), but this year we’re simply going to report on the results, which you can find in the below press release from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. Congratulations to the winners. Watkins Glen, New York, August 12 – Ventosa Vineyards 2011 Lemberger, Estate Grown from the Finger Lakes Region won the coveted “Governor’s…

Weekly New York Wine News — August 10, 2015

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Syrah in Southold Farm + Cellar’s estate vineyard This week we have well deserved recognition in the pursuit of healthy vineyards, potential deprivation, festival reports, and the important economic impacts of wine growing. NEWS Wines and Vines – 8/4/2015 Cornell University’s leading grape pathologist, Wayne Wilcox was honored with Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section (ASEV-ES). The Street – 8/6/2015 Oh the horror! Rosé shortage! Seems there’s not quite enough of the good pink wine to go around, on the east end of Long Island. Newsday – 8/8/2015 A brief update on the changes at Roanoke Vineyards, which…

New Kid on the Block, Bruno and Rafael Winery

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For many people wine is just another item on their supermarket shopping list, a gallon of milk, a liter of soda, Coke or Sprite, some wine red or white. True, not so in New York which is one of the 15 states that still doesn’t allow supermarket wine sales, which by the way account for about 42% of all wines sales in the U.S.  And certainly not so for wine geeks like me.  Or Bob from Sonoma and Bruno Alterescu who I met today at Bruno’s new winery in Marlboro, NY. For us the wine experience is something to be…