By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief


There is little doubt that riesling rules the Finger Lakes roost, but what grape will be the one on which the region's red grape reputation will be built? The jury is still out I think. Some say cabernet franc. Other content that Blaufrankisch is the grape. Many blend the two in what might be a signature red blend. Maybe it'll even be a hybrid, though the potential is probably limited there.

Then you have a small, dedicated group of growers and winemakers who think that pinot noir shows the most potential — but only in the best years and/or when grown in the right locations to the right yields.

2007 was one of those "best year" so I recently tasted six different Finger Lakes pinot noirs side-by-side, including this Heron Hill Winery 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir ($28). The results were mixed, as you'll see over the course of the next week or so in these pages, and based just on these wines, it's impossible to define a Finger Lakes style of pinot.

The Heron Hill was one of slightly darker wines, a medium-light cranberry red with a slightly bluish tinge.

The nose is big with crushed red raspberries, black cherry skin, vanilla bean and smoky oak.

Ripe is the first descriptor I'd use for the palate, the second would be oaky. Ripe, somewhat juicy raspberries and cherries play off of cinnamon-clove spice, smoke and vanilla.

The fullest bodied of the 6 wines, the tannins are well-incorporated and bring just a little grip to a plush mouthfeel. The finish is long and cherry filled.

If you like your pinot noir toasty, this one will be right up your alley. It's a little to oaky for my tastes, but that's a stylistic preference.

Producer: Heron Hill Winery
AVA: Finger Lakes

ABV: 13.5%

RS: .3 g/L

TA: 5.8 g/L

Price: $28*

Cases Produced: 450
Rating: 30 (3 out of 5 | Recommended)  

(Ratings Guide)