By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Zugibe Vineyards is one of the newest producers in the Seneca Lake wine community, only opening their tasting room in November, so don't feel bad if you haven't heard of them. I hadn't either until Brendan Zugibe, one of three Zugibe brothers responsible for the winery, commented on a post a while back.
Planted in 2005, Zugibe Vineyards began as 23 acres of vinifera wine grapes, but has since grown to 40 acres. They grow 11 varieties, including riesling, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, chardonnay, merlot, Blaufrankisch, sauvignon blanc and gruner veltliner.
According to their website, their goal is to "produce innovative, complex, and delicious wines."
The three Zugibe brothers are Frederick III, Brendan and Sean, and each brings something different to the winery. Frederick III is the winemaker, having studied winemaking at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Sean is the vineyard manager, and Brendan's background is in business and management.
I tried to visit when I was on Seneca Lake in July, but my other appointments ran long (as they often do) and I didn't make
it. Luckily, Brendan sent me a couple of the winery's debut
releases to to review, including this Zugibe Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc ($16).
The grapes that went into this wine is an almost equal split of estate-grown and grapes source from Sunrise Hill Vineyard in Interlaken, which the Zugibes started managing in 2006.
The nose on this wine is intense and consistent with many Finger Lakes cab francs, showing raspberry and cranberry fruit components, black pepper spice and subtle roasted jalapeno pepper greenness.
Crunchy red fruit — red raspberry and cranberry — leads the way on a medium-bodied palate with more apparent jalapeno character and nice spice and black pepper accents. The tannins are medium-light and pretty well integrated, and well-balanced acidity adds a bit more structure and brings a freshness.
Medium in length, the finish ends on a fresh, but not tart, cranberry note.
If you don't typically enjoy the "green" aspects of cabernet franc, this one may not be for you. But if some jalapeno doesn't bother (or even appeals) to you, give this one a shot.
Producer: Zugibe Vineyards
AVA: Finger Lakes
Brix at harvest: 24 brix (avg.)
pH: 3.7 estate, 3.4 Sunrise Hill
TA: 4 g/l estate, 6.5 g/l Sunrise Hill
Crop Load: 2.5 tons/acre estate, 1 ton/acre Sunrise Hill
Cases Produced: 500
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)