By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor
Maybe I'm not being fair with this post's title; maybe you are, in fact, reading the Fox Run Vineyards blog. But most blogs take a long time to build a following, so more than likely, you haven't checked it out.
You should. Winemaker Peter Bell's stellar command of the language is well worth your time, even if he were writing about shoe polish. Consider that at one stop on Seneca Lake, a winery staff member told me, "The fruit flies are an absolute bitch right now." Direct, yes, but not nearly as artful as the description offered by Bell on the Fox Run blog:
"The fruit flies I’ve written so fondly about in previous posts (did you know that fruit flies and people share 60% of their genes?) are doing their Custer’s Last Stand thing right now. Their redoubt in this case is not a bleak spot in the hills of Montana, but the winery lab; and they seem to know the game is up."
A recent post by Fox Run assistant winemaker Tricia Renshaw caught our attention, and not simply because she lauds the NYCR in the post. Renshaw refers to this NYCR post that explores alcohol levels in rieslings while addressing the possibility that Finger Lakes versions need not be consistently over 12% alcohol by volume.
"Last year, a good friend of ours, Evan Dawson, challenged the Finger Lakes wine community with a question: Why don’t we make a low-alcohol style Riesling…
We surmised that our Finger Lakes fruit, given the right growing conditions, could produce a stunning wine in the low-alcohol style.
As if by design, this summer provided what had to be ideal conditions. Lots of heat and sunlight produced grapes with a range of intense flavors—loads of lime and tangerine. We also had a good quantity of Botrytis, which presented as Noble Rot, concentrating the sugars and producing lovely marmalade aromas. We had high sugar accumulation, which meant we could ferment until we reached around 8% alcohol while still retaining quite a large quantity of sugar.
Of course, we had to take the plunge, albeit on a very small scale.
This past Friday, we stopped the fermentation on a few hundred gallons of low-alcohol Riesling by lowering its temperature below the comfort zone of yeasts. Boy, is it tasty! How it manages to taste like wine, despite having so little alcohol, is confounding but thrilling. It’s at once rich and delicate.
It won’t be a dead-ringer for German Riesling, but that’s a good thing. We always want our Rieslings to express their Finger Lakes character. The industry here is long past the point where we need to think of copying another region: our Rieslings have a sui generis standing that is acknowledged world-wide."
We'll look forward to the results, which no doubt will be shared on the Fox Run blog. Renshaw confesses that working alongside a winemaker like Peter Bell makes it easy to learn the craft without making many mistakes, and her recently awakened desire to experiment no doubt springs from a willingness to fail. That's refreshing.
Other Fox Run staff members contribute to the blog, but the highlight might well be the music selections and rock references sprinkled in by Bell. He has always been a natural writer, and he might have to acquiesce to the notion that blogging is in his blood, too.