Assumptions and generalizations. In recent weeks they have crept into more than a couple wine-related discussions I’ve had. As with regular, every-day life, they are silly, even dangerous, things that can make us appear ignorant or worse. In wine, they are crutches that even the most intrepid writer/critic/thinker will fall back on in a pinch.
Of course many of them are based in fact — at least tangentially. Take the idea that red wines from the 2013 Finger Lakes vintage can’t or won’t be good. I haven’t heard anyone laud the season for any grape. The growing season was a wet one early on and by September, when the weather changed in growers’ favor, many red varieties were far behind the ripening curve. Add to that high disease pressure and it’s true — many red wines didn’t quite ‘make it’ though riesling did just find based on my tastings. But, I remember talking to a couple winemakers around that time who told me there would be a lot of rose coming out of their cellars that year because the red varieties weren’t up to their standards.
It would be easy to take that knowledge and write off every red wine coming out of the region that year. Easy but also stupid. Vintage variation is a part of cool-climate wine country, but there is another constant too — the great producers persevere. They make quality wine every (or nearly every) vintage. They work with top growers or top growers themselves. They work with or have prime vineyard sites. They find a way.
With Forge Cellars 2013 Pinot Noir Classique ($24) the gentlemen behind the still-young label found a way.
This is a young wine that probably deserves at least another year in the bottle, but now it benefits from some time in a decanter or in your glass.
The first aromas are smoky, but not campfire or charcoal. More in the lapsang souchong — the black tea that is smoked over pine wood. Beneath there are layers of strawberry and red cherry with a sprinkling of baking spice and stony earth.
It’s true that the 2013 didn’t bring excessive concentration, so if you’re looking for plump, California-style pinot, this will underwhelm. But if Burgundy is more your fetish, you’re likely to appreciate the crunch red cherry/cranberry fruit flavors backed by earthy, mushroomy notes, more spice and just a wisp of that black tea. Decided lithe but not at all water, there is freshness and linger, gentle tannins. With a bit more time in the glass, a floral edge emerges, bringing another layer of interest.
Fresh, crunchy red cherry, earthy/mushroomy at the edges with sprinkling of baking spice and tea. Long. Elegant. Floral. Lingering, gentle tannins.
Producer: Forge Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
Price: $24 (sample)