Browsing CategoryNiagara

Leonard Oakes Estate Winery 2013 Reserve Series Sauvignon Blanc


Lightly saline on the nose, with notes of lemony citrus, fresh-cut hay and grapefruit, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery 2013 Reserve Series Sauvignon Blanc ($17) is a snappy, refreshing sauvignon. The palate lacks a bit of concentration, but is bright, citrusy and mouthwatering — with a savory minerality that peeks through on a medium-long finish. Producer: Leonard Oakes Estate Winery AVA: New York State ABV: 12.5% Price: $17 (sample) (3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

Leonard Oakes Winery 2012 Reserve Series Syrah


“I’m not convinced about its place up here — but we had to give it a shot.” That’s one of the first things winemaker Jonathan Oakes told me when I asked about his soon-to-be-released syrah. Syrah is far from widely planted in the region, but most of what I’ve tasted has been delicious. And, after tasting Oakes’, I’m more convinced than ever at the grapes potential in and near the Niagara Escarpment AVA. Aged in heavily toasted American oak — even if the majority was two and three years old — Leonard Oakes Estate Winery 2012 Reserve Series Syrah ($23) shows a…

At Liberty Vineyards, Family Tradition Turns Into Fine Wine


Chautauqua County has been known as the one of the best places in the world to grow concord grapes for generations. That is why many family farms have been growing grapes there for well over one hundred years. Some farms that started growing mostly Concord and native grape varieties over time added vinifera grapes to their fields to sell to home winemakers. Recently, the region has seen an increase production of vinifera grapes and received acclaim for its success in growing them. These small blocks have grown into acres and acres of vinifera grapes that supply a burgeoning winemaking scene…

Reconnecting With What Drives Schulze Vineyards & Winery


Wine’s ability to enable us to metaphorically travel through time and space just might allow me to grasp all that’s happened in the months (or years?) since I’d last been a regular contributor to the NYCR. As I look back through what resembles a hazy glass of unfiltered, sediment-laden chardonnay, there’s a lot I’ve missed or just never got around to verbalizing. This minor disconnect from the region left me wondering where to jump back in: An expansion of the official Niagara Wine Region Route? Or maybe a vintage report card which, after all is said and done, will just…

Blending at Arrowhead Spring Vineyards


Covering the Niagara and Lake Erie Regions the past few months has allowed me to meet many of the local winemakers. While I’ve been a wine lover, as well as a novice winemaker, for many years I’m just now learning many of the fundamental phases of a vintage in a commercial setting. At the end of September, I was invited to assemblage at Arrowhead Spring Vineyards in Lockport, New York. Assemblage is the French term for blending wines and the term used by Duncan and Robin Ross to describe their process at ASV. Joining me at the session were Ryan Little, winemaking assistant of Arrowhead…

Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir


A lot of cheap pinot — let’s use sub-$20 as our loose definition — has little pinot character. They can be gulplable, but they are typically strawberry-cherry juice with some alcohol. That fact is one reason that I appreciate Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir ($18) so much. It has real pinot character for a great price. Is this the best pinot in the world or even Niagara? Of course, not. But it never lasts long when I open it. The nose starts with red cherries — ripe, tender ones — but some swirling teases earthy forest floor and raw…

5 Questions with… Robin Ross, Arrowhead Spring Vineyards

Robin Ross, Co-owner, Arrowhead Spring Vineyards

For those that know Robin Ross, co-owner of Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, it may be difficult to believe that when she met her husband Duncan she wasn’t even a wine drinker. Ross has come a long way since then. She now dedicates herself day and night to the 7-acre vineyard in New York’s Niagara Escarpment, with much of that time in between the vines. If asked 10 years ago if she thought she would be a winery owner working  full-time in the wine business, my guess is that she probably would not have said yes. Winemaking was her husband Duncan’s passion,…

Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2010 Arrowhead Red


Some New York restaurant owners, when confronted about a lack of local wines on their lists, point to price point as the main reason. “There just aren’t any good $15 reds!” they might say. Now, one could argue that the cheap reds they are pouring aren’t very good either, but that’s another discussion for another day. Today, let me introduce you to the latest vintage of one of New York’s great red wine values — Arrowhead Spring Vineyard 2010 Arrowhead Red ($15) — an incredibly well-priced wine that should be served by the glass in every western New York restaurant that…

Chateau Niagara Winery: Making a Name on the Lake Ontario Plain


“Wine should always have a story and wines need a sense of place.” That is Jim Baker’s mantra. Baker is the owner of Chateau Niagara Winery in Newfane, New York and strives to live up to that mantra. To that end, each wine in the portfolio has a unique story regarding its inception and creation that Jim happily shares with each interested consumer.  These stories and Jim’s own respect for the terrior of the Lake Ontario Plain motivate Chateau Niagara to offer quality vinifera wine made in the Niagara Region. As happens often in the wine industry, the tale of the…

New York Wine & Culinary Center Unveils New Awards While Keeping Focus on NY Wines


It probably shouldn’t be a news headline when a state’s culinary center carries a state’s wines exclusively, but it is when it’s the New York Wine & Culinary Center’ After a brief lapse in spring of 2012, the center has made a number of significant changes, with a clearer focus on New York products. That’s true of the restaurant, wine list, and in the news annual awards program that makes its debut Saturday night. In full disclosure, I’m helping emcee the Saturday night event. Yes, there are still tickets available. No, that’s not why I’m writing this piece. I’m writing about…