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Roanoke Vineyards 2012 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc


Roanoke Vineyards 2012 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc ($43) shows the ripeness of the vintage, but is a standout for its elegant intensity and early complexity. A blend of cab franc grown in a part of Roanoke’s estate vineyard known as “Gabby’s rows” because Pisacano family patriarch Gabby Pisacano manages them along with 17% merlot and 1% petit verdot, it offers a spicy and slightly herbal – in a good way – nose with layers of sweet black cherry and blackberry with subtle but distinct minty-licorice notes and high-toned floral aromas. Pretty and fresh on the medium-bodied palate, mixed berries lead the way…

Bellwether Wine Cellars 2013 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir


I don’t consider Kris Matthewson, winemaker at Bellwether Wine Cellars, to be a “natural winemaker” (what does that even mean?). True, he doesn’t like to make a lot of cellar additions and prefers a decidedly hands-off approach, but he’s not above making adjustments if a wine needs them. That said, his wines do lean toward the idiosyncratic. They invite the adventurous and open minded and aren’t for everyone. Some are truly unlike any other in the Finger Lakes region. I think he probably likes it that way. Of a lineup that also includes a handful of single-vineyard rieslings, a gamay noir-dominant rose and…

Barry Family Cellars 2013 Tuller Vineyard Pinot Noir


Barry Family Wines 2013 Tuller Vineyard Pinot Noir came and went — only 50 cases were made and they sold quickly — but it’s a wine that I’ll remember. We always remember the good ones, don’t we? Barry Family cellars co-owner and winemaker Ian Barry started working with John Tuller and his fruit during Barry’s first vintage in the Finger Lakes, when he was working at Heron Hill. At the time, Heron Hill bought all of Tuller’s fruit, including pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and cabernet franc. “I always thought his fruit was unique, but particularly his pinot noir, which I would often keep…

Kemmeter Wines 2014 Sonero


“Balance” is a term that gets bandied about in the wine world. Collectively, “balance” has a meaning that most agree on — a wine is balanced when all the different components (fruit, residual sugar, acidity, tannin, etc.) come together in a harmonious way. A balanced wine doesn’t have protrusions or awkward components. But even if we can agree conceptually on this definition, there is a lot of room for interpretation. A wine that you find perfectly balanced, I may find too oaky. Similarly, what I consider balanced might have too much acidity for you. Context matters too — and that gets us…

Domaine LeSeurre 2012 Semi Dry Cuvee Classique Riesling


As you may remember from my recent post, I don’t write reviews based on at-winery tastings. I do use those tastings to help identify wines that I want to taste again or learn more about. Such is the case with Domaine LeSeurre 2013 Semi Dry Cuvee Classique Riesling ($19). My visit to the tasting room over the summer was a bit of a let down. It was too warm in the tasting room, leaving the reds well above cellar temperature. The glassware was small and weighty — the kind of glass you expect at a wine-tasting festival perhaps, but not at…

McCall Wines 2014 “Cuvee Nicola” Sauvignon Blanc”


Earlier this week, I read two articles (you can read them yourself here and here) lamenting the rise and dominance of dry rose in America — not because the authors don’t like rose, but because other summer-ready wines have been been marginalized. There is a lot of rose being made in New York right now — more than ever. Much of it is delicious and I drink a lot of it (all year long), so it’s probably not unusual that so many end up being reviewed on this site. That said, rose isn’t something I consider my “summer wine.” Finger Lakes riesling…

Heart & Hands Wine Company 2013 Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling


When Tom and Susan Higgins set out to create Heart & Hands Wine Company, pinot noir was to be the focus — and it is. Tom is making some of the best pinot on the East Coast. At the same time, the riesling program has grown beyond what the couple expected (I tasted more than a half dozen bottlings on a recent visit) and offers outstanding quality as well. The fruit used to make Heart & Hands Wine Company 2013 Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling ($28) was grown on the west side of Cayuga Lake on a site that consistently produces ripe, fruit-forward rieslings. That’s…

Hermann J. Wiemer 2013 Cabernet Franc


Even though I’ve been writing wine reviews for many years now, I never stop asking myself about their real value, whether or not I’m approaching them in the right way or how I can improve my process. Looking out at the rest of the industry — I’m talking more about printed publications, who tend to be a bit more transparent with how they taste and review wines — there don’t seem to be any set rules. Some critics taste wine “blind” but not really — because they know the region the wines are made, so any bias they may have for…

Billsboro Winery 2012 Pinot Noir


Billsboro Winery 2010 Pinot Noir ($25) offers aromas of black cherry sprinkled with potpurri, root beer and smoke and toasted oak that is just a little distracting. The fresh, nicely concentrated palate brings more cherries — black and maraschino — a bit of chocolate and subtle. It’s less oaky than the nose and has soft, supple tannins and a nice bit of juicy acidity. Producer: Billsboro Winery AVA: Finger Lakes ABV: 12.5% Price: $25 (sample) (3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

Bouquet 2014 Sauvignon Blanc


Long Island sauvignon blanc has arrived and is just starting to get the attention outside of the region that it deserves. Quality is high nearly across the board while bright, steel-fermented versions will always rule the category, blending, skin contact, time in barrels of various ages add some diversity as well. But, it’s gotten hard to find good Long Island sauvignon blanc for less than $22. Bouquet 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($18) is a rare find in that regard. The lightly saline nose is driven by lemon and grapefruit aromas and a subtle green melon note. Though a bit austere and light-bodied, the palate…