Posts Tagged“featured”

Heron Hill Winery 2011 Reserve Blaufrankisch


Bright berry notes — crushed raspberry and sour cherry — dominate the nose on Heron Hill Winery 2011 Reserve Blaufrankisch ($40) with a sprinkling of pepper and baking spice and vanilla sugar. That peppery spicy edge is present on the medium-light bodied palate, but there is much more oak — raw and bitter — as well. The bramble/raspberry and sour cherry fruit is juicy and fresh, just hidden beneath wood tannins. \ Producer: Heron Hill Winery AVA: Finger Lakes ABV: 12.5% Production: 350 cases Price: $40 (sample) (2.5 out of 5, Average-to-Very Good)

Lovely Louise Swenson


Elmer Swenson is a respected and nearly mythical figure in the cold climate wine growing community, but do we ever wonder what force was behind his success? He had his own motivations for breeding grapes which developed at an early age, and then later in life he greatly expanded the vine breeding work of prior generations. His ‘amateur’ vine propagation began in 1943 and continued when he was a dairy farmer and had full responsibility for the family operation. Upon retirement from dairy, Elmer went to work for the University of Minnesota as a fruit nurseryman and eventually, grape breeder. When he retired again, he continued…

Tasting the Past and Possible Future of Finger Lakes Saperavi at Standing Stone Vineyards


The titles on Marti Macinski’s business card read “Co-owner” and “Winemaker.” But it would be easy to understand if they included “Historian” and “Educator” as well. Ms. Macinski, who along with her husband Tom has owned and operated Standing Stone Vineyards in Hector , NY for more than twenty years, is well-versed in the modern history of winemaking in the Finger Lakes region. It is a subject that she has not only studiously researched, but has also helped to shape since the early nineteen-nineties. The Macinski’s are self-described “wine geeks” who have applied a scientific approach to their viticultural and…

Macari Vineyards 2014 “Early Wine” Chardonnay


The release of very few Long Island wines can match the buzz generated when Macari Vineyards releases their “Early Wine” Chardonnay each fall, right after harvest winds down. It’s always the first wine from the new vintage to hit store shelves, serving as a harbiger for Thanksgiving as well as the winter holidays. You can think of it as Long Island’s Beaujolais Nouveau — except it’s delicious. Originally inspired by the jungwein (young wine) of Macari’s consulting winemaker Helmut Gangl’s homeland, Austria — where they are often served in heuriger shortly after harvest — the grapes for this wine wine were picked on September 8.…

At Stever Hill Vineyards, New Ownership Tries to Rebuild the Brand


How do you change a longstanding reputation? Don Tones is trying to answer that question. The name Stever Hill Vineyards may be unfamiliar to readers of this site. Located on the western side of Keuka Lake, the winery has a reputation for sweet, lower-quality wines. In 2012, though, the Tones family bought Stever Hill Vineyards with an eye toward turning things around. The Tones family has been growing grapes in the region for generations, and multiple generations of the family are currently involved in winery operations — owners Don, Harold, and Jim, Don’s daughter Liz Sprague and son Mike, and nephew…

Southampton Publick House Oktoberfest


I received this beer as a gift, unaware that Southampton Publick House even produced an Oktoberfest (Marzen) beer. Beers made in this style, and not just seasonally, are some of my favorite beers to drink.  The mild hopping, big maltiness, and slight sweetness of Oktoberfest beers work well in basically any situation that involves drinking beer. Southampton Publick House’s rendition this year is excellent and proper to the style. Although there may have been some spice/adjunct additions, the ale is a nice dull copper with hefty foam. The nose diffuses caramel malt, nutmeg, and an earthy quality of dry hay.  The…

The Last Hurrah: Empire State Cellars Wine Club November 2014 Selections

As I sit down to write this month’s newsletter, it is with mixed emotions. Empire State Cellars will be closing at the end December, which makes this the final club shipment. One one hand, it’s obviously saddening to think that the largest New York-only retail shop is closing and that a club that I’ve curated for so many years (with three different shops handling logistics) is coming to an end. (Selfishly, I’m bummed about the store because it’s going to be that much harder for me to find Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and Niagara wines locally.) On the other hand, this is…

Fox Run Vineyards 2013 “Doyle Family Vineyard” Chardonnay


I don’t like a lot of domestic chardonnay, but I like this one a lot — and, at $12 a bottle, Fox Run Vineyards 2013 “Doyle Family Vineyard” Chardonnay ($12) could be the state’s best bang-for-the-buck rendition. I’d certainly reach for it over many bottles that cost up to twice as much from other parts of the state. It really over-delivers and is made in a style that suits the Finger Lakes well. Pink grapefruit, tangerine and sweet floral notes dominate a nose that is fruity, but still somewhat lean and minerally. Medium-light bodied, the palate shows similar flavors, with the…

North Country Report: Patience Needed to Tame Acidity


2014 was what most vacationers would describe as a pretty ideal summer and subsequent transition into autumn. Crop load in the north country has been good on those plants that had healthy wood after the bone-chilling winter. The season was marked by beautiful clear days and sporadic rains when we needed them.  It was good sleeping weather at night and it never really got too hot which was great for camping but a bit of a challenge for the grapes.  Sugar levels were behind and  worked their way up, but slow grape maturity had been holding pH readings low and Titratable Acidity (TA) high,…

McCall Wines 2010 “Ben’s Blend”


McCall Wines has earned a reputation as the producer of Long Island’s finest pinot noir, but its merlot and merlot-based blend McCall Wines 2010 “Ben’s Blend” ($48) are just as deserving of attention. This blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdo tintially stands out for its restrained ripeness, with aromas of blackberry and blueberry staying just this side of jammy and mingling with notes of light toast and black pepper. Framed by grippy tannins that are approachable but also portend good cellaring potential, the mouth-filling palate is concentrated with ripe black and blue fruit, an earthy edge, subtle spice and…