By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
When Sue Guerra, who writes On the Vine for New Jersey Monthly, expressed interest in attending TasteCamp, I had absolutely no idea who she was. None.
Now, after spending a couple days with her, tasting (and drinking) wine with her, I'm glad she reached out and pushed her way into the TasteCamp experience — it was a better event because we had her with us. Beyond her impressive palate, she has a great sense of humor and lives an interesting life as a dual citizen of the United States and Italy.
And now, our TasteCamp questions:
Was this your first visit to Finger Lakes wine country? Yes.
Had you ever had any Finger Lakes wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them? I have had the Hermann Wiemer Dry Riesling and always recommended it to customers when I worked retail because it was closer to a German style riesling at half the cost.
After tasting a larger sampling of the wines being produced in the Finger Lakes, what is your impression now? I was really psyched that the region, which is already known for great rieslings has so much potential for other varieties (i.e. pinot noir, sparkling wines, some of the cabernet francs) in that cold-climate, food-friendly style I enjoy most (read: not jammy, over-oaked fruit bombs)–and best of all is that I can drive there. Now trying to talk 17 year old son into applying to Ithaca College!
What, in general, impressed you the most? I found it really interesting that each winemaker has their own approach and that approach runs the gamut from highly interventionist (chaptalization, filtration, Brett eradication etc.) to more natural (although probably not by the most strict definition) yet by and large the wines are highly drinkable and in a style that is so food friendly. Some obviously stood out above the pack but all of the winemakers and growers were so dedicated — which I guess they have to be when they are freezing their asses off harvesting grapes in the cold and snow.
Also, perhaps it's the spoiled "proximity to NYC" brat in me but I was pleasantly surprised with the food scene up there.
What, in general, underwhelmed you the most? The Meritage bends. Maybe I am just bored with cabernet blends in general but does the world really need more of those? Some of the straight cab francs were interesting and there was a pretty interesting blend with cab franc (and Blaufrankisch?) at dinner the first night. I don't have my notes in front of me so I have to look that one up.
What tasting or vineyard walk was and will be the most memorable for you? Loved the Damiani Vineyard walk but the Heart & Hands Wine Company visit was the most memorable even though I had to run out early.
I can't wait to see what they do when they start harvesting their own pinot noir from atop that limestone outcrop.
After so much online interaction with the attendees, which person surprised you the most in person? Not one person but the collective whole. It was a brain trust of wine geeks of the highest order!!!
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be? Tough question. Can I pick three? Jeez. The pressure is unbearable. OK…my three picks would be the
Ravines Cabernet Franc 2007, the Heart and hands 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir
and the Weimer 2007 Magdalena Vineyard Riesling.