By Evan Dawson, Managing Editor

Last night my wife and I had dinner at the Next Door Bar & Grill in Pittsford – a Wegmans creation that has become a popular spot in the Rochester area. Walking through the door I nearly knocked shoulders with Steve Shaw, owner and winemaker of Shaw Vineyard on Seneca Lake.

During dinner, Steve was nice enough to send over a glass of the Shaw 2005 Cabernet Franc. It's a recent release for him; Shaw holds red wines back, allowing more time for maturing in bottle. 

This is not a good idea for all winemakers in the Finger Lakes, but it has worked very well at Shaw, and this wine is an instant contender for NYCR Finger Lakes Red Wine of the Year. Vibrant but brooding, it was a wonderful addition to our dinner table.

By the way, Next Door does a fine job in composing its wine list to include the Finger Lakes. (There is only one Long Island wine on the list, from Bedell.) The wine list includes some of the best bottlings from the region, and our waiter's first suggestion for a white wine with dinner was the Hermann J. Wiemer 2008 Magdalena Vineyard Riesling. At a price of $44, it's not much more than the retail price in the tasting room. A classic food wine, it tasted even better with the concomitant seasonal fare.

It's not often that a dinner includes two of the top wines from New York state, and it made the evening that much more enjoyable.