bellwether-2011-pinot-noirWhen I recently posted a picture of a home-cooked meal on Facebook, a friend demanded to know who made the rose that filled the glass next to my plate.

That wasn’t rose, friends. That was Bellwether Wine Cellars 2011  Pinot Noir ($30), a pinot that artfully reflects the cooler, cloudier 2011 season in the Finger Lakes without any color enhancement in the form of corot noir, noiret or — if this were California — syrah.

If the Bellwether name sounds familiar, it should. Bellwether Hard Cider is well regarded for its often-outstanding lineup of traditionally styled ciders. The winery is a new venture (they will release their first wines this summer) conceptualized Kris Mathewson  assistant winemaker at Atwater Estate Vineyards and husband of Caitlin Matthewson, whose family owns both the cidery and the winery.

The concept is a simple one, but one that is still rare in the Finger Lakes: focus solely on riesling and pinot noir, and allow those grapes to express themselves as single-vineyard wines.

Hailing from one of the Finger Lakes’ most-revered sites, Matthewson’s first pinot embraces the vintage rather than battling against it. It’s an alluring, feminine wine that seems delicate at first, but over the course of a few days it relaxes a bit and becomes broader and more expressive.

If I had written this note based on its first day open, it  would have been shorter and less complimentary — kind of like the wine was then.

Fruity aromas of strawberry and cranberry are joined by spicy, slightly stemmy notes (it was fermented with around 25% whole clusters). A faint floral quality emerges on day two, bringing a pretty layer.

Decidedly light bodied but not at all dilute, floral and red berry flavors are again joined by spicy notes that integrate and take  a step back as the fruit blooms with time in the glass. Silky on the palate with with nice freshness, this wine is still somewhat simple wine at this stage. Give it another year in bottle (to start) and I think you’ll be rewarded by more nuance and integration.

Note: This wine is not yet released but should be this summer.

Producer: Bellwether Wine Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 12%
Price: $30*

(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)