If Finger Lakes producers could come together and agree to call these wines either lemberger or blaufrankisch (I vote for the latter), this could become an important category in the region. Either as a blender or bottled alone, these are some of the most consistently good and food-friendly red wines grown and made in the region.
Damiani Wine Cellars’ 2012 “Sunrise Hill Vineyard” Lemberger ($22) is one of the more earthy renditions I’ve tasted. The nose leads with damp soil and wet leaves, with Chinese five spice, white pepper and bright, fresh red berries — cherry and raspberry — playing supporting roles.
As earthy as the nose is, the medium-bodied palate is spicy — very spicy with white pepper, cardamom and star anise.Red berries and intense earthiness linger beneath with grippy, woody tannins that make it a bit rustic. On the finish, it shows more barrel influence with raw oak flavors, some vanilla and woody tannins.