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Monday, February 25, 2013

Finger Lakes Tasting: Eight Shades of Red Excellence

FLX Red Feb 2013 003In the Finger Lakes red wine universe Cabernet Franc is like the sun, with other reds millions of miles away contentedly orbiting around the blazing giant. Last week’s virtual tasting by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance was a chance for the TWAV tasting team to sample eight Finger Lake reds to see if there is anything new under the sun.

Tasting team members Dr. J, Cabinator, Sax Man, Green Dragon and yours truly participated. As the winemakers discussed each wine, the TWAV team enjoyed appetizers and sampled the following. We scored on a five-point scale with 5 being the best. Almost every wine had one “champion” on the tasting team.

2011Silver Thread Vineyard Blackbird: A great opening wine from a boutique winery. 70% Cab Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Barrel fermented for eight months. Light to medium body with raspberry red color. Aroma of smoke and cherry. Rich with tart raspberry, blackberry flavor with a dash of pepper. Rating: 3.6
 
 2007 Swedish Hill Optimus: This is another Bordeaux style blend with 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 25% Cab Franc. Swedish Hill is one of the most award-winning wineries in the Finger Lakes. Color is a dark garnet There is pepper on the nose with juicy raspberry and oak flavor notes. The finish is short. Despite being the oldest vintage tasted, it still tasted young. Rating: 2.7

FLX Red Feb 2013 0042010 Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard Cabernet Franc: This Cab Franc had a unique flavor profile. Light to medium body with cherry swirls. The prominent flavor from our tasters was butterscotch. It is expressive with a smooth texture and complex flavors and noticeable acidity. Rating: 3.3

2010 Damiani Cabernet Franc Reserve: Our winner of the first flight. This is the “real deal” with a medium to full body and a classic Cab Franc with a nose of smoke and pepper. The flavors are of cherry and green pepper.  The finish is long. Only 97 cases of this distinctive wine. Rating: 4.5

FLX Red Feb 2013 0052010 Rooster Hill Reserve Lemberger: Deep red in color, this vino is high in spiciness.The body is light and the flavors include black pepper and cherry. A unique and special wine aged 21 months in French oak. Favorite of Dr. J. Rating: 3.0

2010 Atwater Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir: Light red in color, this offers medium tannins and nice smooth cherry flavors. The wine is elegant with high drinkability. This wine is 100% hand-picked Pinot. Lacks the complexity of an Oregon Pinot, but a fine wine. Rating: 3.4

 2011 Hector Wine Company Essence: The first we’ve tasted from this winery, which opened in 2010. This is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Flavors of cherry and smoke with toffee on the back end. Produces a bit of a twang on the finish. Aged in small oak barrels. Rating: 3.0

2008 McGregor Vineyard Black Russian Red:  The second flight winner, this is a blend of the obscure Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni grapes. This wine stands up against those from any wine region. The color is dark, almost black. The tannins are well integrated and the caramel and raspberry flavors make this a smooth and unique experience. A great match with sea salt chocolate. The tannins and acidity are nicely balanced. A superb wine priced at $54. Rating: 4.7

The Finger Lakes and its impressive winemakers continue to produce stellar wines. We’re planning another visit to the region in a couple months. This tasting shows there are exciting things happening there. Cab Franc continues to be excel, but there’s a whole universe of reds that needs exploring.
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