It just so happens that Cabernet Franc is my favorite red wine grape, and I am always intrigued with Lemberger. Whenever I see a bottle of Lemberger (aka Blau Frankisch) on the store shelf, I will usually buy it. My fascination with Lemberger is that it is Washington State's over-looked "heritage" grape, as it was first planted in 1941 by Dr. Walter Clore, a Washington State University researcher and "Father of Washington Wine."
Considering the wines we tasted from New York, it gives us a hint that the Finger Lakes produces more than just Rieslings. Some little "fun facts" about the area: 1.) There are over 115 wineries in the area. 2.) Over 9,200 acres of grapes, with 848 acres planted with Riesling (220,000 cases of Riesling per harvest). 3.) Growing season is 190-205 days in a year; and 4.) The Finger Lakes AVA encompasses four lakes: Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga.
The virtual tasting was hosted by Brandon Seeger, Chair of the Wine Marketing Program from the new restaurant, Coltivare Culinary Center located in Ithica, NY. We sipped and Tweeted #FLXWineVT while listening to the discussion with the winemakers on a live web stream. The claim throughout the Finger Lakes region is that 2012 was a exceptional vintage, due to the perfect balance of warm temperatures and rainfall.
Over all, I thought the wines from the Finger Lakes region were very food friendly, and ready to drink now. They do not have the heavy tannins for long-term aging like the Cabernet Francs and Lembergers from Washington State. The Finger Lakes red wines were very crisp and fruit driven.
Damiani Wine Cellars - is located on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake in the heart of the Finger Lakes. The winery was established in 2004, and produces around 8,000 cases.
The aroma was the Cabernet Franc was of baked berry cobbler, cigar box, and spice. Notes of cocoa and more cigar box followed through with dark plums, ginger and more spice. This Cabernet Franc was medium bodied with just enough acidity and tannins. A definite food wine picking up notes of roasted meats and olives.
Heron Hill Winery - is located on Keuka Lake, as well as a tasting room located on Seneca Lake. Their first vintage was in 1977, and have grown to from a small 5,000 case production to now 18,000.
The aroma of their Cabernet Franc was of cigar box, spice, and a touch of blackberry jam. The palate was that of Crème de Cassis and a hint of eucalyptus in the finish. The tannins were a bit on the shy side making it a "drink now" wine, pairing with cheese and grilled veggies.
McGregor Vineyard - is located near the eastern shore of Keuka Lake. They established their winery in 1980, and like many of the Finger Lakes wineries started their first vintages with Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer.
The Cabernet Franc is reasonably priced at $25. The nose expresses that of bramble berries, especially ripe raspberries. The berries continue on the palate with flavors of dark cherries, light oak, and a hint of woody spice like cinnamon. The tannins do show off a bit. I am thinking casual grilled meats like burgers and skirt steak for pairing.
Fox Run Vineyards - overlooks one of the deepest parts of the Seneca Lake with 55 acres of vineyards starting starting with their first planting in 1994. Their first vineyard blocks of Lemberger are blocks 6,9, and 11. Block 6 was planted in 1995. Block 9 was planted in 2000, with Block 11 planted in 1998. What is interesting is the Lemberger was all machine picked.
The wine - - well, it smelled of a Lemberger that I was familiar, with notes of berries, spice and especially black pepper. On the palate it continues with more berries, including cherries and cigar box with a spicy black pepper finish. Lemberger is a nice summer sipper, even with a bit of a slight chill on the wine. Try it with an earthy flavored meal like grilled portobello on a bun and topped with cheese.
Fulkerson Winery - is located on the west side of Seneca Lake. In 1989 Fulkerson Winery opened with a release of 1,000 cases. It has now grown to 20,000 cases. Fulkerson originally got their start by selling fresh-pressed juice to home winemakers. They are a seventh-generation business.
The nose is bright aromas of fresh sweet cherries with a hint of cigar box. Juicy, with the right amount of acids that make the mouth water, as well as a hint of mineral. Did I mention it was juicy? A sprinkling of black pepper in the background and the bright red clear wine finishes rather silky on the tongue. A wine to be enjoyed with a big plate of spaghetti topped with a pile of Parmesan cheese.
Lakewood Vineyards - is located on the heart of Seneca Lake. The winery was established in 1988, however their 80 acres of vineyards includes old vines dating back as far as 1952. To date, the vineyard consists of 14 wine grape varieties.
It just so happens the delivery of these wines couldn't be any more perfect as many of the wine bloggers will gather August 13-15, 2015 for the Annual Wine Bloggers Conference located in the Finger Lakes Region, New York.
Thank you to the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance for allowing me to be a part of their virtual tasting and providing the samples.