Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Road Trip: Finger Lakes Part 3

Excited by our great tastings yesterday, we were ready for our last day of wineries on the trolley tour.  We knew we would be at some of the more touristy spots so managed expectations accordingly, but were still hopeful there would be some quality quaffing.

Our first stop was at Wagner, the Disneyworld of Finger Lakes wineries.  You enter into the gift shop and are immediately taken on one of the rides  (the tour of the faciltity with a Production 101 schpiel) followed by the tasting options (both wine and beer are up for grabs).  You can then get lunch at their cafe (with the un-Disneylike surly staff).  Be sure to buy some of your favorites on the way out!
We went through the wine tasting and here's where we encountered Melody, the aforementioned grape engineered in a Cornell University lab, designed to be light on the nose, ghostlike on the palate, but enough of a simple presence on the tongue to encourage more drinking.  None of what we drank was really our style, so we headed over to the brewery, which was a pleasant surprise. In particular, we enjoyed the Amber Lager, IPA, Oatmeal Stout, and the Doppelbock.  The beers trumped the wines at Wagner. 

 What we quickly learned is that many of the touristy spots offer flights of dry wines or sweet wines.  We always opted for the dry after seeing the frightening Catawba and other native grapes on the sweet runs.

After WagnerWorld, we hit up Standing Stone. Their 2012 Riesling displayed pleasing notes of citrus and warm tropical fruits complimented with the terroir-driven minerality and a decent amount of acidity. At this winery, I was also introduced to their 2011 Semi-dry Vidal, a grape with tons of pineapple and warm weather fruits, a butterscotch tone but a very short finish.  Upon further research, I learned Vidal is a hybrid of Ugni Blanc (also known as the Italian grape Trebbiano) and Rayon d'Or, created in the 1930s by Jean-Louis Vidal, designed to stand up to cold and harsh winters.  They also had several red varietals, the most interesting of which was 2010 Dark Red.  Made from the Saperavi grape, native to Georgia (as in Eastern Europe, not the South, y'all), the wine was intense ruby in color with flavors of macerated blackberries, black tea and soil. 

Lakewood Winery followed but nothing really drew us in.  Their 2010 Cabernet Franc was agreeably smoky but the Rieslings were oddly lower in acidity that what we normally expect in a Riesling. The absence of zing left them feeling unstructured.  

Then,  beacon of light arose on the trail:  Fox Run Vineyards.  This was one of the wineries on our "must-try" list and we were looking forward to what they had to offer. Their Tierce Riesling 2010, which is actually a collaboration among Fox Run, Anthony Road and Red Newt,  was served at the Presidential Inauguration this year, so expectations were high.

Again, we optioned for the dry flight which contained  Chardonnays reminiscent of ones found in the Languedoc-Roussillion, Pinot Noirs more aromatic most of the others we've tasted, as well as a Lemberger/Cab Franc blend, two grape varietals were were coming intimately familiar with. However, it were the Rieslings that jarred our palates awake.  The 2012 Dry Riesling had the now-familiar citrus fruit and stony aroma profiles with intense orchard fruits joining on the tongue. I had to keep going with their Rieslings, so the 2010 Riesling 12 was next on my lineup.  A few tropical fruits appeared on this sweeter-style Riesling but a very light smokiness wafted on the finish, giving it some intrigue.  My flight ended with their 2011 Reserve Riesling, the pinnacle of this tasting. It was off-dry so sugar tingled on the tip of the tongue and it married the zest of citrus fruits again with the more tropical tones. The flavor profile was somewhat simliar to the 12 but there was a gorgeous balance and complexity to this wine.  

How do you follow up with a tasting as spectacular as Fox Run?  You drink beer.  At our final stop, White Springs winery, we fled from the wine tasting table when we got a whiff of their sickly-sweet wine cooler and moved over to the Glass Factory Brew House table. Again, we found a rather elegant Doppelbock as well as a quaffable IPA
While the second day was a bit uneven in terms of what we tasted, we still came away with a deep appreciation for the region and the wine culture that has developed.  I'm eager to go back and delve even deeper into this burgeoning area.

P.S.  If anyone can tell me what these palate-cleansers are, I'll buy you a bottle of Riesling.  They taste exactly like Pop-Tart crusts.  Mmmmm, Pop-Tarts.