Friday, March 22, 2019
I just came from the Eastern Winery Exposition 2019 in Syracuse. Aside from spending money, and attending classes, I tasted a great many wines. Without question, the one that stood out far and above at the show was the Dr. Konstantin Frank Sauvignon Blanc 2017.
Now. my first thought was...Sauvignon Blanc in the Finger Lakes? Yes, they are growing it there and the wines showed beautifully. The panel I attended showed three lovely east coast Sauvignon Blancs, two of which were from the Finger Lakes. General Manager, Meghan Frank, presented the wine for Dr. Frank's.
Interestingly, the wine was a blend of Volz Vineyard fruit and fruit grown at the ever impressive Sawmill Creek vineyard. The grapes came in at approximately 20 brix. Apparently, what was even more impressive was the winery decided to cold soak the grapes for 12 hours. Now, it's not uncommon for wineries to cold soak fruit, but it's usually red grapes that recieve that treatment, to improve color and mouthfeel. This was an interesting idea for a Finger Lakes white. The free run and press fractions were mixed together. So the wine was all in. There were four days of cold settling. The wine was further kept cold for one week after racking, and stirred every two days to increase mouthfeel by stirring up fine lees. That's a lot of fine wine making.
The gamble paid off. The wine had an impressive bouquet, and the mouthfeel was out of the world. While we have come to expect lean, crisp east coast whites, this was a full-bodied wine, with tremendous mouthfeel, complexity, and balance.
Simply put, it was one of the best white wines I have tasted from the east coast, and would be a standout in any region around the world. An exceptional wine that deserves to be tasted. If you're not trying it, your missing something.
Excellent. Exceptional. Impressive. Congrats to the winemaking team at Dr. Konstantin Frank!
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Jim and Deanna Gephart are the owners of Stone Mountain Vineyard. Jim and Deanna came to Virginia from the West Coast in 2011 to finish out their federal government careers. Never anticipating that they would fall in love with Virginia and want to stay after retirement. Jim was a veteran and retired federal law enforcement officer, and Deanna was a retired US Public Health Service Officer. Neither knew anything about starting or running a winery.
The winery is located in the Monticello AVA in Virginia.
Stone Mountain Vineyards Twelve Barrel Meritage is a non-vintage blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc, 16% Petite Verdot, and 16% Merlot. Twelve Barrels Meritage is their signature Bordeaux style blend that only uses their best grapes from multiple vintages to produce a Meritage produced in batch sizes of 12 barrels.
I bought this wine at least 10 years ago, so figure that was 2010 or so. And the wine must be a blend of 2007 and 2008 vintages I can only assume. Or thereabouts.
Cherry and eucalyptus pop out of the glass, as well as dark and bright raspberry, and plum. They also flow across the palate. A hint of cedar and cocoa. Nice spice and black pepper give way to a vanilla/toast moment, followed by lingering fruit.
I bought this wine a decade ago. That's a lot of time sitting in my cellar. This was a fabulous wine that stood the test of time. A lovely decade.
Great stuff Jim and Deanna! Congrats!
Sharpe Hill Vineyards is a quality wine producer located in Pomfret, Connecticut not far from the Rhode Island border. It's closer to Providence, than it is to Stonnington, but still feels the residual effects of the kindly Long Island Sound and the big shoulders of the northern Atlantic.
I love Howard Bursen, the winemaker of Sharpe Hill. He's a terrific winemaker and a very personalble man who loves to swap stories and winemaking experience, information, and tips. He has been at Sharpe HIll for more than 25 years. He's a long time member of the Finger Lakes Winemaking Mafia (including friends Peter Bell and Dave Whiting). I tasted two of Howard's wines in the last six months and meant to write about them sometime ago.
The Sharpe Hill Dry Riesling Vineyard Reserve 2016 was exquisite! Light, with a massive floral nose filled with honeysuckle, apricot, pineapple, and other tropical notes. It had a slight hint of petrol, and finished dry and lingered beautifully. Such an impressive wine.
The Sharpe Hill Cabernet Franc Vineyard Reserve 2013 was a classic medium bodied Cabernet Franc. The wine was the color of garnet, with notes of cherry and raspberry, and hints of cocoa, vanilla, and lots of spice. A hint of herbaceousness, but also lots, and lots of red fruit. A terrific finish, where the cherry lingered after the black pepper faded.
Howard and his staff continue to produce fantastic wines. Tremendous stuff.