Saturday, March 22, 2008

FINGER LAKE REDS - THE PATH LESS TAKEN




I took the road less traveled
And that made all the difference.
- Robert Frost

I was recently invited to two group tastings. The there were two themes. Quite honestly, I wanted to do the later one, for it was of some of the best rieslings from the Finger Lakes. Time, commitments, and curiosity led me to a different tasting - a tasting of the same region’s most opulent reds. For the life of her, my wife couldn’t understand why I would choose Finger Lake reds. While there were some nice ones we already knew about, the Finger Lakes produces world class whites. Well, as Mr. Frost said, “I took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference.”

There were six wines, and they were for the most part 2005s. Who could go wrong? 2005was one of the best wine growing years in the last 20 or 30. They were rich, deep, and opulent. And if someone didn’t tell you they were from the Finger Lakes, then you wouldn’t have known where they were from.

However, one must also take note, as was discussed with the several wine writers and the group of winemakers and winery executives, that the red vines planted in the last ten years are maturing, as are the winemakers’ ability to work with the fruit as well. The result is a region strong and rich in flavor.

It would seem to this writer (and grower) that New York in general, is well served by Cabernet Franc, and that Cabernet Franc should be one of the dominant red varietals for he next generation that will finally give New York the trump card, a single red grape that works in all three regions, which finally unites it, giving it an easy and strong identity to sell outside the region.

But the day surely belongs to the Finger Lakes. The wines were exquisite. So much so that I am going to write a separate review for each wine…some shorter alas and some longer. But there is no question that the 2005 Cabernet Franc vintage is an incredibly exciting benchmark in Finger Lakes wine that will long stand as it’s true coming out party for incredible, deep red wines that stand up to any region’s.

Not only is this a victory for the winemakers of the region, but it is a victory and a celebration for wine drinkers…especially those who drink regional wines. These wines drink well now, and are most cellar worthy. And best of all, they are incredibly affordable. Don’t just buy a bottle here and there. Buy five or six and store them for long while. Many of these will keep a good 10 or so years. And in 2015, 2016, 2018, you could pull one out of the rank, dust it off, and decant it, and smell the fresh berries that were the first of the big red vintages from the Finger Lakes.

The 2005 Finger Lakes Cabernet Francs and Meritages are a landmark vintage! This is a new benchmark for the Finger Lakes.

Follow me down the road less taken….I promise you won’t regret it.