Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jeff Richards of Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Highlights Holiday Wines

Add Sparkle to Your Holiday Table
by Jeff Richards
Elmira Star-Gazette
December 3, 2009
Thanksgiving is over, but the holidays are just beginning. Finger Lakes wineries offer some wonderful sparkling and dessert wines that will add a special note to any meal or gathering.
Chateau Frank, sister winery to Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, has long been known for its award-winning bubbly. Its 2002 Blanc de Noirs (retails at $29.99) has won numerous gold or double gold medals in competition this year. It has a distinctive pinot noir fruit flavor with a light yeasty character and a creamy finish. The 2002 Brut ($24.99) has won even more accolades, including a sparkling wine of the year award at the Indy International Wine Competition in Indianapolis.

Another award-winning sparkling wine is the 2002 Brut from Glenora Wine Cellars in Dundee ($24.99). This bubbly has bright fruit flavors with a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. It finishes slightly creamy.

These wonderful sparkling wines can be enjoyed at any time before or during a meal, but there are some exceptional dessert wines available that should be savored at the end of a special meal.

Hunt Country Vineyards in Branchport has a longstanding tradition of producing excellent dessert wines, which is part of what it calls its before-and-after dinner wines. The 2006 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine ($39.99) is a shining example of this winery’s ability. It is honey in color in the glass and the nose is honey and apricot. Those flavors are reinforced in a rich, sweet, smooth, lingering taste.

At Heron Hill Winery in Hammondsport, tasting hall manager Tambi Schweizer remembers picking the grapes for the 2005 Ingle Vineyard Late Harvest Chardonnay ($44.99) on Halloween of that year. She recalls with a smile that the crew was dressed in Halloween attire when they hit the vineyards at 9 a.m. “The grapes were the biggest, juiciest I had ever seen,” Tambi says. “We were just covered in juice.” The result is a wine with a soft, supple peach flavor with a peach and grapefruit finish.

The 2006 Ingle Vineyard Late Harvest Riesling ($74.99), also from Heron Hill, has honey-lime flavors overlaying a cool mineral taste with a surprisingly fresh and clean finish.
Dr. Frank’s offers a 2008 Bunch Select Late Harvest Riesling ($69.99) made from grapes that were hand-picked in early November.

“We can only make this occasionally when we have ideal conditions for noble rot or botrytis,” says Fred Frank, president of Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars. (Noble rot is a fungus brought on by wet, then drier conditions that can result in grapes that produce a concentrated, sweet wine)

Read about the other recommended wines at: