Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
This last weekend I went back It was the tenth year anniversary since they began their long trek. The winery threw itself a birthday. Everyone was invited. I went with a friend, Matt Weismantle, as my wife and his were happy gabbing at home, and we both needed to step out for a minute. Silver Decoy was a great excuse.
The winery itself has grown immensely over the years.
From their one two-door garage like structure, they now have an ample tasting room,
But they have grown in reputation as well. A year after I had first visited them, they had won the 2007 New Jersey Winery of the Year, and their 2005 Cabernet Franc took a Gold Medal at the New Jersey Governor’s Cup Wine Competition.
I was very curious then that this was their tenth year anniversary. I really wanted to go back and see the changes for myself. As ever, Mark was happy to chat away about wine. We yakked. I yakked. He poured. We yakked some more. And the wines were just as impressive as ever.
We started off with Pinot Grigio and then Traminette. Both wines were lovely, and I continue to enjoy Silver Decoy’s Traminette, a light, lovely refreshing wine with a great nose and lovely palate.
The Black Feather Chardonnay 2009 was very nice with big fruit, and lovely, apples and pears, but both Matt and I were blown away by the Chardonnay Alliers 2009. This was a lovely Chardonnay with bright fresh fruit, bursting with green apple and pear and a hint of mango, but also toasty and with aromas of lovely vanilla. The wine had big fresh apples and pears, in a mouth full of light refreshing wine, but also a toastiness to it, with a nice, creamy smooth finish. One of the nicer oaked chardonnays I’ve ever had. Fabulous!
After that we both tasted a very nice Riesling, which was tart and off-dry. Delicious! And a nice, light Viognier.
Next were the reds. I was worried we experience that – it’s not as good as last time experience. But this was not the case.
The first thing we tried was the Chambourcin 2008. This was a big red wine, with dark purple-maroon coloration, and big notes of cherries, black cherries, vanilla and pepper. The wine was full and lush in the mouth, with a nice mouthfeel. Medium bodied, with nice acidity and medium tannins.
The “10” Marchel Foch remains the best example of the grape I have yet tasted, no matter what state I have tasted in (although the Haight-Brown by Grayson Hartley is a solid contender). And the Merlot was also lovely.
Next came the Cabernet Franc 2008. Again, this was a powerful wine that would stand up to any other east coast Cabernet Franc. Big, with cherry and vanilla, this Cabernet Franc is a wonderful, big deep wine in the hands of the Silver Decoy folks. Tremendous!
Retriever was next. This is made from non-estate grapes, but is a solid winner from year to year. This is a nice, California-styled wine, made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera. This is an American version of a Super-Tuscan. Very, very nice.
Next was the estate grown Syrah 2009. This was a lovely wine with lots of big berries, nice acidity, and medium-to-low tannins. A nice soft finish. A lovely version of the varietal every bit as good as wine from Santa Barbara.
The Sangiovese 2009 was incredible with bright red Bing cherry done in a Chianti style. The notes were wonderful with exotic spices and hints of vanilla. Wow!
But that was not the end of he show. Mark, ever excited, decided to take a small group of us over for a small barrel tasting. As always, with Silver Decoy, the promise of what’s in the barrel is always something special.
We started with the estate Merlot 2010. Big whiffs of dark cherry and dark raspberry. Nice touches of vanilla on the nose. The cherry and raspberry come through on this incredible wine, as well as a little hint of plum.
The Cabernet Franc 2010 was even better. It was big, and dark, and rich. It was very lush in the mouth with a big damsom plum flavor and a hint of cassis. No pencil shavings or hint of grassiness on this wine. It was outstanding!
And the real capper was the 2010 Syrah This is a Santa Barbara styled Syrah, with big dark fruits, huge fruit, big and jammy, it tasted like a plum/prune Pop Tart in the best sense of the flavors I’m trying to get across. Nice acidity. Dry finish with nice tannins. This is a beautiful wine! Incredible! Fantastic!
All three of these wines are what I am talking about with 2010. 2010 will be the best vintage on the east coast in 20 years. The 2007s were nice. 2010 will blow them away.
And Silver Decoy will be one of the east coast wineries that will lead the way for reds….as suspected.
I walked out with more than a few bottles.
Happy birthday Silver Decoy Winery!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
- Silver, 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (2004 vintage)
- Silver, 2006 Los Angeles County Fair World of Wines Competition (2002 vintage)- Bronze, 2003 American Wine Society National Competition (2002 Vintage)- Bronze, 2004 VinoChallenge International Wine Competition (2002 Vintage)- Gold, 2004 New Jersey Wine Competition (2002 Vintage)- Silver, 2004 American Wine Society National Competition (2003 Vintage)
- Bronze, 2005 New Jersey Wine Competition (2003 Vintage)
In 1998, Gary and Rosemary Barletta purchased seven acres of land on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. It was the perfect place to establish a vineyard, and the Barlettas immediately began to plant their vines and build the winery about which they had dreamed for years. John C. Hartsock covers all the topics one expects, like winemaking, the harsh realities of business plans, vineyard pests, brutal weather conditions, producing the first vintage, to greeting enthusiastic visitors on a vineyard tour. In fact Long Point won a gold medal from the American Wine Society for a Cabernet Franc.
I am thrilled that this book is out. Anything that promotes New York, or any kind of local wine, is alright in my book. However, it goes far beyond that. It's a wonderful read. There is nothing like the first hand expereinces Gary and Rosemry relate in the business of making wine. From the hardships of planting and vineyard management, to the hilarity of reading about Gary pulling bottles of wine from table tops in a restaurant, spurned by the thought that he has sold wine wholesale without the appropriate license, and the resulting shocked customers.
The book is written by John C. Hartsock who has worked as a staff reporter for United Press International and various newspapers, including the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle. His freelance work has appeared in Audubon and the San Francisco Examiner. He resides in Homer, New York, in the Finger Lakes region, and he teaches communication studies at SUNY Cortland.
This is the second book about Finger Lakes wineries. Evan Dawson's Summer in a Glass is a much bigger, overview of winemaking in the Finger Lakes. Where Dawson's book is a macroview of the region, Hartsock's book is a down and dirty portait of winery life and it's cyclical nature. Both books are great reads, and one does not proclude the other. They are in fact complimentary. When visiting the Finger Lakes, you should either read both books before you go, or buy the books within the region, and bring them home with you.
I interviewed John, here's the interview:
a. How did you get together with Long Point?
A number of things came together for me with Long Point. I had kicked around the idea of doing a book on a Finger Lakes winery for a couple of years before deciding on Long Point. One thing I wanted to do was make sure there was a strong human interest element. I didn’t want it to be only a book about wine, but a book about the people who struggle through the course of the year to make wine happen. To me it’s that interaction I found fascinating. One thing that intrigued me about the Barlettas was that they were baby boomers who had raised their family and were, as I say in the book, “on the other side of the second half of their lives.” When the empty nest hits, that can be a bit existentially daunting: What do you do with your life now? Their answer: Start a winery. I saw that as courageous and even dignifying, kind of like Zorba the Greek erupting into dance when things are down. Another part is that the winery had just started. It was a young winery. The Barlettas were very much struggling. And you saw the vines maturing from initial planting—that’s a pretty amazing experience. Then there were some practical reasons. First, the winery looks out on one of the Finger Lakes. Well, it seemed only natural that a winery should, although I know that doesn’t necessarily make a difference in the wine. But from their location above the lake it looks like the whole universe is opening up. It had a mesmerizing quality to it, something magical that to me said something about humankind’s relationship to the land and the larger cosmos. Second, and a practical consideration for me, the winery is on the east side of Cayuga Lake, about 35 minutes from where I live. If I were to spend much time at a winery, it had to be reasonably close. If I had to drive around the lake, that would have been too far. At the time, there were only two wineries along the eastern shore—Long Point and King Ferry. More broadly, I was attracted to the subject of a winery because wine is such a powerful cultural metaphor. Sorry, that’s my English lit background creeping in. But you see it reflected in the history, which I found fascinating and which I realized the average wine drinker would likely not know. Winemakers are part of such a rich historical tradition. It’s paradoxical: On the one hand they are implicated by history, but on the other, when they prune and crush, history is implicated by them. What they do is a re-enactment of what winemakers did more than 5,000 years ago in the Zagros mountain region of ancient Mesopotamia, and it locates them in the endless unfolding of time.
Anyway, it was a combination of these different factors.
b. you must have spent some long hours at Long Point...did you do any volunteer work while you were there? prune? harvest? do you have a story or two of this kind?
For the first year I was going out about two or three times a week to observe, and yes, at times I helped out. But I didn’t want to emphasize that. I wanted to keep the emphasis on the Barlettas’ experience. Background: I’m a former newspaper and wire service journalist and I went first and foremost to observe. But certainly I would help out because I would see Gary doing something and he would need help and of course you lend a hand. Most of that didn’t make it into the book. But I did some light pruning and harvesting. I remember dumping lugs of grapes in the crusher and by the end of the day I had pulled my back out so that the next day I ended up in the hospital where Gary and Rosie worked in the x-ray department (they’ve recently retired). Fortunately they weren’t there when I was x-rayed, otherwise I don’t know how I could not have put that in the book. I was driving the tractor during harvest one time while we were picking up lugs, looking forward, looking back, when I almost crashed through a row of grapes. It doesn’t take a lot to destroy several years of hard work. But again, I wanted to keep the focus on Gary and Rosie.
c. are you a wine drinker? assuming you are...what are some of your favorite Long Point wines?
That’s a good question. I started out on this project as a pretty average wine drinker—remember, I was coming at this as a journalist. But certainly, over time, I learned a great deal about wine. Gary and Rosie were my teachers. Do I consider myself an expert? Not really, even though my friends may consider me to be because I talk about the qualities of wine. But to me it’s all relative and I find that I’m still learning—wine is that complicated and “complex.” Yet that’s part of the pleasure of it all. See, I tend to view wine as something of a tease, and that’s what I like about it when I taste. But I began to see that this could be important to the book, too. I can’t tell you how many people, friends and acquaintances, have told me they are put off by the mystique of wine—what they see as “wine snobbery.” And I began to see that as an opportunity, to share with them the process of how I learned about tasting wine in order to take some of the unnecessary mystery out of it. Wine is mysterious, but we don’t have to make it worse than it is. Regarding Gary’s wines, I have really come to appreciate Cabernet Franc as a red that does quite well in the region. I actually like the fruit. I had never had it before—I had the usual biases of the average dry wine drinker—until he shared his with me. At the time he was buying his grapes from Knapp until his own were ready. Then his Cab Franc matured and it’s been fun to see how the vintage changes from year to year. And of course one can’t help appreciate dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes. It’s what I call “Rieslingland” in the book. I never cared much for white wines until I started this book. Then I discovered dry Riesling, and couldn’t help but fall in love with the dryness—such a contrast to the sweeter German version. Actually, my first was a Ravines recommended to me by Gary’s brother, but now Gary’s Riesling grapes are mature, and once again it’s fun to see how the vintage changes from year to year. It’s really been a delightful journey of discovery for me.
d. can you enumerate your thought on the finger lakes wine region and how and why it's growing in size and reputation
I have a couple of thoughts on that. There’s no doubt that wines are getting better. For that reason I think the region will continue to grow in the estimation of serious wine enthusiasts. And garnering more attention, even international. For example, I’m meeting a French colleague at a conference in Brussels in May. He asked me to bring a bottle of dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes! He’s bringing a bottle from Alsace, which of course sets the standard. We’re going to do a tasting. We call it “Judgment at Brussels.” Obviously we’re not professional wine tasters. But it’s part of the fun of the amateur and what makes wine tasting so enjoyable. I’m tasting now, trying to decide what to take. I have a bottle of Hermann J. Wiemer and a Glenora, which have come highly recommended. And I had a delightful Hazlitt recently. We’ll see. But the word is slowly getting out about the Finger Lakes.
Also, people will continue to be drawn naturally to what is grown and made in their backyard. And being so close to New York City, the Finger Lakes provide an opportunity to get back in touch with how things are really made, in this case wine. As Bill Nelson, the former executive director of WineAmerica, told me, “In a world where people have no idea how things are made, they can understand wine.” I think as human beings we like to know—we like to feel in touch with and the touch of—how things are made. It’s like baking your own loaf of bread and it’s fundamental to who we are as humans. Wine provides that. And it brings such delight, savoring its nuances. There’s an appreciation for cherishing—savoring again—the refined things of this world while we’re here. It’s life enriching.
Seasons of a Finger Lakes Winery is very well written, and fun to read. For those who have often dreamed of what it is like to start and run a winery, Hartsock's book is a charming, funny, and ultimately happy rending of life in wine country.
Here are some other great reviews about this book:
"Everyone who savors the flavor of a fine glass of wine likely has at one time or another dreamt of producing their own. . . . Organizing his book by season, John C. Hartsock shares vignettes that illustrate the hard work and perseverance required as well as the heartbreak that comes when one tiny mistake ruins a year's output. This detailed book . . . will be of great interest to those contemplating the winery business, even if just someday to tinker in their basement."
— Library Journal
In telling the story of Gary and Rosemary Barletta and their Long Point Winery, John C. Hartsock captures the essence of the small farm winery experience with all of its hard work and ample rewards. The seasons of growth and labor in the vineyard and winery are described in a narrative that encompasses the interesting history of the winery. For the reader who wants to understand the fundamentals of grape growing and winemaking and what it takes to open a successful winery, this is an excellent book. Seasons of a Finger Lakes Winery is also a story of dreams and aspirations, and wine enthusiasts will be inspired by these pages.
- Hudson Cattell, editor of "Wine East" in Wines & Vines and coauthor of Wine East of the Rockies
Seasons of a Finger Lakes Winery is a delightful account of the agrarian life and cycles of the winemaking life. Gary Barletta has succeeded in creating wonderful wines from the Finger Lakes that stand up beautifully in the world of wine. Reading about the behind-the-scenes creation of grapes and wine is a delectable treat to savor.
- Louis Damiani, Damiani Wine Cellars, Hector, N.Y.
Seasons of a Finger Lakes Winery is a very compelling, complete, and accurate portrayal of the workings of a small family-operated estate vineyard and winery. By looking at grape growing and winemaking through the narrative of the Barletta family, John C. Hartsock vividly shows the hardships and satisfactions that come from planting grapevines in the fertile yet demanding environment of the Finger Lakes. This book is an exceptional addition to the burgeoning literature about wine grapes and the people who grow and ferment them.
- Ian Merwin, Professor of Horticulture and the Viticulture and Enology Program, Cornell University, and manager of Black Diamond Orchard and Vineyard
Competing with imports and other alcohol beverages.
Quality has become better.
Where do you think wine in your region will be 10 years from now?
Where California was when it made its impact on the world.
Mid-priced wines leading over low or high-endwines
Is there a new trend you expect to see in the next 2-3 years?
Bargain priced wines; good quality for goodprice instead of high priced wines
Do you find liquor stores and wine shops have been a good partner for your state grown wines?
Not enough shelfspace.
Regional wineries sometimes find it hard to sell wines outsideof their state. How easy or difficult is it for your wineries to export their wines to other states?countries?
Very difficult due to different licensing fees, excise tax and sales tax.
Big part creates a one stop shopping toexpose wineries to buyers market
What are the challenges of getting your wines covered by local press and the wine media?
Local press and media do a greatjob in our area.
Radio and Internet advertising.
No, wine consumption is up.
Yes. Cayuga Wine Trail oldest Trail in US. Collective advertising and trailevents.
Yes at this point.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
"This was our 35th anniversary show, and it provided a great opportunity to unite members of the eastern wine industry," said Merletti who, in addition to producing Wineries Unlimited, publishes Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. "Having industry stars such as Keith Striegeler, Paul Wagner, Bruce Zoecklein, Elizabeth Slater and others definitely contributed to the success of the event, as did the great support and cooperation of Governor Bob McDonnell, Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore, the Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Virginia Hotel and Hospitality industry."
Merletti has announced that Wineries Unlimited will return to Richmond in 2012.
By: C.J. Spang
This Saturday, April 23, 2001 they will be celebrating from Noon - 5:00 PM
$5 admission includes tasting glass
From their website:
10. Hourly vineyard tours with the winemaker
9. Award-winning wines grown right here in NJ
8. Special $10 price on our refreshing Pinot Grigio
7. 18% discount on a 10-bottle purchase (excludes Pinot Grigio)
6. See the vine that started it all
5. Wine by the glass
4. Live music featuring Dan Sufalko
3. The release of our 2009 Syrah2. Crackers, cheese, savory snacks and cake. Yum!
. . . and the number one reason you won't want to miss this event . . .
1. It's all about FUN!