Friday, July 22, 2011

A Tasting at Heron Hill, Bristol

While we were near Canandaigua, we decided to visit the Heron Hill tastingroom in Bristol. I have long been a fan of Bernard Cannac.

After getting an Associates Degree in the Food Industry, he went back to his passion, making wine. He graduated from The University of Bordeaux in 1995 with a Bachelors Degree in Oenology, called “DiplĂ´me National d’Oenologie” or D.N.O. Continuing on with his travels, Bernard went to Burgundy to get a M.B.A in International Commerce of Wines and Spirits.

After spending a few harvests in Southern France, from Saint-Emilion to Provence, he set course to Virginia in 1999 for a year-long internship. That is where he was introduced to the American way wineries operate. Bernard then landed on Long Island for the 2000 harvest. Still single at the time, he met a wonderful woman who changed his life plans. Bernard and Lisa married in 2003.

Bernard spent nine vintages on Long Island as winemaker in various wineries there including Castello di Borghese, Comtesse Therese Winery and Galluccio Family Winery. He also spent time consulting for others. While at Galluccio Family Winery, his Chardonnay scored 90 points from Wine Spectator and as winemaker for Comtesse Therese Winery he was awarded “Best Merlot in NY” at the NY Wine & Food Classic.

Bernard and his wife Lisa now reside in Hammondsport, New York.

Owners, John & Jo Ingle met during the late 1960’s, on the first day of school at the University of Denver. John studied to be an English teacher and graduated in 1971. By this time, however, he was reading organic gardening magazines regularly and had been bitten by the “back to the earth” bug.

After marrying in June 1971, John and Josephine went looking for their promised land. Colorado,Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon all received consideration but the two recent grads landed in John’s backyard – Seneca Point, Naples, New York.

Spring of 1972 saw the Ingles plant 20 acres of grapes, including Chardonnay, Riesling, and Seyval Blanc. They planted some 12,000 vines. They built Heron Hill Winery on Keuka Lake. Being next door to Walter Taylor’s Bully Hill Winery and Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars seemed like a good location. It has been, too. 2009 marks the 32nd anniversary of Heron Hill. In the meantime, they have opened up tastingrooms on several lakes.

We pulled into the drive way as Josie Ingle was just putting out the OPEN flag. She greated us with a great big smile and bade us welcome. She was bright, energetic, and charming.

The first thing I tasted was the 2008 Ingle Vineyard Riesling. This was a nice, bright, fresh riesling, with subtle minerality with lots of lemon and citrus.

2008 Ingle Vineyard Chardonnay Unoaked came next. I liked this as well. As promised, the crushed granite, lemongrass, and green apple skins all came through. There was a beautful balance here, where the fruit and the acids balanced out.

Next came the 2007 Ingle Vineyard Pinot Noir. I've neen tasting a lot of noirs lately, Pinot and Baco, so I was especially interested to see what Bernard had crafted. This was a nice, Burgundian-styled Pinot. Raspberry and strawbeery wafted out of the glass, as promised. Bernard makes it in small European oak barrels. The result is a well balanced wine with hints of vanilla and other spices.

The 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve was even better with dark stewed strawberries and dark raspberries. Lots of spice and minerality as well. A very nice Pinot Noir, especially for the Finger Lakes.

Lastly I tried the 2008 Ingle Vineyard Cabernet Franc. This is a relatively big Cabernet Franc, especially for the Finger Lakes. Cherry and dark raspberry comes through, as well as a hint of cassis, and touches of mocha and other spices. Very, very nice!

They didn;t have their Baco Noir Reserve, which I would love to have tried. And I didn't try my usual favorite, Eclipse. But as usual, I liked the line immensely. Always a treat to see what's going on with Heron Hill.