Thursday, July 26, 2012

Villa Bellangelo Winery (NY)

While I was at the Finger Lakes Wine Festival 2012, I had the occasion to sample some wines from Villa Bellangelo. Villa Bellangelo is situated in a magnificent location atop a hill overlooking central Seneca Lake. Their tasting room has offered visitors breathtaking views for more than a decade, but these historic lands have been a part of the heart of Finger Lakes agriculture and grape growing for centuries. Villa Bellangelo winery was founded in 2002 by Michael Litterio as a Finger Lakes winery with a vision of the future.

Michael initiated a tradition at Villa Bellangelo of crafting wonderfully distinct Finger Lakes wines, by blending traditional European and modern American winemaking methods to produce some of the area’s best wines. Villa Bellangelo produces a wide spectrum of wines including Riesling, Gew├╝rztraminer, Seyval Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Bellangelo's signature Moscato.

The Missick family recently acquired Villa Bellangelo from Mr. Litterio and looks forward to continuing the winery’s traditions. They are in the process of creating a Cream Sherry and intend on reproducing the Bellangelo Port that proved to be so popular in the past. The winery is temporarily closed to the public, but they are still processing online orders through their website at

Among the changes initiated by the Missick family in 2012, was to hire a highly acclaimed winemaker, with a distinguished reputation for making wines that are true to the terroir in the Finger Lakes - that winemaker is Ian Barry. Ian's experience stems from having served as winemaker with the large commercial wineries such as Swedish Hill, and wonderful boutique craft wineries such as Keuka Lake Vineyards. Villa Bellangelo is fortunate to have Ian Barry as their winemaker. He’s a good guy and a hellava winemaker.

Ian life has been hectic, having worked in a number of places in the last 18 months. But he’s ensconced here now. I interviewed him, discussing his position, he said he was “a full-time winemaker. We're planning on expanding production this year (up to around 6K cases) and MAJOR remodeling has been going on throughout the winery and tasting room both. It's been pretty exciting… I'll be pretty busy…[they’ll have a] full crush at Bellangelo and we've got all new equipment in place.”

Dry Riesling 2009 – This is not one of Ian’s wines, but nonetheless, a nice wine. The grapes were sourced from Seneca Lake and fermented cold to preserve the bright fruit. Tropical fruits and big apple on the nose give way to pear and apple, good solid dose of mineral, and a nice citrusy ending.

Seyval Blanc 2011. This is a lovely example of what this French-American hybrid grape can produce. Very nice! Big whiff of Granny Smith apples, peach skin and star fruit come across as promised. Just a slight hint of grassiness. Nice fruit, nice fresh bright acidity. Excellent finish. Wonderful!

Gew├╝rztraminer 2011 is Barry’s nicest work here. The wine in incredibly aromatic, lychee, floral notes, tropical notes all dominate the nose. A delicate light bright white with fantastic flavor! Refreshing. Delicious!

Semi-sparkling Moscato 2010 is made from 100% Valvin Muscat. This wine is a light sparkling wine (frizzante) Lychee fruit, pineapple and tropical flowers all come through as promised. A lovely, lovely wine.

Francesca Rossa 2009 is a dry red blend of 80%Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. This is a medium-bodied wine with nice color and pretty nose. Black cherry, vanilla, cassis and plums all come through as promised. Nice acidity and nice tannins give the wine structure and balance. Sits on the tongue a long time. Very nice!

The wines were good, and with Ian there, there's no reason to think they won;t improve. Nice to see this winery moving in the right direction and an eye toward improving. There can never be enough wineries with that aim. Looking forwar to tasting more from them....and seeing what Ian does here in the next few years.