My name is Carlo DeVito, and I am the author of East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia published by Rutgers University Press. This blog is dedicated to primarily east coast wines and wineries including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It will also feature products and information from other regions.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Freedom Run is Helping Make a Name for the Niagara Escarpment (NY)
I have long been associated with Bryan Calandrelli by the
birds of a feather bonds of a love for east coast wines. I had read his
articles about wines from the Niagara region on New York Cork Report. And then
we actually met at the Finger Lakes wine festival when I first tried Freedom
Run. Bryan is the Regional Editor, Niagara, and Brand Manager for Freedom Run.
Bryan Calandrelli moved to the Niagara Escarpment several
years ago from New York City, where he and his then-fiancee spent an almost
unreasonable amount of time driving back and forth from the East End of Long
Island on wine-tasting jaunts. When he doesn’t have his nose deep in a wine
glass, Bryan is a camera operator/director of photography for network and cable
television shows. He has been the unabashed ambassador of Freedom Run.
Freedom Run is owned by Larry and Sandra Manning – along
with brothers and co-owners Sean and Chip Manning. The winery is situated in
the heart of the burgeoning wine region on the bench of the Niagara Escarpment.
Located in the heart of the USA’s Niagara Escarpment AVA, they currently have
more than twelve acres of grapes planted in four vineyard blocks. Planted in
spring of 2005, these vines (the largest percentage of which is Pinot Noir) are
just beginning to reveal their personalities. They also grow Cabernet Franc,
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and white varieties include Riesling and
Chardonnay. Their backyard neighbor is Arrowhead Springs (another of my favorite NY wineries). Their vineyards
practically touch each other.
Larry is a retired vice president and co-owner of a large
manufacturing corporation, and Sandra is or was a preschool teacher. Larry –
Freedom Run’s chief operating officer – oversees sales and production of the
winery’s boutique offerings. He’s often on the road selling Freedom Run Winery,
but he can also operate a forklift with the best of them. He and Sandra – along
with brothers and co-owners Sean and Chip Manning, the winery’s agricultural
manager – also know that Freedom Run couldn’t exist if it weren’t for the help
and expertise of those they are surrounded by.
Freedom Run picks in small lots and maintains the identity
of those lots through destemming/crushing, fermentations, and aging. These
distinct lots provide the winemaking team with a rich palette from which to
construct each blend. Something I very much like, they prefer used French oak
barrels over new barrels. This helps them preserve the integrity and flavors of
So it was a pleasure to see Bryan at NY Drinks NY, and
finally get a chance to taste a good portion of the Freedom Run line. I was
Pinot Noir Estate Reserve 2010 - Freedom Run says this is
their “finest Pinot Noir yet.” It was certainly a beautiful wine. Bright, red
ripe cherry and hints of raspberry and plum, and a nice wafting touch of vanilla
came across on the nose. Great acidity and just enough tannin to give it backbone.
A lovely, lovely wine!
A beautiful Pinot Noir.
Cabernet Franc Estate 2010: This is an estate grown Cabernet
Franc. It has bright notes of red currant, sour cherry, black pepper, and
spice. It's medium-bodied dry red wine with bright acidity and smooth tannins.
A lovely wine. Great with food. It’s fantastic!
Meritage Estate 2010 - This blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet
Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Dark ripe cherry and cassis, chalk and spice
all come through as promised. Also hints of cedar and a light touch of fallen
leaves. A wonderful wine. Excellent!
According to Freedom Run cellar master Kurt Guba (pictured below), "We had ¾ ton cabernet franc grapes that we harvested at 23 brix, which dried to just over 30 brix. It was vinified using a high alcohol-tolerant yeast, which enabled us to get it to nearly to dryness. The skins from the lot were blended with standard harvest cabernet franc and allowed to ferment Ripasso style. We ended up having an appassimento and ripasso blend that ended up getting blended in with some of our standard wines to give us an alcohol of 14.5%. The final blend was around 75% dried cabernet franc with cabernet sauvignon and a touch of merlot."
This was my favorite wine. Mature. Complex. Sophisticated, with a range of bright and dark red fruit, solid acidity and good tannin, this was a smooth drinking red, you could serve to the most uppity wine snob and get a smile. A tremendous wine!
Nektars Black Currant is a cassis-styled dessert wine. Big dark sour fruit up front, with big flavor. Absolutely a lovely expression of black currant fruit and a quality dessert wine. Very sophisticated.
I was thrilled to have tasted the wines, and the experience
confirmed for me what I had already come to understand – Freedom Run is making
exceptional quality wines on the Niagara Bench. Kurt Guba and the Manning family are doing great things. You should go and try them!