Saturday, February 15, 2014

O*NEH*DA - A Great New Look, Wonderful Wines

This post is well over due. I first tasted these wines almost a year ago, but Will Ouweleen had asked me to hold off, as the labels had not yet been approved and the product launch would delayed by some months. By the time he was ready, I was onto other things. Life intervenes. But I owe Will....for sure. He's a great guy and his wines are as solid as he is.
Will is as outsized a character in the world of wine as one can possibly imagine. Charles Dickens would have loved Will. Earlier in life he was a double-breasted suit and tie kinda guy. Some time back he traded that all in for tie-dyed shirts and a van full of wine, and has never turned back. He is loud and funny, which belies a shrewd business man, with a very deep understanding of the wine business. But he can jump right back a you - I saw him once quote the constitution to a police office who was trying to tell him to move his van at crowded wine festival (and he hadn't been drinking at all)!
Will owns and runs Eagle Crest and O-Neh-Da wineries in Hemlock Lake. They were established over 140 years ago in the Finger Lakes region, located amidst 6,684 acres of State Forrest Land. They use sustainable vineyard practices and observe careful stewardship of their land. Their wines are unadulterated, local, and sold at a fair price. That same spirit of good stewardship that informs their vineyard practices also influences their packaging choices -  today Eagle Crest wines are packaged in recycled glass, with soy-based inks and resealable Stelvin ® closures.
Eagle Crest and O-Neh-Da in the past and still today have made sacramental wines, intended for churches across the region. They are one of the most successful of these types of winery operations. In the years since Will took charge, Eagle  Crest has packaged a number of very fine quality wines for the general public priced at very affordable prices. Eagle Crest has always been good wine at a great value. And they are incredibly popular.

Now, this new launch is a different kind of product. The new O-Neh-Da series are premium quality wines, wherein Will and his staff have used the latest techniques and best practices to produce the highest possible artisanal quality product.

And to show how serious he was Will donned the old war gear - yes, a double breasted suit - but with a turtleneck - to show he was intent on making serious, great wine. It was important to him to get the message across. And after I tasted the wines, I realized just how serious he was about this new line.

O-Neh-Da Unoaked Chardonnay 2011-   This unoaked Chardonnay was a revelation. A big, big nose of  fresh green apples, Bartlett pear and other tropical fruits dominates. They come across on the palate as well with an incredible finish. Nice, zippy acidity, and a refreshing finish make this a fantastic Chardonnay. 0.4% R.S., 13.1 % Alc. Very much like a Chablis. Fabulous!

O-Neh-Da Cabernet Franc 2010 explodes out of the glass with a beautiful nose full of red purple plum, mature red raspberry and hints of black berry and a hint of cassis. Whiffs of vanilla and spice also come across. Those favors come across on the palate in a big meaty stew of medium-and-dark fruit. Beautiful fruit lasts due to good acidity. A nicely balanced Cab Franc. And at 12.8% alcohol, it' a great food wine. Great complexity. A truly beautiful red wine, that instantly joins some of the best red wines in the Finger Lakes.
A fantastic new release of wines, and congrats to
 Will and his team!