Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Good to Be Back - Great Things Happening at Knapp Winery

I first tasted Knapp wines back in the late 1990s. They were known for a number for different things, an were considered a solid winery with a good reputation. As is so common in the wine world, I have been distracted by a slew of new wineries and younger winemakers. In dating parlance, it wasn't Knapp, it was me. No, really! So, while on a recent trip to the Finger Lakes I decided to stop in at Knapp. I had not done so in many years. It was good to be back. Knapp was one of the first wineries I tried when I first started visiting wineries in the late 1980s.

Knapp Winery, in Seneca Falls the winery was founded in 1984.  In the year 2000, the winery was sold to current owners Gene Pierce and Scott Welliver. Knapp had an historical claim to fame - it was the first winery in the Finger Lakes Appellation to plant and vinify the grape variety Cabernet Franc. 

As one of the owners of Glenora Wine Cellars (the first winery on Seneca Lake) and one of the pioneers of the Finger Lakes grape growing region, Gene Pierce oversees the Knapp estate which  encompasses sixty-five acres of land of which forty acres are currently cultivated for growing estate Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Lemberger, Sangiovese, Merlot, Baco Noir, Cayuga, Catawba, Seyval, Vignoles and DeChaunac. He is involved in all aspects of the farm and production facilities. Gene is among the most important personalities in the Finger Lakes, and an incredibly accomplished man.

Knapp Winery has a new winemaker, Rachel Hadley. Rachel didn't make all the wines I tried, but he certainly had a hand in guiding them to the bottle. I thought the final product was polished and spiffy. Very professional looking wines. I mean that in the nicest and most complimentary way! It is a compliment!

The Knapp Dry Vignoles 2016 was among my favorite wines of the tasting, and the very first I tried. Aromatic, with great flavor and great acidity, this was an exceptional dry white right up there with Gewurztraminer and Vigionier. An exceptional value as well. Very delicate and fruity, but elegant.

While I was there to try the quality dry wines, Knapp also produces a line of inexpensively priced popular sweet fruit infused wines for picnics and sipping. With a different and very colorful series of labels, this is very very successful line. But don't let this dissuade you, if you are more of a classic wine drinker, Knapp's drier and more classically styled wines are very good!

The Knapp Dry Riesling 2016 with an RS of 0.80% is a super aromatic green apple bomb with hints of granny smith apples, pineapple, lychee, apricot, and other tropical fruits. A lovely wine with a nice, nice citrus ending. Big, beautiful nose. Very pretty. 

The Knapp Pinot Noir 2015 is a wine glass full of bright Bing cherries, on the nose as well as on the palate! This bone dry red has lovely notes of strawberries and plums as well as a slight hint of vanilla. But the fruit comes through beautifully!

The Knapp Lemberger 2016 is a dark cherry revelation, with lovely tart fruit, balanced by nice tannins and terrific acidity. This was a shocker. My second favorite dry wine of the tasting. Not a huge fan of Lemberger, but this was an incredibly gorgeous wine. 

The Knapp Meritage 2014 is made from 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc, and 33% Merlot. It was aged in new American oak. A classic vinifera laden meritage wine. This wine had big dark cherry and dark raspberry up front on the nose and tongue. Notes of eucalyptus, sweet fruit, and vanilla and spice. You could drink this now, or cellar it for at least five years. A very layered, and complex wine. Very, very impressive.   

Knapp Mb Muscat Bubbles is a carbonated wine made with muscat. I love muscat. And this semi-sweet bubbling varietal wine of this grape is spellbinding. Its a simple enough premise - it's Finger Lakes prosecco. Slightly sweet, with lots of nose and acidity, it's got a ton of fruit up front, great acidity as all sparkling wines should, and tremendous body. Meant to be a fun, fun sparkler - and it succeeds. Fantastic. Another of among my favorites of the tasting. 

Thistle Creek Hard Cider is made at Glenora Winery, Gene's other winery. According to their website: " The apples are picked and pressed at Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva.  Upon arrival to Glenora, the juice is clarified to retain fruit flavor and then yeast is added.  The juice ferments until it reaches 5% alcohol and is then chilled to stop fermentation.  From there, the hard cider is filtered and put into a specialized tank that can hold pressure, which is needed for the addition of CO2. CO2 is added via a special carbonation “stone,” which diffuses the CO2 into very tiny bubbles. This process takes about 3 days. From there, the hard cider is bottled with a special filler that retains the CO2, then labeled. The entire process from pressing to bottle takes 3-4 weeks." 

The apples used include: Sweet – Empire, Cortland, Crispin; and 
Tart – Ida Red, Northern Spy.  That said, this is a lovely, bright, crisp and refreshing A very, very well made cider, with a terrific nose, and a great mouthfeel. An easy, easy sipper!

I had not been back to Knapp Winery in a long time. And I will put that on me. I got distracted by a number of new shiny pennies. Gene and Rachel are upping the game at Knapp. Very exciting times ahead. But Knapp is making some lovely wine. Check 'em out!