Thursday, August 20, 2020

THE GREAT AMERICAN WINERY STROOPWAFFLE EPISODE 8: FOX RUN VINEYARDS

















There are two men whom I seek advice from when it concerns east coast wine business. Scott is one of those two He is one of the smartest and most accomplished owners in New York state. 
Scott Osborn, a Rochester native, studied abroad in Kenya, India, Thailand, Japan, and England. He worked in real estate in Lake County California, then started working in California wine. He worked at Konocti Winery, Firestone Vineyards, Zaca Mesa, and Byron Winery. He moved east in 1985 working for a wine distributor, and then General Manager of Pindar Vineyards on Long Island. He bought Fox Run in 1994. On Christmas day of 1998, Scott married his long time sweetheart, Ruth Worden. Scott has turned Fox Run from a small winery to one of the most widely distributed quality wine brands produced in New York state. Scott is constantly working to reduce the environmental impact of the winery. Scott has served as President of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. And He is a founding member of the New York Wine Industry Association. 




One of the best decisions Scott made was to hire Peer Bell. Peter brings a science-based, rationalist approach to winemaking.  Peter has made the wine here for more than 25 years. Peter works closely with Vineyard Manager, John Kaiser, who has worked the land at Fox Run since 1984. And of course he has the trusty and experienced Assistant Winemaker Lindsey VanKeuren, who has been with Fox Run since 2012.



Bell studied enology in Australia and made wine in New Zealand before landing in the Finger Lakes. He was the winemaker at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars for five years before joining Fox Run in 1995. In addition to making wines at Fox Run he also helps at other area wineries, holds an adjunct faculty position at Cornell University, and speaks at numerous wine conferences throughout the year.  
He is one of the most influential winemakers in the state. Bell regularly hosts regular tasting groups for winemakers in the Finger Lakes region. 
Someone once asked me, “What’s the big deal about Peter Bell?
It’s this simple. He has been the most helpful winemaker in the Finger Lakes and has mentored dozens of wine makers in the region and around the state. He is finny, erudite, and a damn doog winemaker. And he plays a mean banjo.
Accomplished Constellation Brands winemaker August Demiel once quipped like many others, he attended the School of Peter Bell.
Peter gives credit to owners Scott and Ruth Osborn. “When I was hired here, co-owner Scott Osborn was explicit about his vision that all Finger Lakes wineries should work together to create a regional brand,” Bell said.



The first wine rich and I tried was the Kaiser Vineyard Chardonnay  An incredible cool climate barrel fermented chardonnay. A lovely, lean light white, filled with green apple and mineral notes, but with a light touch of oak. Beautiful  Elegant. Complex  Well balanced  Truly an international wine. Wonderful 


The Sylan Riseling was very special. A lovely, elegant and European styled reserve wines. Sppecial.


Next was the dry Riesling. Again a big green apple wine with lots of lychee and a hint of petrol. A lovely, lovely wine that my friend and former coworker Oz Clarke raved about just recently!


The dry rose was a very pretty fruit forward wine with a big nose of fresh cut strawberries and light red raspberries. Creamy middle Impressive zippy ending. Beautifully well balanced and refreshing. 

IKEHU is their unoaked Cabernet Franc. Big fresh ripe cherry and dark raspberry lead the attack on this stainless steel wine. Great tannins. Well balanced. Easy drinking. Great mouthfeel. Super food wine. Bought more than a few bottles of this one. 

Cabernet Franc Lemberger was also a pretty red that had great red stewed fruit and terrific acidity. A wonderful food wine. Versatile  Easy drinking. 


Last but certainly not least was the Fox Run Fine Old Tawny Port. A big, unctuous fortified wine, aged 5-10 years. Big mouth full of caramel figs dates and maple syrup. Absolutely outstanding!!


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

THE GREAT AMERICAN WINERY STROOPWAFFLE EPISODE 7: ANTHONY ROAD WINERY

 




John and Ann Martini moved to Anthony Road in 1973. Ann grew up in Rochester and the New York City suburbs in New Jersey; John grew up in the same New Jersey suburbs. Ann had been a teacher. John had worked in the Peace Corps, then in business. With the help of family and friends they planted their first 5-acres in the summer of 1973. The vineyard grew, to 30-acres. The Martinis had four children. Today they have 12 grandchildren. And Anthony road is one of the most successful and influential wineries in the finger lakes. 



Peter Martini is the vineyard manager. He graduated from Clarkson University in 1990 with a BS degree in business management  Peter has the responsibility for managing the vineyard operation for Anthony Road. Recent plantings of Cabernet Franc, Lemberger and Pinot Noir have been added to the existing Riesling and Vignoles acreage. Since 2002, he has managed their joint project with the Young family of California and planting the first section of the new vineyard on Nutt Road.

We went to the tasting room which has been redone over the last few years. It’s a fantastic space that over looks one of the family’s vineyards




Peter Becraft is the head winemaker at Anthong Road. Peter’s proverbial better half is his feisty chocolatier wife Cary who sometimes works the winery but who is better known as CaryMo Chocolate. She is funny is hell, but she’s serous about chocolate. And he chocolate is exotic, beautiful, and delicious! We love her. 



White Bubbly. Their Bubbly is a dry blend of Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris done in stainless steel, and with a shock of bubbles. A great wine to celebrate all life's moments. Rich ad I both raised our eyebrows at this Great way to start the tasting. 

2019 Riesling Dry
A great zippy food wine. Hints of tangerine, apple, pineapple, ginger and white lily.

2018 Pinot Gris
Green apple and citus burst through. Nice acidty dry finish. Great food wine

2014 Art Series Riesling
Floral notes…citrusy,,,green apple…great structure, minerality and well integrated acidity. Truly elegant. Loved this!

Rose of Lemberger
Pale-salmon-pink, Crisp. Bright, red raspberry up front.  Limestone melon and strawberry come though. Nice acidic ending.  
But’s here’s Peter’s thoughts on the wine. 




Peter Beecraft has an education in Fine Arts and previously worked in fashion photography. He came to Anthony Road in May of 2006 for a tasting and a cellar visit. This then lead to working a harvest. Then to being a full-time assistant winemaker by 2008.  When the winemaker left to found his own winery, Peter was given the opportunity to show his stuff. He has since evolved into one of the better and more versatile winemakers in the region. The white wines the winery had become famous for have maintained or improved. And his red wine game has come on strong. As head winemaker Peter has shown finesse and passion, as well as I an eye for high quality. It’s a match made in heaven! Anthony Road has gone from being a successful winery to a successful artisan house. And Peter has been there almost ever step of the way! His dream job? Yes. Peter says, please dont wake me!  Don’t worry Peter, we wont!

Next was the Gray Label series.



2017 Barrel Ferment Gewurztraminer The primary and malolactic fermentations took place in large format oak barrels.  Aged in barrel on it's lees for 8 months.  Fantastic nose!! One of my favorites!


2014 Skin Ferment Riesling
A deep yellow straw colored wine. This Riesling was fermented on the skins, resulting in a wine with more focus on the savory aspects of the grape.

2016 Barrel Ferment Pinot Gris
The Primary and malolactic fermentation all took place in Hungarian oak – beautiful wine. well balanced  Complex. Elegant great structure. One of my favorites of the tasting.


Skin Fermented Pinot Gris
This wine was fermented on the skins  Big Mouthfeel. Lovely lush wine. Great zippy ending. Wow! Loved this one. 


Fun semi-sweet red sparkler. Super popular!


Loved the Cabernet Franc-Lemberger blend. Big fruit up front. Lovely smooth middle.Nice tannins. Good lingering fruit on finish. 


BARREL TASTING WITH PETER
Peter toured us through a number of barrels. I can’t talk about all of them  Some were blends, experiemnts, but I can tell you they were great  There I two I can spill the beans about.

Barrel Aged Chard older French oak 19
Fragrent  Lush Terrific nose. Fantastic mouthfeel  Lovely, light toast. Fruit lingered forever.

2019 Lemberger is off the charts
Almost tastes like a really good pinot noir big cherry notes.  Super super smooth


Great to see old friends like Cary and Peter. And even more impressive to see what they've accomplished. Great stuf. Anthony Road is one of the premiere producers in the Finger Lakes.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

THE GREAT AMERICAN STROOPWAFFLE EPISODE 6: RED TAIL RIDGE VINEYARDS:






Nancy Irelan is the winemaker and partner at Red Tail Ridge. She has been in the wine industry for more than 35 years. She’s a UC Davis Grad who worked for 10 years at EJ Gallo among many other stops. 
 
Her partner is and co-owner is Mike Schnelle. Mike is the vineyardist.  After dabbling in heavy equipment and finance, took a few short courses in viticulture, and a brewing certification from UC-Davis, packed up the two dogs and his belongings and moved to the FLX to start Red Tail Ridge. Nancy joined him a year or so later.

 
Dogs have always been a been a big part of winery life for Nancy and Mike. Today, it’s Mr.  B  Also known as Bueller. Bueller is a rescue through the National Great Pyrenees Rescue (NGPR). Bueller patrols the vineyard on a daily basis and is also a lover at heart.



I’m a big fan of Gewuztraminer. And this was an exceptional one. Crisp aromatic white. Tropical fruits and flowers abound. Perfume and vanilla custard. Great citrusy ending. Great acidity at the end

The Pinot Noir Rose had lovely notes of Fresh strawberry, red raspberry. pomegranate, and slate. A lovely acidity at the end. 



Not a huge fan of American Dornfelders Only two have ever struck me as truly good wines. One in California, and the one here. A big brambly black fruit stew with blackberry and dark cherry, with some earthiness and spice. 

This is a wonderful expression of this grape. This Blaufrankish has black cherry on the nose and on the palate. A touch of cedar and vanilla. The cherry lingers.




Mike and Nancy do an incredible job with this wine. One of th bet red wines in the Finger Lakes for sure. And a personal favorite of mine. Have a half a case of this stuff in my cellar. Strawberry and cherry and bramble on the nose and palate. Dark fruits as well. Nice tannins and vanilla. Layers on layers. Beautifully constructed, complex and well balanced.


Their Lagrein  was a new one for me. (pronounced lah-GRAH’EEN, lah-GRINE or lah-GRI’NE)[1] is a red wine grape variety native to the valleys of South Tyrol, northern Italy. it is a descendant of Teroldego, and related to Syrah and Pinot noir. The name suggests its origins lie in the Lagarina valley of Trentino, grown there since the 17th century. It made for a beautiful wine with notes of Blackberry violets with an earthy spicy quality.  Good tannins  Nice finish. Nice acidity. This made an impression on me!


Rebel With a Cause is a blend of 36% Toreldego 21% Lagrein 43% Blaufrankish
Cherry, blackberry, bramble. Smooth layered approachable Fantastic Another one of my favorites.






My traveling companion Rich Srsich and I were then escorted over to the production area, where we were finally introduced to Bueller. Bueller was a big white Pyrenees, who was gated away. No problem, he easily leapt the 3 ½ foot high gate and bounded down the stairs like some rescuing moments in a Hollywood film. Happily, Bueller ran the rest of the tasting. Bueller and Rich seemed to get along fine.

Nancy and Michael poured us two more wines.






This dry sparkling Riesling was next We loved it. Great fruit up front. Bread with green apples and tropical fruit. Great acidity. Well balanced. Complex. Wonderful!





Sparkling Estate Pinot Noir Rose Pet Nat. The Pet Nat process is non-interventionist and ancient. Freshly fermenting wine is bottled. Later , the lees are disgorged, and the bottle are topped off. each bottle is unique. This wine had a pink frothy head to it. And it smelled like fresh crushed bright cherries and strawberries, and that was what it tasted like. This dark pink, rosato sparkler was dry, but it was all fruit forward. A nice creamy middle Some lovely citrus zest in there at the end. Most Pet Nats I’ve had are extremely small production. Here, Nancy and Mike had done 600 cases! I think that equals all the other pet nats in the state put together. What made it more exciting, was that this was one of the best nats Ive tasted from anywhere. It was incredib;e Done and done. My favorite wine of the day. You gotta track this stuff down.  









Nancy, Michael and Bueller are doing an incredible job! Red Tail Ridge Vineyards is one of the best wineries on the east coast, and could set the edge in any other region. You need to get yourself some of these wines. Or you really are missing out!