Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Variety of Finger Lakes Continues

It was time for Meg to go home and two more knowledgeable guides Teresa and Nicole, to take over and escort me through the scenery, attractions and wineries of the region.  Despite all I have seen, I am beginning to feel I’m not even scratching the surface on this trip.  There is just so much to see, do (and taste) in this area!

The first stop was one of the biggest and most known wineries in this area, Dr. Konstantin Frank’s, home of the namesake wine, as well as Salmon Run and Chateau Frank sparkling wines.  The quickest way to sum up the quality of this winery is to point out the 40 gold medals their wine has won – in 2010 alone.  As if great wines weren’t enough, the winery offers some of the most absolutely incredible views you will ever see up here, with the vineyards in the front and Keuka Lake behind it.  Those vineyards have quite a history as Dr. Frank pioneered the growth of vinifera in the United States back in 1951 in his successful quest to bring Northern European wines to the Finger Lakes.

Dr. Frank’s top seller is the Riesling and their Bunch Select Late Harvest, winner of more than a dozen medals last year, is a delicious finish to a meal that includes their famous Reserve Gewurztraminer.  They were the only brand from the U.S. to receive a medal for that wine in Alscace.  Also worth checking out at Dr. Konstantin’s is the Chateau Frank sparkling wines, the 2004 Brut for the dry drinker or the Célèbre if you prefer something a bit fruitier.

The second stop took us down the windy 54A along and then down to where we looked like we would be heading right into the lake!  We didn’t hit water, but instead arrived at Rooster Hill Vineyards. Here the wine is sold alongside local favorites like Yancy Fancy cheese, a perfect accompaniment to any of the wide variety of wines here.  The 2009 Chardonnay we started with was an unusual one as it had been half oaked and half put in stainless.  To make it even more unique, the winemaker had chosen to put half in French and half in American oak.  The result was a blend of fruit and smoke.

Among the other different wines you will find at Rooster Hill is the Silver Pencil, a white blend of Cayuga, Seyval and Vidal grapes which had a tropical fruit flavor with just a little spice.  There is also a very interesting port here that is semi-dry, yet not too heavy, with fruit forward and a pepper finish.   Even the dessert wine here, an Estate Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, is a bit different with more melon notes than most.

Owner Scott Osborn greeted us at the door and led us into the Fox Run Winery’s Café to pick up our lunch, a delicious chicken salad with sundried tomatoes and cheddar in a whole wheat wrap.  It’s one of a small – but varied – selection of items offered that you can enjoy overlooking the lake, the vineyard or indoors near the tasting room.  Or, if you prefer, you’re welcome to bring your own picnic food to the backyard, purchase a bottle of wine and enjoy the day (a wise choice if you are as lucky as us to get an 80 degree, sunny afternoon).  Scott Osborn told us with passion about his passion for wine before we had the opportunity to taste his offerings.

At Fox Run there are choices for every taste and budget that include the inflation fighter Drink New York Riesling, a tropically semi-sweet version that sells for under $10.   A Cabernet Franc/Lemberger blend brings you, more raspberry than the strawberry hints usually found in a cab, with a bit of pepper that lends it to spice.  Also of note here is the 2008 Tierce Riesling, a wonderful collaboration between Fox Run Vineyards, Anthony Road Wine Company and Red Newt, which was on my list of stops. First, though, I had a visit set up at Shaw Vineyards, where Steve Shaw himself was ready to talk and pour.

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