A Celebration of New York Wines

The month of May is celebrated throughout all of social media as wine month for wines coming out of the Finger Lakes Region of New York.  Media samples are sent to numerous bloggers, special live tasting events are held at various venues around New York, and tastings/interviews are streamed live via Ustream.  I was fortunate enough to receive media samples of some of the best Rieslings in the world so that I could participate in this celebration.  But Riesling isn’t the only wine in the Finger Lakes.

I received 2011 Dry Riesling from Swedish Hill Winery (@SwedishHillWine), a drier Riesling with floral aromas and a crisp finish.  This wine was a blend of two different clones as well as grapes from Overlook Vineyards at Senneca Lake.  Both clonal and vineyard lots are kept separate during fermentation until blending decisions are made in the Spring following harvest allowing the winemaker more flexibility in managing each lot.

I also received 2012 Dry Riesling from Glenora Wine Cellars (@glenorawine).  Having been around since 1977 and specializing in white wines, it is no wonder that Glenora is able to produce this exotic but well balanced Riesling.  This wine is 100% Riesling with tropical and citrus flavors and a crisp clean finish with the slightest hint of sweetness.

Next in my  lineup was Lakewood Vineyards 2012 Dry Riesling (@lakewoodwines).  With only .78% residual sugar, this wine falls half way between “Dry” and “Medium Dry” on the Riesling Taste Profile scale created by the International Riesling Foundation.  The wine boasts of a crisp mouth-watering acidity and the taste of fresh citrus, lime peel and apple.

Standing Stone Vineyards 2012 Riesling (@ssvny) was also in my sampler box.  Standing Stone Vineyards has been around more than 40 years producing Riesling that begs to be savored by the wine enthusiast.  This wine is fresh with Granny Smith Apple and melon.  It pairs great with spicy foods and mild cheeses.

A new wine for me was from Red Newt Cellars Riesling Sawmill Creek Vineyards 2011 (@FLXnewt).  This wine is touted as being dry and complex with aromas of peach and apricot; however, on the Riesling Taste Profile scale, it is ranked closer to medium dry.  Red Newt Cellars was named 2011 Winery of the year by Wine & Spirit Magazine.

The last bottle in my media sample was 2012 Red Oak Vineyard Riesling from Lamoreaux Landing (@LamoreauxWine).  With undertones of honeysuckle, pear and tropical fruit, this wine finishes smooth and exquisite.  For 20 years Lamoreaux Landing has set the standard for sustainability for viticulture and cool-climate winemaking.

The virtual tasting I participated in was Thursday, May 9 and centered around the Rieslings mentioned above.  There was an earlier tasting on May 2 featuring Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Lemberger and red vinifera blends.

If you have missed out on both of these, you still have the chance to catch one.  There will be a virtual tasting Wednesday, May 15 hosted by Bill Eyer (@cuvee_corner), Tina Morey (@winescop) and Eric Guy.  They will be tasting and discussing Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gruner Veltliner.

Another virtual tasting will be held Saturday, May 25 for consumers, media and trade people.  If you want to participate or follow along, simply use your favorite social media and the hash tag #FLXWineVT.  This final virtual tasting will feature all Finger Lakes Wines so choose your favorite and join in.

The Bourne Experience – Grand Barossa Riesling

This wine was a media sample from Banfi Vintners.

Stuart Bourne, Chief Winemaker at Château Tanunda, has mastered the Barossa style of wine making.  Wine Spectator recently recognized Bourne in their “Top 25 Benchmark Wines from Australia.”  Bourne also achieved #33 ranking of the “Top 100 Wines of 2011” with the Château Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2008.  Bourne, like so many other winemakers, believes that great wine begins in the vineyard.

My  Bourne Experience started with a live tweet-up a few months ago.  Thankfully, each participant received two bottles of each of the wines we were sampling for the social media blast allowing us to focus on the task at hand then choose a later date to revisit each wine and write about it.  So earlier this week, I decided to try the Grand Barossa Riesling.  This Riesling is unique in that it has a buttery smoothness and texture similar to an oaked Chardonnay.  This is a result of the way it is bottled, not from being aged in oak.  The wine boasts of passion fruit and a touch of minerality and has lime peel on the lingering finish.  It pairs well with cheeses and pasta in a light sauce.

Every wine cabinet should have a good dry Riesling.  Just popping the cork on this wine is cause enough for celebration.

Grand Barossa Riesling

Grand Barossa Riesling

Variety: Riesling          Alcohol:  11.5%          Price:  $12

 Side Note:  An icon of the Barossa Valley dating back to the 1870’s and the decimation of Europe’s vineyards by the Phylloxera Plague, Château Tanunda was the largest winery in the Southern Hemisphere.  It was the heart of Barossa winemaking, not only making wine but integral in educating winemakers and enologists.  Having been placed on the Register of State Heritage Places in 1994, one would assume that the early days of making rich, delectable wines had continued on for years; but that is not the case.  Château Tanunda had been abandoned by its owners in the 1990’s leaving the property a mere shell of what it once had been.  The property was purchased by John Geber in 1998 and he promptly decided to restore the property to its iconic status along with bringing Bourne on board as the Chief Winemaker.

Inaugural Wines

Senator Chuck Schumer chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and as such, he was able to get more media attention for the New York wine industry than money could ever buy.  The inaugural luncheon menu had each course paired with some of New York’s finest.  The first course featured lobster and New England clam chowder paired with a Tierce 2010 Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes.  This Riesling is a joint effort from Anthony Road Winery, Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Cellars.


The second course, hickory grilled bison with wild huckleberry reduction and red potato horseradish cake was paired with a 2009 Merlot from Bedell Cellars.  Bedell Cellars prides itself  in allocating their wines to their wine club members first, then to restauranteurs, but something tells me they made an exception in this case.  This Merlot is touted as coming from some of the oldest Merlot vines in the country and the 2009 vintage was a stellar year for the North Fork area.  Even though I have never had this wine, the descriptors of  “local red fruit flavors of strawberries, dried cranberries and cherries coupled with the subtle aromas of red raspberries, herbs and beach stones” make my mouth water.  (I may have to add this one to the bucket list!)

Bedell Cellars

The third course was the ever famous Hudson Valley apple pie served with sour cream ice cream, aged cheese and honey.  All of this was paired with Korbel Natural, a Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne.

Korbel Natural

Another Great Riesling

This wine was a media sample from the Finger Lakes Alliance

This must be the week for cleaning out the wine rack.  I had thought I was out of white wine but then remembered that I had a Riesling left over from a virtual wine tasting I participated in last fall.  I had been fortunate enough to receive a shipment of wines from the Finger Lakes Alliance.  Often I end up with nobody to share my wines with for virtual tastings so I choose to only open 2-3 of them and save the others for a later tasting and special blog post.  So goes this post for Billsboro 2010 Riesling.

Having had a really mild winter in the Southeast, we are now experiencing an exceptionally early spring with some exceptionally warm days, the kind of warmth that makes you crave a good chilled white wine.  What better way to quench this craving than with a Riesling from the Finger Lakes wine region.

Pleasantly refreshing, this wine offers up kiwi and a touch of banana then finishes with mango on the back of the palate.  Considered a semi-sweet wine, this is a great wine to finish off the day watching the sun go down.  I would suggest pairing it with spicy foods such as black beans and rice as well.

Varietal: Riesling               Alcohol: 11.5%              Price:  $16.00

Virtual Riesling Tasting: Finger Lakes Wine

Shortly after the 2011 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Charlottesville, I received an email (or a link via email) that led me to a request form where I could request wine from the Finger Lakes Alliance.   Let’s be VERY clear here, I LOVE getting free wine, so obviously I completed the form and submitted it.  This was late July/early August.  With life being what it is, I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, let alone 6-8 weeks ago; so when I walked into my office on Monday, September 19 and saw a wine shipment sitting at my desk, I was thrilled!!!!  (I actually just assumed it was a wine club shipment as it is that time of year.)  Then I realized that the shipment was from the Finger Lakes Alliance which peaked my interest even more, so I grabbed something sharp to cut the box open.  I couldn’t remember ever tasting any wines from the Finger Lakes region so I was pleasantly surprised to see 6 bottles of Riesling neatly packed inside along with a letter thanking me for requesting the samples.  Quite frankly, I don’t remember requesting these wines but since I LOVE getting free wine samples, I wasn’t complaining, actually  I was absolutely giddy!!!!

The letter enclosed explained that the Finger Lakes Alliance simply wanted me to sample their wines.  The mayor of Geneva, New York had declared Thursday, September 22 as “Riesling Day.”  There was going to be a live tweet-up of people tasting a variety of 30 different Finger Lakes Rieslings and posting their comments.  I was under no obligation to participate, but I truly enjoy participating in virtual wine tastings and  interacting with all the other winos on Twitter so there was no way I was missing this opportunity!

I had six different Rieslings to choose from for the virtual tasting.  I opted to   only open two of them for the tweet-up and save four to review at a later date.  The two that I opened were Anthony Road 2010 Dry Riesling and Rooster Hill 2010 Medium Sweet Riesling.  I was looking for true variety in the tasting. 

The two things made this virtual tasting/tweet-up so unique was that the samples could be tasted in any order the participant chose and we had not all received the same wines.  The shipments were mixed.  Not only did we have tweets coming from all over the country, we had tweets being posted about wines that we might not have received or that we might not have opened yet.  You wanted to know what everyone else was tasting and what they thought about it especially if it was sitting at your house unopened!

There were a lot of people on Twitter participating in the Riesling Launch 2010.  I would venture to guess that it was a hugely successful launch party.  This lends itself to the question then, how do you host a successful virtual wine tasting?  We can definitely take some pointers from the Fingers Lakes Alliance and the Finger Lakes Wineries.  Here are a few other pointers that you might want to consider:

1.      Promotion:  Promote your virtual tasting.  Use the social media outlets that you already use to make your announcements (I.E. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Announce it and occasionally remind people about it.  Provide a link back to your website so people can read the details for wine selection, date and time of the tasting.

 2.      Your Website: Find a prominent spot on your homepage to promote your virtual tasting.  Again, provide details for wine selection, date and time of tasting.  It is entirely up to you if you want to offer discounts on either shipping or the wines being tasted for your virtual event.  

 3.      Newsletter:  Email a special edition of your newsletter to let people know about the virtual tasting.  There will be questions on how to participate so be sure to provide a link back to your website where all the questions can be addressed (see #1 above).  Make sure people know how to order or purchase the wines you have selected for your virtual tasting.

 4.      Invite a few guests (6-10) to participate in the wine tasting at a chosen location.  With your winemaker and tasting room manager at the tasting, you should be able to answer all the questions you will get from the virtual participants.  If you have someone who handles your social media, they need to be there as well.

 5.      Providing wine samples to some known bloggers or active Tweeters, will increase your exposure and keep the virtual tasting hopping with questions and comments.  

Money can’t buy the marketing you get from a properly executed tweet-up.  Most everyone who receives free samples will not only post during the tweet-up, they will also follow up with a blog post and links back to the winery(ies).  Who knows, your event might even go viral!

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Finger Lakes Alliance for the opportunity to be part of the Riesling Launch 2010.  It was lots of fun and I got to try some great wines that I would have never bought but are now on my list of greats to try again and find the perfect pairing for.

Blog Stats

  • 51,845 hits