Friday, June 27, 2014

Ballparks & Brews: Potomac Nationals

Minor League baseball is always a fun environment to take the family and the Potomac Nationals don't disappoint with moon bounces, contests, fireworks and Virginia craft beer. The main food stand does have on tap, but for local beer head to the first base line to the Virginia Craft Beer House which pours Starr Hill Brewing, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, and Port City Brewing Company. In fact, Port City Brewing Company is the Official Hometown Beer of the Potomac Nationals. Plus there's baseball - good baseball - and with all the National's injuries there's a chance someone is down on reassignment. Cheers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria Estate Winery

I don't consume enough Sauvignon Blanc and in particular those produced in New Zealand. At least that's the conclusion after drinking two more fine examples from Villa Maria Estate: the 2014 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99) & 2013 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99).  I received the wines for a #NZSAVVY twitter tasting, but unfortunately my son's baseball schedule interfered with my participating. From I previous tasting I was reminded that founder, George Fistonich, is Eastern European as he says, "Being Croatian, wine is part of my blood. It’s always been a part of life and I’m pleased to have spent my career pursuing this life-long passion." Plus consider some of the accolades the winery has received such as Wine Spectator's World’s 50 Great Wine Producers Wine Enthusiast Magazine's New World Winery of the Year.

First off was the 2014 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc and how cool to start drinking 2014 vintages. This wine weighs in at 12.5% alcohol and knocks you done with a powerfully strong lemon grass aroma. This could be the biggest nose I've had from new Zealand. The mid-palette cascades into a creamy, herbal blend then finishes with nice effervescent acids. A fabulous wine.

2013 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc is more subdued and refined with a softer  profile and finish but a creamier mid. The wine has slightly more alcohol (13%) and a little more herbal essences and is another stellar wine.

I also hear that the wine is imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates so supplies should be plentiful. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ballparks & Brews: Nationals Park

Regardless if you are a Washington Nationals regular or visiting from out of town, there are plenty of craft beer options inside and surrounding Nationals Park in Southeast Washington.  Outside the stadium, check out Bluejacket Brewery or Gordon Biersch Brewery for your pre or post game celebrations. Bluejacket has a rotating tab of at least twenty home grown beers - checkout the sour Sideshow or Pyro; chocolate-spicy Mexican Radio; or the super strong Belgian Quad Cashmere. At Gordon Biersch, I usually stick to the Hefeweizen or Czech Pilsner.

Inside the stadium. the big boys have monopolized the roving beer-men (and women) and food stands (although you can find  New Belgium Brewing Company and Boston Beer Company at a few stands), but there are a few District Draft carts serving local breweries.You can be assured that Port City Brewing Company and DC Brau Brewing LLC are available with possible beers from 3 Stars Brewing Company, Atlas Brew Works, or Mad Fox Brewing Company. The Port City Wit is my choice on a hot summer day and you can find the District Draft carts at section 119, 138, 225 & 309.

For an expanded national craft beer selection, hit the Red Porch at the main entrance in the outfield. This restaurant has taps from Flying Dog Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Allagash Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Brewery Ommegang, Starr Hill Brewing, and many more. Diners get a nice view of the stadium. #GoNats.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tasting Hungarian & Slovenian Wines with #WineStudio & Old World Vines -> Part II

Last week we continued our tasting of Hungarian & Slovenian Wines with #WineStudio & Old World Wines by transitioning to Slovenia wine. The two wines on the agenda were the Erzetič Winery 2011 Rebula Visnjevik ($22.95) and the Vino Kupljen 2011 Muškat Rumen ($22.95).  Slovenia has a long historical of grape growing based on its proximity to Italy and Austria as well as being the meeting point of the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain (hat tip to @toledowav). Despite the country's small size, there are over 28,000 individual grape growers in Slovenia, yet they only produce 1/10 the volume of Germany. And of that, only 6-8% of the wine gets exported.

The Primorska wine region is nestled between Italy to the north and Croatia to the south, and receives the cooling affects of the Adriatic to the west. Brda is situated  in the northernmost portion of this region and along its low rocky hills with terraced vineyards is where we find Erzetič Winery. The vines in their estate were first planted in 1725 and Anton Erzetič with his son Aleksij and daughter Teja are 3rd & 4th generation winemakers. Rebula is the leading grape in Brda ( as it is in the neighboring region in Italy and called Ribolla). It's made dry with a white fruit profile and according to #winestudio participants - not lacking in acidity.

Vino Kupljen Jeruzalem is lcacted in the northeastern Slovenia (boarding Croatia, Hungary, & Austria), in Jeruzalemsko-Svetinjske hills of north-eastern Slovenia. The estate can trace its winemaking history back to 1836 and in 1976, Jože Kupljen launched the Vino Kupljen brand. As expected with a Muscat, this is a sweeter wine with that vibrant floral aroma leading to a deep apricot profile. The finish makes this wine, slightly effervescent with a smooth citrusy lemon final. The sugar to acids ratio reminded me of a well made Petit Manseng.

Tonight is the official wrap-up for this session of #winestudio. Make sure you tune in at 9PM ET so that PROTOCOL wine studio can engage our brains and palates! Cheers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cruising for Beer & Wine Along the W&OD Bike Trail: N. Arlington

I continued my W&OD Trail beer & wine tour with a ride from Falls Church to North Arlington.  This route doesn't include any production wineries or breweries, but does include two cool beer bars and a Maryland import, the Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn. This restaurant serves all the Heavy Seas Brewing Company brews as well as guest taps from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Port City Brewing Company among others. To get to the alehouse from the bike path take Nash Street into Rosslyn right at the Marriott. Turn right on Key street, then an immediate left on Oak Street and Heavy Seas is just up the hill. Get used to the hills. The alehouse has a few beers on cask and I enjoyed the Powder Monkey Pale Ale. 

Heading west, I knew their was a Lost Dog restaurant in the Westover area so I swapped theCompass Winery Brewery Distillery mobile app for the Lost Dog Cafe mobile app. This tapfinder application shows the four Lost Dog locations as well as the beers on tap at each location. The Lost Dog app's integration with my phone's navigation guided me through the Custis Trail between mile marker 3&4, where the bike path crosses under Route 66.  Just before the underpass take a right (or coming from the West cross under RT 66 and take a quick left), a left on 11th and then a quick right on Kenilworth which leads to a bike line on Washington Blvd. Hang a left and after pedaling up and down a hill - you are in Westover with Lost Dog on your left and the Westover Market Beer Garden on your right.

The Lost Dog Cafe maintains a rotating list of excellent craft beer and by setting preferences on their mobile app, you an be alerted when a specific beer or a favorite beer is tapped. Since it's been a while since I sat in the Beer Garden I chose the Westover Market for this trip and at a crowded World Cup watching bar, saw that one of my favorite beers, the Lost Rhino Brewing Co. Zlaty Pils was on tap. This beer was home brewed by a friend and colleague Aaron Hermes, for a Pilsner Urquell homebrew contest. After winning the contest, Lost Rhino offered to brew the recipe commercially. It's fresh, full bodied, slightly hoppy and a solid beer. Cheers and safe travels.

Update I: I've been asked to include area bike shops available for emergency repairs. In Falls Church - N Arlington, Tri 360 is on the Trail at Lee Highway. The where Lee Highway intersects the trail again look for  Big Wheel Bikes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New Wines of Greece, Exploring Crete's Native Varietals

The historical origins of wine oscillates between the Caucasus Mountains and the Eastern Mediterranean,  but there's little doubt on the historical contributions from the Island of Crete. Whether distributed by the Minoans, Phoenicis, Romans, or Venetians; Crete was the dominate producers in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. The Egyptian Pharoahs drank Cretan wine, as did Homer, the Romans, and rulers of Greek Byzantine. This domination stalled when the Ottoman Empire conquered the island, followed by years of political post WWII political turmoil. Today the Wines of Crete are rebounding primarily through the return of native grapes and wine making traditions.There are currently thirty plus wineries operating with most of the vineyards in the central region of Heraklion or eastern Lasithi. The former includes three Protected Designation of Origin (Dafnes, Archanes, Peza) and the later one (Sitia).

A national marketing campaign is promoting this recovery by providing tasting sessions in various cities in the United States and Europe. I attended a session in Washington DC at the very cool  Iron Gate Restaurant.  The session was lead by @1winedude +Joe Roberts, who had an extensive visit with the island's wineries a couple years back. Joe described many of the native grape varieties while leading our large group through a blind tasting panel.

Starting with whites, the two major players are Vidiano and Vilana with contributions from Plyto, Dafni, Thrapsathiri, Muscat Spina, and Malvazia. Vidiano wines exhibit a peach and apricot profile which reminded many of Albarino. Vilana grapes contribute lemon acids and floral aromas to blends.

For reds, Kotsifali is the primary indigenous grape, with some international varieties like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in play. Other indigenous red grapes are Liatiko, Mandilari, and Romeiko. One of my favorites of the tasting panel was the Boutari Skalani, a Kotsifali- Syrah blend, very earthy, dusty with dark black fruit flavor and aroma.

After the official blind tasting, our hosts were kind enough to offer an open bar of 23 Cretan wines. Being a Santorini freak, I enjoyed the Mediterra Assyrtiko as well as the Anoskeli Ano Playa Rose - perhaps a bleed of their Ano Plagia (Syrah, Grenache Rouge, Cabernet Sauvignon). For reds, I turned to the wines from two winemakers who Alexandra Manousakis and Maria Titaki.  Ms. Manousakis actually grew up in Washington DC, but eventually returned to Crete when her father started planting Rhone varieties in his native island. The 2008 Manousakis Nostos (Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre) was quite nice - full of creamy berries and good acids. The Titakis Vin de Crete is a fruit forward, easy drinking wine, with smooth tannins, and although I don't have the office retail price - rumor says quite inexpensive. 

So once again Greek wines impress with their quality and presumed affordability.  Expand your horizons and check out these historic wines. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Rhone Rangers Ride to DC

If you are a Rhone wine lover, I hope you are familiar with the Rhone Rangers. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of American made Rhone varietal wines. The organization consists of close to 200 winery members, 110 Professional and Grower Associates, and 800 Sidekicks - consumer fans like you and me. In order to become a winery member, the winery must produce a wine where 75% of the wine’s content must contain one or more of the twenty-two Rhone grapes the French government has approved for growing in the Cotes du Rhone. Syrah is the most common red grape, followed by Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan, and Petite Sirah ("The Rhone Rangers have adopted Petite Sirah, a French cross also known as Durif, due to its extensive interplanting with traditional Rhone varietals in Calfiornia."). Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne are the most common white grapes, but you can also find some Grenache Blanc produced in California.

Twenty-three Ranger wineries came to Washington D.C. June 4th in order to promote the organization and Rhone varieties. These wineries poured close to 80 wines at The Long View Gallery that day - during two session. All the wineries were from California except Horton Vineyards from Gordonsville, Virginia (just outside of  Charlottesville). Dennis Horton introduced Rhone varieties into the Commonwealth over 25 years ago and now Viognier is designated Virginia's signature Grape. In addition to their dependable Viognier, Horton offers a tasty sparkling Viognier - one of the few produced in the country. Another notable Virginia Ranger, Tarara Vineyard & Winery, was absent for the tasting because of a shortage Rhone wine, but provided the Riedel stemware for the event. The California contingent represented several wine growing regions as well as original Rangers such as Bonny Doon Vineyard and Qupe Wine Cellars as well as newbies Two Shepherds Wine and Petrichor Vineyards.

Ridge Vineyards was the first winery on the menu, with their Rhone wines produced at their Lytton Springs Sonoma facility.  They poured the always dependable Syrah and Petite Sirah, but the most interesting of these was the 2012 Buchignani Carignane ($26) - perhaps the only 100% single varietal of this grape produced in American.  I tasted through several very nice wines from Petrichor Vineyards (Sonoma), Mira Winery (Napa), Michael David Winery (Lodi), Guyomar Wine Cellars (Templeton), before spending several minutes with Santa Maria's Kenneth Volk Winery. Definitely looking forward to the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara. Two of the wines from Kenneth Volk were 100% Mourvedre (both $36) - with plenty of red fruit and nice acidity.  They also poured a delicious, easy drinking Grenache ($28). 

 I also spent some time investigating Paso Robles in anticipation to the Conference's pre-tour in that region.Epoch Estate Wines produces several excellent blends ($40-$65) and the Proulx Wines rosés were quite tasty. This winery's red blend. "The Wah" ($54) is also one to look for. Broken Earth Winery was pouring several affordable cool wines including a 100% Grenache Blanc ($20) - very floral with great acidity - and an earthy  Petite Sirah "Diable Negro" ($18).  And another Paso winery, Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery, had several nice whites such as the 2013 Estate Grenache Blanc ($20), 2013 Estate Viognier ($20) and the 2013 White Blend, "Cotes de Pomar Blanc" ($28) - great acidity to balance the fruitiness of the wine. Ans all nice values.

A few other notable pours were the Qupe Wine Cellars 2011 Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyared ($35) and 2010 Syrah, "Sonnies" Sawyer Lindquist Vineyared ($55); and Rosé of Syrah ($25 & $16) from Cornerstone Cellars and Chacewater Winery. Cornerstone was also pouring a velvety 2011 Syrah "Black Label" ($35) and Chacewater a fruit forward 2011 Petit Sirah ($20). Finally, Two Shepherds Wine had several wines that caught my fancy including another Grenache Blanc - the 2012 Saarloos Vineyards, Santa Ynez ($25)  and a Grenache Noir ($38) from the same vineyard.

After all this writing I'm ready to open another nice Rhone styled wine, the Viognier from Virginia's Corcoran Vineyards. Cheers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bedford Pennsylvania's Briar Valley Vineyards & Winery

Since no trip is complete without stopping into a local winery or brewery, while heading to Seven Springs Mountain resort for a short Father's Day break, I stopped in the historic town of Bedford to visit Briar Valley Vineyards & Winery. The winery has been operating for the past 7 years under the leadership of Jean and Tod Manspeaker. Jean is the winemaker with Tod as the vineyard manager. The grow a wide selection of grapes from Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling as well as Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. And at times, they need to supplement from other Pennsylvania vineyards but these are truly local wines.

Even though they are a small operation (2,000-3,000 cases annually), they have established a very nice tasting room in the heart of Bedford on Pitt Street. Almost all there wines are sold from here, with the remainder sold through various restaurants in Western PA.  And I'll start off immediately by saying I was quite impressed with both the consistency of their portfolio and the overall quality. I could quibble over whether I wished their were more acids in a few, but overall, these were the nicest PA wines I have tasted. The 2013 Riesling ($17) and 2012 Pinot Gris ($15) were my favorite whites and I think I'm beginning to come around to the later. I was even more impressed with the reds, which have been very inconsistent with my experience in Pennsylvania wine. Starting off, they produce a Lemberger ($20) - how cool is that. Their 2010 is medium bodied, nice acids, and a slightly spicy tail. Pretty good. This was followed by a 2009 Merlot ($20) - fruity and jammy and then the 2009 Proprietors Red ($25), a blend of the later with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. This is a big wine, nice black fruit throughout with a smooth ending. Very nice.  I finished the tasting with the 2009 Cabernet Franc ($20) which was just as pleasant as one made in Virginia.  I think what makes these reds so nice, is that the winery ages them in the bottle for a few years before release. 

Take some time to stroll through Bedford as well. The Bedford Fort Museum is close by as well as several historic buildings. You can also learn about George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion. Disputes like that never change. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tasting Hungarian & Slovenian Wines with #WineStudio & Old World Vines

June starts off with another Protocol #WineStudio session, this time featuring Hungarian & Slovenian Wines imported by San Diego based Old World Wines. Katy Bendel Daniels started this venture after traveling through and tasting the wines of Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. In addition to selling wine from these countries, Old World Vines educates their customers on their history and culture. The first week of tasting featured two wines from Hungary: Erzsébet Pince 2011 Furmint Király dúló Tokaji and Bock 2011 Kékfrankos Villány, Hungary.

Pince is Hungarian for basement or cellar and is used to name wineries, so Erzsébet Winery was created by Elizabeth and Miklos Pracser in 1989 - during the chaos following the collapse of communism. During communism, Hungarian families were able to tend family plots of vines solely for home wine consumption - a the Pracser family participated in. In 1989 they extended these family holdings and purchased a 300 year old cellar formerly owned by the Russian Wine Trade Company, "to supply the royalties with Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum, the wine of kings, the king of wines". That refers to Tokaji Aszu the sweet botrytis dessert wines made from the Furmint grape. However, the 2011 Furmint Király dúló Tokaji ($32) is made dry - although it retains a touch of sweetness since some of the grapes in the Király vineyard is prone to botrytis and "fermentation also seems to stop regularly at around 5 grams of residual sugar". I found this one starts with a stone fruit aroma which leads to a wet rock, minerally; full bodied and deep profile. The acids were low with my wine, but others noted higher acidity. The minerality results from the vineyard's soil consisting of rhyolite bedrock & compact clay. A very complex and interesting wine; I think I need another bottle to decipher. 

The Bock family started making wine in the early 1700's in Hungary, but had their lands confiscated after WWII. And worse, people of German descent were evicted from the country in 1956, but Antal Bock was hospitalized at the time, refused to leave, and escaped deportation. He eventually re-purchased a grand cru section of the family's original vineyard in Villany and slowly restored the winery. Jozsef eventually took over the winery operations and received his 1st “Hungarian Winemaker of the Year” honor in 1997 and “Winery of the Year” in 2007. But this is a family affair with Jozsef’s wife, son, daughter, and son-in-law working together. The winery produces a large portfolio, with most of the reds made in the traditional style using large oak casks made from Hungarian Oak. Apparently, the winery also owns a forest of oak trees so have total control over the cooperage. The Bock 2011 Kékfrankos Villány, Hungary ($23) is an easy drinking wine, I mean easy drinking. It's sour cherry aroma is followed by black fruit on palette with some leather and dark chocolate and finishes with low tannins and subtle pepper. Many of us agreed that hamburgers or lamburgers are appropriate. This is a great value wine - as @MsPullThatCork describes: "offers great flavor w/o the heavy tannins or weight of some reds".

Next week we look forward to venturing into Slovenia with the Vino Kupljen 2011 Muškat Rumeni and the Erzetič Winery 2011 Rebula Visnjevik. Cheers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cruising for Beer & Wine Along the W&OD Bike Trail: Falls Church to Ashburn

With the harsh spring and winter, I've been hitting the bike trail any chance I get and taking every opportunity on the trail to enjoy craft beer and wine - via our theCompass Winery Brewery Distillery mobile app. My most frequent rides along the W&OD Trail present opportunities to visit three local breweries: Mad Fox Brewing Company, Beltway Brewing Company, and Lost Rhino Brewing Co. There are also a couple nice beer/wine bars to mention if you can't reach ant of these.

Mad Fox Brewing Company is about a half mile off the trail in Falls Church. Between mile markers 6 & 6.5, hop on Great Falls Road, and then take an immediate right onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Just before you get to W. Broad Street (Route 7) turn left into the plaza.  MyJoogTV has a nice presentation on the brewery's background and this weekend I stayed long enough for their Kellerbier Kolsch and Kirsche Weisse - both light and low in abv. The former is an unfiltered version of their Great American Beer Festival Gold medal winning Kolsh and is a clean, piney, slightly citrus, hoppy, and refreshing ale. The cherry weisse is even more refreshing - tart and sour - but not overwhelmingly so. There's also plenty of food options at Mad Fox - so eat up.

Moving westward into Vienna (mile maker 11), the Vienna Inn and Whole Foods are right off the trail. The Vienna Inn has expanded their beer menu - but still heavy centric on the big guys - Boston Beer Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - but usually have two Virginia breweries ontap - Devils Backbone Brewing Company & Starr Hill Brewing. I frequent Whole Foods more often, primarily because of their more expansive craft beer offerings as well as their decent wine selections - all offered at their Pub which now provides outdoor seating. The best part of this store is that if you don't see a beer or wine that you like at the Pub, just purchase a single or six-pack in the store's general beer or wine section and they will open it for you at the Pub. Nice.

Just after or before mile marker 18, there are several restaurants in the Reston Town Center with decent wine and beer options - but my recommendation - the World of Beer. The name says it all.

The most convenient brewery on this route is Beltway Brewing Company (Sterling), which backs up to the trail around mile marker 22 - near Sterling Blvd. The inconvenient truth is that the brewery is a contract operation so is seldom open on the weekends with standard hours Thursday and Friday evenings from 4-7 pm. You never know what's on tap - kegs depend on contract schedule - but a stop is recommended.

Lost Rhino Brewing Co (Ashburn) is the furthest off the trail, about 2.5 miles west of Beltway Brewing. Turn onto Smith Switch Road towards Ashburn and proceed about a mile (cross over Waxpool Road) and take a right onto Red Rum Drive. The brewery is located in the second set of warehouses 921730 Red Rum Drive) - just look for the silo. Lost Rhino will have several beers available to quench your thirst as well as a local Virginia wine. On my last biking visit, I once again chose lower abv beers: Steam Punk & Smokey & the Rhino. The later was my clear favorite - just a hint of mesquite smoke, unique and refreshing. For those less adventurist, their Rhino Chasers Pilsner should do the trick. And don't worry about leaving hungry.

My next trip will feature wineries and breweries between Leesburg and Purcellville. Cheers and safe travels.

Update: I was just reminded that Caboose Brewing Company will be opening in August just steps off the W&OD Trail in Vienna at mile marker 12. I also should mention Jimmy's Old Town Tavern in Herndon (Eldon Street), located a very short distance off mile marker 20. The have a similar beer list and character as the Vienna Inn.

Update II: Old Ox Brewery opens June 26th in Ashburn; after turning on Smith Switch Road from the bike path take a left on Guilford Drive.

Update III: I've been asked to include area bike shops available for emergency repairs. In Falls Church, Tri 360 is closest to the Trail with Bikenetic, LLC on Route 7. In Vienna, both Spoke, Etc and bikes@vienna are yards off the trail. In Reston, Performance Bicycle and The Bike Lane (in the town center) are available for repair services; in Herndon, Green Lizard Cycling is steps from the trail.

Update IV: Check out Bikeable Brews in the comments section below for another resource for beer along the W&OD.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery Belle Meade™ Bourbon

I've been eying the Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery Belle Meade™ Bourbon for sometime now - I think first through tweets and then through a couple Maxim articles. And finally, its available through the Virginia ABC system. The first Charles Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was once the largest distillery in Tennessee but folded with state sponsored prohibition in 1909. Fast forward to today and  his great-great-great grandsons have resurrected the flagship bourbon - named after the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee. The label features two interesting horses sired at the plantation, Bonnie Scotland; who's lineage would eventually include War Admiral, Man O’ War, Seabiscuit and Secretariat; and Brown Dick, "whose great-great grand sire was simply named Whiskey". Make sure you read the entire history.

All the tasting descriptors refer to maple syrup and yes, it is present spring up deep in the nose and at the tail. In between, this heavy bourbon possesses some spices and rawness from the high mix of rye. Belle Meade™ comes highly recommended. For now, the distillery is not open for tours, but as soon as that situation changes, they will be added to theCompass Winery, Brewery, Distiller Locator app, Cheers.

Update: Based on the new scrutiny of Bourbon labels and state of distillation, I noticed that Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery follows federal regulations. The bourbon is distilled and aged at our friends in Indiana and bottled by Nelson’s Green Brier.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Celebrating #FLXWine with Finger Lakes Wine Hour

Every summer is the #summerofriesling and a good region to start is the Finger Lakes in New York - "North America's premiere cool-climate winegrowing region". These are the words from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, which handles the region's wine marketing and hosts many tasting events throughout the year. This past Saturday they hosted, the "Finger Lakes Wine Hour" - actually 4 hours of tasting and tweeting about Finger Lakes wine. Besides Riesling; Cabernet Franc is a focal point and my sample pack consisted of wine from both of these gapes - and all from Seneca Lake courtesy of Glenora Wine Cellars, Chateau LaFayette Reneau, and Boundary Breaks Vineyard. Interestingly, Gene Pierce & Scott Welliver own Glenora and CLF as well as Knapp Vineyards Winery - and maintain as three separate entities. 

I started with the Glenora Wine Cellars 2013 Riesling ($14), an off-dry wine coming in at 3.52% RS and 12% alcohol. 68% of the grapes came from the east side of Seneca Lake and 32% from the west side; thus a mixture of the various micro-climates in the region.  The finished product is juicy white fruits (apricots and peaches) with the acidity balancing the sugar nicely. Now this is a summer wine.

Boundary Breaks Vineyard focuses solely on Riesling, usually single vineyard and in this case, their 2011 Riesling #198 Reserve ($25) is a single vineyard, single clone (Geisenheim #198) wine. It weighs in at 5.7% RS and 8.9% alcohol - and, once again, all white fruit - apricots and peaches - but a much stronger presence; nice acidity to balance sugar; and easy drinking despite the RS. With the late October harvest there are traces of botrytis that enhance this wine's profile.

Chateau LaFayette Reneau is located on the southeast region of Seneca Lake and their Cabernet Franc grapes come from an acre parcel from the estate. After fermentation, the wines is aged 18 months in new or used French & Hungarian oak and then bottle aged for 6 months before release. The 2010 Cabernet Franc ($19 & 12.5% alcohol) has a slight pepper - light cherry aroma, followed by an easy drinking medium bodied cherry flavor finishing with very smooth tannins. Here is a Chinon styled CF ready to drink now.

The Finger Lakes provides many opportunities for nice, affordable, low alcohol wines. Still looking forward to planning a visit to the region. Hopefully soon. Cheers.