Tag Archives: drink local

New York State Finger Lakes Bubbles To Ring In the New Year

Chardonnay vines in the snowAre you looking for some bubbles to bring in the new year, but, as always, you want to drink locally made NY booze? The Finger Lakes region is LOADED WITH local wineries that produce world-class sparkling wines (it’s only called Champagne when the booze is made in the Champagne province of Northern France, with certain grapes…your wine nerd moment for the day. The more you know, right?) Grape varieties vary from traditional Chardonnay to blends utilizing hybrids like Cayuga White, and styles range from dry and off dry to sweeter with crisp acidity. There is such a range of flavors, from fun and fruity to dry and slate stone–everyone can find something to drink happily.

These are some of the BoozyLife’s favorites, but there are LOTS to try now, so let me know if you loved one I didn’t mention. I’m always looking out for YOUR recommendations too! Click on the blue link for each winery–it’ll take you to their Sparkling Wines menus. You can also find MANY of these in your local wine shop. Ask around, and if they DON’T carry something you’d like, MENTION it to a manager! The Finger Lakes sections of our wine stores are growing, thanks to the interest and exposure of the area. Hey, if we’re good enough for the New York Times… 😉 Here are a few of my faves!

Dr. Frank Sparkling list. Traditional double fermentation in bottle- labor intensive process and delicate, beautiful bubbles.

Sweedish Hill Styles styles range from dry to sweeter, one of my very favorites is the Blanc de Blanc-crisp, off dry, with a light citrus and green apple nose.

Lamoreaux Landing Very traditional, standout sparkler. Only one style, and it is damn good. 2007 Blanc de Blanc still on shelves, made from 100% Chardonnay grapes-crisp acidity, mellow creamy finish.

Damiani Wine Cellars Traditional Sparkling Wine, as well as a fun Italian style Prosecco sparkler – 2012 Bollicini.

Red Tail Ridge Winery produce a few different styles of sparkling wine, including one of my faves, the Sparkling Teroldego-a sparkling red with jammy, juicy red fruit and black raspberry notes. Only 53 cases of the 2011 vintage produced, so grab it while the getting is good!

HAPPY 2015 to all of my new readers, as well as everyone that’s supported this venture along the way! I can’t wait to get this new year going, so many things in the BoozyLife works….Stay tuned!

Field to Glass Whiskey in New York State–Hillrock Estate Distillery in the Hudson Valley

Hillrock Distillery

Hillrock Distillery

Copper Still at HillRock

Copper Still at HillRock

I love distilleries and spirits. I’ve worked babysitting a still at more than one winery as the cellar rat, and there is something so old school about the process. A few weeks ago, I was tasting through the Hudson Valley with TasteCamp 2014. We were lucky enough to have one of the largest distillery tastings ever in NY, with over fourteen local distillers representing their products and specialties. The tasting was set at Hillrock Estate Distillery, about two hours north of New York City. Worth the trip if you can escape the city for a day, this place is special-and so is everyone involved with it.

Belly up to the bar at Hillrock

Belly up to the bar at Hillrock

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock Estate Distillery is an incredible facility that is focused on showcasing the unique terroir of the area, using estate grown grains that are FLOOR MALTED in their on site malt house, the only one in NY.

Floor malting estate grown barley

Floor malting estate grown barley

Barley in the floor malting process

Barley in the floor malting process

Owner Jeff Baker toured historic Scotland malt houses in order to create a functioning, traditional malt house for his dream distillery. Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (formerly the Head Distiller at a little place called Maker’s Mark) was intrigued by the commitment to small batch quality, traditionalism, and history, and joined on to add his impressive skill set to the Hillrock team.

Fermentation tanks

Fermentation tanks

IMG_1176.JPGThroughout the tour and tasting, it was evident that these craftsmen are one hundred percent invested in the crafting of the highest quality whiskey, bourbon, and rye. The Solera Aged Bourbon and Single Malt Whiskey were an incredible treat for a whiskey lover such as myself, and the price points were completely justifiable considering the quality of the product. Cinnamon and clove are very prominent flavors reflected in the terroir, and the slow hand crafting process creates a silky, smooth sipping delight. Seriously, some of the best I’ve ever had, hands down, kids.

Tasting with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell

Tasting with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell

So, what the HELL is floor malting? Tradition, that’s what. The barley is germinated in the traditional fashion, turned and raked by HAND every six hours on the stone floor, to control the temperature and moisture. Fellow Taste Camper Todd Trzaskos took an AWESOME video of the floor malting, distilling, tasting fun we were a part of at Hillrock. He was nice enough to let me post it–Check it out HERE: Hillrock Distillery TasteCamp Video

Hillrock is open for tastings and tours by appointment only! I would LOVE to get a group of tattoo folks together that might be interested for a BoozyLife field trip. Intrigued? Leave your comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Aromella, a wine release EXCLUSIVE to the Finger Lakes (and only ONE WINERY!!)

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Ah, Cornell. We in the Finger Lakes have often heard of cold temperature tolerant grapes, created hybrids by Cornell Agriculture. Some of these hybrid grape varieties, such as the Seyval and Vignoles, have become stapes while on our wine trails. The hybrid grapes are less delicate, can withstand our growing climate, and often need less pesticides to be protected.

With that in mind, I’ve heard the Finger Lakes described as the Wild West, where anything can still happen, and the risks are taken along with gains and losses. Dave Peterson, owner of Sweedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Penguin Bay wineries, decided to take one of those risks in 2005. He planted Aromella in one of his Cayuga Lake vineyards–and it took eight years for those vines to produce fruit, plus another year in production before the wine would be released. The Aromella release is a limited two hundred cases, and can be found ONLY at Goose Watch Winery on Cayuga lake. Great reason for me to take a quick drive up the lake! I love trying things that are out of the mainstream, and what better wine to try than one that is made exclusively in one place?

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Just so you, reader, know what we’re dealing with, Aromella is a white hybrid grape, and parents are also hybrids-Traminette (of Gewurtztraminer lineage), and Ravat 34. It is similar to a Moscato, but less sweet and as more grapefruit and spice characteristics from the Traminette parentage.

The 2013 Aromella from Goose Watch run down: 2.7 percent RS (residual sugar), 11.5 percent alcohol. ONLY available at Goose Watch, 200 cases limited run. Tasting-Aromella was light, with notes of peaches and lychee (I’ll say tropical fruit because I am slightly lychee obsessed!). I was surprised that at 2.7 RS, the wine still wasn’t sweet, and the balance of the wine was crisp and pleasant. A really nice sipper, actually. I love my dry wines, but Aromella has enough Traminette influence to take the fruity notes and mellow them with spice and citrus. Quite lovely, and I’m very glad we took the little adventure. A few bottles came home with us, along with another favorite of mine-Dry Cabernet Franc Rosé, because, well….wine.

Living in a fast growing wine area like this is exciting, and there are new grapes and experimental wine creations happening all over the Finger Lakes area. These vinters have talent, balls (especially the ladies, ahem) and are ready to take risks to forward the craft. How could you not think that the tattoo and wine worlds are very complimentary to one and other? Gotta love the risk takers, they’re the ones that really make strides.

Read more about Aromella on Syracuse.com, Aromella is the Newest Finger Lakes Wine. If you get the chance to try it, let me know what you think in the comments below! Enjoy 😉

New York Apples and the Hard Cider Revolution (and how BoozyLife was ahead of the curve)

Harvest season

Harvest season

Last week, the New York Times posted an article that really caught my attention. Article link: Sips from a Cider Spree in New York State. The local hard cider scene has been jumping since we moved to the Ithaca area eight years ago-what’s different is that people are more open minded and willing to taste local creations.

Local hard ciders have a special place in my heart. Personal boozy story: On a visit home to the upstate NY area almost ten years ago, my mom wanted to take me to a new winery that had opened relatively close to our neck of the woods. Black Bear Winery is a spot off of the beaten path and ‘wine trails proper’, but they specialize in hard ciders, meads, and fruit wines. After a tasting, I concluded that I liked the ciders, and particularly the Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider was delicious. Hard apple cider, blended with house made maple syrup. Tart, mellow, slight sweetness, autumn in a glass. I bought a couple of refillable growlers, and have refilled them several times since. Black Bear has grown from a by appointment and event farm rental spot, to open year round and quite successful! At least five years after that first tasting at Black Bear, I married my husband at the end of September, here in Ithaca. We served Black Bear’s Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider for the toast at our wedding, instead of the traditional champagne. The cider had more meaning, and it was so reminiscent of the fall in upstate NY that I wanted our guests from all over the world to experience that flavor; champagne was too formal for our outdoor waterfall ceremony, and the cider was truly a hit!

Cracklin' Maple Hard Cider from Black Bear for our toast

Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider from Black Bear for our toast

In the NY Time’s article I mentioned, the author Freda Moon tours the Upstate NY Apple growing areas about five hours from NYC. She hit several local cider stops, and even gave a quick run down of her time spent in Ithaca:

“Ithaca was a decadent couple of days in which cider seemed to appear in every possible form. We had a cider flight with dinner at the too-popular Just a Taste tapas restaurant, where our wait was over an hour. The next day, at Maxie’s Supper Club and Oyster Bar, I ordered a Cider Sidecar of Maker’s Mark, Cointreau, a Finger Lakes Distilling’s Maplejack liqueur and an unspecified local cider before a spectacular three-course cider pairing dinner at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg.”

The guys at Finger Lakes Distilling are also making some incredible products, and I was glad to see she sampled some of their wares at Maxie’s Supper Club, one of our favorite spots in Ithaca. The Cider Sidecar is a drink that is an anxiously awaited seasonal cocktail, signaling that fall has officially arrived. Sweet and tart, with a mellow maple kick, sitting in Maxie’s listening to live music on the outdoor deck, watching the world go by. I love living here in fall.

October in the Finger Lakes – Grape Harvest 2014

Cayuga Lake from Goose Watch Winery

Cayuga Lake from Goose Watch Winery

Fall in the Finger Lakes area of Upstate Ny is magic. Leaves change colors against perfect blue skies, fall harvests of grapes, apples, and pumpkins showcase the bounty of the area, and the vintners can be found along with crews in the rows of grapevines.

Fall in the vineyard

Fall in the vineyard

It was a tough winter, with well below average temperatures, a late and chilly spring, a few freak hail storms in late summer, and now one of the sunniest and warmest September grape ripening seasons ever. Insane but inspiring: The 2014 grape harvest might be light due to damages along the way, but what DID make it through looks to be pretty damn spectacular!

October looks to be busy at BoozyLife, so keep checking in-lots of harvest info, talks with a few vintners, tours of a few press pads, and a trip down to the Hudson Valley for Taste Camp 2014 (NY Cork Report) . THIS is why I love living in the Finger Lakes…

Colors of fall in the Finger Lakes-my favorite ti

Colors of fall in the Finger Lakes-my favorite time of year, in one of my favorite places

World’s LARGEST Virtual Riesling Tasting is TONIGHT!

FLX Wine on FB

Don’t forget –TONIGHT is the worlds largest virtual Riesling Tasting, to celebrate the release of the 2013 Riesling vintage of the Finger Lakes! Finger Lakes Riesling Hour is officially from 7-9pm on social media. Don’t miss out–all the instructions on how to join in below! See you there

Repost from Democrat&Chronicle – ‘A lesson in Rieslings — and the power of food pairings’

Boundary Breaks Rieslings are gaining in popularity here in the FLX

Boundary Breaks Rieslings are gaining in popularity here in the FLX

Yet again, our friends at Boundary Breaks were highlighted in the press-this time at the annual Wine Symposium of the Finger Lakes. Writer Thomas Pellechia of Rochester Magazine attended the event, and was happily surprised by the food and wine pairing element of the symposium. He goes on to describe his Boundary Breaks Riesling experience —

“The true highlight of the event was the wine and food-pairing seminar. First was Boundary Breaks 2012 Finger Lakes Riesling (Single Clone #239; $20) paired with poached shrimp with Vietnamese dressing, peanuts and mint. Tasted alone, a fruit sugar sweetness came through from the Riesling, and the slight sweetness of the shrimp was a perfect foil for the light nuttiness and mint freshness. Tasted together, the balance between nuttiness and freshness, finished off with snappy Riesling acidity, relegated any sweetness to a backseat — a complex delight.”

Wine and food are MEANT to be presented together. Riesling is a great wine to serve with ‘difficult to pair’ meals- spicy Thai food, German Brats, even Thanksgiving. Dry and off dry Rieslings usually has a lovely acidity in addition to seafood, and a sweetness that will pair with appetizers and lighter munchies. I have a pretty stocked white wine fridge, holding many bottles of my favorite Rieslings to serve to out of town guests at a moments notice. I can drop names and tell you the legend Boog Star LOVED Finger Lakes Rieslings, especially when served with fresh, local (and husband caught) fish!

One of the BEST RIESLING REVIEWS EVER-and it’s for a Finger Lakes GEM

Epicurious just released an article Best Rieslings Under $20 (follow the link for the entire link), highlighting stand out Rieslings from around the world. The selection from the Finger LakesArea is from our friends at Boundary Breaks Vineyard— and we are so happy to see them recognized for their accomplishments!

Article author Paul Grieco, General Manager of Hearth Restaurant NYC said of the 2012 Boundary Breaks Riesling Geisenheim No. 239, Finger Lakes, New York ($20) “Long and lean in frame but with colors bursting from the canvas…think David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days.”

Are you kidding me? Comparing that wine to Bowie? PERFECT-they’re a group of young, hardcore Riesling rock stars over there! Not to mention a few of the vineyard crew are rocking tattoos by my husband-vineyard Manager Kees Staple is working on a custom Riesling sleeve that will be awesome when complete, adding to the rocker status. 😉 Congrats guys–now go grab a bottle of this gem, kids…it’s BoozyWife approved! 🙂

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