Rosé Soirée 2015 – The Finger Lakes Through Rosé Colored Glasses

The Rosé Lineup! (Photo by David Diaz)

The Rosé Lineup! (Photo by David Diaz)

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It truly was the perfect night for a Rosé Soirée in Geneva, NY on Saturday evening. A warm summery day gave way to a coral and light pink sunset, and Finger Lakes wine lovers sipped rosé, sampled foods and local culinary temptations (including incredible hotdogs, sausages, and goodies from Fingerlakes Wienery!!), and socialized under strung carnival lights. The atmosphere was light, jovial, and oh so pink!

Blurs of pink and coral

Blurs of pink and coral

Over twenty local vineyards and winemakers were on hand to pour their dry rosé wines and talk shop. The event was a great introduction to several new dry rosé wines that I had not tried yet, and also a nice chance to meet the men and women that are the vino creators themselves! it’s always fun and interesting to be able to talk to individuals that are so proud of their wines.

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Me n Ronata

There were so many different flavors and variations to the wines, it was incredible. Many were made from Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, or a blend of the two. Lemberger often made an appearance in the blends, and Dr. Constantine Frank’s Rosé was a blend that included Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc as well.

I tried to make it to as many tables as I could, and I had a good head start on the Finger Lakes rosé tasting as it is. I’m already a fan of a few: Damiani’s Pinot Noir Rosé is killer, Sheldrake Point has a lush Cabernet Franc Rosé, and Lamoreaux Landing’s Rosé is always my bottle for home (I pour in the tasting room at Lamoreaux a couple of days a week…how could I not want to work in a winery?). Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard Rosé is always a hit for the table, the blend has a hint of Chardonnay that adds another level of depth. Hosmer didn’t bring my favorite rosé that they made, Rosé of Merlot, but if it’s not sold out yet I’m sure it will be soon!

Action shot of rosé colored roses!

Action shot of rosé colored roses!

As the night went on...with the Barry crew

As the night went on…with the Barry crew

There were also definitely a bunch of wines that were new to me. I finally got to try Ian Barry’s (of Barry Family Cellars) Cabernet Franc Rosé, which was absolutely dry, with a bright acidity and ripe cherry. I also really liked his Gamay Rosé, a lightly sparkling petillant wine that brought out an earthy fruitiness. The end ferment in bottle, with the unfiltered Gamay, creates a very unique wine. August Deimel, head winemaker for Keuka Springs Vineyards, brought his delicious, bone dry Cabernet Franc and Lemberger Rosé that had the most beautiful, light color and fragrant nose. Also on the list for lightest color and dry, herbal notes was Knapp’s Rosé of (mostly) Cabernet Franc and (a bit of) Pinot Noir. Head winemaker for Knapp Winery (and Glenora), Steve DiFrancesco has created a very food friendly and easy drinking wine. The Italians always score when it comes to wines that are great with foods! When is a rosé ever difficult? Barnstormer Winery’s Rosé was also quite a surprise, mostly Sangiovese with a touch of Cabernet Franc-savory and herbal, with strong notes of mint on the nose.

The evening was intimate, informative and delicious.  This is one of the reasons we live here in the Finger Lakes! Keep an eye out for most of these wines on the trails, or in your local wine store. Also a big thank you to Microclimate Wine Bar, for letting us buy the last bottle of Local bubbles from Wiemer 🙂

ICYMI-Repost from #Terroirist – Interview with #Fingerlakes #WineMaker August Deimel

View from the Tasting Room

View from the Tasting Room

Me and August going Gewurtztraminer :)

Me and August going Gewurtztraminer 🙂

While we were traveling, one of my favorite Finger Lakes winemakers (and individuals) was interviewed for Terroirist Daily Wine blog! August works as the head winemaker for Keuka Springs Winery in the Finger Lakes, and is super passionate about winemaking and the the area he works and lives in.

Medals, medals, everywhere....

Medals, medals, everywhere….

Very accomplished in his young career, August was a big part of the team that won the coveted NY Governors Cup for their 2012 vintage of Riesling. While the awards are nice and as well as the recognition, August is a very cool, engaging guy that loves to talk about what he loves to do. I briefly worked with his wife, Sara, and was lucky enough to meet them after recently relocating to our area. I found them both to be intelligent, engaging, and what the future of the Finger Lakes wine industry is becoming all about. Young, energetic blood!

Wine goes here

Wine goes here

As for the interview he did with Terroirist Wine Blog, here is a little sample…

“What is your general winemaking philosophy?”

“I’m too young to post an overarching winemaking philosophy. My winemaking is still a work in progress, and I wouldn’t want to claim some grand idea only to change it two years hence. I believe every vintage of wine that I’ve made so far shows significant stylistic developments. But there are a few truths that I think I’ve identified that I don’t see changing: 1) Wine is mysterious. You have to embrace the vagarities of the winemaking process. Sometimes things work or don’t work for no apparent reason. You can’t decide what you want to do a priori, you have to learn and experiment as you go. And if you pay attention, you figure out what works. 2) At the end of the day, wine quality is about texture. I was taught that with white wine, you’re going for love at first sniff: the nose, the aromatic burst, that’s the thing. Beautiful aromatics will make the people swoon. With red wine, it’s love at first sight that you’re after. That deep, dark red (or maybe purple) color will entrance people every time. These things are true so far as they go, I suppose. But what separate a great wine from the merely passable is, I believe, texture. How a wine feels in your mouth – coarse or silky, racy or flabby, balanced or awkward – is the real test of a wine’s mettle. Figuring out how to achieve that perfect mouthfeel in my wines will, I suspect, take the rest of my life.”

With the help of these young, fresh winemakers, our area will only grow in production and outstanding quality wines. It’s an exciting time to try more local wines here in our region of the Finger Lakes!

Follow the link here to read the rest of the interview with August! Www.Terroirist.com

I’ve Gone Gewurz at Keuka Spring Vineyards 2014!

Wine goes here

Wine goes here

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View from the Tasting Room View from the Tasting Room

This past Saturday, I attended a very fun and interesting special tasting at Keuka Spring Winery , focused on tasting different styles of Gewürztraminer and the differences between the 2012 and 2013 growing seasons. Keuka Spring’s head wine maker August Deimel and assistant winemaker Meg Tipton led the tasting, which was intimate and outside, away from the tasting room in a tent overlooking Keuka Lake. This winemaking team is also holds the coveted Govenor’s Cup Award for the BEST WINE in New York State with their 2012 Riesling! Not too shabby.

Medals, medals, everywhere....

Medals, medals, everywhere….

I met August and his lovely wife Sara through the Finger Lakes wine industry a few years ago, and am proud to say his talent has not gone unnoticed in our area and beyond! August called our Going Gewurz session “…everything you wanted to know about Gewurz but we’re afraid to ask”–and our group of tasters were very inquisitive about growing, the winemaking process, and we were given a first hand look at the creation of one of the Finger Lakes most underrated, and unique wines.

August and I Go Gewurz

August and I Go Gewurz

Everyone knows about Riesling, and in the Finger Lakes area we make fantastic Riesling wines. The Gewürztraminer grape is also a cold hearty variety, and does very well in our area. It is also extremely reflective of the location in which it is grown, weather, and conditions of the season. Gewurz is still “the Wild West” according to August, and with winemakers not held to certain industry standards, wines are very different from winery to winery. The process of making Gewürztraminer differs from most white production in that the grape must is held in a cold soak of fifty degrees for around eighteen hours. The winemakers at Keuka Spring actually use dry ice to drop the grapes to temperature and maintain the temperature integrity throughout. That essentially means that the grapes need to be picked at exactly the right time, because the skins hold most of the phenols that will be leeched out and give the wine it’s character. what the hell is a phenol? According to Wiki, and this is cool–

“The phenolic content in wine refers to the phenolic compounds—natural phenol and polyphenols—in wine, which include a large group of several hundred chemical compounds that affect the taste, color and mouthfeel of wine. These compounds include phenolic acids, stilbenoids, flavonols, dihydroflavonols, anthocyanins, flavanol monomers (catechins) and flavanol polymers (proanthocyanidins). This large group of natural phenols can be broadly separated into two categories, flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Flavonoids include the anthocyanins and tannins which contribute to the color and mouthfeel of the wine.[1] The non-flavonoids include the stilbenoids such as resveratrol and phenolic acids such as benzoic, caffeic and cinnamic acids.” ….essentially, tannins and flavors that are held in the skin of the grape.

So, pick too soon, and you get underripe grapes that will release phenols that might be bitter or tannic. Too late, and you end up with rot, yeasts, and unclean grapes. Hours can make the difference between the two, and wine makers are often found in the fields babysitting their Gewurz until it’s agreed that they are ready for harvest. Once they’re harvested, it’s up to the wine makers to handle the winemaking process, from timing, to yeasts added, and all steps in between. Some vintners prefer a rustic, almost rugged style of wine; others enjoy a more refined presentation of the grape. Both are perfectly good wines, just different and whichever you prefer, you will find one you like.

Our tasting sample plate

Our tasting sample plate

We tasted the Gewürztraminer 2012 and 2013 side by side, very different growing seasons, as we’re the flavors. 2012 was a great season for growers, and the Keuka Spring 2012 Gewürztraminer won BEST Gewurz in New York State at the Food and Wine Classic. It was the vineyards earliest Gewürztraminer harvest in its history, with the grapes coming in on September 11, almost a month earlier than usual. The 2012 has a smooth, balanced acidity, apricot and lychee, a soft finish. Now, 2013 was very different for growers. It was difficult weather, colder and less ripening, and the wine is quite a bit different. There is more of a citrus, a spiciness (I even got a little bit of anise), less of the mellow flavors that we’re present in the 2012, and it even tasted a little sweeter- which was due to a higher alcohol content.

We also compared the 2012 and 2013 Pre-Emption Vineyard Gewürztraminer, which came solely from one vineyard and one harvest with no blending. There were only 150 cases each of these wines made, and the vineyard was chosen for their location, with cross breezes helping to keep the ripening grapes clean of unwanted yeasts as an added bonus. The 2012 was ripe with passion fruit, lychee, and a slight acidity that would make it delicious with a spicy Asian meal, like Thai food. Always hard to pair with takeout, but try it and you will thank me. Promise! 2013 was a bit less sweet, but more crisp with citrus notes and a slight sparkle. It was quite the tasting, because each of us had a preference, and no one was wrong!

Our last sample was labeled with ??? And here is the announcement: Keuka Springs is releasing small lots of a SERIES of EXPERIMENTAL wines, under the heading KSV RND– Keuka Springs Vineyard Research And Development. Our preview tasting was of the first oak barrel aged Gewurtztraminer in the Finger Lakes! It was very young at six months in the barrel (August equated it to a ‘screaming infant’ as to its age) and still needed to be filtered and ‘cleaned up’. As for the preview taste? Spicy, smooth, a hint of the oak, but still held fruity character, unlike many Chardonnay. So cool! Quantities of these wines will be limited to fifteen cases (15!!!), so if you’re not a local, check out the Keuka Spring Vineyard KSV Wine Club for access to special releases as well as lots of other goodies delivered right to your door!

The screaming infant of Gewurz

The screaming infant of Gewurz

Our tasting also featured a lovely tasting plate (menu posted with local farms) with local cheeses, asparagus, radishes, pork tenderloin, and even a mango chutney! The idea is that wine exists with food, and therefore trying different styles of Gewürztraminer with different foods helped really taste the wines. Food always adds a different dynamic to wines, especially depending on the flavors. Great opportunity to pair Gewurz with pork, sweet chutney, and asparagus which is often a difficult flavor to match wines to. Overall really a fun experience, even if I did eat almost all my cheese curds before the second wine was poured–it was an early lunch time, after all 🙂

Tasting Plate menu and local producers

Tasting Plate menu and local producers

A huge thank you goes out to August and Meg, along with the entire Keuka Spring Vineyard crew! It was a fantastic morning for Going Gewurz, and your winery is a beautiful location, along with an exciting spot to develop new wines. Don’t miss KSV if you’re in the Finger Lakes, these folks really focus on their product–and love what they do!

Saturday morning Gewürztraminer tasting at Keuka Spring Vineyard tomorrow!

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Very excited that tomorrow morning (11am…don’t judge me) I will be attending the ‘I’ve Gone Gewurz’ tasting at Keuka Springs Winery (follow the link to check out their website)! From their page-‘ Enjoy a tasting of our Gewürztraminers side by side, paired with an exquisite tasting plate.’ I am quite a fan of Keuka Springs wines, and on a personal note, met their talented winemaker August Deimel years ago through his lovely wife! Looking forward to seeing him tomorrow on his home turf.

As for the wine tasting….what the hell is a Gewürztraminer, you might wonder? It’s a type of grape, and Wiki is nice enough to help you with pronunciation– don’t be afraid, give it a try–
Name “Gewürztraminer” is pronounced as “guh-Verts-trah-Meen-er”. It’s a grape that is used in making white wine, and grows well in a cooler climate. More nerdy grape info from Wiki here:

Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety, used in white wines, and performs best in cooler climates. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as Gewürz, and in French it is written Gewurztraminer (without the umlaut). Gewürztraminer is a variety with a pink to red skin colour, which makes it a “white wine grape” as opposed to the blue to black-skinned varieties commonly referred to as “red wine grapes”. The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are white and usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Indeed, Gewürztraminer and lychees share the same aroma compounds. Dry Gewürztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit and floral notes. It is not uncommon to notice some spritz (fine bubbles on the inside of the glass).

Lychee? Passion Fruit? Now can you see why I am such a fan?!? Riesling might be king of our region, but Gewurz is a gem of a wine, and often overlooked.

Full report with live tweets tomorrow! Follow along with my Gewurz tasting on Twitter @BoozyLife 🙂