Tag Archives: wine tasting

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

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 🙂

Surviving the Polar Vortex: Ice Wine and Good Point Tattoos with Cory Ferguson & Eddie Molina

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to visit our tattoo family at Good Point Tattoos in Oakville, Canada for more work! The shop is owned by our good friend and tattooer Cory Ferguson, who specializes in dotwork, blackwork, and a continual assault of puns. I was there as a client this time, for the continuation of my sleeve, and for collaboration background of my phoenix backpiece. Cory’s geometric work on my left arm now extends across my shoulders, and will eventually scatter my chest as well. My husband Eddie Molina is collaborating with him, and added the smoke tendrils that swirl through the geometric pattern in this last session. I had two incredible artists work on me for several hours this weekend, and I’m so excited to show off their progress! Everything is really starting to tie together, and I dare say I look like a heavily tattooed woman…at least, from the back!

After all of that tattooing, I needed a DRINK! The weather screamed for an Ice Wine tour, so after two days of needle poking sessions, I grabbed my purse (NOT over my shoulder….OUCH) and we hit a few wineries on the way home to the States.

First stop, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. The beautiful tasting room has high ceilings and an elegant feel, and I’m struck by the views. I really love grape fields, and they are no less stunning in winter. The tasting bar crew was friendly and helpful, even during a slow Monday afternoon. I tasted their Vidal Icewine 2006, as well as the Cabernet Franc Icewine 2011. The Vidal was an Ontario Wine Awards Bronze winner, silky apricot and pineapple, sweet with a bright acidity. It was fresh and crisp, with a finish of honey. The Cabernet Franc 2011 was a very different ice wine. Aged in Stainless and French Oak, the red was much less sweet, and had a lot of smokey character. Oak balances with strawberry,  honey, and even a touch of currant and citrus on the end. Paired beautifully with a sample of 70% dark chocolate.

Next, we hit Fielding Estate Winery and their Wine Lodge tasting room, complete with fireplace and furry blankets in the loungers. Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 10 Wineries in 2013 according to their press, owner Curtis Fielding was named 2012 Grape Grower of the Year by the Grape Growers of Ontario Association. The view of their fields includes wind turbines, used to help warm the vines with moving air. The bar was pouring tastings of their 2012 Riesling Ice Wine. Aged in stainless steel and neutral French Oak, the color was a lovely medium gold. A sweet intensity was followed by a much softer light mouthfeel, the lingering finish was quite delicate.

Our last Canadian stop was Rosewood Estates Winery – Home. This is essentially where I dropped the ball and the Ice Wine tour became the Merlot stop. What can I say? I LOVE REDS. I tried to stick with the plan. I did. But then, I saw the 2010 Merlot Reserve on the tasting menu. I asked for a pour. “We’re sold out, but I still have a bottle to taste. Would you still like to…?”

“YES PLEASE,” was my answer. Ohhhh, yes.

Winemakers Notes 2010 Merlot RESERVE:  Picked by hand from low yielding vines, sorted first in the vineyard and then at the winery selecting only the very best clusters. The clusters were gently destemmed then separated into small fermentaiton totes. The intact berries were cold macerated for 5 days then were warmed up to allow the natural yeasts to start fermentation, which lasted 3 1⁄2 weeks. Manual punch-downs were perfromed twice daily. Select French oak barrels were chosen for this Merlot, spending 15 months in both new and seasoned barrels, each barrel taking on unique characteristics. Final filtration was completed the day of bottling.

I LOVED it. I was sad there was no more, and it had sold out. I have told countless tasters from behind the bar-“get it while we have it, once it’s gone it’s gone.” Then, something amazing happened. Our taster started pulling tasting boxes apart in the back room, looking for ONE bottle for yours truly. SHE FOUND ONE! I took it home happily, and I ended up with a bottle of Merlot on the Ice Wine tour. Great customer service, on top of a beautifully made wine. We made a break for the US border, it was getting late and I was feeling fine.

We made it into the States and off of the Thruway, and I decided to drive down Route 89 along Cayuga Lake for our last stretch of the journey. It was almost closing time, but I made one last stop-Sheldrake Point – Sheldrake Point Vineyards. I love their winery, I love the tasting staff, their wines are delicious…it’s a local jewel. I had also heard fantastic things about their 2013 Late Harvest Ice Wine, and had to make that the grand finale of our trek. I’m SO glad that we DID–that was our favorite Ice Wine of the day! The best description is ‘winter sunshine in a glass’. Fruity, acidic, sweet, balanced…but MORE. Bright. Gorgeous mouthfeel, silky and lasting intensity. It won BEST AMERICAN RIESLING at Canberra International Riesling Challenge 2013, and was awarded Double Gold from the New York Food & Wine Classic 2013…just in case you don’t trust this palate of mine. Nice to know it’s less than 45 minutes from beautiful Ithaca, NY…or as we call it, HOME. It’s so easy to drink Local here…Ithaca really is Gorges. 🙂

 

BoozyWife recommended reading-“Fruity With A Hint Of Bologna: A Slackers Guide To Wine Tasting : The Salt : NPR”

A fun look at the science behind wine tasting, without all of the snobbery….do you want to SOUND like you know what you’re talking about? Master these few tips from the article below from NPR, and you’ll have a quick rundown on winespeak, without all of the bullshit….that comes later on 🙂

Fruity With A Hint Of Bologna: A Slackers Guide To Wine Tasting : The Salt : NPR.