Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hermann J. Wiemer Still A Cut Above the Rest (NY)

What is there left to say about Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards that hasn't already been said? It is one of the most heralded wineries in the Finger Lakes. The first time I ever met Mr. Wiemer was in 1999 or 2000. It was late in the day. I had been tasting quite a bit already, and I was a little toasty. He was alone, and tasting his wines. I informed him I was doing research on a book about east coast wines, and I came to him not knowing who he was. I introduced myself, and he introduced himself, and I said, "OK, Herm, let's see what you got!"
I cringe every time I think about that. I was immediately impressed with the wines, and had an immediate twinge that I had somehow embarrassed myself (not the first time). Then I went home and found out who he was. Hermann is one of the most important figures in the history of east coast winemaking. Ah well, I had failed to impress yet again.
In 2003, Hermann’s long-term apprentice Fred Merwarth took charge of winemaking and vineyard management. Fred’s talent and ambition brought fresh energy and vision to the winery, placing it on a new trajectory. In 2007, Hermann officially retired, handing  over the winery to Fred, who partnered with his university friend, Swedish agronomist Oskar Bynke, to carry on Hermann’s legacy. Oscar and Fred are doing as much as they can to make sure that legacy not only endures, but excels. You have to respect that. 

Over the last two years, I have gone back several times, twice with the same group of people including wine enthusiasts Bryan VanDeusen and Rich Srsich. We have sampled he wines and bought our bottles. This is no small feat at Hermann J. Wiemer. Their wines wine award after award, and they score highly in all the right magazines.


The tastingroom is an odd mixture of gorgeous high-end shop, and industrial chic. The small shoppe up front is elegant with warm off whites and beautiful wood tones. The tasting area is majestic with gorgeous wood bars and gleaming stainless steel. But it is always elegant, and always in exceptional taste.


The one thing Wiemer is known for are their wonderful, delicate, elegant Germanic-styled whites, where in they have gained much fame and rightfully so. The favorite of mine is the Riesling Dry 2012. Big notes of green apple and ripe, juicy pear, are blended with tropical fruits, exceptional acidity, and a long, lingering mouthwatering taste of fruit. Not sweet in any sense, this wine is a beautiful, elegant wine. If it were a painting I would say it was Madame X by Sargent, because it is so sexy and seductive. Something to behold and savor.

I love Gewurztraminer. Let me say that before I begin. And let me tell you before I write about this wine, that I bought several bottles over the last two visits and they do not last in my house, and my wife and I are red wine drinkers. The nose here on the Gewurztraminer 2012 is a big, floral bouquet with mixed with melon, and lychee, and citrus. And the wine is a big, acidic bomb of a Gewurztraminer, with a grapefruit-lemon ending that keeps your mouth awake and wanted more after each sip. One of the most beautiful dry Gewurztraminers you will ever have. Fantastic!
Rose' Cuvee is a dry rose made from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and a hint of Chardonnay. The result is an incredibly beautiful wine that bursts forth with strawberries and bright, ripe cherries. Dry as a bone, with also exhibits lime, vanilla, and a hint of creaminess on the end. A beautiful, elegant sipper sure to impress all your friends.

Field Cuvee 2008 was a lovely, well structured blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Lemberger and Cabernet Sauvignon. A lovely, well structured, complex table red, with big juicy fruit and solid taste. Good enough to pair with chicken, pork, turkey, veal, or even a flank steak as well as Penne Arabiata. Lovely.
2010 was a very good year for Finger Lakes reds. Fermented in small lots and aged in a mix of new and old French oak barrels, the Cabernet Franc 2010 shows a lovely medium-bodied color. Cherry, plum, and red berry all come through as promised. A lovely wine, with a medium, ripe fruit up front and a lovely complexity and structure. An elegant Cabernet Franc.

The Cabernet Franc 2012 is as impressive as the 2010. Big shocks of bright cherry, nice undertones of dark cherry, with spice and a hint of smoke to make it all come together beautifully. Again, the hallmarks of structure and complexity make this a lovely example of everything Cabernet Franc should be - light-to-medium bodied, fruity, but exceptional and delicious. 

Big notes of cherry, bright and ripe, and dark cherry come through on the nose of this lovely, light-bodied Pinot Noir 2010. Delicate and impressive, there is enough acidity in the wine for the fruit to linger a long, long time. Again, elegant, classic Pinot structure, with a lovely, love finish. Complex and extremely well balanced. This was a lovely wine.
These wines prove that Wiemer is making excellent wines, and are still a cut above the rest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

McGregor Vineyards Reds - Unique and Still Strong (NY)

So, I was at the Finger Lakes Wine Festival 2014, and I thought to myself that I really should check out McGregor, because I am jonesing for a good red. And I think of McGregor as one of the better red producers in the region. The grapes they grow are a little funky, but hey, I'm a wine geek, so they are right up my alley.  The first one I tried was the Pinot Noir 2009. It was holding up beautifully from my first tasting in 2012.  I LOVED the estate 2009 Pinot Noir. It’s very light in its color extraction and flavors. Almost a dark rose’. But it was wonderful. Bright cherry and raspberry spill out of the glass, couched in vanilla and spice. A wonderful, lean, crisp bright red wine. I loved it!

I also tried the 2010 Black Russian Red – 30 Month Barrel Reserve. This is the wine at the heart of all the fuss. This wine is so famous Evan Dawson devoted a whole chapter to it in his book, Summer In A Glass. At what point is the wine hype versus great wine, in my mind? was what I wondered in 2012. In 2014 I can tell you I am a fan!
The wine is made with Saperavi and Sereksiya grapes. Saperavi (Georgian:
საფერავი; literally "paint, dye" - due to its intensive dark-red colour) is an acidic, teinturier-type grape variety native to Georgia, where it is used to make many of the region's distinctive wines, along with the Alexandreuli and Rkatsiteli varieties. Leaves are 3-lobed, large, and roundish. Berries are medium to large, elliptic, dark bluish, and thin-skinned; with a maturation period of approximately 5 months and moderate productivity. It has the potential to produce high alcohol levels, and is used extensively for blending with other lesser varieties. It is the most important grape variety used to make Georgian red wines. Saperavi is a hardy variety, known for its ability to handle extremely cold weather; and is popular for growing in high altitude and inland regions. It is a teinturier grape, containing the red anthrocyanin within the grape pulp as well as the skin; and is unusual in being one of very few such grapes used in single-varietal winemaking (most are used in small amounts, strictly for blending).
Sereksiya is also known as Băbească Neagră, which is an old native Romanian - Moldovan wine grape variety. It is cultivated in the south of Moldova and in Romania (region of Moldavia, Dobruja and Wallachia), and is the second most planted grape variety in Romania, with about 6,300 hectares (16,000 acres) in 2005. The name Băbească Neagră means "grandmother's grape". Wines made solely from Băbească Neagră are light, fruity red wines.
This blend is an estate wine aged in American oak. It has big fruit up front and big oak. Blackberry, cherry, plum, cocoa, and eucalyptus all came through, again! There was also  some vanilla and some spices. This was a big, dark, deep, red wine. Loved it!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trenton Times: Thousands attend Laurita Winery Food Trucks and Fire Pits festival (NJ)

Thousands attend Laurita Winery Food Trucks and Fire Pits festival
By Ashley Peskoe |  Trenton Times
The Star July 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM, updated July 20, 2014 at 5:09 PM 

NEW EGYPT – From food and line dancing, to live music, pony rides and vineyard tours, there was a little something for everyone at Laurita Winery’s Food Trucks and Fire Pits event.
Ray Shea, who is co-owner of the winery with Randy Johnson, said they hold the festival because food trucks have become popular.

“You put a bunch of the [food] trucks in one place and a beautiful setting together with what we consider good wine – it’s just a magical combination of ingredients that’s proved to be a very successful recipe,” Shea said.

While there were wine tastings for adults, Shea said the event is geared toward people of all ages. In addition to a playground for kids, there was also pony rides, face painting, fireworks, wood carving demonstrations and country line dancing.

“We try to design our entertainment activities for the entire family,” Shea said.

Each festival is dedicated to a different charity and 10 percent of all ticket sales from this event benefitted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Shea said that organization was chosen because he lost his 25-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1998.

“They do great work in terms of research and in terms of patient services,” Shea said. “We’re very proud to make a donation to them.”

Shea said he previously served on the board of directors of the organization.

“We’re doing our small bit to make the world a better place,” he said.

Alain Fortier, of Freehold, said he was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2012 and finished treatment in November 2013. He and his wife, Marie, said they were glad to hear the money was benefitting the LLS.

“They need money for research and this is a fantastic outing,” Alain Fortier said. “It’s a great thing.”
The couple each tried food from different trucks and was going to get dessert next, Fortier said.
“There’s just so many different types of food,” he added.

Kate Devine, marketing and entertainment manger, said 4,700 people attended the event on Saturday and they were expecting to have more than 10,000 attendees before the weekend was over.
“This is much more crowded than it was yesterday at this time,” she said. “It’s the biggest event that Laurita has.”

In the original tasting room on the property, Farm Treasures owner Steve Layton turned it into an antique store with a winery theme.

“Our whole theme is in support of New Jersey vineyards and certainly Laurita winery,” he said.
Vince Sgro, who is an ambassador at the winery, said 70 percent of the building was made from recycled material.

The outdoor benches and tables were from the state of New Jersey and the tasting room was made from two refurbished barns. Sgro said there are also five miles of trails throughout the property that are open to the public.

The 300-acre property has a 40-acre vineyard with 36,000 vines across the rolling hills and produces a variety of wine – including the Down the Shore wines Windswept White, Beachcomber Blush and Relaxing Red.

“People compare us to a little spot in Tuscany,” Sgro said.

While many people were just coming out to the event, engaged couple Tommy Veltre and Carley Giquinto said they were scoping the winery as a possible wedding location and were just starting to taste the different wines.

“We were unsure about a winery wedding but now that we see it, it’s done,” Giquinto said. “It’s beautiful.”

Read more at: