The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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september 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  1 1 1 a comparative tasting of Rieslings from the Finger Lakes, Australia, Germany, Austria and Washington. Finger Lakes sparkling wine production dates back to the 1880s. To showcase the styles and quality of these wines, Steve DiFrancesco (winemaker, Glenora Wine Cellars), Stephanie Mira de Orduna (owner, Microclimate Wine Bar) and Nancy Ireland (co-owner, Red Tail Ridge Winery) presented "Bubbling Up in the Finger Lakes," a discussion and tasting of traditional method sparklers from Fox Run, Glenora, Lamoreaux and Dr. Konstantin Frank, including Chateau Frank 2002 Brut, a coveted bottle extracted from the winery's archive—and the last vintage made by Willy Frank, Konstantin's son. With its slightly funky aromas of baked orchard fruits and salty minerals, it served as living proof of the enduring potential of Finger Lakes bubbly. "Traditional method sparkling wines from the Finger Lakes will be the next big awareness trend," said Frederick Frank, Willy's son and current winery President. "What's the Buzz," a panel discussion moderated by Evan Dawson, author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes, featured a lively discussion about latest develop- ments in winemaking, challenges, food pairings and the future of the locavore movement. Speakers included Christopher Bates, Master Sommelier; Peter Becraft, Winemaker, Anthony Road; Chef Samantha Buyskes, Kindred Fare; and Bob Madill, Acting Executive Director, Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. Not to be left blushing in the shadows, rosé and red wines took the stage for the final seminar hosted by August Deimel of Keuka Springs and Justin Boyette of Hector Wine Company. Highlights included the Kelby James Russell 2015 Dry Rosé made from Cabernet Franc; the spicy, mineral Hector Wine Company 2014 Syrah; and a juicy, intensely dark Standing Stone Vineyards 2014 Saperavi. "The Finger Lakes is defined by cool-climate grapes, and I believe we have the potential to produce food-friendly, bone dry rosé and beautifully elegant reds," said Deimel. The information-packed day of seminars concluded with a group dinner and taste of a rare, succulent nectar: Sheldrake Point 2014 Wild Ferment Riesling Ice Wine, named "World's Best Riesling" at the Canberra International Riesling Competition. Dave Breeden, Sheldrake's wine- maker, was on hand to discuss ice wine production, noting that the Finger Lakes is one of the few regions of the world that can make ice wine from vinifera varieties. The rolling, scenic wine trails led us to Dr. Kontantin Frank Winery on Keuka Lake, where we were treated to a private tasting and tour with Frederick Frank. At Seneca Lake, we enjoyed the picturesque Glenora Wine Cellars for a lunch and tour. The SWE event team arranged for other wineries (Atwater Estate Vineyards & Winery; Boundary Breaks; Fox Run; Keuka Spring; Lakewood Vineyards; Wagner Vineyards) to join us at each stop and pour a selection of wines as we savored stunning views and mor- sels. The New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua engaged the group with local craft ciders, beers, spirits and wines. Socrates once said that true wisdom is the realization of how little we know. Like many people, I once associated the Finger Lakes with Riesling and hybrids. Thanks to the SWE mini-conference, glaciers that once shrouded insight and wisdom have receded, unveiling a landscape marked by intricate layers of potential, where winemakers with deep pools of passion and indefatigable determination are redrawing the map of possibility. Said Deimel, "Anyone who has not visited the Finger Lakes cannot possibly appreciate the hard yet beautiful reality of these glacial valleys and vineyards thriving in tiny corners on the edge of viability." DiFrancesco added, "It's a great time to be in the Finger Lakes, and it's exciting to share our vision with SWE members." Founded in 1977, the Society of Wine Educators is a non- profit educational organization (501c3) that currently boasts over 3,000 members and 11,000 certificate holders. In addition to mini-conferences, the SWE organizes an annual National Conference. The 2017 conference is slated for Portland, Oregon, and SWE just announced that the 2018 National Conference will occur in the Finger Lakes. Don't miss it! Riesling is a staple of the Finger Lakes region, as in this example from Keuka Spring Vineyards. Jim Trezise (left), President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, addresses Society of Wine Educators members during the SWE first-ever region-specific mini-conference in the Finger Lakes wine region. Saperavi, a hardy Georgian grape variety that is adapted to cold climates, performs well in the Finger Lakes at Standing Stone Vineyards. Boundary Lakewood join wines sels. in craft realization people, with mini-conference, insight a potential, Riesling of the region, example Keuka Vineyards. members

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