About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!
Website: http://agoodtimewithwine.com
Matt.mmwine has written 199 articles so far, you can find them below.

About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!

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Here are my most recent posts

Same grapes but different wines – WBW 62

Murphy Goode The Fume

Murphy Goode The Fume

Lucien Crochet Sancerre

Lucien Crochet Sancerre

Writers of all types experience “writers block” now and again. Wine bloggers are no different, despite the fact that there are thousands of different wines to discuss, no less the myriad of related topics to write about. However, we have the added inspiration of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the brainchild of Lenn Thompson from Lenn Devours – The New York Cork Report. Each month, wine bloggers converge on one topic, writing about the month’s wine related theme. Lenn has managed to enlist the help of wine bloggers around the world for topic ideas, which has allowed WBW to enter it’s 62nd month with today’s installment. This month Dale Cruse from Drinks Are On Me challenges us to try a grape by any other name.

Grapes often have different names depending on region in which they grow. Additionally, the grape could have the same name, but it’s labled based on where the wine is produced. I decided to talk about Sauvignon Blanc, and the stark contrast between wines made from the grape in California versus Sancerre, an AOC in the Loire Valley, France. It was not hard for me to select the wines for today’s post. I happened to have on hand a bottle of Lucien Crochet Sancerre 2007 sitting next to a bottle of Murphe-Goode The Fume 2008 in my wine cellar.

While it would have been a fun adventure to find some Italian Primitivo and talk about it in relation to Zinfandel, I was very excited to talk about the way Sauvignon Blanc makes different styles of wine from France to California. Watch the short video below, then read on about Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc.

Sancerre is Sauvignon Blanc, or is it? Wine Blogging Wednesday #62 from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Now there are Sauvignon Blanc wines that come from all over the world, with great ones coming from New Zealand and Chile, as well as these from California and France. Sancerre, in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, France, is an AOC, Appellation d’origine contrôlée, produces very distinct wines. The terroir, characteristics of the earth the grapes are grown on, greatly influences the wine made there. I highly recommend you experiment with the different styles out there, to find out which you prefer. As you saw from the video, the same grape can produce a very different experience.

I think both of these wines have their merits.  Your palate may prefer the lighter, easier drinking Sauvignon Blanc from Murphy-Goode, as my Fiancee Robin did. She preferred it to the Sancerre, liking it’s “easy sipping at a low price” quality. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the chalky, herbaceous flavors of the Lucien Crochet, especially when I thought about it with food. I think that may be the point to make, that the California expression of this grape is an easy drinking back yard sipper, fine on its own. The French Sancerre, however, is a wine that really shows best with food to help marry it’s unique flavors with the foods. I would certainly reach for a California or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for sipping and catching up with friends before a Sancerre. However, if I was serving a nice seafood dinner, the Sancerre could be my preference for the evening.

Don’t take my word for it, buy a Sancerre and a California Sauvignon Blanc, and try them together. Then, leave a comment below and let me know which you prefer, and why!

Not another ordinary white wine – Sobon Estate Viognier 2008

One of the things that excites me about wine is the variety that is available. While many people don’t know there are white wines other than Chardonnay available, I love it when the opportunity to enjoy Riesling from Dr Loosen, Aligote from Steele Wines or a nice Viognier arises. Viognier is a very versatile wine, great to sip on, or pair with a wide range of foods. When you get a Viognier that not only tastes good, but  is reasonably priced, that makes it pair well with ANYTHING. I’d like to introduce you to that Viognier, it comes from Sobon Estate, and I really enjoyed tasting and reviewing this wine.

Sobon Estate makes a number of different wines, from Syrah and Roussane to Sangiovese and Zinfandel. There is a rich history behind Sobon Estate, which started in 1977 with Leon and Shirley Sobon founding Shenandoah Vineyards, then forming Sobon Estate in 1989 as their 30th Anniversary gift to each other. The Sobon family is very much a part of the wine making process, from Wine Maker Paul Sobon to Business Systems Manager Robert Sobon, the family take great pride in the wine they make. They also care very much for the environment, and believe in sustainable farming and minimizing the impact of their business on our world. I speak a little about that in the video review below. Check out the video, then read the rest of my notes below it.

Video review of a great white wine – Sobon Estate Viognier 2008 - from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

The Sobon Estate 2008 Viognier had a great bouquet, showing honeysuckle and white flowers. There was some citrus and even peach notes woven into the bouquet, and it was quite inviting. On the palate, there was definitely some great fruit up front of peaches, with nice honey suckle flavors. It reminded me of being a kid during summer, pulling honey suckle flowers off the vines and tasting the sweet nectar. However, there was this beautiful, balanced spice component that really gave an interesting twist to the finish, making it a fun, complex wine.

This wine was perfect with the three different cheeses, Cheddar, Brie, and Port Salut, we tried while the chicken was cooking. And when the chicken was ready, we had JUST enough wine left to taste them together. The grilled flavors of the chicken, which was seasoned simply with salt, pepper and rosemary, meshed perfectly with the wine.  This Viognier is rather food friendly, and I could see pairing it with white fish sauted in white wine or roasted pork, shrimp on the BBQ, and of course, grilled chicken. For $16, the Sobon Estate Viognier won’t break the bank, and is a great wine to have when friends come over. If you try this, or really any Viognier, why not let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment below!

I would like to disclose that this wine was provided to me by the winery to taste and review, though I have purchased and reviewed their wines in the past.

No Bottleshock here – Chateau Montelena 2007 Chardonnay video wine review

Chateau Montelena 2007 Chardonnay

Chateau Montelena 2007 Chardonnay

These days, most people are on a budget, and watch their spending closely. And while very few of my friends cut wine out of their monthly expenses, they always ask me to find good, budget friendly wines for them to enjoy. However, it’s my opinion that now and then, it’s ok to splurge and treat yourself, so long as you do it in moderation. For Robin & I, that day came last week when we opened up a bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Napa, CA.  It’s not what I would call a Budget Wine, but rather a wine for a nice occasion. For us, that occasion was celebrating the end of a work week!

If you’ve seen the movie Bottle Shock you know the impact Chateau Montelena had on the wine world in 1976. The movie definitely endears you to the struggle California wine makers had, and have, gaining respect for the hard work and love that goes into each bottle. It also will make you want to run out and buy a bottle of Chateau Montelena, whether you’ve had it in the past or not. For us, this Chardonnay was not our first experience with their wines. We had a bottle of their Zinfandel with a lovely dinner out in West Palm Beach a few months ago, and their Cab some time prior to that. However, we did indeed go out and buy a bottle of the Chard days after seeing the movie, and kept it in the back of the wine cellar for a while. However, the time came to open, and enjoy it. Of course, I’d like to share this wine with you, so please watch the short two minute video, then scroll down to read more of my thoughts on this wine.

Tasting Chateau Montelena 2007 Chardonnay from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

I actually misspoke on the video and said that oak aging typically gives Chardonnay a buttery mouth feel. It’s actually the malolactic fermentation that gives it that lush mouth feel. The oak aging can, however, impart notes of toast, spice, and vanilla, for example. The Chateau Montelena Chardonnay spends eight to nine months in oak. However, the oak influence is beautiful, not overwhelming the flavors of fruit.

The wine was wonderful, and we enjoyed it very much. Frankly, I think we drank it too quickly, and needed to take some more time with this wine. The wine evolved over the hour we ate, and I feel we missed some of the changes it went through. I plan on getting a second bottle soon, with the expectation of sipping it, slowly, and really taking care to see how it changes sip to sip. The subtle oak aging provides Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay with complex layers of flavor, from the tropical notes I mentioned before to subtle hints of vanilla and spice. There’s a nice balance of acidity and fruit, and this is a crisp, and delicious, white wine.

I mentioned a food pairing in the video, and we paired this with Fettuccine Alfredo topped with shrimp. While it was a “nice enough” pairing, it was by no means perfect. Frankly, the beautiful tropical flavors the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay offers would have gone much better with a grilled chicken or fish dish. The fish could have been grilled sea bass or grilled salmon, as either would have paired with this wine wonderfully.  Likewise, a simple grilled chicken, seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper, would have been a spectacular food and wine pairing with this Chardonnay. There are many food and wine pairings that this wine would have worked with, and perhaps we’ll make one or two of them in the future, and share our tasting with you.

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

I must admit I have not yet visited Chateau Montelena. However, as this beautiful Eve Andersson photo illustrates, there is a lot of history and beauty at the winery. I look forward to visiting the Chateau one day soon. The rich history on that land, from the Chateau itself to Jade Lake, would make a great piece for future TweetMeTV segments. I’ll have to talk with the folks at Daytime morning show and see about another Napa visit, soon!

Your adventure in wine doesn’t need to stop here. You can follow the folks from Chateau Montelena on Twitter. The folks from the movie Bottle Shock are on twitter as well. Of course, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook, and we can continue having a good time with wine. Cheers!

Petit Verdot Petit Sirah from Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyards

Lange Twins Petit Verdot Petit Sirah

Lange Twins Petit Verdot Petit Sirah

Do you enjoy wine? When was the last time you had a Petit Verdot? How about Petit Sirah? If the answer is anything other than “Last week”, watch this video wine review of Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards 2007 Generations Petit Verdot Petit Sirah blend. You’ll be surprised at how delicious and drinkable this $20 wine is! There’s no doubt that this purple teeth stainer will be a wine you look to have again, and again.

The Lange family has been farming in California for 5 generations, starting with Johann and Maria Lange’s 1870 immigration from Germany, where they settled down in Lodi. The Langes started their farming history beginning with melons, the crop of choice back then. They moved into farming grapes in 1916, then in 2006  twin brothers Randall and Bradford Lange, Winery General Manager and Viticulture General Manager respectively, founded the Lange Twins winery, and incorporated the winery in their business of grape growing. There are multiple generations of Lange family members working at the Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards today, making it a true family business.

Joe Lange provided a bottle of their Generations Petit Verdot Petit Sirah 2007 to me before the summer started as a sample for review. I am grateful to Joe, and Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyard for the opportunity to taste this wine, and discuss it with you. Please take two minutes to watch the video review below, then read the rest of my tasting notes and comments.

Lange Twins Petit Verdot Petit Sirah Red Wine review from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

As you can see from the above quick video wine review (you did watch it, right? Seriously, 2 minutes!), this wine falls into the “Drinkable” and almost “Gulpable” category. It’s only $20 from the Lange Twins website, and by my measure, that makes it a very affordable, bordering on every day wine price wise. Of course, price is not the only measure of selecting wines, so taste has to be there, and in my opinion, Lange Twins Petit Verdot Petit Sirah has it.

I find this wine very approachable. That means, it’s easy to drink, and doesn’t require too much care & feeding, or work, to enjoy it. A good friend of mine on twitter mentioned she is not a fan of wines that require a lot of “me” time, and prefers the ability to just open a wine and enjoy it. While I decanted the wine for an hour, I believe this wine would do well as a “Pop and Pour”, where you can just open it and drink.

Decanting red wines has two purposes. First, for older wines or perhaps wines that are not filtered, it helps separate the sediment that occurs normally in bottles of wine by allowing them to settle to the bottom of the decanter. Second, it allows younger wines time to “breathe”, allowing oxygen to interact with the wine. This can allow the wine to open up, the bouquet and the flavors can show well, and you can enjoy the wine. Some wines may not need any decanting, others may need one, two or even four hours to open up.

As you saw in the video, there was nice fruit on this wine, with just a little hint of baking spice mixed in. I could discern beautiful blueberry flavors mixed in with darker fruit flavors as soon as the wine hit my tongue. It definitely opened up and became even more enjoyable with each minute we drank the wine. Also as mentioned in the video, we paired the wine with steak.  It was a great pairing, the delicious grilled steak dancing gracefully with the luscious wine. Sadly, the wine was finished before the steak was gone, which was a testament to how easy drinking the wine was.

This wine definitely plays well with others, pairing it with beef dishes or other gamey dishes (hmm, venison stew or Cornish game hens perhaps) works wonderfully. It also plays well by itself, making it a great sipping wine. Open a bottle of this Lange Twins wine, take your better half, or your best buds, to the back yard or the porch, and watch a great night with a nice wine unfold!

Video wine review of Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere – a red wine from Chile

Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere

Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere

If you’ve read any of my wine blog posts, you’ll know that Camenere was one of the first red wines I had ever had. Therefore, it’s always a pleasure to try a Camenere from a producer I haven’t had in the past. During the Wines of Chile blogger event, we had the pleasure of trying 8 wines from Chile while video conferenced in with the wine makers to get their insights on their wines, Chile, and wine in general. I have reviewed several of those wines already, and have a few more coming. You’ll find my thoughts and tasting notes on the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere in the video review below. Please be kind when watching it, I was in a hotel room after a full day of Oracle training, and pretty wiped out.

Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere 2007 hails from the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, right around San Felipe, north of Santiago. The Aconcagua river flows through the valley, which provides “melt water” for much needed irrigation in the area.  While wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere have grown in the valley since the mid 19th Century, there has been renewed interest in the area since the 1990s. Experiements have proven that Aconcagua valley vineyards located closer to the Pacific can provide great grapes, and great wines. Personally, I’m on the look out for some of these wines, especially Syrah which is pointed out in the Wines of Chile brochure that was sent to the bloggers for reference.

Now, it’s no secret that I think wines from Chile offer great value, bringing to us nice, or even fantastic wines, at a great price. I’ve probably written about more Chilean wine on this blog than any other country. At $26 retail, the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere is not an everyday budget wine for many people. However, I think it’s definitely a wine to give a try, if for no other reason than to see what Carmenere is about, and have a nice frame of reference for other producers.

As the video notes, the first night this wine was definitely a lot more fruit driven and didn’t have some of the characteristics I love about Carmenere. I felt it was lacking the earthy flavors with a black pepper and spice driven backbone that screams STEAK! I found it very “new worldy”. However, I actually REALLY liked it the first night, finding the wine fun and enjoyable. The second night I think it was “done”, with too much oxygen breaking down the wine, as notes of cherry cough syrup were dominant, which were not what I found the first night. I would like very much to get another bottle and see how it opens over time, because I believe I didn’t really experience the full potential of this wine in the situation I had to taste it.

Check out the video, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Chilean Red Wine Review – Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere video wine review

Santa Carolina 2007 Reserva de Familia Carmenere from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

As you may have read in earlier posts like the Los Vascos Reserva review, I was given the pleasure to participate a blogger event put on by the PR folks from the Wines of Chile back in May. Several bloggers participated in a video conference between eight wine makers in Chile and the PR folks, moderated by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine. In this fourth installment of my Wines of Chile video conference writeup, we talk about a great red wine made with the Carmenere grape.

While originally from the Medoc region of Bordeaux, the grape is rarely found there any longer. Instead, most Carmenere comes from Chile, and it’s their 3rd most planted red grape, behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I love carmenere, a typically earthy and peppery red wine that when done right, is great alone or with food. I pair Carmenere with a nice grilled steak, but it’ll go well with a variety of roasted and grilled meats.

I’ve mentioned the value wines I see coming from Chile many times, and believe the Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere is worth every bit of its $15 SRP. Made with 100% carmenere, the wine, considered in their “Gran Reserva” range, is aged at least 10 months in oak barrels, mostly new. Additionally, the wines age in the bottle at least 4 months, which the wine maker believes helps “ensure the evolution of the complex aromas and flavours”.  Adding some punch to this $15 wine is the 91 point rating it received from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in the May 2009 issue. The one thing I was not able to verify is that while they are “Carbon Neutral” with their delivery, I can not confirm if Santa Carolina makes organic wines or not. Unlike the Cono Sur wines, it did not list Organically Farmed on the bottle.

Now, I’ve had Santa Carolina wines before, and my first impression was they were overly oaked and not to my palate. You’ll see in the video that while I may have thought this when I originally tasted the wine, the second tasting the next night completely changed my opinion.  Watch the video, and let me know what you think. Not just of the video, but of Carmenere, wines from Chile, or Santa Carolina Wines.

Wine and Wings

It’s common knowledge that buffalo wings and beer go well together. They’re a staple in nearly every sports bar in America. What you may not know is the right wine will pair perfectly with hot wings, allowing you to enjoy your next Superbowl party with wine, instead of brews. A well structured, semi sweet wine, such as a Washington or a German Riesling, cuts the heat in spicy food nicely. And while it’s no secret that I’ve been talking about hot foods with Dr Loosen Dr L Riesling a lot recently, I haven’t shared with you my Grilled Hot Wings recipe to make that food and wine pairing awesome.

Grilling at the Lake

Grilling at the Lake

During our lake house vacation this year, we decided to fire up the grills and make some snacks for an early afternoon meal. We had to feed the 15 people with us, and had one grill with oysters on it, another with ribs, and two with my hot buffalo wings. Most everyone has had wings that are fried, and a few of you health conscious wing lovers have had them baked, but you haven’t enjoyed them until you’ve had them grilled. It takes a good hour toiling over hot coals to make this spicy snack, but they absolutely rock, and your guests will thank you for taking the time for them.

This recipe takes about 15 minutes of prep time, between mixing the ingredients below, washing and cutting the wings, and pouring a glass of wine while you get to cooking. You’ll end up cooking the wings for about 50 minutes, give or take 15, and it’s hands on the whole time. First, you’ll want to get your ingredients together

  • 3 pounds of chicken wings – you can separate at the joints or just buy drummetts
  • 1 1/2 cup hot sauce (12 oz) – Louisiana style. I used “Cristal” last time, and Louisiana before
  • 1 cup of Cola soda (8 oz)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (little less if you don’t want the heat as rockin!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

I experimented with 4 or 5 different ratios of hot sauce to cola before I was happy. You’ll find your “sweet spot” with the mixture and people will RAVE about the wings.  Additionally, I double the sauce recipe because it does reduce down, and I like to make sure the wings are submerged for their time in the sauce.

Grilled Hot Wings

Grilled Hot Wings

Preheat your grill to a medium heat. I always cook these wings over direct heat, but you may want to set it up indirect.

Using a large dutch oven or sauce pot, mix the ingredients, adding the chicken last. Place the pot to the back corner of the grill and allow the sauce to simmer.

Add wings and let them sit in the simmering sauce for approximately 8-10 minutes. Then using tongs like in the picture, take them out and grill them for 5-8 minutes. turning mid way to avoid burning.  Return the wings to the simmering sauce, which will be reducing and thickening, and allow them to simmer again for 8-10 minutes. Repeat this process 4-6 times until the wings are done. Approximately 50 minutes in all. I usually finish the last 5 minutes in the sauce, to leave them “sloppy”. However, you can finish them on the grill for dry wings. (edit note, my family now prefers them dry, and the past two times I finished them on the grill and they were awesome!)

A few edit notes – it’s an active recipe, so you really want to watch them cook.  The first time on the grill, you will likely get a char on the wings. Just be sure not to burn them. Most people, even my 10 yr old son, prefer the chared ones, they have a nice flavor.  Also you CAN do the wings in the oven, if you cant grill. Just heat the oven to 350, and simmer the sauce on the stove top, going from oven to pot the same as you would the grill. You wont get the charred and grilled flavors, but they still rock!

You should test a wing before you take them off, making sure it’s cooked through, pulls off the bone easily, and if you use a meat thermometer, the temp should be about 170 degrees. Additionally, the USDA says the thighs and wings of poultry should be cooked “until the juices run clear.”  I did make these in the oven once, using two cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven while i had the sauce on the burner. It works just as well as the grill, though the taste is a little different, and your stove may get messy!

Grilled Hot Wings

Grilled Hot Wings

Now, I know this is a wine blog, so why the recipe? Well, as you read before, I’m all about Rieslings with spicy food. When @DolceDebbie and I did the Cabot cheese event, she created these KILLER Habanero Shortbreads using Cabot Hot Habanero Cheese, which I paired with the Dr L Riesling. The sweetness, or the Residual Sugar (RS), helps offset the heat from the food, and really brings out nice, ripe fruit. When we served this at the lake house, we opted for Chateau Ste Michelle 2008 Columbia Valley Riesling which is a nice, value driven wine for this dish. Both Dr Loosen and Chateau Ste Michelle have Riesling in the $10-12 range, which go perfectly with this recipe.  Dr Loosen and Chateau Ste Michelle have a joint venture, Eroica Riesling, which, while a little bit more expensive at around $20, worked just as nicely. The Eroica was rated 91 points by by Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, and is a great option for a “Grocery Store Wine” if you prefer sweeter, fruit driven whites.

Let me know what you think of the wings. And of course, give the wines I mentioned a try, and let me know what you think of them alone, as well as paired with this dish. I’m confident you’ll enjoy as much as we did!

An introduction to Finger Lake, NY Riesling

I’ve been drinking wine a long time. I’m from New York. Given those two statements, you’d think I’d be a well versed champion of Finger Lakes wines like  Lenn Thompson. I’m going to say right now, up until this week, I had never tasted a wine from the NY state. I hereby apologize for that, and am quite grateful for the opportunity to try some very interesting wines from my home state.  I was selected as one of a few wine bloggers to receive samples of 12 wines from the Finger Lakes area of New York. Lenn decided to select all Finger Lakes Rieslings, given the heat of summer and his desire to cool us off. With the help of Morgen McLaughlin from Finger Lakes Wine Country, our samples arrived and we were off to the tastings.

I invited a few friends over to taste and discuss the wines we were about to receive, the salesman with the wine distributor that Zsazsa and Company, Inc uses in South Florida, along with his girlfriend, as well as three of the four @Swirlgirls, the wine bloggers for the Palm Beach Post.  We had very little education about the Finger Lakes wine region, and all of us had preconceived notions of what to expect.  The Swirl Girls had just done a German and Alsace wine tasting, and were expecting wines similar to those.  I too was expecting different tasting wines, perhaps a mix of New World Rieslings mashed up with German Kabinett and Spatlese Riesling. I won’t lament that I didn’t do my homework before tasting the wines, but I’ve learned that preconceived notions really don’t do any good. After really not enjoying the wines as much as I had hoped, and speaking with some Finger Lakes wine lovers, I tasted all 12 wines a second time the next night. With my new paradigm, I wanted to try them again to make sure I gave myself an opportunity to experience them without expecting Dr Loosen Dr L in each glass. Robin and I made a few appetizers, and our guests brought various dishes as well. We lined up the wines, and started our event.  First up, Ravines Wine Cellars 2006 Riesling.

Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling 2006

Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling 2006

European Winemaker and Oenologist Morten Hallgren and his wife Lisa purchased the 17 acre parcel of land for Ravines in 2000, after working for Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars for 6 years. The tasting room was opened in spring 2003, and they promptly won Best Dry Riesling in the 2003 World Riesling Cup and the Eastern International Wine Competition for their 2002 Dry Riesling. None of us read the bottle or description on their web page, and just tasted away.

In the glass, the Ravines Riesling 2006 ($16 retail 12.5% ABV)  had a light pale yellow color with a nose of lemon zest. There was a little minerals and sharp notes in the bouquet as well. Upon taking the first sip, there was a bit of light citrus, and then a  really big burst of it on the mid palate. This wine, and really most of the Rieslings we had this evening, had a tremendous amount of acidity. So much so, the reaction of most of the tasters was that it was a bit unbalanced.  The finish is really long, and the citrus turns a bit grassy. Most of the tasters really didn’t prefer this wine, and I likened it to a Sancerre, with a lot of grapefruit, but not as balanced and polished.

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Homestead Reserve Riesling 2008

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Homestead Reserve Riesling 2008

Next up we tasted the Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Homestead Reserve Riesling 2008 ($18 retail 12% ABV). Founded by the late Jerry Hazlitt and his wife Elaine in 1984, the Hazlitt family has been involved in Viticulture for 151 years. Hazlitt wines have won multiple awards, and the Homestead Reserve Riesling has been awarded Silver in the LA International, Bronze in the San Francisco International, and a few gold and double gold awards.

On the first night of tasting, my notes were very brief. I noticed the bouquet had a bit of pear, there was a lot of lemon with  grassy notes on the palate, and the finish just left you with a gripping acidity that overwhelmed your mouth.  When I revisited the wine on the second night, I smelled a lemon poppy muffin in the glass, but the acidity was actually showing up and burning my nose. There was a light floral thing going on up front on the sip, sort of white flowers, that transitioned into nice stone fruit.  Stone fruit, if you aren’t sure, resembles peaches, nectarines, etc. The finish still is so acidic that it leaves a harsh citrus flavor that wipes away the stone fruit. I do not want to give the impression this is a bad wine, however. You just need to strap yourself in for the acidity on it, and most of the others. This wine, along with one I’ll discuss later, was a favorite of Robin’s 25 year old assistant, who was happy to sample some of the remaining wines on the 3rd day.

After the first two wines, we all started trying some of the food we had prepared. We hoped the food would cut the acidity and perhaps soften the flavors up a bit. Remember, we didn’t understand that the terroir of Finger Lakes would bring flavors that Evan Dawson likens to “wrapping a river rock with a lime peel and taking a bite. Which, to me, is freaking wonderful.” All of the dishes went very nicely with all of the wines, from the Shrimp with Orzo made by Swirl Girl Sweet (Libby) to the shrimp satay sort of thing Joelle created, to mock Shortbread cookies with Cabot Hot Habanero cheese that we emulated. However, they didn’t change the experiences we had with the wines. And that isn’t a bad thing. We pressed on.

Anthony Road Finger Lakes Riesling

Anthony Road Finger Lakes Riesling

The next wine made most of the guests cringe when they sampled the bouquet on the first night. I implored them to let it open a bit, swirl, and see if the odor blew off. I felt it did, showing some fresh made margarita on the nose. It was off dry with medium acidity and body, showing ripe peaches. The finish was called “unsettling” on the first night, but not unpleasant. The Anthony Road Wine Company Semi-Dry Riesling comes in at about $15 retail and 12.6 ABV, and was not a crowd favorite. When I sampled it the second day, I noted it was a tad syrupy, but not overly so. The peaches and nectarines were dominant, but the acidity compared to the others was underwhelming. It was as if I would have liked to cut the acidity from the first two wines, and put them into this one.

Anthony Road Wine Company owners Ann and John Martini moved to the 100 acre parcel of land overlooking Seneca Lake in 1973. They opened the winery doors in 1990 with the 1989 vintage, and they produce a wide range of Finger Lakes wines. The 2007 Dry Riesling & 2008 Semi-Sweet Riesling won Gold at the Riverside International Wine Competition.  I definitely think the wine opened up on the second day, and perhaps just needed to sit for a while on the first night.  It was actually the 4th ranked wine by the wine distributor rep who was with us.

Dr Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

Dr Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

The next wine invoked a good bit of conversation, as Dr Konstantin Frank is credited for not just revolutionizing wine production in New York State and the East Coast, but also producing world class wines. As Lenn Thompson said, “How could you not include Dr Frank in a Finger Lakes Tasting.” The wine distributor was more than excited to discuss how Dr Frank revitalized the New York wine industry after his idea to graft European grape vines on local NY root stock allowed the more delicate grapes to grow in the harsher NY weather, to expand the options available to winemakers.

Of the four wines we had tasted so far during the evening, we all agreed Dr Frank 2007 Dry Riesling at $17 retail was the most enjoyable; the  fruit,  acidity, and minerality are all restrained, balanced, and elegant. While the finish was disappointing compared to the other elements of the wine, it was not bad, just not up to snuff. It was the second favorite wine of the entire night for our wine distributor guest.  Tasting this wine the second night, the bouquet was tight, mostly yeasty scents coming through. The palate is medium weight, and some what elegant. There’s a decent bit of tree fruit here, with an underpinning of yeast, though it’s a bit light on the finish. You get a mixture of citrus and grass with tree fruit and yeast.

If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a hand; this has been a long post. I’ll write up another four of the 12 wines in the coming days. I’ll leave you with this though: Have an open mind and a wandering palate and try some Finger Lakes NY Rieslings when you can. They’re different than what you’d expect, but something you may thoroughly enjoy. Until next time, have a good time with wine!