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Wine tastings on buses and Villa Bellangelo

Was my current alarm set to that one Vampire Weekend song on which I clicked snooze too many times? The answer is maybe. Anyways, I’m told I have like half an hour before we leave for breakfast.

It’s finally the day that the pre-excursion for the Wine Bloggers Conference 2015 starts – so Christine, Amy, Leeann, Sujinder and I pack up, eat breakfast at a place (i.e. delicious instant-regret-omelettes), and drive back to Elmira where some of us enjoy Gin and Tonics at the airport to revitalize our brains. Some fellow bloggers began arriving: some remember that we met last year, where I was plagued by lots of self-doubt more than the capacity to retain faces and names (ugh what a great start), and we all board the pre-excursion bus on the way to Villa Bellangelo. Hi, my name is Josh. Oh, we’ve met before? Do I, like, awkwardly take back my business card or?

Swag swag swag and goodies are what we begin with, and also bumpy bus rides involving wine! We’re given glasses but also spit cups – we soon discover that none of us really has enough limbs to hold anything, so Christine and I share a waste cup with one of our four hands. At one point our bus avoids a collision and someone’s spit cup goes flying and I swear that I feel a splash on my right calf.

Rock Stream 2013 Dry Cayuga White (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $13
Apparently, the Cayuga White grape is a Riesling lookalike. Hay and lemons on the nose. Relatively Riesling-like on the palate, I guess, with vague piercing citrus.

Rock Stream 2013 Dry Riesling (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $15
Dusty floral perfume on the nose – almost rosemary. A burst of lemon tea on the palate with a pale finish.

Rock Stream 2010 Cabernet Franc (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $20
The nose reveals mostly meaty tomato leaf, menthol, and a bit of cherry. Velvety cooked raspberries on the palate with zippy black cherry and fine light tannin.

Seneca Shore Pinot Grigio (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
A bit of SO2 on the nose? Crisp and fresh lemon seed on the palate, maybe a hint of grapefruit? Correct if not slightly dull but maybe needs to open up.

Seneca Shore Riesling Semi-Dry (Finger Lakes, New York) $13
Muted. A bit stony – herbaceous maybe? Quite zippy and electric and much drier than I expected.

Seneca Shore Queen Charlene’s Dry Rosé (Finger Lakes, New York) $12
100% Pinot Noir, and named after the winemaker’s wife or something kind of cute. Almost like a still version of a particular Crémant rosé, with a lightly floral nose, red fruit, and ripe pear. Easily the best of the Seneca Shore wines we tasted by far.

We’re warmly greeted at the beautiful Villa Bellangelo, where a glass of rosé and an opening speech by Chris Missick (owner) is followed by four stations: an area with bits and bites, a station with a flight of Riesling, a station with something like a 10-year vertical of Cabernet Sauvignon (immediate gasp from the group of bloggers) from King’s Garden Vineyards, and a sort of in-between miscellaneous Villa Bellangelo table.

My current emotion: enjoying life with shorts that need ironing. Also, that’s a tube of lip balm.

I’m stubborn so I come with the mission to try and taste everything. Everyone obviously goes to the table with the Cab vertical and I rush right over to the Riesling table because in this moment I am a Riesling cheerleader sporting a sleeveless shirt instead of a short skirt. I’m absorbed and focussed to the point where a fellow blogger approaches the table, places her hand on my shoulder, and jokingly tells me I don’t need to hog the space. In my mind I was having a Real Housewines of New York confessional monologue about how I couldn’t believe I was dealing with this instead of taking a picture of myself outside on the patio milking a goat, but I knew she was mostly jesting and okay fine maybe I was hogging the table shh.

I made it partway through the miscellaneous table before we were told our time was up. Ugh – this is interrupted elementary school recess all over again.

Also, click here to see local coverage on this particular event including a partially flattering one-second clip of me jotting something down. Yes.

Bellangelo 2013 Rosé (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $13
30% Pinot Noir, 30% Cabernet Franc, 40% Chardonnay. Flowers, watermelon, and pear, maybe a hint of raspberry bubble gum. Dry, light, pretty.

Rieslings, poured by Dan Bissell (assistant winemaker) and Nathan Kendall (head winemaker):

Bellangelo 2012 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $19
AND SO IT BEGINS. Lime and liquid stones. Glacial and icy, sort of like Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada?

Bellangelo 2013 Dry Riesling (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $18
7% aged in neutral French oak for 3 months. A little more honeyed and friendly, but still mostly edgy lime. So like Meryl Streep towards the end of said movie.

Bellangelo 2014 Dry Riesling (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $?
Definitely has the most fruit intensity of the Dry Rieslings, with some grass and grapefruit reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. Some Granny Smith apple here and there. Unreleased?

Bellangelo 2012 “1866 Reserve” Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $32
We glide into petrol territory here, with an off-dryness accented by peach and lemon. Elegant and gossamer but taut and concentrated.

Bellangelo 2012 Riesling Semi Dry (Finger Lakes New York) $?
A hint of something slightly skunky or herbaceous though I’m still sort of into it. There’s a pinch of well-balanced sweetness with some stone fruit.

Bellangelo 2011 Riesling Semi Dry (Finger Lakes, New York) $?
A bit muted fruit on the nose with something smoky, and then there’s an intriguing meatiness on the palate that replaces the colourfulness in previous examples.

Bellangelo 2014 Riesling [dropped “semi-dry” designation] (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $?
Leafy, stony, with lots of grapefruit and even a hint of durian. Off-dry but quite bright.

Bellangelo 2013 Riesling Semi Dry (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $18
17% aged in neutral French oak for three months. Quiet stone fruit, something pollen-like, and muted honey. Medium-dry and textured; definitely the most slutty of the lot. Lots of lime and margarita and things. Is “semi-dry” starting to sound like a really good baby name or no?

Bellangelo 2012 “Gibson Vineyard” Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $22
A bit shy on the nose, but then an explosion of honeyed white peach on the palate. Interested to see what this could do with age.

I might lazily re-use a terrible "Riesling to the occasion" joke.

I might lazily re-use a terrible “Riesling to the occasion” joke.

And, the others, poured by Becky (friendly knowledgable awesome human):

Bellangelo 2013 Dry Chardonnay (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $20
Large proportion was oaked for 8 months with full malolactic fermentation. Reminds me of that Connecticut Chardonnay I had just a couple of days ago: steely but buttery with oak. Personally, I could use more fruit intensity to balance the scale.

Bellangelo 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $15
30% Chardonnay Musqué. Skunky? Maybe a hint of cork taint? I doubt myself so I made some other friends smell this and we agreed that the particular bottle was maybe off but we couldn’t agree on why. Need to retry.

Bellangelo 2013 “1866 Reserve” Gewurztraminer (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $32
Classy and a bit more more hushed for Gew. One sniff and I’m pretty sure I was transported to someone’s grandma’s quaint bathroom that smells dainty and floral and definitely has a pastel colour palate along with a fuzzy pink toilet cover. Aged in neutral French oak for 10 months.

Bellangelo 2012 Gewurztraminer (Finger Lakes, New York) $20
Still elegant but spicier rather than flowery. Off-dry but barely, and with stony restraint. I vibe with this wine.

Bellangelo 2013 Seyval Blanc (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $16
Lovely and graceful with something buttery but not quite? Greek yoghurt perhaps? Odd because this has been aged in 100% stainless steel with no malolactic. Off-dry and intense lemon sorbet on the palate. I’m impressed with a Seyval Blanc and I feel weird about it.

Bellangelo “Bella Fresca” $?
Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Seyval Blanc, Cayuga White, and Muscat – I think? Didn’t get to spend much time with this and I don’t trust my tasting note but this perhaps had a bit of a weird and slightly herbaceous character. Also need to retry.


DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

  • Leeann Froese

    A great recap and I’m so impressed with your tasting notes and the detail that you were able to capture when so many wines we tasted so quickly. I loved the Riesling line up myself, oh, and that time on the bus when you felt you might have a splash on your calf, well look back a few seats and it was me covered from head to toe who got all of the splash damage…

    September 1, 2015 at 12:40 am
  • The Gourmez

    Ah, the “I’m sorry, I don’t remember that I know you!” panic. It’s always awkward–I choose to embrace the awkward and just say so upfront.

    Great tasting notes, and impressive depth for tasting that much in a short period of time! I can picture the 1866 Gewurtz in my grandmother’s bathroom already…

    September 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm
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