I can be a combination of thrifty and stubborn. If I’m spending money to fly to New York for the Wine Bloggers Conference, there’s no way I’m going to waste a single sober second not writing down a tasting note. I’m getting my money’s worth, y’all. Militantly shoving my head in between suits and dresses has trained me for these moments (I wonder if I was born easily?), and I planned to taste every wine in the damn room during the opening reception. Which I did, I think. Followed by cocktails, because why not gloss over my dying mouth with vodka?
I obviously tasted fewer wines than that time I tasted 173 BC wines in a row, but the BC torture session was in a brightly-lit room with chairs and quiet. Here, there was the added difficulty that I was at a beautiful outdoor reception under tents surrounded by people with whom I should’ve networked instead of scribbling in a notebook next to the spit bucket. But I still got to catch up with some friends and also meet Mykha’el, The Purveyor of Happiness (and scholarship recipient this year); as well as Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly, during an awkward moment where I approached her when I thought she wasn’t talking to anyone but she totally was.
Also shout out to the amazing food, which I totally missed because of my obviously saintly mission. Hangover? No, surprisingly, which gave me false, disgusting confidence to pull such a trick a couple of weeks later. Anyways, the only thing I remember eating was a coffee bean.
I see some parallels with the wines of the Finger Lakes and those of the Okanagan: the penchant for Alsatian white varieties, some Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and the odd but well-made cultivar here and there (oh you know just some Băbească neagră WHAT IS THAT). The Finger Lakes are a bit more consistent with their few heavy reds, where the Okanagan is a bit more insistent.
Chateau Frank 2008 Brut (Finger Lakes, New York) $25
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier; 4 years on the lees. Wonderful start to the conference. Cream of mushroom on toast. Very savoury rich love. Maybe lacks a hint of freshness but certainly makes up for it.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2014 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
Just released 2 weeks prior to this tasting. Grapefruit, grass, green apple. Sauvignon Blanc, is that you? Not as angular as previous vintages I’ve had in the past. Certainly fresh and citrus driven, like a cheesy Neutrogena commercial.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2014 Grüner Veltliner (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
Quiet and rather neutral, like New York’s answer to Italy’s crisp Pinot Grigio. Maybe a hint of spice but otherwise quite calculated.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2013 Riesling Semi Dry (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
A hint of petrol joins citrus pith and white peach. Borders over off-dry with a finessed and taut style that brings chalky lemon-flavoured Pez candies to mind on the mid-palate. A Mickey Mouse Pez dispenser, obviously.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2012 Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes, New York) $20
A bit of oak, black cherry, and sweet ripe strawberries. On the palate it’s earthy with a bit of stemminess and moderate chalky structure. Tight. Can you age?
Vineyard View 2013 Gewürztraminer (Finger Lakes, New York) $16
Quite gingery and a bit of that burnt hair thing I can get from Gew. Dry, medium-bodied, and lithe rather than oily. Like if a Gewurz was totally into exercising.
Vineyard View 2012 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $17
Overripe oranges and flowers. Satsuma and rind. Round. I vibe with this.
Vineyard View 2013 Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
Aged in American oak for 4 months then finished in stainless steel. Nutty green apple; something either stony, rubbery, or plastic-y; I can’t decide. Isn’t that basically the plot to Divergent? #ShaileneWoodley
Vineyard View 2012 Dry Rosé (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
100% Cabernet Franc. Barrel-fermented and on Chardonnay lees. Fresh green pepper in the forefront which translates as flowery in the mouth. Would personally like a bit more fruit intensity.
Vineyard View 2013 Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes, New York) $23
Tomato leaf, cinnamon, red cherry, and earth. The juicy acid slices through like a ninja from Soul Calibur and maybe overpowers the fruit in the slightest. It’s definitely agile and sleek and could maybe evolve with age.
Vineyard View 2013 Blaufrankisch (Finger Lakes, New York) $?
Spicy blackberry, dried violets, and a hint of game. Slightly reductive? Nimble and suave: not much tannin and quite a gentle version compared to other examples I’ve tried so far.
McGregor Vineyard 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, New York) $17
Chalky on the nose. Zippy chalk on the palate. Crisp and direct; savoury. Say chalk again. Chalk.
McGregor Vineyard 2014 Rosé (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
Cabernet Franc. Light red fruit and vague florals on the nose with much more attitude on the palate.
McGregor Vineyard 2014 Riesling Semi Dry (Finger Lakes, New York) $18
Grapefruit, which seems to be a common thread in 2014 Finger Lakes Rieslings unless this is because they’ve simply been newly released. Off-dry with spurts of tangerine on the palate. I definitely vibe with this, and it’s one of the favourites so far.
McGregor Vineyard 2010 Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes, New York) $30
Pale ruby bordering on garnet. Hints of that tomato sauce thing underlying sour red cherry and bits of oak. The palate is slightly more intense but is a bit limpid and oxidized. Leathery-chalky finish. 17 months in French oak. Not my steez but I can see some people getting loads of pleasure from this I think? Maybe it’s the delicacy in the face of a bunch of ballsy Rieslings.
McGregor Vineyard 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve (Finger Lakes, New York) $25
Didn’t age as long as oak as they normally do, apparently. Shy and brooding on the nose with dark berries and a judicious amount of herbs. Pleasantly bold and suave-textured like a red carpet.
McGregor Vineyard 2011 Black Russian Red (Finger Lakes New York) $60
Saperavi (yes, but…) and Sereksiya Charni (…what??? aka Băbească neagră. What???). Deep purple. Blackberries and a hint of its compote. Dark chocolate and some dark flowers. The wine is on the fuller side with fine and present structure. Soft and leniently brute. Like I feel like a villain-turned-hero would drink this.
Hunt Country Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
Hint of ginger and some green apple. Chalky with gleaming lemons on the palate. Liquid form of a cross between Bulbasaur’s razor leaf and Pikachu’s thundershock?
Hunt Country Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, New York) $14
Barrel fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation, and 8 months of oak. From there it’s like a predictable M. Night Shyamalan movie with butter (duh), a bit of bubble gum on the nose, and a predictable but solid amount of butter, oak, and roundness.
Hunt Country Vineyards 2014 Seyval Blanc (Finger Lakes, New York) $11
Green apple. Flowery and flirty with something tropical and Torrontés-like. On the palate it’s off-dry and spicy with some orange blossom.
Hunt Country Vineyards 2013 Valvin Muscat (Finger Lakes, New York) $15
A smattering of tropical fruit, orange blossom, and flowers. Amicable medium sweetness on the palate, if not slightly vapid. …Chris? JUST KIDDING
Hunt Country Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes, New York) $18
Green pepper, black raspberry, and some sort of cinnamon, cola, and brown sugar. Medium-bodied with chalky structure.
Hunt Country Vineyards Alchemy (New York) $15
A ~concoction~ of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Lemberger. Spice, black pepper, game, dried flowers, black cherry, and a hint of something clunky. Serve this to me blind and I would guess Syrah? Medium-bodied but not too textured and maybe misses a bit of a mid-palate. Best-selling at the winery.
Hunt Country Vineyards Classic Red (Finger Lakes, New York) $11
Ashy smattering of red and black fruits. But yes: fruity. Just a bit of tannic structure. Good value, dare I say, even for such a name as conditioned-cringeworthy as “Classic Red”?
Hunt Country Vineyards Hunter’s Red (Finger Lakes, New York) $10
Fruity, insipid, and lacking substantial concentration or intensity. #bye
Hunt Country Vineyards 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine (Finger Lakes, New York) $40
But on the other hand: yassss. Beautiful glimmering gold, with sweet honey and apricots and lovely balance. I suppose it’s important that I mention that this was featured on NBC’s Today Show.
Heron Hill 2013 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $14
Green apple and citrus – yes – but also a bit of ginger on the nose. Lemony pith on the palate. A bit muddled but powerful and slightly unforgiving.
Heron Hill 2012 Ingle Vineyard Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $16
Lots of lemon juice on the nose. Elegant, with more razor lime citrus on the palate. Much more focussed than the previous, and the slightly higher residual sugar adds to roundness rather than obvious sweet attack.
Heron Hill 2013 Blaufränkisch Reserve (Finger Lakes, New York) $50
Yeesh, was it the Reserve we tried? Interesting to designate it “Blaüfrankisch” since “Lemberger” is the purported synonym that sells. But mostly white pepper, cherries, and raspberries. Finessed and lightweight on the palate with lithe texture and fine, broad tannin.
Heron Hill 2012 Cabernet Franc Classic (Finger Lakes, New York) $17
More dried flower petals than its green pepper. Nimble with quite a bit of lively dark fruit on the palate along with fine, prominent tannin.
Ravines 2013 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $18
Chalky Granny Smith apple on the nose with a hint of exotic spice. Maybe I’m just getting excited and light-headed from seeing and hopefully absorbing vibe from a wine celebrity just now. Punchy with great backbone; balanced, finessed.
Ravines 2013 Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, New York) $20
Full malolactic fermentation; fermented in French oak, with around only 16% new. A fifth of the grapes were dried via the Passito method. The wine itself is liquid buttered toast with a drizzle of butterscotch that leaves a sweet impression on the palate with resonant texture.
Ravines 2012 Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes, New York) $25
Red fruit and barbecue. Spicy, graceful, and light with a slightly stemmy back-palate. (Almost there, Josh! Almost there.)
Ravines 2011 Meritage (Finger Lakes, New York) $25
72% Cabernet Sauvignon; 28% Merlot. Ashy and melodious red fruit. Lots of earthy fine tannin. Some well-integrated oak, perhaps? Really solid stuff.
Ravines 2013 Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes, New York) $20
Woah. Pyrazines and green pepper, yes, but it’s like a sweet glazed ripe green pepper supported by complete tannins and dark fruit. Some French oak here, as well as Minnesota oak. The fuck?
Keuka Spring 2014 Rosé (Finger Lakes, New York) $16
Lemberger and Cab Franc. Floral with flight red fruit. Zippy lime on the palate, and something else I describe as slightly weird but can’t read what I wrote because I have terrible fucking penmanship. Oh well <3
Keuka Spring 2014 Dynamite Vineyard Gewürztraminer (Finger Lakes, New York) $22
Spice, lychee, floral and rosy, with pleasant tones of oiliness on the palate. Long and stony. Perhaps needs to be warmer? One of the more impressive Gews so far.
Keuka Spring 2014 Gewürztraminer (Finger Lakes, New York) $17
Slightly more intense but maybe it’s just rougher. Fatter, sweeter, slightly coarser, like me vs. me 10 years ago.
Keuka Spring 2014 Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $17
Off-dryness dominated by green apples. Shy nose, with mostly green pomaceous fruit and white peach. Yes.
Keuka Spring 2014 Vignoles (Finger Lakes New York) $14
Flamboyant and floral. Lots of white flowers, peach, melon, pineapple, and pear. Off-dry and juicy with fantastic balance, zip, and smiling emojis. What’s happening to me? Why am I loving all of these weird new grapes?! What will the church nuns say?!
Keuka Spring 2014 Miller’s Cove Red (Finger Lakes, New York) $22
Deep purple. Cab Sauv and Merlot. Potent aromas of flowers and dark, ripe fruit. The body is medium but fat with soft tannin, like a liquid Snuggie.