Finger Lakes Wine: Always In Style

Finger Lakes wine selections

A Traveling Wine Chick/Uncorked Remarks Collaboration

May was officially Finger Lakes Wine Month. On the eve of June 1, 2014, the Finger Lakes Alliance finished things off with a bang. They hosted a large, online virtual tasting with thirty-seven member of the media and hundreds of passionate enthusiasts. There was live tweeting, Facebook sharing, Skyping, and drinking. It was like being at a large wine bar with everyone. Almost. OK, not really, but we have this technology, we might as well use it.

Sipping, Tweeting, Skyping

I’m finding out that it’s much easier to imbibe and NOT write than try to create a funny and entertaining piece about it. In spite of this, the good folks at the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance graciously included Traveling Wine Chick and I in the sharing of their always fantastic offerings for Finger Lakes Wine Month. Below are our thoughts. Me first, of course.

The three wines on my docket consisted of two Rieslings and a Gewürztraminer. The Finger Lakes region is known for their high-quality, cool-climate Rieslings. I sampled two fantastic examples along with a Gewürztraminer.

The Finger Lakes lineup

2012 Fulkerson Winery Semi-Dry Riesling
Only 274 cases estate grown and produced, this wine has balanced acidity and sweetness, yielding a Riesling with great fruit and floral aromas as well as flavors of stone and tree fruits, like apples, pears, and peaches. Price = $12.99.

2012 Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars Red Oak Vineyard Riesling
This is one of the Finger Lakes’ hallmark, award-winning Rieslings, estate grown and bottled. It is stainless-steel fermented, medium-dry, with aromas and flavors of honeysuckle and tropical fruits, and a long, sweet-to-acid finish. Price = $19.99.

2012 Lamoreaux Landing Red Oak Vineyard Riesling

2012 Lakewood Vineyards Gewürztraminer
This estate-grown and produced Gewürztraminer, only 201 cases made, has aromas and flavors of citrus and spice. It would be the perfect wine to complement spicy, Asian cuisine. Wine Spectator rated the wine 88 points and it earned a Gold Medal in the NY Wine & Food Classic. Price = $14.99.

Though I have not yet visited the Finger Lakes to visit the wineries, Traveling Wine Chick sings their praises after three visits. Here are her reviews of the three wines she received as samples.

Getting ready to taste!

2011 Goose Watch Winery Riesling-Gewurztraminer (Cayuga Lake, Finger Lakes)
In this wine, you will find a blend of 60% Riesling, 40% Gewurztraminer, which is quite rare and unique. The grapes originate from the winery’s Blue Waters farm on Cayuga Lake and from vineyards on the west side of Seneca Lake. The wine is pale gold in color with both floral and fruit aromatics. This offering is medium dry (7 g/l residual sugar and 6.3 g/l acidity), no tannin, and 12% alcohol. It has palate characteristics of both Riesling and Gewurztraminer, with flavors such as apple, honeysuckle, and spices and a medium finish. I would recommend that you drink it now and not age it further. Price = $15.00.

Tasting the whites

2013 Thirsty Owl Wine Company Dry Riesling (Cayuga Lake, Finger Lakes)
Thirsty Owl’s Dry Riesling is a quintessential Finger Lakes Riesling. It is 100% estate-grown and produced with grapes from clones 239, 198, and 30-year-old vines of unknown clones. It’s pale lemon in color, with citrusy aromatics. This offering is youthful, dry (8 g/l residual sugar), with the Finger Lakes’ characteristic (and yummy!) cool-climate acidity (8.3 g/l), no tannin, and 11% alcohol. It’s loaded with both tart and sweet citrus flavors such as grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine, and has a long finish. You can drink it now, but it also has the potential for aging. Price = $14.95.

2012 Atwater Vineyards Big Blend

2012 Atwater Vineyards Big Blend (Atwater Estate Vineyards and Sawmill Creek Vineyards, Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes)
For those of you who may think bold reds can’t be produced in the Finger Lakes, allow me to introduce you to Atwater’s 2012 Big Blend (aka Super Seneca Blend). This vintage, which had a long, hot growing season, is a blend of 37% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Syrah, and 18% Cabernet Franc. The wine is deep ruby-purple in color with medium-plus aromatics of dark fruit. On the palate, it is dry (2 g/l residual sugar), with 6.3 g/l acidity (even reds in the Finger Lakes have noticeable acidity), medium-plus tannin, and 13% alcohol. It was aged nine months in 60-gallon barrels, a blend of 45% neutral American oak, 45% Neutral Hungarian oak, 5% new American oak, and 5% new Hungarian oak. It has big, bold flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and plum, a rich mouthfeel, and a long finish. You can drink it now, but it does have aging potential. Price (2011 vintage) = $21.00.

Après Tasting

Lucky for us and for you, September is the official 2013 Finger Lakes Riesling Launch and there will be events in the Finger Lakes, in New York City, and online. Upcoming events can be found at this link, including #winechat on Wednesday, September 10 and #FLXRiesling Hour on Saturday, September 27. We hope you will join us in this next celebration of Finger Lakes wine.

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Maryland’s Eastern Shore – Part 3 of 4

Crow Farm & Vineyard - Kennedyville, MDI don’t know about the rest of you, but after a full day of tasting wine, I enjoy grazing on mouth-watering barbeque. And drinking more wine. So that’s what happened.

Crow Farm is a third generation farm in rural Kennedyville, whose main business is all natural grass fed beef. They also run a nice bed & breakfast, complete with a pool and wine tasting bar, the latter of which was converted from the old milk house. Last but not least, the wine that they pour is their own, made primarily from grapes grown here on the farm and in nearby Chestertown.

All natural, high quality grass fed beef at Crow. Moo!Owners Roy & Judy Crow obviously take pride in the quality products that they provide from the farm. The wine business is fairly new, the first grapes were planted here in 2010. And the Crow’s are proof of the potential for quality wine growing right here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Roy took us through the six hand crafted wines available for purchase right now. As I mentioned, the wines are young but the quality is there.

1. Vidal Blanc 2012 – This is a good summer sipper, dry with a neutral, medium finish. The Vidal was one of the first grapes to be planted here, an acre and a half in 2010. A mild, easy drinker. — $18/bottle

Roy Crow, your bartender2. Chardonnay 2012 – The Chardonnay grapes are brought in from their vineyard in Chestertown. Like the Vidal, the Chard has a neutral character with aromas of peach & honey. Half of the grapes are aged in steel and the rest in new oak, an interesting approach. This is a delicious Chard which will probably benefit from some more time on the shelf. — $24/bottle

3. Merlot Rosé 2012 – This is the summer of excellent Rosé, it seems and this one is no exception. There is just enough Vidal (20%) mixed in with the Merlot to give it some sweetness. Crow’s award winning Barbera Rosé 2013 was unfortunately sold out, I would have liked to taste these side by side. — $15/bottle

4. Barbera 2011 – Barbera is king in Eastern Maryland. This light red is a great pairing with the local beef on the farm here. A well balanced wine with red cherries on the nose and palate. — $25/bottle

5. Merlot 2011 – My favorite wine today. Spicy with black cherries on the palate. Complex & well balanced with a smooth finish. Excellent table wine or on it’s own. Or a cigar if you’re so inclined. — $28.00/bottle

6. Sparkling 2011 – Nothing like finishing a tasting with bubbles. This dry sparkler is made from Vidal grapes brought in from Virginia. Hints of citrus and tropical fruits all over the place. This wine was made in the traditional Champage style. I enjoyed another glass after dinner.

Dinner courtesy of Chef Sabrina SextonAnd speaking of dinner, my wife and I were lucky enough to have time our visit with a guest appearance from Chef Sabrina Sexton. Sabrina put together a barbeque dinner for the local crowd and it was spectacular. Pulled pork, corn on the cob, potatoes and so on. Magnificent. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:

The Crows were gracious hosts and I can’t stress how relaxing this visit was. I’ve grown accustomed to my suburban life and this was a real breath of fresh air, literally & figuratively. It is so quiet here, I almost couldn’t fall asleep. When I finally did I slept like a rock, though. But I’m sure that a day of drinking wine and copious amounts of barbeque had nothing to do with that.

Here's to the dog days of summer. Salut! *clink*Thanks to Judy & Roy Crow and their top notch staff for all of the hospitality.

We’ll be back.


Crow Farm & Vineyard – Kennedyville, MD
Chef Sabrina Sexton
Maryland’s Chesapeake Wine Trail

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Arrogant Frog Live Virtual Tasting – July 15, 2014

A Traveling Wine Chick/Uncorked Remarks collaboration

Arrogant Frog - Marketing geniusFrench wine producer Domaines Paul Mas made the decision to relaunch their popular Arrogant Frog line this year, and we were lucky enough to participate. In collaboration with McCue Communications, owner/winemaker Jean-Claude Mas answered questions about his new batch of offerings in a live, online tasting. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the format, Jean-Claude and Michelle McCue discussed the new wines, while the participants tasted along, asked questions and live tweeted our opinions and findings.

You will soon see these wines everywhere. They are well crafted, made to drink now and very affordable. Jean-Claude meticulously explored the four newly-released wines tonight (all are 2013 vintage): Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. I will share my take on the two reds and my co-conspirator, Traveling Wine Chick, will review the whites. Off we go.

Arrogant Frog Cab/Merlot blendThe Pinot Noir is about as fruit-forward as any Pinot that I’ve tasted. This wine bursts with cherry flavors and has a toasty, smoky character. Now I chilled it for a short time and just opened the bottle prior to the event, so it was a bit overpowering to me. The Pinot is deep purple in color, almost garnet. Over the next day or two, it softened up nicely and was considerably more enjoyable. Not bad for ten bucks, but you will want to decant this if you can.

Jean-Claude’s Cab/Merlot blend was more my style. I was surprised how complex this wine was for the price. Like the Pinot, it had a lot of fruit on the palate and a dark color. This blend showed layers of character that the first wine didn’t. This will do the trick at your next cookout or with a steak. And I would let this one breathe for awhile also.

And here’s our pro, Beth with the choice, summer whites …


Domaines Paul Mas owner/winemaker Jean-Claude MasArrogant Frog is Jean-Claude Mas’ “everyday luxury” line of wines. Each wine costs around $10 per bottle.

Arrogant Frog is unique in that the wines are produced in Languedoc, France (Pays d’Oc IGP – Indication Géographique Protégée), but are fermented in American oak, which gives them a new-world style. As Jean-Claude said in during our virtual tasting, they are “old world wines with new world attitude.” The use of American oak, with its more open grain, generally interacts more with the wine. It impacts the flavor more than French oak, often adding flavors such as coconut and vanilla, and provides more tannin and a creamier mouthfeel.

If you try this line of wines, it is recommended that you decant and try them 24 hours later. As stated Jean-Claude, “All of my wines taste better one day later, that’s my style.”

Sauvignon Blanc
I was surprised at creaminess of Arrogant Frog Sauvignon Blanc, with aromas and flavors of warmer-climate fruits such as pineapple, stone fruits, and tropical fruits. Citrus was present, but not overpowering. I found it to be very refreshing for summertime sipping. Recommended pairing: grilled white fish and raw oysters.

Arsenal for tonight's tastingChardonnay
The Chardonnay was similar in style to the Sauvignon Blanc, in that it had that similar creamy mouthfeel and balanced fruit. It possessed aromas and flavors of vanilla, apple, peach, pear, and tropical fruits with a medium finish. I’m thinking shellfish as a pairing here: lobster, shrimp, and scallops. Now I’m hungry.

Both white wines utilize a Stelvin (screw cap) closure and are meant to be consumed now.


These wines are a great bargain at this price point, four popular varieties which will satisfy a wide range of palates. And serious enough for you skeptics out there.

Thanks to Jean-Claude & Michelle for a great tasting experience. Salut!


Everyday Luxury with Domaines Paul Mas
Traveling Wine Chick, Beth Smith
McCue Communications

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Harvest Ridge Winery, Marydel, DE – July 12th, 2014

Harvest Ridge Winery, Marydel, DelawareTechnically, this piece should be called Maryland’s Eastern Shore, part deux. Even though Harvest Ridge has some vines in Maryland, the winery sits just over the state line in rural Delaware so I made a judgement call. Same trip, different state.

Harvest Ridge opened their gorgeous winery and tasting room last fall to a lot of fanfare on social media. I originally planned to attend the grand opening, but something came up. Life, you know how it is.

Although Harvest Ridge in the middle of nowhere, it is a worthwhile destination. The newly constructed facility is huge, with banquet facilities and room for outdoor seating in the front and the rear of the building. There is a courtyard in the middle, which accommodates outdoor games and also a gazebo. The first vines were planted here in 2011 and the grass on the property is just starting to come in.

Backyard Louie'sSo we rolled into the lot on this humid afternoon and my stomach was rumbling. There really wasn’t much of a lunch selection between here and Chestertown. Fortunately, Backyard Louie’s BBQ truck was right out front. I was covered. My little group opted for air conditioning over food, however, so I decided to wait.

So how do the grapes grow right on the Mason Dixon line? If the delicious arsenal of wine being poured today is an indicator, I would say pretty good. Kira was our hostess today, and walked us through the tasting. Per standard practice, we went from whites to reds to sweet wines. They have some alternate fruit based offerings, as many other local producers do, so there is something here for everyone.

I tasted eight wines today, as follows:

1. 2013 Pinot Gris – This light, off-dry selection flaunts fresh, green apple on the nose and the palate. You can’t go wrong with a chilled glass of this on a hot summer day.

Kira, our charming barkeep2. 2011 Viognier – This French grape grows very well here. The Viognier is more full bodied than the Pinot Gris, with some oak and subtle stone fruit notes. This finishes smooth and slight spicy.

3. 2013 Chambourcin – Yeah, they grow it outside of Pennsylvania, people. This Chambourcin was lighter in flavor than what I’m used to. A deep colored wine, the dark, spicy texture gave way to a slight hint of Good & Plenty. That’s just my opinion. Disclaimer: Don’t share it with the kids.

4. 2011 Merlot – A complex, oaked Merlot. This was my favorite wine today. Red fruit characteristics and a powerful finish. This is what Merlot should be.

5. 2013 Blue Hen Blue – This is a blend of Concord grape and blackberry. This makes great Sangria, see below.

6. Apple – 100% apple wine, from locally sourced fruit. Crisp and delicious. Serve chilled.

The 2013 Country Bloom7. 2013 Country Bloom – A sweet Rosé made with Chambourcin grapes.

8. 2013 Vidal Blanc – This reminded me of liquid fruit salad in a glass. A good summer offering but not really to my taste. Fran loved it, though.

Custom made SangriaSo, today was Sangria Saturday. I picked up a bottle of Blue Hen Blue to mix up for this. The deal was that you can pick any bottle of Harvest Ridge wine, and they will mix it with your choice of fruit and ice it and blend it for you. The girls took care of personalizing the Sangria while I wandered outside for a cheeseburger. I don’t think I’m the hardest person to please but I would say that it was a damn perfect pairing.

Thanks to Kira, the rest of the staff at Harvest Ridge and Backyard Louie’s for a great afternoon. You reaffirm the reason that I keep doing this. Cheers!

Harvest Ridge Winery is brand, spanking new and it’s built for groups and events. Get over there and break it in.


Harvest Ridge Winery
Delaware Wineries Association on Facebook
Backyard Louie’s BBQ

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