Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Second Chance - Ryan William Vineyard

They say you don't get a second chance to make a first impression but this may be an exception to that old adage.  We know that our first tasting room experience can't be changed, but we decided to give them another try.  So, with our FLX newbie friends in tow, we headed down the long driveway to the tasting room.  I have to say that this tasting was very different from the first.  It was really pleasant and the impression that it made on our traveling companions was very positive.  Note:  there are no public restrooms so tinkle before you get there!

On to the wines!

The tasting started with the 2013 Gruner Veltliner, one of the only wines that pairs with asparagus - yes, really.  It's minerally with hints of lemon.  Nicely balanced with a crisp finish.

2011 Dry Riesling - Typical of the east side of Seneca Lake, it showed mineral and wet slate on the nose.  It has a hint of sweetness up front that dries out on the finish thanks to the beautiful acidity.  1.2% RS.  Lovely.

2012 Chardonnay - Done half in French oak, half in stainless steel, it's bright and quite nice.

2010 Cabernet Franc - Much more integrated than when we first tried it about a year ago.  The tannins are still really firm but the fruit is starting to show through.  Warm spices on the finish.  It definitely needs a couple of years of bottle age.  I'm still finding that it drinks kind of hot but I'm optimistic.

2012 Merlot - A very young wine; very firm tannins with some dark fruit showing up for the party.

2010 Late Harvest Riesling - This is totally honey and dried apricots but with enough acidity for balance.  Not cloying; just dessert.+

In real estate, they say location, location, location.  I'm not sure that it's all that different with wine.  All of these wines really showcase the unique terrior of the east side of Seneca Lake.  I find the distinct minerality and acidity of this region to be right up my alley.  They are limited production at just under 1000 cases so check them out before they sell out.  Ryan William stays on my watch list, for sure!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Finger Lakes Round-up

It's been a slow recovery from a fantastic trip to the Finger Lakes last week. Not only did we get to catch up with some friends in the area, but we had the privilege of corrupting, I mean introducing, friends from our neck of the woods to the region!  As a group, we did some damage; terrorizing tastings rooms and leaving nothing but chaos (and people shaking their heads) in our wake.

With the wine finally unpacked and semi-organized for storage, it seems like a good time to do a quick run down of our winery visits.  So, as my friend Janie would say, let's review!

Bloomer Creek

A great tasting with the always entertaining Kim Engle.  We really enjoy all of Kim's wines but a few standouts from this tasting - 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Vin d'ete,  2012 Rose, 2010 Cab Franc, 2011 Pinot Noir, and the 2011 Auten Second Harvest Riesling.

Sheldrake Point

A really beautiful Riesling line up!  2012 Reserve Riesling, 2012 Riesling, 2013 Riesling; 2012 Gamay, and a nod to the 2011 Luckystone Red.

Red Newt Cellars 

Fifteen wines available for tasting, oh my.  2012 Semi-Dry Riesling, 2010 Dry Rielsing, 2007 Gewurztraminer Sawmill Creek, 2007 Gewurztraminer Curry Creek 2012 Cab Franc, 2011 Viridescens,  Hellbender, and the 2013 Kelby James Russell Rose which is, unfortunately, only available in the Bistro.

Barry Family Cellars

We got a behind the scenes tour, if you will, thanks to Ian Barry.  A really solid and exciting line up!  2012 Dry Rielsing, 2013 Semi-dry Riesling,  2012 Chardonnay, 2013 Rose, 2011 Pinot, Noir, and a sneak peek at the soon to be bottled Cabernet Franc!  Keep your eye on this one; good things are happening!  By appointment only; the tasting room is still under construction.


Always a great selection of friendly, approachable wines and a required stop along the trail.  Of particular note, are the 2012 Pinot, 2013 Beyone Rose, and the 2010 Synergy.  Some Library wines are still available for purchase - 2010 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Harmony, both are wonderful!

Damiani Wine Cellars

A huge tasting menu - 19 current releases plus 4 reserves - makes it really tough to pick out just a few favorites.  Some of the shining stars for me were the 2012 Dry Riesling Davis Vineyard, 2012 Riesling, 2012 Lemberger, 2011 Syrah, 2010 Merlot Sunrise Hill Vineyard, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Meritage, and for the bubble lovers, the 2012 Bollicini.  As far as the Reserve wines go, they are a must-taste!

Shaw Vineyard  

A perennial favorite of ours.  Eight wines are available for tasting and we love them all.  Steve's Sauvignon Blanc is probably my favorite in the region and the 2012 did not disappoint nor did the 2008 Dry Riesling.  The reds are always awesome and to pick one or two seems so wrong but the  Keuka Hill Reserve always rocks.  We also had a preview taste of the 2013 Vin d'Orange that was just released...right after we left!  Suffice it to say that a case followed us home!

Hector Wine Company

Always such a fun tasting and great wines.  Of particular interest are the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Gewurztraminer, Soul Red, 2012 Syrah, 2012 Essence, and the 2013 Riesling.  Also being poured and definitely noteworthy are two Forge Cellars wines - 2013 Riesling and 2013 Rose.

Ryan William Vineyard

I guess sometimes you can get a second chance to make a first impression!  Much more pleasant, comfortable tasting than our first visit.  A nice line-up of wines are being offered - 2013 Gruner Veltliner, 2011 Dry Riesling, 2012 Chardonnay, 2010 Cab Franc, 2012 Merlot, 2010 LH Riesling.  More to come about them.

Restraint is not a word with which we are particularly familiar.  You know, go big or go home.  We did both.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heaven in Chester County

There are some places that I find incredibly difficult about which to write.  Oddly enough, most of them turn out to be some of our favorite places.  You know, it's kind of like my favorite pair of shoes - the ones
I love so much that I don't wear them.  Follow?

Anyway, I'm sure that it will come as no surprise when I say that Va La is one of those places.   We  try to be fair and objective but sometimes passion prevails.  I mean, we are the official, self-appointed Ambassadors of Va La Nation.  The only thing missing is the T-shirt.....just sayin'......

So, with no official duties on the schedule, we headed out to meet up with friends for a picnic lunch on the deck overlooking the Little Vineyard.  What could be better on a warm Spring day than an afternoon of good friends, good food, and of course, good wine?!  And, it's always a treat to spend time with The Farmer!

Between us, we put together quite an impressive spread - from pork to artichokes, pasta salad to pesto, dips, and spreads - sorry guys, no cookies this time.  Needless to say, we had an even more impressive lineup of wines to accompany our fare!  I know, it looks bass-ackwards but it actually worked.  As the afternoon got warmer, our wine got cooler!

The feast started with a 2010 Cedar - five clones of Nebbiolo and Corvina Veronese.  It had a couple hour decant thanks to our friends in the tasting room.  It had opened up to reveal leather and tobacco notes with hints of smoke and tar;  it's a men's club in a bottle!

We moved on to a perfectly chilled 2010 Silk - Corvina Veronese, Barbera, Carmine, Petit Verdot, and Nebbiolo.  This rosato is brick in color, soft on the palate and shows dark fruit and smoke with a hint of burnt sugar.

The afternoon ended with a 2011 La Prima Donna - Malvasia Bianco, Petit Manseng, Pinot Grigio, and Tocai (friuliano).  Crisp and delightful with more stone fruit than the 2010.

Before we knew it, the sun began to set over the Little Vineyard and it was time to let the The Farmer get back to pruning and the good tasting room folks go home.  Another wonderful afternoon was had by all.

Call us cheerleaders, call us what you will.  We are.......Va La!!  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lost Creek - One Worth Watching

Our last trip to Virginia started as it usually does - with a lovely tasting at Tarara - thanks to Jordan Harris. We headed out from there,looking to make another stop and we were encouraged to go to Lost Creek.  We were skeptical; we had done a tasting there several years ago but the wines were not what we typically enjoy.  We learned that since our last visit, the property had been sold and that they were going in a different direction with their wines.  Ok, we're in!

The property is beautiful - the walk from the parking area is across a patio, under wisteria-covered pergolas, and past a bubbling fountain.  The tasting room has a more modern feel than I remembered from our last visit, in a good way, and the large fireplace makes it warm and inviting.  The music was great and there are plenty of tables for sitting and sipping.  While the flickering candles on each table were a lovely touch, the scent was overpowering and made the tasting a challenge.  Our pourer was friendly enough and, while we were not ignored, he was rather distracted by a problem with his XM Radio account and its eventual resolution.

The $10 tasting fee is for 8 wines.  We tasted five, starting with the 2012 Vidal Blanc ($22).  100% estate grown and fermented in stainless steel, it's bright and well balanced, with honeysuckle notes.

Chambourcin Gold ($20)- NV, "legacy" wine; slightly sweet - not my cup o' tea.

Reserve ($25) - another NV "legacy" wine; a light bodied Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

2011 Cab Franc ($29) - It's very light bodied; black cherry with hints of smoke on the nose that follow through to the palate; black pepper and spice on the finish.  We opened one the other night and it was enjoyable; it showed promise.

2011 Genesis ($29) - a blend of 10% Tannat, 43% Cabernet Franc, and 47% Petit Verdot.  The Tannat asserts itself in this blend.  It's earthy and peppery.

The other wines available for tasting were:

2012 Chardonnay ($24)
2012 Chardonnay Reserve ($27) - 100% estate grown
2012 Serenity ($22) - 100% Vidal Blanc; 1.5% RS

All in all, it was a fairly pleasant tasting experience and the Cab Franc showed enough promise that we will definitely give it another try this year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Musings on a Late Summer Day

I sit drenched in the late September sun, my body absorbing the warmth as if charging my battery in preparation for the cold months ahead.  The cloudless sky is deep blue, the color that you only see this time of year.

I  close my eyes against the sun and consider the changes taking place around me.  The sun is sinking lower and lower behind the treeline.  The Cottonwood, having already dropped its ugly gray leaves, stands like a skeleton against the September sky.  I hear the call of a Red-bellied woodpecker high in an Oak, and the relentless scolding of Blue Jays in the distance, signaling the return of wintering raptors.  As if on cue, a Coopers Hawk glides silently into the Ash, sending Doves off with a frantic beating of wings.  Gathering food for Winter, a chipmunk squeaks as he scurries along the deck - with two Yorkies in hot pursuit!  How is it possible that summer passed so quickly?

Change.  I gaze at the garden.  Robust and productive all season, it now looks tired and worn - like the tattered wings of a butterfly on Zinnias that now tower over the garden.

Sunflowers bob their heads in the light breeze, ready to give up their seeds.

The Hummingbirds will soon be replaced by Juncos but until then, the Salvia stands tall and at the ready for the last of the residents and, with any luck, a migrant.

The Quinoa stalks are heavy with flower heads.

 Glorious in the sun, the Goldenrod continues to be loaded with honey bees.

The once colorful Echinacea flowers are now seed heads and irresistible to Goldfinches.  I hear them chirping as they work to pull the seeds but they dart away as I approach.

Butternut squash hang on vines that refuse to give up.

The fig tree, tangled in tomato vines, offers up an afternoon snack.

Red peppers peek through their thicket of leaves, assorted heirloom tomatoes show off their unique character, -

- and the tomatillos have filled out and split their husks.

Change.  The tunnels are set up and the fall crops have started to poke through the soil.  The once meandering sun now races across the sky; the long days will soon become long nights.   I already long for the endless days of summer when the sun refuses to set, and the nights filled with the song of katydids.  But, enough musings - there's salsa to make and tomatoes to roast; garden beds to clean up and garlic to plant!

Maya Angelou says, "If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.  Don't complain."   I'll do my best.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mystery on the Lake

The property across the street from our very favorite B&B has always been somewhat of a mystery.  For a long time, nothing ever happened over there.  But a few years ago, the once quiet property came to life.  Cars were entering and exiting; there was vineyard work being done; and we started to hear rumors of a new winery.  

All of that hustle and bustle became Ryan William - a small farm winery located on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in Hector, NY.  The area is known as the "Banana Belt" - a unique micro-climate created by a combination of the deep lake water and the sloping hillsides - an ideal spot for grapes.

The vineyards extend from the road to the shoreline
They recently opened and we decided to check it out.  We scooped up a friend and headed down the long driveway to the tasting room.  It is a humble but comfortable space and our tasting room host was welcoming and pleasant.    

Clouds floating up the lake in the early morning
The tasting lineup was solid.  It started with the 2011 Riesling.  It was mineral and wet slate on the nose, nice acidity, and a hint of honey on the finish.  1.2% RS.

2012 Chardonnay - 50% barrel fermented, 50% stainless, no malolactic fermentation.  I'm not a big Chard fan but this one was quite nice.

2010 Pinot Noir - The fruit is from 3 year old vines.  This is a very young wine that would definitely show better with decanting.  It still needs to integrate a bit but there was some nice smoke and tobacco on the nose, with earth and cherry on the palate, and firm tannins that softened with time in the glass.  I'm very excited about this one; with some bottle age, this looks like it will be the "men's club"-type of Pinot that I love.

2010 Cabernet Franc - I would have poured this before the Pinot.  It's lighter bodied and fruitier and the Pinot just crushed it.  My partner-in-crime liked this one more than I did - for me, it was a little hot.

They were also pouring two dessert wines.  The 2010 Select Late Harvest Riesling - Sugar cane but oddly enough, not cloying at 18% RS; and the 2010 Bunch Select Late Harvest Riesling - Tropical fruit and peaches, also 18% RS.

Even after our visit, some mystery remains.  Despite our best efforts to chat them up we were unable to find out much about the winery, the winemaker, or the history of the property.  We asked friends in the area and scoured the internet but we still know little about Ryan William Winery.  I did reach out to them for some more information but they declined my request at this time.  All I can tell you is that we will keep trying and plan to stop in the next time we are in the area.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Day in The Life

I was about to take the hummingbird feeder down for the season but it looked like the level of nectar was lower so I left it out.  Low and behold...

We noted the abundance of rust color on "her" but thought it was a young female Ruby-Throated that hadn't migrated yet.

With the help of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "she" was ID'd as a Rufous Hummingbird, out of range.  Normally found in the west, she seems to have found herself off course and in our backyard!

She loves to preen and sun herself in the Virurmun next to the feeder.

We have her hooked up with feeders and hope she stays all winter so stay tuned!