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Report From the Finger Lakes, Part 2

 

TOURIST BUSINESS BOOMS AT GLENORA, where they've built an attractive new lakeside restaurant and inn. Happily, the wines are in fine shape too. See below.

(August,6, 2001) This is the second and final part of an article covering current releases from the top wineries in New York's Finger Lakes. Click here to go back to Part 1.

Anthony Road

     This ambitious producer on the west bank of Lake Seneca caught my attention with their big new building project -- not a tasting room, but a production facility.

     They've also hired new winemaker from Germany, named Johannes Reinhardt. He certainly got a baptism of fire (or should I say rain?) with the 2000 vintage and I'm impressed with what he managed to do.

     The *-Anthony Road 2000 Riesling (Dry) is just delightful, with a hint of mineral on the nose, followed peach and lemon flavors. Thins on the finish like all 2000s I tasted, but this is a praiseworthy job with the materials on hand. At $10.99, pretty darned good value.

     While keep I wishing someone in the Finger Lakes would produce a truly outstanding 100% barrel-fermented Chardonnay, the *--Anthony Road 2000 Chardonnay is nice for what it is. It's half barrel-fermented and half tank-fermented, producing a light, citrus and apple flavored wine that also has some palate presence. This one is also $10.99, so I can't complain about the price -- but I would have paid $4 more for the full treatment.

     Anthony Road also produces one of the few really nice Pinot Gris I tasted in the Figer Lakes. Their *--2000 Pinot Gris has a rich texture, with pleasant lychee and lemon-lime flavors. Hope it finds a market, because it seems to me this varietal could fare better than Chardonnay in the Finger Lakes.

     All in all, I like what's happening at Anthony Road. They've clearly joined the ranks of New York State's better producers. Be sure to give them a visit if you find yourself near Lake Seneca.

Glenora Wine Cellars

     Boy, is business at Glenora booming. They've expanded their tasting room out onto what used to be the patio dining area, and built a new restaurant further down on the lakesideplus an attractive inn, featuring Stickley furniture, Jacuzzi suites and big picture windows commanding a view of the water.

     Happily, the wines are in fine shape too. Their 1999 Glenora Pinot Noir "Vintner's Select ($16.99) is on the simple side, but the fruit's there and it's well made, with red cherry flavors and none of the ashy, oaky notes that mark too many other Finger Lakes Pinot Noirs. At $16.99, it's appropriate value.

     The 1999 Glenora Chardonnay "Barrel Fermented" has tasty pear and melon flavors and nice, slippery texture, but the oak protrudes a little too much to float my boat.

     Sparklers have long been Glenora's strong suit and still are. The *+1996 Glenora Brut, made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, has excellent dough and melon flavors, delicate raspberry notes on the mid-palate and a good finish. The *-1998 Blanc de Blancs isn't quite as broad on the palate and features a sharper attack, with flavors veering over to apples and pears. They're both $14.99, so it's a no-brainer to go for the '96 Brut.

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard

     I was crestfallen that Hermann Wiemer had none of his Individual Bunch Select Late Harvest Riesling to sell. This Trockenbeerenauslese equivalent is reliably among the top wines offered anywhere in the region, with RS levels upwards of 20%. They told me at the winery that recent vintages just haven't been favorable enough to make onea telling indicator of how tough things have been up here lately.

     Happily, they did have plenty of the **-Hermann Wiemer Cuvée Brut 2000, made from juice crushed in the '97 vintage. With beautiful hints of raspberry and pear, a fine-textured mousse and a long, toasty finish, this is the best bubbly I found on my Finger Lakes sweep and maybe the best wine period. At $25, it's more expensive than Glenora's excellent 1996 Brut but arguably worth it.

     Wiemer also offers the only Finger Lakes Chardonnay that I'd personally drink for pleasure -- the *+1995 Hermann Wiemer Reserve Chardonnay. Here at last is ripe fruit, satisfying complexity and balanced oak. With a perfumed nose and nutty flavors, it's lean but finishes well.

     The *-1999 Hermann Wiemer Pinot Noir is a very nice job too. The body is light, but everything's in proportion. Black cherry flavors are varietally true and here again, the oak is well-balanced.

     And his *-1997 Hermann Wiemer Riesling Reserve is an elegant achievement as well, if a little austere. With 0.7% RS, it offers lots of diesel aromas, grapefruit and apple on the palate and a nice trail-off.

Dr. Konstantin Frank

     Dr. Frank usually wows me with their bubblies, but the tasting room staff threw me a loop this time—the only sparkler they let me taste was out of stock! I would have bought a bottle of the *Chateau Frank Brut 1997 if I could have. It's got a biting attack and a full mid-palate, although the bubbles were a bit coarse.

    *-Dr. Frank's 1999 Chardonnay had nice body too, although the oak was a little splintery.

     And *Dr. Frank's 2000 Johannisberg Riesling "Dry" is a very fine achievement for the vintage. With lovely floral and mineral aromas, a good amount of fruit and a convincing finish, it's the best Riesling I tasted all weekend. Very similar, but sweeter and not quite as well-stuffed is *-Dr. Frank's 2000 Johannisberg Riesling "Semi-Dry.

     They had somewhat less success with Dr. Frank's 2000 Gewürztraminer, but it's still a worthy effort, especially on the nose. It offers nice rose petal aromas and ample lychee flavors with hints of watercress. The vintage shows on the finish, which thins out noticeably.

McGregor Vineyard

     Located way up high above the east bank of Lake Keuka, McGregor Vineyard requires a little extra driving to reach, but the wines are always worth it—especially their Gewürztraminer, which I've previously found to be the best in the Finger Lakes. Today they delivered as expected.

*--2000 McGregor Gewürztraminer is a dead ringer for Alsace, with plenty of rose petal, lychee and grapefruit in evidence. Here as elsewhere, however, there's no ignoring the somewhat dilute finish. Seemingly 2000 was tough all over the Finger Lakes.

     Their **-1999 McGregor Gewürztraminer Reserve has no such problem, however. It's gorgeous. With 5.5% residual sugar, it offers all the flavor complexity of the above plus a big hit of apricot. Slippery texture with convincing length. And the acidity cuts right through to the finish, so it never cloys. Bravo, McGregor!

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