Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Six from Six – Investigating Finger Lakes Wine

At the 2011 WineMaker Magazine Conference the location for the 2012 edition of the conference was announced. Much to my delight it would be in the Finger Lakes region, and specifically Ithaca, New York! The choice of an East Coast location provides a great opportunity for Margot and I to play “host” to our West Coast friends. Unfortunately we only have passing familiarity with wines from the Finger Lakes and have yet to make a visit. With time on our side this will be resolved and we will be able to safely recommend what to try and where to go while in the area next June.

Our initial reconnaissance was done with an order of 6 different styles of Finger Lakes wine from Six Mile Creek Vineyard, thus the post title “Six from Six”. Over the coming months we will increase our knowledge of the area with more wines and a trip in September that will include stops at wineries on both Seneca and Cayuga lakes.

When I searched for wineries in the Ithaca area the first one that came up was Six Mile Creek Vineyard. I looked around at some of the other links and didn’t find anything that resonated as well. A web page might not be the best first impression for wine, but this time it did a pretty good job. I ordered 2 bottles each of the 2006 Pinot Noir, 2008 Cabernet Franc, 2007 Reserve Riesling, 2006 Chardonnay Reserve, 2007 Semi-Sweet Riesling and finally a sweet white blend named Pasa Tiempo. The wine arrived within a few days of ordering it and I promptly got to work tasting and getting to know the region a little more.

Six Mile Creek 2006 Pinot Noir

Very light in color with aromas of cherry and strawberry. Low tannins with healthy but not overbearing acidity. Subtle hints of earth. This wine is lighter than I expected but is made well. This is an example of a red that would do well in the summer heat, however I didn’t find enough character in it for a strong appeal for me. I need to get more experience with this grape as it is grown and vinified in the Finger Lakes.

Six Mile Creek 2008 Cabernet Franc

Oak in the nose with both aromas and flavors of raspberry and cherry. Wet soil notes with a little cheese rind funk mixed in. The tannins were initially mild but became more pronounced on the finish. The acidity also rose up mid-taste and carried through the finish. I enjoyed this wine very much and am looking forward to a well designed pairing with the other bottle yet to be opened.

Six Mile Creek 2007 Reserve Riesling

Minerality and petrol aromas right from the first swirl and sniff. I also picked up white flowers, peach and hints of tropical fruit. The balance of tart and sweet was incredibly refreshing. The finish has a drying effect with citrus notes as it exits. This is a solid example of Riesling done right and why the Finger Lakes is known for Riesling.

Six Mile Creek 2006 Chardonnay Reserve

This wine surprised me with its elegance. The nose is nutty with baking spices and wood. The fruit is there, but is not hugely expressed. I did get some creamy peach flavors. This wine is very well balanced and incredibly smooth. I want to get to know more about Finger Lakes Chardonnay for sure!

Six Mile Creek 2007 Semi-Sweet Riesling

Minerailty and tropical aromas in the nose. The tropical notes with some peach came back on the palate. Medium sweet with acidity to match. This is a solid drinking Riesling, one that will appeal to a range of wine drinkers, except those that don’t like Riesling!

Six Mile Creek Pasa Tiempo

This is a sweet wine blended from several white grapes, although unspecified on the label or the web site. Citrus, honey and white flowers fill the nose. When served cold this wine is sweet enough to masquerade as a dessert wine, but not too sweet as to prevent casual sipping. More of the honey and white grape comes through on the palate. At $8.50 per bottle the price/performance factor of this wine is very high!

I am looking forward to our trip in September to gain more depth in the predominant styles. I can’t make any useful judgment on the Pinot Noir from my one experience so I hope to find others I can spend time with. I did find a 2009 post from the New York Cork Report blog about Finger Lakes Pinot Noir that helped me better understand what I have experienced so far.

When in the region I also plan to seek out wines made from Sevyal, Vidal, Vignoles and any of the hybrid red grapes I can find. I (and more so my wife) are also looking forward to trying the sweeter dessert wine and ice-wine style wines made by some of the wineries in the region. After a tour with those kind of highlights I will feel much more confident to say that I “know” the Finger Lakes wine region well enough to make recommendation for others.



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