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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: Six Wines for the Holidays from the Finger Lakes

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we travel to the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York for six wines perfect for holiday meals.

From the full disclosure desk: I work for Eric Mower and Associates, a marketing communications agency (www.mower.com). We developed a program for the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance called the FLWA Vintners' Roundtable. This virtual tasting is conducted via conference call, linking winemakers and food and beverage journalists. I recently played host to a FLWA Vintners' Roundtable attended by several drinks journalists, including Sean Ludford, Bill Dowd, David Falchek, Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng and Michael Cervin. You can check out their reports as they appear to measure the objectivity of my tasting notes.

The Finger Lakes region is best known for its riesling, which regularly takes home medals from various competitons. But the region has plantings from a wide array of grapes. It is interesting to see what various vineyards have in the works. The Finger Lakes were originally the home of native Lambrusca grapes, which tend to make better jam and grape juice than wine. French-American hybrids and classic vinifera are now the main stays of the more than 90 wineries in the region.

Chateau Frank 2000 Blanc de Noirs: The late Willy Frank established Chateau Frank in 1985 as a way to leave his mark on the Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars. He would be proud of this methode champenoise wine. Made using 90 percent pinot noir and 10 percent pinot meunier, this pink-hued sparkler has crisp tart apple flavor notes. One of the best sparkling wines from a U.S. producer.

White Springs Farms 2006 Gewurztraminer: Winemaker Derek Wilbur allows skin contact in this Seneca Lake gewurtraminer. "It's the most red of the white wines we make," he says. The skins allow some tannins to balance the flavor. Slight spicy and minerally flavor profile.

Rooster Hill 2006 Estate Gewurztraminer: From Keuka Lake, winemaker Barry Tortolon decided to mix two yeast strains in this wine and the result is a flowery, spicy and fruity white. A solid wine to serve as a cocktail pour or to match with a meal.

Sheldrake Point 2006 Bunch Select Riesling: Winegrower Bob Madill says the presence of Botrytis Cinerea -- Noble Rot -- allowed Sheldrake to create this wine, the fourth vintage they have pressed whole cluster grapes to create a riesling dessert wine. With 8.8 grams of acid and 6 percent residual sugar, this is a well balanced and flavorful wine perfect for concluding a meal.

Anthony Road 2006 Sweet Dream: Made from vignoles, a French-American hybrid, by German winemaker Johannes Reinhardt, about 40 percent of the crop had Botrytis. Reinhardt notes the thick skins of the vignoles stands up well to noble rot. The acid level in the 2006 is slightly higher than a year ago, balancing nicely to the 7.1 percent residual sugar. This is one of my surprise favorite wines among the dessert wines I have tasted during 2007.

Lakewood Vineyards 2005 Port: The Finger Lakes has a different climate than Portugal and the Baco Noir grape was likely not created to make a Port-style wine, but third generation winemaker Chris Stamp said this is "What happens when you leave Baco on the vine long enough." This is the fourth time and first vinatge since 2001 that Lakewood has turned Baco into a Port. Good raspberry and dark fruit tones, with a touch of cocoa.

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