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Friday, March 2, 2012

Finger Lakes vs. The World

A few nights ago I attended the “Finger Lakes vs. The World” tasting at Spina Restaurant in NYC.  Even though I live in New York, I have very little experience with Finger Lakes wines - in fact, this winter I tried some for the first time - all Shaw Vineyard wines.  The purpose of the event was to blind taste Finger Lakes wines versus European wines of the same grape type and compare them.
Match #1 was Riesling, and the wines were the Hermann J. Wiemer Magdalena Vineyard Dry Riesling 2010 (Finger Lakes) and the Messmer Muschelkalk Riesling Kabinett 2009 (Pfalz, Germany).  I tasted the German Riesling first and noted its very bright acidity and citrus characteristics with just a hint of effervescence.  For me, the wine was a bit too austere (which was a surprise, considering I prefer austere Riesling) and a bit acidic for my palate.  I then tried the Wiemer Riesling - lovely and light, with characteristics of soft orchard fruit and white blossoms.  I wasn’t sure which wine was German and which was Finger Lakes, but the hint of fizz in the first wine I tried made me guess that it was the German, and in fact I was right.  The pleasant surprise - I strongly preferred the Finger Lakes Riesling.
Match #2 was Cabernet Franc.  Anyone who has read my blog posts over the past year is probably aware that I don’t care much for Cabernet Franc on account of the green bell pepper characteristics usually present in New World Cabernet Franc - until about a month ago when I tasted the Shaw Cabernet Franc and for the first time I enjoyed a Cabernet Franc, as there are no bell pepper notes - just dark fruit, smooth spices, and expression of earth.  As I had expected, I preferred the Shaw Cabernet Franc 2006 at this tasting as well, and it remains the only New World Cabernet Franc I’ve enjoyed to date.  I did actually like the other Cabernet Franc, the Monteforche 2009 (Veneto, Italy), for its aroma and flavors of berry and earth - however, I strongly preferred the structure and texture of the Shaw Cabernet Franc.

Match #2 - Cabernet Franc

Match #3 was Merlot - and just as some readers may recall my feelings on Cabernet Franc, they might also recall that I’m a fan of Merlot - I was was pretty enthusiastic about comparing a New World Merlot and an Old World Merlot.  The Finger Lakes Merlot was the Fox Run Vineyards Drink New York Merlot 2007, and the Old World was the Chateau Edmus St. Emilion Grand Cru 2008 (Bordeaux, France).  Upon swirling the Fox Run Merlot in the glass, I immediately detected green bell pepper aromas along with fruit and some earth, but I just couldn’t get past the bell pepper notes and after tasting, I was ready to go on the the other wine (at the time, I did not know which wine was the Finger Lakes and which was the Bordeaux).  When I tasted the Bordeaux, a blend of Merlot and some Cabernet Franc, I noted dark fruit, spice, and earth, and a full and luscious texture with a long finish - and I found my favorite.

Match #3 - Merlot

Match #4 was Pinot Noir - Damiani Wine Cellars 2009 (Finger Lakes) and Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey Chambertin 2008 (Burgundy, France).  I actually had no idea which was the Finger Lakes wine and which was the Burgundy - both were sleek with strong characteristics of bright red fruit and earthiness.  I preferred the aromas of the first Pinot I tasted (Damiani) but I preferred the flavor and texture of the second (Domaine Gallois).
My favorite wines of the tasting were the Shaw Cabernet Franc and I enjoyed the Monteforche Cabernet Franc as well, and I really enjoyed the Wiemer Riesling and the Chateau Edmus.

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