FLX Wine Region |Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids

They had me at Lemberger. And by evening’s end, this band of badass garagistes would prove their point. Finger Lakes Wine Country  (FLX) is in the house.

From old-world Pinot Noir to racy Syrah and ethereal Lemberger, the artisans hosting our Wine Blogger’s Conference 2015 Wine Maker Dinner at Element Winery in upstate New York left no doubt of Finger Lakes Wine Country’s rightful place on the world-class wine making stage.  

An area long misunderstood, Finger Lakes yields more than just Riesling, dessert wines, and ‘crappy’ hybrids. Instead, its complex geography, microclimates, and history serve up a rich blend of varietals and wine styles.

Dr. Konstantin Frank, considered the ‘father of Finger Lakes wine,’ helped to successfully introduce European vinifera varietals to the Finger Lakes after immigrating there after World War II.

This, and an intoxicating spirit of collaboration and adventure attract an enviable array of acclaimed and emerging wine stars to the region, eager for the opportunity to create something different, authentic, unique. 

The garagistes pouring out their small lot projects at Element Winery for WBC15 represent some of the best that Finger Lakes has to offer, a sentiment shared by an elite roster of sommeliers and wine merchants in New York City;  vintages sell out in a matter of hours with one social media exchange. 

Their wines evidence low alcohol, vivid acids, delicate structure, tensile minerality, and exquisite balance. Paired with the locally sourced farm-to-table fare provided post-tasting, they prove equally facile with food. Here, then, a look at the  garagistes of Finger Lakes Wine Region:

Christopher and Bob Bates | Element Winery 

Master Sommelier Christopher Bates defies stereotypes, just like his wines. Equal parts ring leader, home boy, wunderkind, renaissance man, farm-to-table purveyor, and wine maker, Chris and his father started Element Winery in 2005 with a burning desire to create a winery that ‘used our climate as a blessing, and not a curse.” Ten years later, no one’s cursing.

A favorite of NYC wine and food luminaries, including fellow Master Sommelier alum Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate NYC, Elemental Winery beauties include a sultry, supple Syrah, a pungent Pinot Noir, and haunting Lemberger with a lovely translucent garnet robe, delicate body,  and flirty floral notes that linger on the finish.

Nate Kendall of Nathan Kendall WInes and winemaker at Bellangelo pours out some FLX pinot noir to WBC15 participants.
Nate Kendall of Nathan Kendall Wines.

Nathan Kendall | Nathan Kendall Wines

Nathan Kendall enjoys an illustrious pedigree, including his current role as wine maker Bellangelo Winery, and stints worldwide at such esteemed wineries as S.A. Prum  in the Mosel and Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley,

Soft-spoken by nature, Nate’s wines speak volumes. His Pinot Noir resonates with old-world style – diaphanous ruby robe, refined florals and red-fruited aromas, and satiny finish. The wine unfolds with easy grace, and retains its poise throughout.

Kris Mathewson, wine maker at Bellwether, pours out his all-star pinot noir.
Kris Mathewson of Bellwether Wine Cellars.

Kris Mathewson | Bellwether Wine Cellars

Kris Mathewson started Bellwether Wine Cellars in 2011 in his father’s cider-making facility, passionate about crafting terroir-driven wines in his own backyard – Finger Lakes.

Today, Bellwether produces premium artisan Pinot Noir and Riesling that earns high praise, including a recent rave review in the New York Times.

The Bellwether Pinot Noir pours out a sublime ruby, polished on the palate, with dusty floral and discrete berry notes, bright acidity, and supple finish.

Mark and Justinn Recktenwald of Wild Brute Winery bring some FLX brawn to the tasting.
Mark and Justin Recktenwald of Wild Brute Winery.

Justin & Mark Recktenwald  Wild Brute Winery

Justin Recktenwald of Wild Brute Winery picked the right name to showcase his brawny wines. The most deeply extracted wine of the evening, with medium weight and chewy tannins, his muscular Cab Franc begs for a juicy steak.

David Bissell of Kashong Creek Craft Cider shares his super-crisp craft ciders.
David Bissell of Kashong Creek Craft Cider.

Daniel Bissell – Kashong Creek Craft Cider

Daniel Bissell’s Kashong Creek Craft Cider serves up some easy-quaffing, super-dry Cidre Brut Rosé that’s as pretty as it is tasting – the perfect brunch accessory!

As host to Wine Blogger’s Conference 2015, Finger Lakes Wine Country demonstrates a thing or two about hospitality, abundance, and community.

Meanwhile, the garagistes of FLX confirm the high art of cool region wine making.

Thank you:

 WBC15 Tour bus hosts Katie Cook and husband, assistant winemakers at Hermann J. Wiemer & co-owners of Onyare Wines.

Christopher and Bob Bates   Element Winery

Nathan Kendall – Nathan Kendall Wines

Kris Mathewson – Bellwether Wine Cellars

Daniel Bissell – Kashong Creek Craft Ciders

Justin & Mark Rechtenwald – Wild Brute Winery

WBC15 partner-in-crime Demetra Molina (www.boozylife.com).

Care to share? Leave your comments below.

Copyrighted binNotes 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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