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