Monday, August 24, 2015

Fox Run and Anthony Road Showcase Top Finger Lakes Wines During WBC15 Excursion

Anthony Road Wine Company

Sun splashed scenery and elegant wines highlighted our recent visit to the Finger Lakes in New York for the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC). During the second day of our pre-conference excursion, we had a chance to visit a couple of old friends – the popular Anthony Road and Fox Run wineries.

Anthony Road Offers Beautiful Grounds, Beautiful Wine

John Martini ARWCAnthony Road Wine Company is one of our must visit” stops on our frequent Finger Lakes trips. The tasting room is airy and light with a spectacular view to Seneca Lake. There is an immaculately landscaped garden to amuse while sipping some of the region’s best wine.

After a night in Geneva, our tour bus arrived and wine bloggers swarmed out – quickly soaking in the scenery and photographing the winery from every conceivable angle.

20150813_103618Owner John Martini, who planted the first grape vines here in 1973, provided a walking tour of a test vineyard. After returning from our stroll in the glorious sunshine, our group was ready to taste some of the fruits of his labor.

Chilled and fresh (sort of like us!) wines were the order of the day. We began with the 2014 Anthony Road Cab Franc Rosé.

The rosé is made from some of the best estate Cabernet Franc with an added 14% Lemberger. This was delightfully fresh with a watermelon color. If you aren’t already onboard with the dry rosé trend, it is perfect for the hot days of summer.

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The Finger Lakes Is About More Than Riesling – Like Chardonnay

TierceStandout Riesling is a trademark of Anthony Road. Today would be no disappointment there. We dug into the 2014 Anthony Road Dry Riesling and it delivered classic Finger Lakes minerality with a nice pop of rich citrus flavor. The 2014 Skin Fermented Riesling was an interesting wine, with a deeper color and decidedly woody flavor notes.

We stepped inside to enjoy a taste of the latest vintage of Tierce, a joint project of winemakers from Anthony Road, Fox Run and Red Newt wineries. Collaboration, not competition, is the hallmark of the Finger Lakes wine region. We’re thankful for it because Tierce is one of our favorites from among the scads produced in the region.

View from Anthony Road GardenThe Finger Lakes is a cool climate for winemaking. It results in different flavor profiles for wines and bedevils winemakers who try to cultivate certain red grapes. It results in landmark Riesling and Gewürztraminer as most folks know, but the the Chardonnay is also very special.

WBC15 025We tried two Chards at Anthony Road. The first was the 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay. This had luscious flavors of green apple and was worlds apart from the oak bombs so detested by my wife, the Green Dragon. We also tried the 2014 Skin Fermented Chardonnay. This resulted in a complex wine, but wasn’t as successful as the skin fermented Riesling.

Fox Run Vineyards Celebrates Quarter Century of Wine Excellence

20150813_122700Fox Run is one of the best known and most popular wineries in the Finger Lakes. In 2015, the winery marks its 25th anniversary. Under the guidance of owner Scott Osborn, the future looks particularly bright.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted with chilled Traminette and then embarked on a tour of the vineyard and a climb to the crush pad where the wine is made. Visible on our walk up the hill was a solar cell installation with 300 panels that provides 120% of the winery’s electrical needs. The sun was blazing and we were quite ready to enter the tank room to hear more about Fox Run winemaking.

20150813_125520Inside the production room, there was relief from the heat. Winemaker Peter Bell explained that unused stainless steel tanks are actually turned to chilly settings in order to keep the room cool.

As we sipped on a barrel sample of 2014 Lemberger, Peter explained his winemaking philosophy in sometimes humorous terms. I was surprised to hear that he is not a fan of wild fermentation – but it is hard to argue with his results.

Back at the tasting room building, we entered the historic barrel room for the next and quite delicious phase of the program: the Food and Wine Experience.

Food and Wine Experience Is A Sensory Smash

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Anytime you have a lineup of five wine glasses at a placesetting, you can be assured that any wine lover’s eyes will light up. That was certainly the case as we embarked on our experience. This special feature is available for $40 per person for visitors and it is certainly worth twice that price.

Each glass of wine was paired with small bites from local producers prepared by Chef Brud Holland. We began with a trio of Riesling including the light, crisp unoaked Doyle Family Vineyard Chardonnay. This wine has a 10% splash of Traminette. The Semi-Dry Riesling was paired with a Stella Vallis Tomme cheese with greens and pumpkin seed vinaigrette. The wine’s pop of sweetness was a spot-on pairing. The limited production Silvan Riesling is barrel fermented and was paired with chevre from Lively Run Goat Dairy.

20150813_132258The 2012 Lemberger is a red with an oaky kick and is another example of how the Finger Lakes is making Lemberger a premier grape in the region. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was light and jammy and low in alcohol. It paired with our favorite bite – the house-made wine barrel smoked sausages. The wine barrel that smoked our snack was sitting in the corner of the room.

To cap our sensational sensory experience, we enjoyed the Hedonia, a white Port style wine made with Traminette. This is a delicious dessert style wine that is among the most unique sampled during our trip.

The Geology Series Explores Finger Lakes Terroir

20150813_144928The story of our next tasting began 12,400 years ago – but I’ll try to make it quick. More than 12,000 years ago ice sheets started retreating from western New York and the meltwater formed freshwater lakes. The present location of Fox Run Vineyard was on the banks of prehistoric Lake Dana.

As water flowed out of Lake Dana, the elevation lowered and it became what is now known as Seneca Lake. Fox Run’s location on this ancient shoreline leaves it with a hanging delta where the water flowed into Seneca. The complex soil patterns include unique sand and rich clay deposited by streams long ago.

20150813_122844In our Geology Series tasting, we tasted four 2012 vintage Riesling. Two from the Hanging Delta Vineyard (from different blocks) and two from the Lake Dana Vineyard. The Hanging Delta Vineyard seemed to impart a petrol like aroma, but I it was difficult for me to ferret out a grand distinction between the four wines. That may have been due to the many wines I had been sampling in the interest of journalism during the day. They all were exceptionally made.

As our bus rolled into the sunset and on to Corning for the official start of the WBC, I couldn’t help but be impressed not only with Anthony Road Wine Company and Fox Run Vineyard but with the beauty of the land and the Finger Lakes wines. This is a destination for any true lover of wine.

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