Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finger Lakes: Belherst and Fox Run

FINGER LAKES REPORT – After finishing up our six-winery visit on Keuka Lake, we set off for Seneca. Our original plan did not include going all the way north to Geneva, but Spiderman’s stomach was growling and we thought it best to get some food to and opted for the great scenery of Belherst Castle. When my wife and I visited the Finger Lakes last year, Belherst was one of our stops. One of their wines was on the shopping list from our neighbors, so we stopped in. Our reactions last year were mixed – the scenery was stunning, but the wines not so much.

2004_0401Fingerlakes0064 This year we flew immediately for Stonecutters, the less formal of their restaurants which had large arched windows looking out on the lake. I was pleased to see that the menu featured a Monte Cristo sandwich, which I hadn’t had in many years. This is basically a ham, Swiss and turkey sandwich on French toast. This was obviously a high class operation as my bread came “frenched” and not as actual French toast. It was great.

In light of our three wineries before lunch schedule, we passed on the wine (you won’t find this phrase anywhere else in the reporting of our trip!). We hastily headed for the car to begin the north-south run from Geneva to Watkins Glen. It is akin to a long ski run in Telluride, but with wineries replacing the moguls.
2004_0401Fingerlakes0059 Our first wine tasting on Seneca was Fox Run. Fox Run was selected as one of the top100 wineries of 2008 by Wine & Spirits Magazine. They have a wonderful tasting room, a deli-type restaurant and a great building and grounds.
I noticed something straight away. Our last visit had been in the summertime. The sipping was leisurely and the crowds sparse. However, now the tasting room was packed and the space at the tasting bar was almost non-existent. We wedged ourselves in and ponied up our $2 tasting fee.

The first wine was a 2006 Chardonnay with a weak body and dominant lemony taste. The Dry Riesling was satisfactory, but not among the top five on our trip.

I had high hopes for the 2006 Cabernet Franc. It had a rich color with nutty and plum flavor notes. It lacked the smokiness that I like. At $14.99 it was solid, but not spectacular. The 2006 Cab Franc/Lemberger blend was so-so.

Fox Run has a number of animal themed wines, such as the Ruby Vixen. This is a little bit sweeter than I prefer at 4% residual sugar, but it had a soft, bright taste with strawberry aromas.

The service at the tasting bar was really bad, but I suppose understandable. Our server would disappear for long periods of time and then pour the next taste without sharing any of the background on the wine or chatting. At one point his supervisor got into an animated discussion with him about remembering to empty the trash can since it wasn’t done last time. Not the sort of thing you want to hear as you savor wine!

I was now on the backside of the tasting sheet (where everything cost an extra dollar). I sampled the Sable, a nice smooth red blend that gave a warm feeling with a rich berry aroma. At $12.99, this is a high value wine.
Spiderman was not enjoying his selections and was disenchanted at the service. At one point I glanced over and he was marking “no,” “no,” and “no.”

I finished on a high note with the 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir. At $50 a bottle, it has the sweet bouquet of cherries and violets and is an exotic glass.
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