Friday, March 12, 2010

Finger Lakes: Leidenfrost Vineyards

Continuing a wrap-up of our fall Finger Lakes winery visits. The Leidenfrost family has raised grapes and made wine at their scenic Seneca Lake location since 1947 and was a stop on our2009_1004fingerlks20055 whirlwind wine tour I was really looking forward to. During our Finger Lakes visit last year we were just a hop, skip and a jump from this winery, but it somehow didn’t make our itinerary. The somewhat Germanic name and chalet-style architecture of the winery beckoned to us this time around.

Leidenfrost Vineyards began production in 1990 and soon was selling some of the earliest Pinot Noirs, Merlots and Cabernets in the Finger Lakes. Their first shop was set up in a log cabin adjacent to the estate. The winery remains a family run operation and produces only 3,000 cases of wine annually.

The small, homey feel is apparent as soon as you enter the tasting room. The deck has a spectacular view of Seneca Lake and on the brilliant sunny day of our visit, it was a million-dollar panorama. Inside the tasting room, peanut shells littered the wooden floors as wine lovers munched on the nuts and tossed the “empties.” Leidenfrost is known for its reds, which are fermented in small batches in stainless steel tanks, keeping the emphasis on freshness and fruit. We dove right in to the Pinot Noir.

The 2007 Pinot Noir was nice with a touch of cedar in the bouquet, followed by fresh fruit and black cherry. We then had a tasty glass of Tango, a red blend with a smokiness and a touch of bacon.

The winner of the day was the 2008 Baco Noir, an awesome, delicious glass of this medium-bodied French-American hybrid. This is has a soft fruitiness with warm black pepper flavors.

The only place you can get all the Leidenfrost wines is in the tasting room. The winery is beginning to distribute to some locations in upstate New York, but your best bet is to go right to the winery Web site. The prices are amazingly low -- $15 for a great bottle of smooth Cabernet Sauvignon or an ‘07 Cabernet Franc.

The vibe here is a small, friendly winery with high-quality, low production wines in a scenic setting. During our visit they were offering a case discount of 25% (much better than the typical 10%) plus a “Winemaker’s Seven” where you could purchase seven bottles for the price of six.

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