Friday, May 31, 2013

Rooster Hill Vineyards: Finger Lakes Winery Visit

Another in our series of Finger Lakes winery reports from our visit earlier this month.
This is the story of the winery visit that almost wasn’t. During our first day tasting in the Finger Lakes we visited the Corning Museum of Glass and hit wonderful wineries on Keuka Lake.

It was my intention to shoot over to Seneca and thoroughly explore the wineries on the west shore.  We had spent the night in Penn Yan, putting us in perfect position
to execute my plan.

After a vigorous morning walk and continental breakfast, I was ready to rumble. But the passengers mutinied! We hadn’t visited the east side of Keuka – the “crooked lake” of the region.

I sped down the road wondering if the crack of dawn was too early for wine tasting. I’ve never had a chance to visit Rooster Hill and this was the perfect opportunity. I had sampled a Rooster Hill Cab Franc – Lemberger blend during a recent virtual tasting, and it was really great.

While the Green Dragon (my lovely wife!) emerged from the car very slowly on the pretense that 10 AM was too early for a wine tasting, Glorious T and the Cabinator (the rest of the tasting team) headed inside.

Rooster Hill has a glorious location perched on a hill overlooking Keuka. From their beautiful porch you get a Rooster-eye view of row upon row of vines and the sparkling waters as well.

Inside Karen Jensen was just preparing for the day. This was Friday, but the crowds had yet to arrive. Karen was friendly and knowledgeable – the perfect hostess for an early morning wine tasting. We opened up with a couple of Finger Lakes favorites: Dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

The 2011 Dry Riesling has flavor notes of yellow apple and a delightful minerality. Score! The 2011 Estate Gewürztraminer is deep yellow in color with delicious grapefruit and stone fruit flavors. This has just a dash of sweetness (1.8% residual sugar). The 12.5% alcohol level means this is a light, refreshing wine. This was a top pick.

Venturing to the red wines, we started with the 2011 Cab Fran – Lemberger blend. The Finger Lakes is really delivering impressive results with Lemberger grapes these days. This wine offers spice with soft berry flavors and a dash of earthiness.

The 2011 Heritage is their Bordeaux style wine blending Merlot, Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a nice everyday drinker. More to my liking was the 2011 Cabernet Franc, which was bold, juicy and smooth. It seemed to have a touch of sweetness.

The final taste was my favorite wine, the 2009 Lemberger Reserve. This is a rich, fruity wine with cascading layers of flavor. It offers cranberry and mild spiciness and a super long finish.

You can be certain that Rooster Hill is now on the radar for future visits. Three things stand out from our visit: 1. remarkable scenery, 2. a wide spectrum of wine that touches all the bases, and 3. whatever you do, don’t bypass Rooster Hill!
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