Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keuka Spring Vineyards: Finger Lakes Winery Visit

Another in our series of winery reports from our recent Finger Lakes visit.

Hospitality, first class scenery and superbly crafted wines are a winning combination at Keuka Spring Vineyards.

We almost missed this stop as I was in a hurry to blaze a trail out of Penn Yan and head to Seneca Lake. That would have been a terrible mistake. At the urging of Cabinator, I jerked the wheel to the right and drove up the steep drive to Keuka Spring Vineyards.

When we arrived, our band of four knew that we had arrived at our home away from home. The day was sunny with a light breeze and the view of Lake Keuka was dazzling. Inside the tasting room we perched at the bar and enjoyed a wonderful panorama.

Although we hadn’t planned on the visit, we soon met owner Len Wiltberger and he rolled out the red carpet. The winery, which produced its first vintage in 1985, is a family affair and we then met daughter Jeanne, who is marketing coordinator. Their motto is “Family – Commitment – Excellence” and those values certainly shone through.

Winemaker August Deimel joined the group and led us through the tasting. We opened with a single vineyard Dry Rosé, which was a field blend of Lemberger and Cab Franc fermented together. This was beautifully fresh and perfect for a warm summer’s day.

We had an opportunity to taste several different vintages and August explained, “You take whatever the vintage has to give you. Each year you get characteristics of the vintage. 2011 was austere but 2012 was a warmer year.”

Next up was the 2012 Riesling Humphrey’s Vineyard. It erupted with an explosion of smells. On the palate it is dry with apple and peach flavors. A beautiful crispness makes this an ideal food wine.
We next sampled the “crown jewel,” the 2012 Riesling. This is an off-dry Riesling and has a fuller flavor spectrum than the dry Riesling. It is rich with floral and light fruit flavors. This is an iconic Finger Lakes wine showing the strength of this wine region. At only $14.99, this wine is a steal!

Still exploring the whites, we tasted a trio of Gewürztraminers. First the 2011, from the cool vintage. It offers an off-dry spiciness. We compared this with the pre-release 2012 Gerwurz, which was the “full ride” with riper, more floral flavors. We concluded with the 2012 Pre-Emption Vineyard  Gerwurz, which is a bold wine with strong floral and melon flavors – just perfect with spicy food!

Progressing to the reds, we enjoyed the 2010 Cab Franc and the classic 2010 Lemberger. The Finger Lakes is establishing a reputation for producing great wines from Lemberger. This one had flavors of sweet tobacco and earth. A nice pairing for a burger.

The final three reds were some of the best we’ve tasted in the Finger Lakes. The 2011 Epic is a Bordeaux blend of Cab Franc Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is full and luscious – but we wanted even more!

We were disappointed to learn that there was no 2010 Epic Reserve to taste – but Len was able to locate one and we enjoyed a taste of this limited production wine. The blend is reversed with Merlot leading the charge along with Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This sent the Cabinator into the stratosphere! Only 211 cases were made of this blackberry and plum gem.

Closing out, we sampled my favorite, the 2011 Miller’s Cove Red, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon-driven blend with Merlot. It is mouthwatering with delightful layers of dark fruit.

During our trip, we “made a memory” with a wonderful experience featuring great wine and friendly, knowledgeable staff. We crowned the visit with a picnic on their overlook relaxing in Adirondack chairs savoring a bottle of Epic Reserve.

This is our new favorite Finger Lakes winery and we suggest you stop in to find out why.

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