An Evening With the Wine Women of the Finger Lakes

Clean duvet postitAfter leaving Villa Bellangelo on the first day of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference pre-conference excursion, we had an hour to settle into our rooms at the Hampton Inn in Geneva, NY. While not overly fancy, the hotel was clean (even leaving a little sticky note on my headboard ensuring me my duvet cover and sheets had been freshly cleaned), the staff was super organized and friendly, and the location was walking distance to Seneca Lake and downtown. It was perfect for our group.

FLXWineWomen

FLX Wine Women–Martha Macinski from Standing Stone Vineyards, Chef Heather Tompkins from OPUS Espresso and Wine Bar, Jenna Lavita from Ventosa Vineyards, Erica Paolicelli from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, and Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Once we were cleaned up, we headed to Ventosa Vineyards for a night of food and wine with the FLX Wine Women– Chef Heather Tompkins from OPUS Espresso and Wine Bar, Erica Paolicelli from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, Jenna Lavita from Ventosa Vineyards, Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards, and Martha Macinski from Standing Stone Vineyards. Each of the women gave a presentation, highlighting not only what was unique about each of their vineyards, but also what was unique about them and their experiences being a women in an industry that is often dominated by men.   Then, during dinner, they each spent one course with one of the four tables, giving us the opportunity to talk with them one-on-one.

Background on the wineries and the restaurant

Seneca Lake and a glass of NY Cider at Ventosa Vineyards

Seneca Lake and a glass of NY Cider at Ventosa Vineyards

OPUS is located in Geneva and specializes in freshly roasted espresso, homemade, Paninis, fresh baked pastries…and wine, of course. While I didn’t get a chance to visit OPUS during the trip, Chef Heather prepared a decadent dinner made from local ingredients that highlighted the wonderful things each of the local winemakers are doing with their wines. Should I find myself in Geneva again, I will definitely be visiting OPUS in person.

Three Brothers Wineries & Estates actually is made of three wineries–Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, Passion Feet Wine Barn, and Bagg Dare Wine Company–and a microbrewery called War Horse Brewing Co. that makes both hard ciders and beer. They actually have two locations if you’re looking to taste–the location in Geneva, as well as a storefront in Eastview Mall.

Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Ventosa Vineyards consists of 23 acres overlooking Seneca Lake. They’re known for producing dry red wines like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese. The night WBC15 was at Ventosa, they were awarded the 2015 Governor’s Cup for Best Red Wine–the 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Lemberger.

Standing Stone Vineyards is 41 acres and was originally planted in the early 1970’s as Gold Seal Vineyards. Owners Tom & Marti Macinski bought the farm in 1991 and have grown it from a vineyard that produced 800 cases of wine in 1993 to one that now produces about 8000 cases.

Leidenfrost Vineyards has been owned and run by the Leidenfrost family since 1947. It’s located on the east side of Seneca Lake in Hector, NY and produces about 3000 cases of wine annually.

The FLX Wine Women Dinner Menu

The FLX Wine Women Dinner Menu

Dinner and the wines

Candy Beet Melon-Arugula Salad with Red Jacket Cheribundi-Curry Vinaigrette, Stony Brook Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and First Light Goat Cheese paired with a 2014 Three Brothers Winery & Estates Pinot Noir Rosé and Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs

Candy Beet Melon-Arugula Salad with Red Jacket Cheribundi-Curry Vinaigrette, Stony Brook Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and First Light Goat Cheese paired with a 2014 Three Brothers Winery & Estates Pinot Noir Rosé and Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs

2014 Three Brothers Winery and Estates Pinot Noir Rosé
Sadly, I couldn’t find any information about this wine on Three Brothers’ website, but it was a very pleasant rosé and I recommend trying it if you see it. The wine offered some lighter red fruit notes and had good acidity, which helped it hold up to the oil and cheese in the salad. It would be a great sipper on a hot summer day.
4 Corks

Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs ($25)
The is a traditional Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grapes. It was very subtle, with some honeysuckle, cream, and a hint of toast. It was a favorite at my table, and the bottle was empty before I had a chance for seconds. I particularly liked it with the pumpkin seeds in the salad.
4 Corks

Sweet Corn-Muranda Cheese, Cheddar Studded Risotto Cake with Summer Tomato and Fennel Coulis and Jalapeño-Orange Mascarpone paired with a 2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir and a 2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

Sweet Corn-Muranda Cheese, Cheddar Studded Risotto Cake with Summer Tomato and Fennel Coulis and Jalapeño-Orange Mascarpone paired with a 2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir and a 2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir ($25)
100% Pinot Noir grapes
Produced: 210 cases
The Pinot Noir was a light ruby color with bright cherry notes, low tannins, and a bit of acidity. The acidy and lighter body helped cut through the fat in the cheese and risotto cake, keeping both the flavors of both the food and wine fresh in my mouth.
3.5 Corks

2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer ($15)
Produced: 1218 cases
This wine caught my attention because it was very different from the others. It had a light body and good acidity, like many of the other wines, but the rose petals and passion fruit notes combined with its food-friendliness made it very memorable. Plus, the price point makes it a nice every day option.
4 Corks

Grilled Petit Finger Lakes Farms Filet Mignon and Scallop with Wilted Baby Kale, Piggery Bacon Vinaigrette, Cayuga Blue, and Pickled Red Onion paired with Three Brothers Winery and Estates 0 Degree of Riesling and a 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Grilled Petit Finger Lakes Farms Filet Mignon and Scallop with Wilted Baby Kale, Piggery Bacon Vinaigrette, Cayuga Blue, and Pickled Red Onion paired with Three Brothers Winery and Estates 0 Degree of Riesling and a 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Three Brothers Winery & Estates 0 Degree of Riesling ($14)
This Riesling was clear, crisp, and stunning…especially at this price point. There were some nice apple and pear notes, mixed with a refreshing minerality and a bright acidity. I was nervous about pairing it with the filet portion of dinner, but it held up surprisingly well. That said, I couldn’t get enough of it with the scallop.
4.5 Corks

2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($27)
100% Cabernet Franc grapes
Produced: 285 cases
Nice medium ruby color with black cherry and earthy notes. I could have used a touch more body on the wine to match the nose, but it was still delicious. In fact, while it’s a little pricey, it was my favorite of the Ventosa wines and paired beautifully with the filet and scallop.
4 Corks

Red Jacket Peaches and Ginger Galette with Seneca Salted Caramel and Shaved Seneca Salt Bark Dark Chocolate paired with Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port and a 2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice

Red Jacket Peaches and Ginger Galette with Seneca Salted Caramel and Shaved Seneca Salt Bark Dark Chocolate paired with Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port and a 2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice

Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port ($25)
Holy cow…this port was absolutely luscious. There were ripe raspberries mixed with vanilla and a hint of baking spice. It was like drinking liquid velvet. Pairing it with the salted caramel and dark chocolate was just decadent.
4.5 Corks

2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice ($25)
While I always enjoy a good sweet wine, I usually only enjoy them while dining out. This wine left me wondering if I should keep a bottle on hand at home. It’s a full body, sweet wine with good acidity. There are golden raisin and honey notes, and the wine just lingers in your mouth.
4.5 Corks

Question of the Day: One of the FLX Wine Women wondering during her presentation about the benefits of focusing solely on women in the wine industry.  Statistically, there are more men winemakers than women.  Is gender something that makes a difference to you when deciding what wine to buy?  Is this something that you think people should be talking about?

Sunset over Seneca Lake at Ventosa Vineyards

Sunset over Seneca Lake at Ventosa Vineyards

Loving Binyamina: Lovers of Wine

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2009 Binyamina Gewurztraminer Late Harvest Reserve

2009 Binyamina Gewurztraminer Late Harvest Reserve

Work last week was very busy.  In fact, the last few weeks have been full of last minute projects, unexpected fire drills, and a lot of late nights. I far prefer it to be busy at work than for things to be very slow, but I just wish things didn’t get so chaotic so quickly.  In the end, it was one of those weeks where even after I came home, I spent as much time on my blackberry as I did trying to enjoy the evening with Hubby.

The 2009 Binyamina Gewürztraminer Late Harvest Reserve (winery) is from the Upper Galilee region of Israel.  The wine was made with 100% Gewürztraminer grapes, 20% of which were positively affected by botrytis.  It had a medium golden yellow.  On the nose, there were apricots, mangoes, pineapples, honeydew melons, and honey.  In the mouth, there were apricots, pineapple, and honeydew melons followed by hints of honey.  The wine was full-bodied with a slight syrupiness and ok acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $25, this wine pushes the reaches of most wallets for an every day wine, but if you have a spicy dish on the menu for dinner, this is a wine that would make a great accompaniment.   I could have used a touch more acidity to balance out the sweetness, but overall, it was a very enjoyable wine with beautiful flavors.  I paired it with Hubby’s lamb vindaloo and curried cauliflower, which was an outstanding combination.  Hubby was practically laughing at me for how much I liked the pairing.

Question of the Day: Do you enjoy drinking sweet wines on their own?  Have you tried pairing a sweet wine with spicy food?  Do you have a favorite combination?

Suggested Retail Price: $25
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Tennessee’s Winery at Belle Meade Plantation

As you may know, particularly if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve spent the last few months training for my first half marathon.  Admittedly, as my training got more intense, I had less time to blog because I was either running or recovering from running.  During that time, I missed sharing with you what I’ve been opening, particularly as I was still drinking wine.  All of that is about to change, though.  On April 30, I finished the Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville, TN!  So, I’m back…and I’m ready to share with you the first wines tasted after finishing the race.

While Hubby and I were in Nashville, we had the chance to do some sightseeing.  One of our last stops was the Belle Meade Plantation.  You can imagine my excitement when I realized that included in the mansion tour was a wine tasting.  The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation had five wines to taste: Carriage House White, Bramble Blush, Muscadine, Racing Silk Red, and Belle Meade Blackberry.

All of their wines sell for $19.50, and the wines were not my style, with the exception of the Carriage House White.

Bramble Blush—a slightly sweet rose, with good acidity but otherwise, fairly non-descript.

Muscadine—a sweet wine that tasted like smoked cotton candy.

Racing Silk Red—made with concord grapes, this wine had very low acidity and tasted like drinking alcoholic Welch’s grape juice.

Belle Meade Blackberry—Made with 80% blackberries and 20% grapes, this wine is very sweet, but has a light body.

The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation Carriage House White

The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation Carriage House White

The Carriage House White was a very pale, straw yellow.  On the nose, there were stone fruits—apricots and nectarines—granny smith apples, and a hint of pineapple and grapefruit.  In the mouth, there were nectarines and applesauce with a hint of grapefruit and pineapple.  The wine had bright acidity, a light body, and a hint of sweetness.

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $19.50, this wine is a nice picnic wine. It’s a simply, refreshing wine that would be perfect for relaxing on a hot summer day.  I actually purchased a bottle to bring home, and while the wine was most enjoyable on its own, it did pair nicely with the turkey curry and basmati rice that Hubby made for dinner.  Trying wines from different states is always fun, and this wine was a great example of what Tennessee wine can offer.

 

Price: $19.50
Purchased at The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Wine Chateau in the House

**I received this wine as a sample**

Before I was sidetracked with Virginia Wine Month and settling into my new job, I was contacted by Wine Chateau to see if I was interested in receiving a sample.  Unlike most places that contact me about samples, Wine Chateau was interested in introducing me to their online store rather than to a specific wine; and I’m so glad that they did.

According to the website, the company has had brick-and-mortar stores for more than 40 years, and their mission is to provide excellent service and low product prices.  They have more than 15,000 domestic and import wines, and their selection covers every budget.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve checked Wine Chateau to see if wines I’ve reviewed have been available, and they almost always are.  In most instances, their prices were the same or slightly lower than wines I purchased elsewhere.  For example, the 2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon that I paid $16 for in a local wine store was $12.99 on Wine Chateau, and the 2009 Albemarle Rosé that I bought at the Virginia Wine Festival for $13 was $11.29 on Wine Chateau.

2008 Col dei Venti Moscato d'Asti

Obviously, shipping and handling has to be factored into the cost of any online purchase, but Wine Chateau’s rates are a flat $14.97, regardless of how many cases your order.  There are also plenty of free shipping items to choose from.  All in all, while the most savings can be found by purchasing more wines, it is worth surfing the website to see what is available, regardless of how many bottles you plan to purchase.

I know that some people are skeptical about buying wine online, but the package Wine Chateau sent arrived quickly and good condition.  So, as we enter the holiday party season, considering the selection, the speedy delivery, the good prices, and the flat shipping rates, it may be worth checking out Wine Chateau’s website.

As for the wine sample itself, they sent me a 2008 Col dei Venti Moscato d’Asti (Wine Chateau).  The wine was a light straw yellow with a touch of fizziness.  On the nose, there were sweet apricots and peaches followed by a touch of honey.  In the mouth, there were more apricots and peaches mixed with honey.  The wine had a medium body, good acidity, and a nice effervescence.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $15, this wine is refreshing and sweet, without being overly syrupy.  I normally shy away for sweeter wines, but this one was quiet enjoyable on its own and absolutely gorgeous with the chicken curry and basmati rice that Hubby made for dinner.

Price: $15
Received as sample from Wine Chateau
Overall: 4 corks

Work “World Tour of Wine” Tasting

For those of you who are Facebook fans, you already know that, at the end of May, I was working on a wine tasting for work.  After having put together a Spanish wine tasting for coworkers during our April slow period, one of my colleagues talked to The Big Boss about my wine experience and about our staff bonding event.  He was thrilled, and, as a wine lover himself, thought it would be fun to have a wine tasting for the staff in both of his DC offices.  The tasting was held the Tuesday before Memorial Day.

Half of the people attending the wine tasting were at my Spanish wine event, so I decided that instead of doing a second Spanish-focused tasting, this one would be a “World Tour of Wine.”  As the fun part of a tasting is being able ­to try new wines and broaden wine horizons, I wanted to focus on wines that moved away from the typical Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, and Chardonnays by presenting varietals that are easy to find in wine stores, but that many inexperienced wine drinkers might shy away from buying.  Additionally, since I was expecting 30+ people at the event, I wanted to make sure that I covered a range of wine styles.

With all of that in mind, I decided to begin the tasting with a traditional French Champagne—Montaudon Extra-Dry (snooth).  The palate cleansing & revitalizing sparkler was followed by two white wines—a 2008 Paul D Grüner Veltliner (winery, snooth) from Austria and a 2009 Spy Valley (winery, snooth) from New Zealand.  Following the lighter white wines were a South African Pinotage—2008 Painted Wolf (winery, snooth)—and a California Zinfandel blend—2008 Orin Swift’s “The Prisoner” (winery, snooth).  The tasting finished with a Spanish Sherry—Nectar by González Byass (winery, snooth).

Everyone enjoyed the Champagne, which was no surprise to me or to them.  However, the other wine that received the most questions and the most refill requests was Orin Swift Cellers’ The Prisoner, followed closely by Paul D’s Grüner Veltliner.  The wine that received the most mixed reviews was González Byass’ Nectar, although everyone was happy to have tried it as almost everyone mentioned that it was not a wine they would have tasted on their own.

The Big Boss was very happy with event, particularly as he found a new wine that to enjoy.  My coworkers tasted some wines that they loved, as well as some wines that they didn’t like, but there was a lot of conversation about those wines, as the likes and dislikes varied greatly.  All in all, it seemed like everyone had a good time and that the tasting was a huge success.

***As a note, while the wines above are the ones I planned to offer and prepared tasting notes for, the wine store was actually sold out of the Spy Valley on the day of the tasting.  Therefore, I used a 2009 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (winery, snooth) as a fallback.  I will do a separate review for the Oyster Bay, but wanted to keep the Spy Valley as part of this tasting, as I thought it was a slightly better wine.