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

A Great Gewürz

VAWine Month 25th AnniversaryOctober is Virginia Wine Month, and while I’m not planning to only drink Virginia wines this month (like I did back in 2010), I do want to give my adopted home state a little love for the wonderful things that are being done with wine.  When I moved here in 1999, most of the wines were of questionable quality.  To be honest, I only drank them when I would head to the wineries with my girlfriends, and those adventures were more about escaping DC for the day then they were about being excited to drink Virginia wine. That is no longer the case.  In fact, with Virginia winemakers focusing more on grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Viognier, the state has developed such fabulous wine legs that many of the wines can go toe-to-toe with more well-known wine states like Oregon and Washington.

2012 Afton Mountain Gewürztraminer

2012 Afton Mountain Gewürztraminer

That all said, instead of going with the better known Virginia grapes to kick of Virginia Wine Month, I opened up one of my favorite Virginia whites–the Afton Mountain Vineyards Gewürztraminer.  Not to worry, though, I have some Cab Franc (both a red and a rose) and Petit Verdot to review during the month.  However, the heat wave in DC and Hubby’s spicy dinner menu was too perfect a setup for me to pass on the Afton Mountain Gewürz.

The 2012 Afton Mountain Vineyards Gewürztraminer (winery) is from outside of Charlottesville in Afton, Virginia and is made with 100% Gewürztraminer.  The wine is a pale greenish yellow with small bubbles that cling to the side of the glass.  On the nose, there was honey, white flowers, and hints of orange zest, banana, and pineapple.  In the mouth, there was orange zest, banana, pineapple and hints of lime, ginger, and honey.  The wine was a light-to-medium body with bright acidity and a hint of effervescence.

Afton Mountain Vineyard CorkIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $19, this wine is local (for me, anyway), affordable, and delicious.  It’s a food-friendly wine that is particularly good with Hubby’s turkey curry vindaloo and spicy cauliflower because the touch of sweetness helps to control the spice, but the acidity and effervescence keeps both the food and wine flavors fresh during the meal.  Admittedly, it’s also a wine that has me going back for seconds (or thirds) after dinner because it’s very pleasant on the palate and easy to drink.

Question of the Day:  Can you purchase Virginia wine where you live?  Have you ever tried one?  If so, which one and what did you think of it?  

Price: $19
Purchased at Afton Mountain Vineyards
Overall: 4 Corks

A Good Gewürz

I’ve written before about how a former coworker of mine and I often tease each other about the other’s wine preferences.  At one point, I had clearly been inundating him with so much Spanish wine that he actually purchased a bottle on his own, which is how I was introduced to Herencia Altés Garnatxa Negra.  Part of why I tease him is because he’s a French vinophile, with a particular love for Alsatian wine.  As such, he will occasionally turn me onto one of “his” wines.  And, not only that, since he and his girlfriend have enough storage space to cellar wines, they buy them by the case and will sometimes give me the opportunity to buy a few bottles from that case at a significantly lower cost.  On Sunday, January 6th, as I awaited the U.S. premiere of Season 3 of Downtown Abbey and planned what I would bring with me for my first day of jury duty, I opened up one of these bottles—the 2011 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer.

2011 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer

2011 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer

The 2011 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer (winery, amazon) is from Alsace, France and was a very pale lemon-yellow.  On the nose, there were pineapples, nectarines, and lemons with a hint of roses, baked sugar, honey, and white pepper.  In the mouth, there were pineapples, peaches, and lemons with hints of honey and white pepper.  The wine had a touch of effervescence, a light-to-medium body, and bright 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 goes down easily…perhaps a little too easily.  I paired it with broiled crab cakes and applesauce, which was a nice combination, and then continued to enjoy through the rest of the evening.  Before I knew it, almost the entire bottle was gone!  And trust me, that was not my intention on a Sunday night, although I definitely enjoyed the splurge.

While the wine did a nice job cutting through the olive oil on the broiled crab cakes, it would also have been a nice pairing with a mildly spicy Indian curry, some Thai basil chicken, or a Chinese lo-mein.  It would also be the perfect addition to a spring picnic, so as the weather warms up and you’re wondering which bottle to stick in your the wine cooler, consider this Gewürz…you won’t be disappointed.  It’s food-friendly, but also easily enjoyable on its own; however, I recommend sharing it with someone else or you may find that you unintentionally finished the whole bottle by yourself!

Question of the Day:  Have you ever unintentionally finished a whole bottle of wine when you originally planned to only have a glass or two?  Do you remember which wine it was?

Price: $25
Purchased at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Overall: 4 Corks

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

First Wine Sips of Spring

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

Two weeks ago the weather in DC went from warm-for-winter to hot-like-summer.  Granted, this gorgeous weather coincided with a particularly busy time at work, so I spent much of the week grinding away on a project while looking longingly out the windows at the sunshine and cherry blossoms.  It always seems more difficult to be a responsible, productive adult at work when the project is stressful and outside looks so perfect.  Before leaving for work one day, Hubby had thankfully opened the windows in our condo, and since our dining room is actually our unit’s sunroom, we at least had fresh air and the sounds of Spring to accompany our dinner.  Feeling the call of the warmer weather, I decided it was time to start opening up “warm weather wine.”

2010 Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer Reserve

2010 Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer Reserve

The 2010 Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer Reserve (winery) was a medium yellow.  On the nose, there were flower bouquets mixed with nectarines and honeydew.  In the mouth, there was honey, the syrup from canned mandarin oranges, and flowers mixed with a touch of honeydew, nectarines, and ginger on the finish.  The wine had a medium body and like-like acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine.  At an SRP of $15, this wine is a solid, affordable choice.  It is a nice after work wine, particularly as the weather gets warmer.  Unfortunately, I made a bad pairing decision and drank this wine with baked garlic and dill flounder and couscous cooked in a white wine.  The bottle suggests drinking it with a curry dish, which I agree would be a nice pairing, and significantly better than the one I put together.  However, I feel like this is more of a sip and nosh wine than an all out dinner wine.  It would be a great with cheese or just relaxing for an hour or two with a book.

Question of the Day: Does the weather change your wine drinking decisions?  If so, have you started drinking your “Spring wine?”

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks