New Wines April 1 to 15

Barnstormer Sangiovese Rosé 2017

Barnstormer greatly expanded production of its popular Sangiovese rosé in 2017.  This year’s model does not have the alluring scents of some previous vintages.  A bit of sourness in the finish detracts.  Nevertheless, this is a crisp and refreshing rosé that should be appealing on a warm Spring or Summer day.  Drink it with snacks.

The Barnstormer Winery Sangiovese Rosé (Finger Lakes, NY) 2017 $19 [Good+] is beautifully colored — a delicate light bluish pink.  The aromas are a combination of flowers, tutti-frutti, and herbs — specifically, white flowers, banana, melon, strawberry, bitter green herbs, and chalky mineral.  Medium bodied, off dry, with plentiful acidity and a lighter mouth feel, balance is good.  Medium intense flavors of melon and strawberry are accompanied by the perfume of white flowers and strongly inflected with bitter green herbs and chalky mineral notes.  The finish turns more acidic, nearly sour, with notable green bitterness and good length.  Flavors linger.


Barry Family Cellars Blaufränkisch 2016

The Barry Family Cellars Blaufränkisch (Finger Lakes, NY) 2016 $23 [Good+] is a soft and easy drinking wine, with warm mellow woodsy flavors.  An excess of tobacco and woody notes in the finish is a drawback.  Drink this wine with snacks or dinner.

Light to medium ruby in color, the aromas are warm and light to medium intense, with scents of tobacco and vanilla in the forefront, backed up by black cherry, black berries, and a hint of medicine cabinet.  Medium bodied, quite soft, with light tannin, balance is good.  Flavors of tobacco, molasses, black cherry, black berries, and a hint of band aids or medicine cabinet have good intensity.  The finish turns too far toward tobacco, molasses and woodsy notes at the expense of fruit.  Length is average.


Barry Family Cellars Cabernet Franc 2016

The Barry Family Cellars Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes, NY) 2016 $26 [Good+] has attractive aromas of tart red fruit, dates, spice, and hints of chocolate.  The overall impresion sometimes suggests a raspberry dessert or chocolate raspberry candies.  The concentration of  flavor does not impress as much as the aromas, and the finish of this wine is short.  Drink it with snacks or dinner.

Light to medium bright ruby, the BFC has a violet edge.  The aromas show a good deal of oak — vanilla and baking spice especially — as well as tart raspberry, fig/date, and peppery spice.  Medium bodied, mouth filling, with minimal tannin and above average acidity, balance is good. Moderately intense flavors of tart red berries, fig/date, vanilla, baking spice, peppery spice, and stony mineral have good purity.  Flavors fall off rapidly in the finish, which is short.


Barry Family Cellars Rosé of Cabernet Franc 2017

Adulteration of wine is not something I often do.  Very rarely, an ice cube finds its way into the glass.  If the wine is really mediocre, a splash of fruit juice may save the day.  

This wine is solidly flavored, but balance is off kilter.  Very dry, with a sour finish, there are two ways this bottle can be improved.  A smidgen of calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) will reduce acidity.  A dash of sugar will improve balance and drinkability.  If you’re interested in what makes a wine “balanced," try playing with tiny additions of sugar and bicarbonate.  It’s a fun experiment.

The Barry Family Cellars Rosé of Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes, NY) 2017 $17 [Good to Good+] is medium salmon in color.  Medium intensity aromas of tart strawberry and cherry are spiked with peppery notes and smoky mineral.  The aromas clearly say “Cabernet Franc”. Medium bodied, very dry, and very tart, balance is off.  This wine needs less acid and good pinch of sugar.  Flavors of tart cherry and strawberry are inflected with pepper and smoky mineral.  The finish is very tart, with good length.  This wine is no sipper.  It needs food.


Barry Family Cellars “Pet Gnat” Sparkling Pinot Noir 2017

The Barry Family Cellars “Pet Gnat” Sparkling Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes, NY) 2017 $28 [Unrated] is a Pétillant Naturel wine, and has about as much funk as one can find in these wines.  Aromas and flavors of cough drops, medicine cabinet, band aids and farm yard are all here.  These scents and flavors can work in small quantities, but in this wine they nearly steal the show.  Luckily, there is a good deal of sour cherry and strawberry fruit too.  Natural wine fanatics may find this wine fascinating, while other drinkers will decide it is ghastly.  My own view falls nearer the middle.  This is a fairly well made wine with a good deal of fruit, but the flavors are odd and unattractive.

Slightly cloudy orange/pink in color, the aromas feature lots of candied strawberry and sour cherry, as well as yeasty lees, seltzer, cough drops, band aids and horse barn.  There is a lot of brett in this wine.  It has a very medicinal character.  Medium bodied, off dry to medium dry, tart and steely in character, balance is good.  Flavors of strawberry and sour cherry are accompanied by yeasty lees, band aids, medicine cabinet and a steely note.  Concentration is good, but the flavors are far too funky.  As fruit recedes in the finish, the flavors show sour, saline, and funky elements to an even greater extent.  Length is good.  Farm yard flavors linger.


Damiani “Little Lotus Flower” Sauvignon Blanc 2016

The Damiani Wine Cellars “Little Flower” Sauvignon Blanc (Finger Lakes, NY) 2016 $22 [Good+ to Very Good] is not the sort of Sauvignon Blanc most tasters would recognize.  There is very little of the 3Gs -- grapefruit, gooseberry and grassy notes -- that most people associate with the grape.  Instead, this wine is round, subtley influenced by oak aging, with honeyed nutty flavors.  Not very satisfying as a sipper, this bottle is best with food.

Medium straw yellow in color, the aromas have a plump and creamy quality, with scents of honeyed apple, nuts, apricot and smoky loam.  Full bodied, dry, with a full mouth feel, balance is good.  Ripe honeyed flavors of apple, ripe apricot, nuts, citrus, and smoky mineral are sometimes hard to grasp, but the flavors come into clearer focus with extended aeration. The wine works better with food.  Length is good.

Note: Decant this wine for several hours, if possible.  Try it with Stir-Fried Chicken and Green Pepper with Cumin and Cilantro.


Dr. Konstantin Frank “Hilda” Chardonnay 2016

The Dr. Konstantin Frank “Hilda” Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, NY) 2016 $35 [Good+ to Very Good] is a well balanced wine (its best attribute), with a noticeable jot of sugar and light to medium intense flavors.  It is a barrel fermented wine, so there is a great deal of oak influence in the aromas and flavors.  Primarily a  sipper, it doesn’t have enough intensity to work well at the dinner table.  It is less impressive after a sojourn in the  fridge, so drink it in one sitting.  Given its quality, the sticker price is quite high. 

Medium to dark straw in color, the aromas are airy and light, with scents of charcoal, toast, spice, and low-key apple and sappy white peach. Medium to full bodied, off dry to medium dry, with a soft lighter weight mouth feel, balance is very good.  Gentle lightly intense flavors of ripe apple, sappy white peach, toast, and spice are pleasing but lack intensity and don’t make a strong impression.  The finish is balanced, slightly bitter, with average length.


Forge Cellars “Classique” Pinot Noir 2016

The Forge Cellars “Classique” Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes, NY) 2016 $26 [Very Good]  has solid warm/meaty flavors that show the heat of the 2016 vintage.  While not as charming or complex as the 2015, it is a solid bottle of Pinot Noir.  Sip or drink with food.

Light ruby in color, the mellow aromas are warm and enticing, with scents of toast, roasted nuts, baking spice, red and black fruit, and a hint of farm yard.  Full bodied, with a good deal of gritty tannin, balance is good.  The tannin subsides with aeration.  Straightforward flavors of red and black fruit have medium intensity and are accompanied by roasted nuts, toast, baking spice and herbs.  The finish is of a piece, gritty, with good to very good length.


Inspire Moore “Wisdom” Red Wine 2015

The Inspire Moore “Wisdom” Red Wine (Finger Lakes, NY) 2015 $17.50 [Good+ to Very Good] is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (32.5%) and Cabernet Franc (67.5%).  It has very good concentration of flavor, but is also very savory, with a plethora of smoky, tarry and peppery notes. Given the wine’s character, it might be best with a charcoal grilled steak.  In combination with the right food, this wine might merit a somewhat higher quality rating.

Medium bright garnet in color, the aromas are full of savory scents — peppery spice,, smoke, charcoal, and tar — which take precedence over the underlying black currant and red berry fruit.  Full bodied, with medium coarse gritty tannin, balance is good.  The flavors are very savory, with lots of charcoal, tar, bitter green stems and peppery spice.  But the wine’s cassis and red berry fruit is nearly a match for its savory elements.  The finish is moderately bitter, gritty, and peppery, with good length.  Waxy vanilla notes linger.


Ravines “Le Petit Caporal” Red Wine 2015

The Ravines Wine Cellars “Petit Caporal” Red Wine (Finger Lakes, NY) 2015 $35 [Excellent] is a tremendous wine, with a complex set of aromas, intense flavors, and very good balance.  Juicy and delicious, it is simply too easy to drink; the critic’s pen often finds itself idle.  This wine also has an interesting story (see note below).  Drink it any way you like.

The Petit Caporal is beautifully colored, a medium dark velvety ruby.  Lush and forward aromas of ripe raspbery, red and black currant, vanilla, baking spice, cocoa, sandalwood, graphite and menthol are harmonious and captivating.  Full bodied, mouth filling, soft, with just enough acidity and tannin, balance is very good.  Soft lush flavors of raspberry, red and black currant, vanilla, baking spice, and graphite have excellent purity and concentration.  The finish incorporates a little sour tang (which carries it along), a great deal of fruit, and dollops of baking spice and graphite.  It is quite long, and flavors linger.

Note: “Le Petit Caporal” (the little corporal) seems like an odd name for a wine, especially an American wine from the Finger Lakes, until one knows the back story.  Le Petit Caporal was Napoleon’s nickname.  Sam Argetsinger (of the famed Argetsinger vineyard) was a great admirer of Bonaparte, and the silhouette on the label is Sam’s.  Morten Halgren means this wine to be an "homage to the spirit of adventures and leaders; people of strength and integrity who are born to change the world,” and more specifically as "a tribute to our dear departed friend Sam.”  The Cabernet Franc grapes in this blend are from the Argetsinger Vineyard.  It is composed of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Merlot.


Standing Stone Chardonnay 2017

Hermann J. Wiemer is in the process of acquiring Standing Stone.  The benefits of the acquisition are immediately apparent in this wine, as Wiemer provided assistance with fruit sorting and blending.  The Standing Stone Chardonnay (Seneca Lake AVA, Finger Lakes, NY) 2017 $13 to $17 [Very Good] is the best Chardonnay I have had from this winery.  Very well balanced, with a delicate mouth feel, and pure flavors of waxy apple and white peach, this is a great sipping wine.  It scores with its finesse.  It should work well with light to moderate intensity foods.  At the bottom of the price range it is a very good value.

Medium bright yellow in color, the wine exudes scents of waxy/sappy apple and white peach, with light touches of citrus and chalky loam. Medium bodied, dry, with a touch of spritz and a gentle mouth feel, the SS is very attractively balanced.  Waxy well-defined flavors of apple and white peach have an appealing delicacy, as well as very good intensity and purity.  A chalky streak runs through the flavors.  The finish is gently soft with a light spritz and very good length.


Terrassen Rosé 2017

It is already apparent that 2017 will be a better vintage than 2016 for dry rosé.  Unlike the fat and often sweet 2016s, this year’s batch showcases lively acidity and abundant fruit flavor.  Some of these fruity wines seem natural enough, while others are marked by banana and other tutti-frutti aromas that are probably the result of manipulation via specialized yeasts.  One of the virtues of this Terrassen wine is its relatively restrained fruit, making it a more natural companion for food than the tutti-frutti wines.  Very nice balance and an attractive mouth feel are also plusses. 

Medium bluish pink in color, the Terrassen Cellars Rosé (Finger Lakes, NY) 2017 $17 to $21 [Very Good+] shows scents of strawberry, red currant jam, melon and black pepper.  Medium bodied, dry, plump and mouth filling, with energetic acidity and a mineral/pepper tingle, balance is very good.  Sappy flavors of strawberry, red currant, melon, black pepper, a woodsy note, and stony mineral are fresh and focused, with very good intensity.  The finish is even keeled, with a gentle smack of the lips and very good length.

Note: This wine is made from Blaufränkisch.


© Douglas Hillstrom 2014