Tag Archives: regional wine

Wine review: Six white wines from New York’s Fox Run

fox runThese six white wines are some of the reasons why New York has come so far in wine quality

One of the great successes in Drink Local over the past 15 years has been New York state, which has grown, thrived, and earned rare critical acclaim. In fact, one of my great regrets with Drink Local Wine is that we never held a conference in New York’s Finger Lakes, home to some of the world’s best rieslings.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to taste New York wine regularly since the blog started, and so have been able to follow the Finger Lakes’ success. One recent example: Six white wines from Fox Run Vineyards, which was founded in 1984. Winemaker Peter Bell and co-owner Scott Osborn have long been ardent supporters of Drink Local, and I used to judge with Peter at the old Eastern International in upstate New York. His rant while we were tasting supermarket zinfandels one year has stayed with me since.

Each of these six wines are worth drinking, and several are even better than that (and most of the prices aren’t bad, either):

• Fox Run Silvan Riesling 2018 ($25, sample, 12.5%): This riesling shows why the Finger Lakes has earned its reputation. It’s long, complex, and intriguing, but also terroir-driven. That means it’s rich and full, but without the petrol or honey of a similar German riesling. Instead, there is zesty lime fruit and lots of minerality. Sill very young and probably needs a couple of years to open up. Highly recommended.

• Fox Run Dry Riesling 2018 ($15, sample, 11.7%): Very New York in style – oh so crisp, an echo of sweetness, a little lemon, maybe some oiliness (or maybe not), very long, and very clean.

• Fox Run Semi-Dry Riesling ($13, sample, 11.4%): This is exactly what an off-dry riesling should taste like — the sweetness is part of the wine, and not glopped on. This might have been my favorite of the batch, and I don’t go out of my way to find off-dry wine. Look for a bit of petrol and a bit of lime, both of which balance the sweetness. Highly recommended.

• Fox Run Traminette 2018 ($15, sample, 11.2%): This is a well made traminette, something never easy to do with this particular hybrid grape. There’s some spice, some tropical fruit, and noticeable (but not annoying) sweetness.

• Fox Run Chardonnay 2018 ($15, sample, 12.4%): One of the best domestic chardonnays at this price I’ve tasted in years — crisp green apple, clean, no hint of sweetness or the cloying tropical fruit that so many similarly priced wines have. If there is any oak, it’s hiding in the background where it should be. Tremendous value and highly recommended.

• Fox Run Kaiser Chardonnay 2018 ($15, sample, 12.5%) This tastes like Peter Bell’s take on all those fake, over-oaked, $12 to $18 supermarket chardonnays that make me crazy. Which, of course, it didn’t. Yes, the oak is pronounced, but the vanilla is balanced against the pear and apple fruit. If you like this style of wine, this will make you very happy.

More regional wine reviews:
Michigan wine 2019
Beard award semifinalists: One more victory for regional wine
Regional wine update: Virginia, Texas, Lake Erie

podcast

Winecast 52: Jessica Dupuy, The Wines of Southwest USA

Jessica Dupuy

Jessica Dupuy

Her new book, “The Wines of Southwest USA,” is a candid look at wine in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico

Jessica Dupuy, through her work with media outlets like Texas Monthly, has been fighting the good fight for Drink Local for more than a decade. Her latest effort: “The Wines of Southwest USA” ($40, Infinite Ideas). It’s a candid assessment of regional wine in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. We’ll give a copy of the book away during the blog’s 13th annual Birthday Week, beginning Nov. 16.

Overall, she says, wine quality is much improved — but that is still much room for improvement. “We’re still not at the point where people see local wine the same way they see local spinach from the farm down the road, or peaches or whatever. So in that respect, we still have a lot of work to do.”

Among the topics we discussed:

• Arizona may offer the highest upside among the states in the book, thanks to a core of impressive young producers.

• Colorado remains one of the most fascinating states in the country, since so much of its grapes are grown at altitude.

• The pandemic has hit regional wine hard, and there remains doubt about how well it survive when things return to normal.

• And finishing a book during a pandemic, with home schooling, is not the easiest thing in the world.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 16 minutes long and takes up about 11 megabytes. Quality is mostly excellent.

It’s not local wine when you’re buying grapes from another state

local wineColorado craft brewer says its new wine is innovative, but it’s the same approach Big Wine uses

Craft beer made name its name on authenticity and honesty. This was in marked contrast to Big Beer, which kept selling the same worn out and bland fizz for no other reason than because that’s what Big Beer did.

So what happens when a craft beer producer moves into wine? Does it bring the same authenticity and honesty that it brought to beer? Not, apparently, if it’s a leading Colorado craft producer called Odell Brewing.

Maybe Odell Brewing has a reason for making its wine with out of state grapes instead of those from its native Colorado — which is hardly craft, authentic or honest. I asked, but never heard back from the company. Maybe someone there truly believes the twaddle in its news release, that Odell claims it “is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of modern American wine.” And that “we’re committed to making wine that is just as innovative as our beer.”

Because making wine with out of state grapes is the sort of thing that small wine producers criticize Big Wine for doing, and that those of us who believe in Drink Local have been fighting against for years. It’s neither innovative nor boundary pushing; rather, it’s just a way to cut costs, since those grapes will probably be cheaper than buying Colorado grapes.

And Odell’s wines – a red and white blend, plus two roses, and all made with grapes purchased from Oregon and Washington – are hardly breathtaking. And that the wines will come in cans? Not exactly innovative, either, not in the middle of 2020.

Let’s be clear here – Odell can do whatever it wants, and I’m not criticizing the company for making wine. Rather, it’s because Odell is pretending that its wine effort is something that it’s not.

In fact, I can’t help but think that someone at Odell and its wholesaler, Breakthru Beverage (the third biggest in the country) wanted to duplicate the almost unprecedented success of Cooper’s Hawk. That’s the restaurant and winery chain that uses California grapes no matter where its stores are located. For one thing, Breakthru is mentioned in the second paragraph in the news release, and that’s just odd. Why would anyone care who the distributor is?

So good luck to Odell – just don’t expect anyone who knows local wine to pretend your product is local.

podcast

Winecast 42: Jay Bileti and the AWS Drink Local program

jay bilettiJay Bileti talks about the American Wine Society’s program to help its members Drink Local

The American Wine Society is one of the largest consumer wine groups in the country, so that it’s helping its members discover regional wine is one more victory for Drink Local. The AWS’ Jay Biletti, a long-time advocate for regional wine, discusses the chapter sharing program and how it works. And you don’t even have to belong to the group to participate.

For more information, click this link to find a chapter near you (scroll down to the map). Then, you can contact the local group to find out how they are participating.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 9 minutes long and takes up 3.6 megabytes. The sound quality is excellent, even though we had to try several different ways to make the recording.

Winebits 612: 7-Eleven wine, Iowa wine, Brexit wine

Brexit wineThis week’s wine news: Customer goes full-on wine critic at a California 7-Eleven, plus the success of Iowa wine and Brexit wine fears

A unique approach to wine criticism: A customer was arrested last week after police say he “threw dozens of glass bottles onto the floor” and damaged several display cases at a California 7-Eleven. No word on the motive for the incident, which took place at 9 in the morning. Maybe it would have been easier to give the wines low scores than to get arrested?

Show me the money: One more example of the success of Drink Local – one of Iowa’s preeminent wineries is for sale for $2.3 million, an unheard of sum when regional wine was little loved and less respected. The Des Moines Register reports that the two-decade old Summerset Winery is for sale at that price, which includes a 12-acre vineyard, a house and an inn. Summerset is the state’s largest winery, accounting for about 10 percent of Iowa’s production.

Stockpiling Brexit wine: Booze companies across Britain have begun stockpiling beer, wine and spirits to keep the alcohol flowing at Christmas, more than six weeks earlier than normal. The Guardian newspaper reports that the importers and distributors don’t want to be caught short if a no-deal Brexit disrupts trade in and out of the country. Says an economist: ““It’s particularly wine from the EU. Companies have bought well ahead of Christmas this year, due to potential disruption at the ports and to try and avoid depreciation in the value of sterling against the euro.”

Colorado Governor’s Cup 2019

Colorado Governor’s Cup 2019

So who’s the one running his mouth when almost everyone else is tasting or making notes?

Six things worth noting after judging the Colorado Governor’s Cup 2019

• The wines, though fewer in number than in years past, were almost all terrific. One of the difficulties in regional wine is getting past the plateau; that is, quality improves to a certain point and then seems to stall. This year, much of what we tasted had climbed past the plateau. In fact, the judges gave out so many gold medals that the best in show judging featured almost as many wines as we judged on the first day. That rarely happens.

• The highlights were the rieslings and the cabernet francs. The former should always be top notch given Colorado’s terroir, but have been maddeningly inconsistent over the past couple of years. The almost two dozen we tasted were varietally correct, balanced, and enjoyable. The cab francs, which should also do well here, may have been even better. They displayed restraint, one of the grape’s characteristics, but were not thin or dull.

• We discovered a new cold-hardy hybrid that is fruitier and less acidic than the usual suspects, called petite pearl. These grapes are bred to withstand freezing temperatures and to resist disease, but are often difficult to turn into quality wine. Petite pearl, though, seems much more wine-friendly than the others, and it may have the potential to make cold-hardy hybrids more popular. It tastes a bit like gamay, the grape used to make Beaujolais, but with more of a backbone,

• A tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my fellow judges, long-time Colorado wine expert Roberta Backland and Wine America president Jim Trezise. Anyone who can endure at my enthusiasm for grapes like petite pearl shows just how much they care about wine.

Mike Dunne, one of the best wine writers in the country, no longer writes a column for the Sacramento Bee. The paper told him it was a luxury it couldn’t afford. So the third or fourth largest metro area in the country’s biggest wine producing state doesn’t have regular wine coverage. Is it any wonder. …

• “Metrics” are one way 21st century business “quantifies” customer service. Metrics allow companies to game the system so they can show they provide customer service even when they don’t. My flight to Denver was the usual post-modern mess – it left almost an hour late, the bags took almost 40 minutes to arrive, and so on and so forth. So of course I got an email asking me to rate the “flight experience.” The Wine Curmudgeon, being the Wine Curmudgeon, answered it with a comment: “Does anyone at the airline really care about my answers, or do you do this so you can phony up the metrics?”

Photo by Alder Yarrow

Winebits 610: Local wine, wine writing, wine taxes

local wineThis week’s wine news: Local wine and the chambourcin grape get a video shout out from the Winestream Media. Plus, tips about sounding less snotty when you write and wine taxes in Ireland – which aren’t pretty.

Bring on the chambourcin: Madeline Puckette at Wine Folly offers a refreshing perspective on hybird grapes like chambourcin, complete with video: “So, instead of poo-pooing that so-called ‘foxy’ bottle of Marquette or Chambourcin, maybe give it a whirl. It might actually be good!” The point, of course, is not whether the grapes are good or bad, according to some critic’s perspective, but whether the winemaker can turn the grapes into a quality bottle of wine. Which, as I have tasted many times over the years, can be done. And it’s worth noting that I’ve had crummy bottles of wine made with so-called real grapes like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

Better wine writing: One of the Wine Curmudgeon’s crusades over the blog’s history is making wine writing easier to understand – less winespeak and more English, if nothing else. This post from Lifehacker’s Meghan Moravcik Walbert isn’t about wine writing specifically, but her suggestions apply: “[F]ancy words that make you sound like an ass are all around you. And it’s time you know so you can stop using them.” Written as only a cranky ex-newspaper employee would write, and oh so true. Her list of banned words includes “curate,” which makes me cringe, and “synergy,” which she reminds us “isn’t a real thing.”

Very high taxes: The Irish pay some of the highest taxes on wine in the world – 54 percent of a standard €9 bottle of wine is tax. That works out to about US$3.50 a bottle on a $6 bottle of wine, a staggering sum – and one the neo-Prohibitionists would no doubt gladly agree to. Interestingly, despite the tax burden, the Irish drink about twice as much per capita as we do in the states. And our tax burden is just one-quarter to one-third of the Irish, depending on where you live,

Photo: “drinking wine” by “Boots McKenzie” is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0