Wine Review: Boundary Breaks Riesling (FLX)

     Boundary Breaks Vineyard Medium Dry 2016 Ovid Line North Riesling is a wine that has slightly sweet start and a smooth finish. It is a balanced wine with enough acidity to keep it from being too sweet. With a 12% A.B.V. and a 2.0 R.S.(residual sugar) the tropical and stone fruit flavors are restrained but noticeable. That bit of sweetness not only makes this Riesling a good choice for sipping but also the perfect match for spicy food especially Asian cuisine.  http://boundarybreaks.com

 

Boundary Breaks sits near the eastern shore of Seneca Lake on Porter Covert Rd in Lodi, N.Y. I have learned if the address includes the word “Covert” it means you can expect to experience the FLX like a local because you will often be driving on narrow gravel roads flanked by breathtaking vineyards and scenic views. It is well worth the time and effort to do the research required to find theses hidden gems located just off the main road because the rewards are always memorable. Boundary Breaks Vineyard is one of those wineries.

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Book Review: Dr. Konstantin Frank

     My wife and I had the good fortune to meet Fred Frank during a recent visit to Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellar. Fred could not have been a more warm and welcoming host as we talked and sampled his excellent wines. As we were enjoying our visit he surprised us with a gift. The gift was a copy of the Tom Russ book “Finger Lakes Wine and the Legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank” that he thoughtfully signed with a message for us. I had some idea of the history surrounding Dr. Frank and the groundbreaking changes he brought to the wine industry in the Eastern United States but I was astonished to learn how world events conspired to bring this amazing man to New York and start him on a lifelong quest to bring vinifera grapes to the vineyards along the East Coast. Author Tom Russ takes his readers on the journey of Dr. Konstantin Frank from his birth on July 4th, 1899 in the Ukraine to his passing in Elmira, New York on September 6th, 1985 chronicling all the twists and turns that defined his life.

     Russ captures Dr. Frank’s vision that Vitis vinifera wine grapes could be successfully grown in the Eastern U.S. because “He felt Americans deserved only the best wines”- Frederick Frank. This book documents the life and legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank that continues to evolve today in wineries and vineyards east of the Mississippi River and in Southeastern Canada. Tom Russ conveys the all consuming and sometimes misdirected obsession that Dr. Frank had for the promotion of vinifera wine grapes as seen through the eyes of family, friends, cooperators and adversaries to weave a compelling story of a complex man who changed the wine industry to the benefit of everyone that loves good wine. This book is available in print or e-book from http://amazon.com , http://arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626197343 and at the Dr. Frank tasting room Hammondsport, New York.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

May you enjoy a warm holiday with your friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Coastal Confessions

Quinta de Santiago Alvarinho 2016

     The Portuguese white wine grape Alvarinho is the same grape as Spanish Albarino but the terrior of Portugal’s Minho Region makes a profound difference in the wine that it producers.

     Silver Coast Imports offers the 100% Alvarinho Quinta de Santiago 2016 in Pennsylvania by S.L.O. for $17.99 from the P.L.C.B. store or online at http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com This Alvarinho varietal displays bright acidity and crisp mineralality with a taste profile of tropical fruit, like pineapple and lychee. It is stainless steel aged on its lees and is stirred to create complexity, aroma. enhanced flavor compounds, palate weight and texture. Portuguese cuisine is closely tied to the sea and this wine is a perfect match for any seafood.

 

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Silver Coast Imports

    When our good friends Alex and Emma Canoni returned from their recent trip to Portugal they brought back memories of a beautiful country of unforgettable scenic vistas and rustic villages filled with friendly locals. They also brought back the story of a man named Cristian Bento.

     Cristian lives in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, PA but his family is from Portugal and he has been traveling there his entire life. When visiting Portugal he would always enjoy their amazing wine but was disappointed by the quality and selection of Portuguese wines he found for sale back home. The majority of Portuguese wine found on U.S. shelves come from the large-scale commercial producers and fall in the $6.99 – $9.99 range. This injustice to Portuguese wine did not sit well with Cristian so he started applying for one license or permit after another and before long he had founded Silver Coast Imports.

     Silver Coast Imports is focusing its attention on smaller family run estates which means almost all of their vineyards are new to the U.S. market. The price of the Silver Coast wines are slightly higher than you are accustomed to when shopping for Portuguese wine but the increase in quality makes it well worth the little extra. Cristian knows his market and is concentrating on value with most of his wines selling for less than $20. Bento offers a selection of unique wines for more than $20 that are also excellent values. Cristian told me ” My mission is to show people that Portugal is making super high quality wine and at better prices than other wine-producing countries.”

     You can find Silver Coast Imports wine in P.L.C.B. stores, online at www.finewineandgoodspirits.com and by the bottle or glass in many Philadelphia area restaurants. Cristian has partnered with Dreadnaught Wines to be his distributor in PA  making it even easier to find his Portuguese wines anywhere in the state. Millennials and folks that are 50+ are showing a great response to these wines because many of them have visited Portugal in recent years and want to relive their wine memories after returning home.

     Silver Coast has a nice menu of both white and red wine. Their whites are surprisingly complex and several have received 90 plus ratings from Robert Parker Wine Advocate. He recommends approaching Portuguese Reds as you would Reds from France or Italy. Most wines are named by region not by grape variety. If you are familiar with shopping for Bordeaux or Borolo then you would feel comfortable shopping for Douro, Alentejo, Dao or Lisboa. Most Portuguese wines are blends but that’s not to say that there aren’t some very good varietals to be found.

     A good place to start when exploring Portuguese varietals is with the white grape: Alvarinho and the red grape: Touriga Nacional. Alvarinho is the same grape as Spanish Albarino but the terrior of Portugal makes all the difference. Silver Coast lists a Quinta de Santiago 2015 Alvarinho 91 pts that is dry with a tropical taste profile of pineapple and lychee for $17.99.

     Their Arrepiado Velho 2015 ($17.83 SLO) is a rarely found Touriga Nacional varietal that is partly oak cask aged with flavors of plum, smashed blueberries, lavender, violets, spice and tobacco.

Port wine has always been closely associated with Portugal. Silver Coast offers two very different examples of Port for you to discover. They import a Twandy Port that was aged 10 years in oak casks and a White Port made by Rita Marques and Ricardo Freitas from Maderia Wine.

     For more information on Silver Coast Imports contact Cristian Bento  email: cbento@silvercoastimports.com   Cell: 267-236-4248                                                       website: http://www.silvercoastimports.com

Catalog:  Silver-Coast-Imports-Catalog-Sep-2017-Web-noprice

      

    

 

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Chateau Niagara Winery Wine Dinner

       Chateau Niagara Winery will be hosting a wine pairing dinner that will feature some of their recently released wines paired with a menu prepared and presented by personal chef and owner of Fit N Fresh catering, Melissa Rakvica. Winemaker Jim Baker will be discussing his wines that will be poured and Chef Rakvica will describe the exciting dishes she has prepared to complement the wine. Jim and Melissa have an incredible dinner planned for you on Friday November 10th, 2017 from 6PM – 8:30 PM at the Chateau Niagara Winery 2466 West Creek Rd. New Fane, NY. Tickets are $60 each and with only 40 being sold they will sell out fast.  To purchase tickets and view the menu visit:   SOLD OUT                                                                                                   http://chateauniagarawinery.com    

 

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Time Traveler: Saperavi

     I wrote this article as a guest post for Anatoli Levine’s wine blog http://talk-a-vino.com under the title “Desperately  Seeking Saperavi”. I have updated it to keep my readers current with the evolving story of Saperavi.

The vintners of the Northeastern United States have long searched for a red wine grape that could be their signature grape. Over the years several have been on the cusp of becoming the iconic red wine grape that would be identified with the region for producing world-class red wine. Vintages of Lemberger and Cabernet Franc have produced stellar wines that can hold their own with other regions but just couldn’t elbow their way through a crowded field of reds to command the attention of the wine drinkers of the Eastern U.S. and beyond. The fact that you are reading this post proves that you are curious about something new in a world full of wine that can be overwhelming at times. The following is a summary of information I have gathered over the years about this intriguing grape from the wine makers and vineyard managers who know it best.

Saperavi is an ancient grape that can trace its origin to the Kakheti Region of Georgia and  surrounding regions as far back as 6000 B.C. Saperavi is a teinturier-type grape, which means it has a dark skin and a pink-tinted flesh. A teinturier variety of grape will produce an intensely colored juice when crushed because both the skin and flesh contain the water-soluble pigment anthrocyanin which is responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their red, blue and purple color. Saperavi is a very adaptable loose bunch, late ripening, cool climate grape variety that can produce large yields without sacrificing much fruit quality. These vines are able to thrive in cool climate regions even at high altitudes because they have above average resistance to cold temperatures. A more cold/frost tolerant hybrid called Saperavi Severny has been developed by incorporating genes from the hardy Severny grape. Traditionally Saperavi wine has been blended with lesser wines but recently it has gained popularity as a varietal bottling. A common translation of Saperavi is “dye” because it makes an extremely dark-colored wine. Saperavi wine is known for having good acidity and firm but not overwhelming tannins. It is these attributes that make it a wine that takes well to aging with some examples being found to have aged nicely for fifty years. Georgia recently has had political problems with its neighbors over the export of wine, notably Saperavi, but that is blessing because it is diverting more wine to the world market.

When talking about Saperavi I can’t contain my excitement and expectations for the wine being grown and made in the United States. I have coined the term “New World Saperavi” for the wine being grown and made by four wineries in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York, one on the Niagara Lake Plain in Northern New York and one in Central Pennsylvania. In the FLX Saperavi is being grown and made at Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars by Frederick (Fred) Frank, the son of Willy Frank and the grandson of Dr. Konstantin Frank, two legendary wine makers. Dr. Konstantin Frank was familiar with Saperavi from his research and work in the Ukraine before World War II. After the war he left Europe and brought his knowledge of growing vitis Vinifera grapes in a cold climate to the FLX where he revolutionized winemaking in the Eastern United States. Saperavi  winemaking is well established at Standing Stone Vineyards thanks to Martha (Marti) Macinski (owner/winemaker). She is one of the pioneers of Saperavi in the FLX and is making her wine using grapes from her ever-expanding Saperavi vineyard, arguably the largest in North America. In the Spring of 2017 Tom & Marti Macinski sold Standing Stone Vineyard to Fred Merwarth & Oskar Bynke, owners of Herman J. Wiemer Vineyard on the western shore of Seneca Lake in Dundee, NY. It is my understanding that the Standing Stone line of wine will be retained and that the Saperavi program will be continued. Anyone familiar with FLX Saperavi knows John McGregor at McGregor Vineyards, the maker of McGregor Black Russian Red. This wine is often refered to as “THE” cult wine of the FLX. McGregor Black Russian Red is a unique blend of Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni and is only produced at John’s Keuka Lake winery. Rob & Kate Thomas, owners of Shale Stone Winery produced their first vintage of Saperavi in 2014. They source their grapes from the Valois, NY vineyards of John Beckhorn. Shale Stone Winery will be planting a Saperavi vineyard in the Spring of 2018. The success of Rob & Kate’s Saperavi vineyard is assured because Shale Stone Winery is located right across the road from Standing Stone Vineyards. The old adage ” Location is everything” isn’t only true in real estate but also very important when growing wine grapes.

Jim & Kathy Baker planted 1/2 acre of Saperavi vines on their Niagara Lake Plain

Saperavi Grapes

property in New York five years ago. They used the grapes from that vineyard to produce Chateau Niagara’s newly released first vintage of Saperavi. This wine turned out so well that Jim is strongly considering adding substantially to his Saperavi vineyard. Jim also uses his Saperavi grapes to make a dessert wine called Kagor.  

The only Saperavi producer outside of New York state is Fero Vineyards and Winery in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Chuck Fero is the owner/winemaker at Fero and is experimenting with different wine making techniques and styles to capitalize on the distinct characteristics this grape exhibits. Fero’s Saperavi planting has grown to about an acre and is projected to yield about 4-5 tons of fruit. Chuck will turn that harvest into 300 cases of his award-winning Saperavi wine. 

Fero isn’t the only winery exploring the possible of Saperavi, all five of its counterparts in New York continue to hone in on their particular vision of what Saperavi can be and what styles it can be made into. Their success isn’t going unnoticed as more vineyard managers are planting Saperavi but the addition of newly planted acres is slow. There are several factors that have hindered the spread of Saperavi not the least of which is the scarcity of the vines themselves. White Barrel Winery (formerly Attimo) in Christianburg, Virginia has a young Saperavi vineyard that will be maturing in the next few years. Anyone considering adding Saperavi to their property can start their search at Grafted Grapevine Nursery Clifton Springs, New York a longtime supplier of Saperavi and other varieties to the wine industry.  http://graftedgrapevines.com 

The next stop on our search for “New World” Saperavi is Australia. South Australia to be more exact, home to Dan Traucki wine industry consultant, Director of Wine Assist Pty Ltd., freelance writer and my friend in the search for Saperavi wherever it may take me. Through his articles and our correspondences Dan has given me an insider’s perspective of the current state of Saperavi and other lesser known wines being made in Australia. Australian wine production from its nearly 4000 wineries is dominated by Shiraz and Chardonnay making completion for market share acutely competitive. Fourteen ground-breaking vineyard managers have taken the speculative position of planting Saperavi in their vineyards. The majority of these plantings are in the Barossa Valley and McLean Vale Regions. Saperavi can also be found in the cool climate of the Alpine Valley region of Victoria. The cool climate Saperavi produces a slender wine with an angular taste profile while the warm climate renders a wine of muscular body and vivid taste. I helped  Dan with an international Saperavi tasting that he organized earlier this year. Dan collected 33+ samples of Saperavi from wine makers around the world and the results of the tasting confirmed that Saperavi is a rising star. The next big Saperavi competition is being held in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia by the online publication Hvino News under the auspices of their publishing house Hvino News http://sapprize.hvino.com with the support of Georgia’s National Wine Agency. The “Saperavi World Prize” is open to non-Georgian producers worldwide and is free to enter. 

I am interested in how Saperavi’s innate ability to express its terroir plays out when it is being planted in a diverse assortment of locations around the globe. Even though these vineyards are planted in vastly different regions of the world there is a high probability that over the course of time the DNA of other wine grapes has found its way into the DNA of Saperavi as it has with all other “pure” strains of wine grapes. The vines for Australian Saperavi were sourced from the Archival Saperavi of Roseworthy Agricultural College. This note-worthy collection of vines has been amassed from vineyards worldwide over the past 100 years. With this thought in mind I am sure that Saperavi produced anywhere will display the unmistakable qualities that we associate with it but will also manifest certain site specific characteristics that will be inevitable because of its genetic tendency to adapt to the growing environment.

The story of “New World Saperavi” is in its early chapters but luckily for us it is being written by skilled wine makers that are fearless visionaries when it comes to the future they see for their wineries. The possibilities surrounding this wine are fascinating and evolving with each new harvest. I am a curious person and have always enjoyed exploring something new and exciting. I invite you to join me in this adventure. A journey in the pursuit of an ageless red wine grape reinvented in vineyards a world away from its ancestral home by dreamers and risk takers as full of life as Saperavi itself. I urge you to indulge your inquisitive side and try Saperavi from anywhere in the world. I think you will be surprised and glad you got to taste something a little different before any of your friends. 

 

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“From Russia with Love” Dr. Frank Cuvee d’ Amour 2014

 

     On a beautiful day in early June, my wife and I found ourselves standing at

View from Dr. Frank Wine Cellars Hammondsport, New York

the tasting bar of Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, New York taking in the spectacular view of Keuka Lake. We were led through a tasting of Dr. Frank wines by someone who knows them better than anyone, none other than Fred Frank, grandson of the legendary Dr. Konstantin Frank. After sampling several excellent Dr. Frank wines that included a few fabulous “Sparklers” Fred walked across the room holding a bottle and said to me “I know you like to try the different wines” as he held it up to show me the label, “Cuvée d’ Amour 2014.

Cuvée d’ Amour is made from the fruit of the vitis Amurensis grape. Dr. Konstantin Frank was familiar with this extremely cold-hardy grape and brought it to the FLX from Russia. This grape species is native to the Asian Continent where it is known as the Amur grape in Russia and Shan Pu Tao in China.

The first thing I noticed as Fred poured the wine into my glass was its dark red color. Cuvée d’ Amour 2014 is a flavorful full-bodied red with bright acidity that fits nicely within its well-defined structure leading to what Dr. Frank aptly describes as a “Crisp finish reminiscent of a fine Bordeaux or Borolo.” I would lean towards the Bordeaux but it also has characteristic hints of several wines but they aren’t prominent enough to mention.

If you want to indulge your curiosity for something unique I would suggest trying Cuvée d’ Amour 2014. It is available online at http://drfrankwines.com or at their tasting room in Hammondsport, New York for $29.99.

Russia and China have invested a considerable amount of time and money into the development of vitis Amurensis. This grape has a long list of positive traits that makes it highly desirable in that region of the world. It is probably the most cold-hardy vitis grape at -30°C but while that fact is impressive this grape also has a strong resistance to disease including powdery mildew, white rot, grapevine anthracuose and black pox. Since it has no distinctive aroma it provides a “Blank Canvas” that will not disturb the aroma profile of varieties that it is being hybridized with.

The story life story of Dr. Konstantin Frank is a fascinating one and has been recounted by author Tom Russ in his book “Finger Lakes Wine and the Legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank”. Fred Frank generously gifted a signed copy to me during our visit and I am very grateful for his kind gesture. You can purchase it on Amazon.com  

 

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“Saperavi World Prize” Competition

     I recently received an interesting email from Inge Olsson at http://news.hvino.com  , an online publication covering Georgia, Russia and promoting Georgian wines. Hvino News is in Tbilisl, Georgia and under the auspices of the publishing house Hvino News with the support of Georgia’s National Wine Agency is organizing the first “Saperavi World Prize“. Entry into the competition is free and open to all Saperavi producers in the world except the ones in Georgia. Inge told me the reasoning is that there are over 300 wineries in Georgia and nearly all of them use Saperavi. Since entry is free they would receive hundreds of Saperavi samples from the Georgian producers.. The few foreign entries would be out numbered, so their chances of winning would be very low. Georgia already has a national contest and the intent of the “Saperavi World Prize” was to create an international competition that would build communication with Georgia, not to position Georgia as a rival. They are currently exploring proposals to solve this.

     The tasting will be in Georgia where the entries will be presented to an international panel of judges. When I posted this article I knew that 19 producers had submitted samples. All 13 Australian producers have entered but they will not have an easy road to victory because New Zealand, Russia, U.S.A. and 3 former Soviet states are also planning to take home the “Saperavi World Prize”.

If you want more information on entering a sample or to provide coverage of this event please contact Inge Olsson via email at    I.Olsson@hvino.com     Saperavi World Prize press http://sapprize.hvino.com

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Vineyard Solar Eclipse Viewing Party

     Looking for a unique way to experience the Solar Eclipse?  Ripepi Winery & Vineyards will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party in their vineyard. This is the first time since 1979 that a solar eclipse will be visible from the U.S. mainland. To celebrate this rare opportunity Ripepi’s is encouraging guests to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while they witness history in the making and providing them with eclipse glasses and wine specials. This viewing event is Monday August 21, 2017 @ Ripepi Winery & Vineyard 93 Van Voorhis Lane Monongahela, Pa from 12pm – 5pm. 724-292-8351

Eclipse Timeline:

Start: 1:10pm

Max: @2:35pm

End: 3:55pm

Photo Courtesy: Ripepi Winery & Vineyard

 

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