“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  

 

China Star Rising

Chateau Changyu, Beiyujia Vineyards, Shandong, China
Chateau Changyu, Beiyujia Vineyards, Shandong, China

I read an article recently about how China has now surpassed France for the amount of land dedicated to wine-making vineyards. China now boasts 1.9 million acres of vineyards, passing France for second place and behind the number one grower, Spain. China remains the 7th largest producer of grapes due to production inefficiencies. The increase in vineyards is in direct response to the need for more wine grapes to satisfy the explosive rise in demand for wine in China. China has experienced a cultural evolution toward drinking wine over the past 15 years that is directly tied to the increase in disposable income. Red wine is preferred by the majority of Chinese wine drinkers so it is no surprise that Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted grape variety in the country.

China is a huge country with many sub-climates and even more micro-climates, not to mention the countless soil types and varying terrain. I believe when you have that many variables combined with an ancient culture that thrives on challenges and ingenuity the only logical outcome from Chinese wine makers will be superior and creative wines. The wine business in China will continue to focus on products and production to satisfy domestic demand. But as we have seen the Chinese do in so many other arenas, they will be constantly comparing their wine to the best in the world to judge their progress and making changes to excel.