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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Finger Lakes Top Producers


Red Newt Cellars

Fans of Gewurztraminer take notice; Red Newt may be a New Yorker but boy does he make a kick ass German-penned varietal. Out of all the wineries I’d visited, no winery nailed Gewurztraminer & Pinot Gris like Red Newt. Gewurztraminer was a 3 tiered project: showcasing a dry label alongside two single vineyard designated bottlings. The Dry ’08 snapped w/ a strong floral nose of rose water & beeswax, turning dense & lush on its thick, flashy midpalate. The winery was pouring the ’07 SVDs, with the Sawmill Creek juxtaposing delicacy & power in its nose of tangerine, peach, spring blossom & honeysuckle. Flickers of spice pepper the palate, leaving a layered, resonating impression on the finish. The Curry Creek, another top Finger Lakes site, was muscular with Zind Humbrechtian beef, popping with a wild, vivid tang. Broad shouldered, with a full-bodied mouthful of flavors that wedged chalky spice notes from cheek to cheek, penetrating past the finish line. The Curry & Sawmill Creek versions are a bit pricy, but justifiably so & I can imagine them aquitting themselves beautifully next to top vintages from the Brand Vineyard in Alsace. The Pinot Gris ’07, also sourced from Curry Creek, was about as honeyed an unctuous an Alsatian fan could hope for. Rich & generous, with warm flavors of baked apple and nutmeg spices rolling over the tongue like a creamy dream.

For those at odds w/ Gewurz, the top Riesling & Franc from Red Newt are by no means slouches. The ’08 entry level dry Riesling, a shy bony chisel of a white, packed plenty of zip but left me wanting in the category of flesh. A marked step up was found in the ’07 Reserve, remarkably Trimbachish to smell and savor, w/ a plumy nose smelling of enough unleaded fuel to dent an energy crisis. A piercing entry zapped the palate through chords of slate & citrus, knotting up on a frenzy of a finish. The Sauvignon Blanc ’08 proved to be a tangy, simple sipper of snappy gooseberry & herb notes, finishing amply. The lone red that I tasted, a ’08 Cabernet Franc from Glacier Ridge Vineyards, rounded out the portfolio w/ its impeccably clean profile of crushed berries, pipe tobacco and licorice snap flavors. Its middle weight, yet full flavored sense of grace is sure to find plenty of fans & bodes well for the red colored spectrum of Newt’s stable.

Wine Rating
Sauvignon Blanc ’08 83
Dry Gewurztraminer ’08 88
Sawmill Creek Gewurz ’07 91
Curry Creek Gewurz ’07 92
Dry Riesling ’08 85
Reserve Riesling ’07 91
Pinot Gris ’07 89
Cab Franc Glacier Ridge ’08 88

Pioneers that trek up to Red Newt Cellars should schedule their visit towards closing time, wrapping up their tasting calisthenics at the terrific wine bar next door. The Red Newt Bistro offers about as frugal a chef tasting menu as this jaded pair of urban eyes as ever seen, 5 imaginative courses for 60 dollars. Dishes range from spinach ravioli with blueberries to bacon wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed w/ cherries. So goes the theme of eat local, with the drink local portion of the menu pitting flights of 04 reserve Rieslings together alongside sparkling wines from Konstantin Frank with vintage dates ranging back to the previous decade. All told, over 150 Finger Lakes wines are represented in the list, with the most expensive selections setting you back all of 40 dollars & change. This type of modesty for such gustatory goodness makes me want to pummel myself for living in New York City. Lay another indignant log on the blue flame.

To give you a brief window of what I sampled chez Red Newt Bistro, I began w/ the ’04 Tierce Dry Riesling, a veritable FLX all star team of winemakers including Anthony Road, Fox Run & Red Newt (emblematic of the cooperation seen at the highest level from FLX producers, e pluribus unum). The Tierce was idiosyncratic, showing mature, waxy notes & a lean mushroom edge. I moved onto ’04 Dry Rieslings from Fox Run & Anthony Road, w/ the former dazzling w/ the total package, jump started by smoky petrol notes- I can easily see this cruising in the cellar for another decade. The Anthony Road was a bit soft & gelatinous, leaving me wanting, but the terrific ’07 from ARWC more than atoned. I finished off the evening w/ an ’06 Gewurztraminer from Red Newt, dark gold in color yet as potent and crammed w/ baby fat as a new release. I’m starting to get the impression that these bright young Gewurztraminers from RNWC can go for at least 10 years before their characteristics atrophy.

Time to round ‘bout the wine trail cul-de-sac towards Anthony Road & Fox Run next…

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