Finger Lakes in the northern part of New York state produces some amazing and scrumptious wines. It is a cool climate red wine area, a reality that postures obstacles to wine manufacturers. Traditionally, they just used grapes from the American grapevine Vitis labrusca, but that changed in the 1960s. You can really grow the European grapevine Vitis vinifera in the Finger Lakes, but you have to select your grape ranges carefully. (Vitis vinifera is the grape range family that includes all popular varieties– or varietals– like, for instance chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.)
We tasted our first red wines from Finger Lakes practically a year back. They are tough to come by here in Paris, France. Just recently I had the opportunity to taste a couple of more when Morten Hallgren from Ravines Red wine Cellars checked out Paris. We satisfied during lunch at the outstanding restaurant Bistro des Sommeliers.
Morten Hallgren has his roots in Denmark, but he matured in France. His moms and dads owned a vineyard in Provence. This explains both his fluent French and his interest in white wine. He studied wine making and viticulture at the well-known Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie in Montpellier and then worked at Château Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux and at wineries in Texas and North Carolina. In 1998, he wound up in Fingers Lakes as the responsible winemaker at Dr Konstantin Frank Cellars.
And there, in Finger Lakes, he stayed. Morten and his other half Lisa founded Ravines White wine Cellars in 2001. “It’s an unique area,” states Morten, “with great challenges, however also a distinct area. It is thanks to the lakes that we can make white wine here. They reduce the cold environment.”
Morten Hallgren of Ravines Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes, New York, copyright BKWine Photography
The vines grow around the finger-shaped glacial lakes, of which the 2 largest, Seneca and Cayuga, are amongst the inmost in The United States and Canada.
Ravines Wines Cellars has been growing ever since its starting twenty years ago. Morten and Lisa now have 123 acres, a big white wine estate in the Finger Lakes. They invest a lot in wine tourist and hold occasions with white wine tastings and wine and food.
Morten takes his grapes from 3 various vineyards, all situated around Lake Seneca. Argetsinger vineyard is a steep slope on the lake’s southeast coast, whereas 16 Falls vineyard is on the east side of the deepest part of the lake. The third, White Springs vineyard, is on the northwest side of the lake and nearby to Ravine’s winery and wine rack. The various terroirs give, states Morten, their own unique character to the red wines.
Typically, native American grape ranges have actually been grown in Finger Lakes, typically Vitis labrusca. These grapes are adjusted to the environment but the red wines from these grapes would most likely not interest any red wine lover today. Some producers use hybrids, i.e., crossings between a European (i.e. Vitis vinifera) grape and an American Vitis. The brand-new generation of hybrids are resistant to the cool environment and are getting closer and closer to the scent profile of European grapes that nearly all white wines are made from today.
But it is the white wines from Vitis vinifera grapes that have actually made Finger Lakes well-known in recent years.
In the 1960s, Dr Konstantin Frank (mentioned above) ventured to grow Vitis vinifera. He came originally from Ukraine and had thirty years of experience in viticulture, not least in cool climates. He emigrated to the United States and arrived in New York in 1951. He began planting European grape varieties in the eastern United States in 1958 and consequently ignited the “Vinifera Transformation” in the Finger Lakes. To be successful planting Vinifera grapes was, according to him, simply a matter of grafting on an ideal rootstock and picking early-ripening grapes, like riesling. He researched and experimented, planting an enormous variety of grapes, maybe just a few vines of each, to see how they fared.
Morten also concentrates on Vitis vinifera, riesling not least. He also grows Bordeaux grapes, although it is not always simple. You notice the cool environment in all his wines. They have fresh level of acidity and vigor in common.
Right now, 10 % of Morten’s production is champagne, and demand is constantly increasing. In Ravines Wine Cellars Brut 2013, he blends chardonnay and pinot noir. It ages for six years before being disgorged. The acidity is high, however the body and the beautiful mouthfeel offer balance. I rated absolutely no dosage, however it has 6 grams of sugar. ($ 39.95)
Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling 2018, Finger Lakes, New york city, copyright
Riesling is the signature grape of Finger Lakes, and Morten has actually become known for his dry riesling. It is not unusual for manufacturers to leave some residual sugar in their riesling red wines, a style that lots of customers value. However Morten understood from the start that he wanted to make dry riesling, and he has great success with this style.
Ravines Red Wine Cellars Dry Riesling 2018 is crispy fresh with citrus and pineapple fruit. It is scrumptious and revitalizing with a pleasant bitterness at the end. The wine ages for a while on its lees. ($ 19.95)
Ravines Red Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc 2019, Finger Lakes, New york city, copyright BKWine Photography
Cabernet franc is spreading around the world and has actually also discovered its way to the Finger Lakes. The grape prospers in cool climates, but Finger Lakes can nevertheless be an obstacle; sometimes cabernet franc ripens around the 1st of November. In Ravines White Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc 2019, we have the normal organic character of cabernet franc, high acidity, refreshing fruit, and red berry crunchiness. ($ 24.95)
Ravines Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc 2019, Finger Lakes, New york city, copyright BKWine Photography
The eminence cuvée Gorges White Wine Cellars Maximilien 2017 is made with cabernet sauvignon and red wine, with a slight predominance for red wine. Refreshing cherry fruit, some cedarwood, tobacco and fresh herbs, a particular lightness in the body however likewise some tannin. It strikes me as very well balanced with the oak fragrances in the background. The juice ferments in open tanks, and the different vineyards are kept different to manage the extraction. ($ 28.95)
Morten likewise likes gewurztraminer. “It is a dangerous grape to grow here, he states. “It does not thrive when it is too cold, but it produces fascinating red wines.” He gives the should some skin contact at cool temperatures prior to the grapes are pressed.
Ravines White Wine Cellars Gewurztraminer 2020, Finger Lakes, New York, copyright BKWine Photography
Ravines White Wine Cellars Gewurztraminer 2020 has dynamic level of acidity and charming vitality with unique fruit. The surface is dry however not crispy dry. There are 8 grams per litre of recurring sugar, balancing the high level of acidity. Compared to many gewurztraminers from Alsace it is both drier and more discreet. ($ 22.95)
I ask Morten what the Americans eat with this wine? Asian food, ideally with ginger, is the fast response and after that it comes, more unexpectedly: “This is a classic wine with the turkey for Thanksgiving.” I would never ever have guessed.
Read what we have actually previously written about the Finger Lakes.
Rates are from Ravines Red wine Cellars’ web shop.
— Britt Karlsson