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March 28, 2007

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It's too bad the Salmon Run Riesling is not NY state grape....

Quite a while ago, Palmer wines were served in first class, on American.

Matt, why do you say that Salmon Run Riesling is not NY State grape?

As far as I know, Salmon Run is usually made from grapes from grape growers that dot the land between the various Finger Lakes. It is Dr. Frank's second label because most of the grapes contained within are not from Dr. Frank's vineyards, but are compilated and produced by Dr. Frank's winemakers.

Word on the Finger Lakes street is that the SR line is mainly supported from west coast juice. There are many in the area who are not happy about it.

Only a few of the Salmon Run labels actually bear a "Finger Lakes" or "New York" appellation. The rest do not, including the Riesling, there is a reason for this...

A couple of years ago, I was told and assumed from the labeling that Salmon Run used grapes from farms throughout the Finger Lakes and New York--perhaps not the highest quality grapes, but the blending and winemaking attention brought to each batch helped make it decent enough.

If that has changed, I would be extremely disappointed. Dr. Frank's main label makes some amazing stuff, and I would hate to see the winery bow to mass production pressures and use out-of-state juice, even for their second label.

The winter of '03-'04 was brutally cold in Upstate New York, and many farms lost vines. It is possible that there wasn't a lot of bulk FL juice to go around at that point, and that Dr. Frank's made this decision. If its true, I hope they go back to the old sources of grapes.

I personally don't like Salmon Run stuff at all. It is usually too sweet and its lack of complexity often resembles the many mediocre wines found throughout the Finger Lakes. But, heck, if it's going to be mediocre, let it be New York mediocre!

Because I am unemployed and have nothing better to do, I checked the website and these are how the source labelings for Salmon Run (the latest batch of wines described on the website, although newer vintages might be different) pan out:

Finger Lakes: 2003 Meritage, 2003 Cabernet Franc

New York: 2004 Chardonnay, 2005 Riesling

God Knows Where/Out-of-state: Cold Brook White (NV), Rainbow Rose (NV), Coho Red (NV), Petit Noir (NV), Pinot Noir (NV)

It's pleasing to see that there are two Finger Lakes sourced wines and two New York sourced wines. The Out-of-state category includes some crappy sweet blend stuff that I would not want to drink no matter where it came from, but I am extremely disappointed that the Pinot Noir is included in that category!

It be interesting to see whether the newer realeases break down the same way. Hopefully, they have not decided to use more and more out-of-state grapes that are cheaper just because Salmon Run buyers are not usually as discriminating...

Their website is misleading as well. The "wine facts" section which goes into detail about their wines, shows only generic photos of the labels. For example the photo they show for their 2005 Salmon Run Riesling is not the actual label they used that year. The label that actually was used in 2005 didnt not have the "New York" appellation on it. The appellations vary from year to year and from bottling to bottling. This inconsistency is true for other photos of labels on the website as well. Having worked in a liquor store, and within the NY wine industry, I see these things first hand....Yes I'm a wine geek

Hey guys...just wanted to let you know that I have a phone call and an email into Fred Frank...

Hopefully I'll hear back soon and be able to give you guys the info straight from the source.

This is also true within the Dr. Frank line as well. For example, the 2005 Semi-dry Riesling began as a "Finger Lakes" appellation. But then later on as time went on, the appellation changed to "New York"...within the same vintage. I know this happens quite often in the industry, it just makes you wonder if the product has consistent quality. For me , region is very important. If I'm drinking a Dr. Frank Riesling, I want it to be from the "Finger Lakes", not "New York", since the Finger Lakes is where the winery is located and thats where Riesling excels. It just seems as though Dr. Frank likes to strech the limits, and Peter's comment above is correct, there are many who are not happy about this.

If that's true, it's no wonder the ever-popular semi-dry is available long after the dry has been sold out. I personally prefer the dry riesling and I think the semi-dry is way too sweet.

In any case, I wonder if Dr. Frank's has become a victim of its own success and feels pressure to make certain wines available even when there is not pure sourcing to continue production of a certain vintage.

I know that in some years certain FL reds from various producers are mixed with batches from LI because, well, reds can really suffer during some vintages. It is a shame that many wineries feel pressure to sell reds beyond the pinot noir, cab franc, and meritage wines that can do well in such a cold climate. If I want a merlot or a straight cabernet sauvignon, the FL is not where I think of first.

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I wonder how the folks from California feel about that. :-)

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