As is often the case, we have a diverse group of wines this week, including some varieties that are most definitely off the beaten path.
By Bryan Calandrelli: Lagunitas Brewing Gnarly Wine
Aromas of sweet caramel and citrus in the glass along with plumy fruit and spice notes as well. A mouth-filling texture and full-bodied palate made this a sipping beer demanding all of my attention. This is not a pretzel or potato chip kind of beer.
While I've had other barley wines that may have had too much sweetness or alcohol levels that stick out, this one had neither. A great balance of hops, sweetness, spice and alcohol made this one worth the lack of productivity I achieved after just a few glasses. As you can see from the photo, I started with more than enough.
By Evan Dawson: Hopler 2006 Zweigelt, Austria
I'd like to taste a wider range of Zweigelt before I get a feel for it. This one was high-toned and spicy, not unlike many Finger Lakes reds. It's on the wine list at the Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg, which offers outstanding local food and a diverse drink menu.
I simply ask that if Zweigelt makes its way into the Finger Lakes mainstream, we also add Auxerrois and Gruner Veltliner, giving the Finger Lakes the distinction of making a long list of excellent wines that no one can pronounce on the first try.
From Jason Feulner: Francoise & Denis Clair 2006 Red Burgundy, Cote-de-Beaune Villages
I picked this 2006 Burgundy at random from the wine list of a local Syracuse restaurant called The Scotch and Sirloin.
I haven't been able to pin down much information about the wine, but I very much enjoyed it.
The profile featured bright cherry and plum with just a touch of earth. It drank smooth without a deep finish, yet it seemed complete on its own terms. This cool-climate, fruit-forward red was in great balance despite its lack of a big punch.
From Tom Mansell: Fulkerson Winery 2006 Lemberger, Finger Lakes
I visited Fulkerson and posted about my experience as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday. I found (and bought) quite a few wines that I liked in the tasting room so I could try them at home. This was one.
This wine has great dark red-violet color and an intensely fruity nose, evident upon opening the bottle, with cherry and huckleberry, shades of oak and a little heat. On the palate, it's got fresh acidity and little to no astringency (the acid adds a bit of pucker but no roughness). It comes up a little short on body in the mid-palate and overall finish, but it's light and refreshing and wouldn't go too bad with a slice of pizza.
In fact, I nuked a slice of leftover pizza and ate it with this to test my theory (ah, the things I do for science); it works out pretty well. The color and aroma that Lemberger brings to the party may be part of the reason that the Cabernet Franc/Lemberger blend has shown up in several instances here in the Finger Lakes. It's priced to move at the winery now, so they are probably getting ready for the 2007 version to hit the shelves.
I love when a wine surprises me, and this baco definitely did over the weekend during a multi-course meal that my friend A and I cooked for our wives.
Why I even grabbed this wine out of my cellar to pair with a duo of soups -- smoky tomato-orange with candied bacon and wild mushroom with chorizo and scallions -- was random. I found myself talking to a local winemaker about hybrids and baco specifically a couple weeks ago and he called out this wine as one he remembered liking.
Originally, I was thinking pinot for the soups, but thought the spiciness of the smoked paprika and chorizo might overwhelm a bit. That's when I saw this in the cellar and thought to myself "Let's see how this works!"
Beautifully. Medium-light in body, it's a low-tannin wine with good acidity (but not overwhelming like some hybrids) and the rich cherry, dried fruit and cocoa powder flavors really worked with the soups. It was the wine-pairing surprise of the evening for sure. I can see why this wine has a bit of a cult following up in the Hudson Valley.