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February 22, 2011


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Evan: This truly is one of the most interesting wines in the Finger Lakes, but more importantly, it's one of the most interesting stories.

Without sounding like I'm hawking your book too hard, I've seen an advanced copy of it and I really enjoyed the chapter on McGregor and Bob McGregor's pushing of the envelope when many would have given up and retreated to less-unique, less-distinctive varieties.

That he was able to find such a devoted following for what is -- let's face it -- a weird wine (and I say that with affection, I have some in my cellar) just shows what the intrepid nature of one man and one family can mean. The following they've built for the Black Russian and for their wines is incredible.

I HAVE to ask, however, about this 30 months in oak barrels. That seems like an awful lot to me, probably too much. How much time did the 'regular' 2007 spend in barrel?

I'm always interested in more varietal character, not less, so I'd be curious to hear from readers who have had both the 2007 and this special release. The extra oak certainly can't allow more varietal character though.

Lenn -

18 months in oak for the regular blend (actually, roughly half the regular spent 18 months, and roughly half spent 19 months). But figure a year and a half, and the upcoming release represents an additional year in wood.

Regarding varietal character, I expect John will be able to address that.

Evan- thanks for the great coverage. I should also point out that we're holding our Black Russian Red Bash" at the winery on the 12th & 13th of March, which is the official public release celebration...details are on our web site and soon on Facebook. In a nutshell, we're releasing the 30 month Reserve, Stacey's preparing some incredible foods and we'll also have a mini-vertical table set up for people- we'll sample the reserve, a future vintage, a current vintage (2006) and a library sample. We just held our "Sundays from the Library- Black Russian Red" on the 27th and the line-up impressed me even more than I would have imagined. In addition to the Reserve, we tried the following: 2007 through 2001, 1998, 1995 and 1991, our first vintage. As expected 2005 & 2001 were highlights. The 1995 & 1998 were departures from the others and while quite good, not our favorites- I quite literally blame this on the fact that they were the only vintages tasted which were sealed with synthetic corks- what miserable products especially for aging wines. The 1991 was still vibrant, fruit forward, balanced and had some very nice, soft tannins to round it out. This vintage still hasn't peaked! It was excellent and far superior to the 1995 & 1998. And I should add, the high quality (and expensive) cork used to seal it looked as if it had only been in the bottle a few years! It was a great experience, I'm sorry you couldn't make it.

Lenn- While 30 months of barrel time can certainly overwhelm a wine, it is not really the case with the 2007 vintage Black Russian...I would not ever consider doing this on a regular basis, but the vintage seemed right to give it a try. Our winemaker used a variety of aged barrels, rather than using all new ones, which again reduced the risk of over doing it with oak. For the first few months in the bottle, I'd say the oak was more present than I care for, but this is clearly a wine that one needs patience with. The oak is settling into the bottle at this point and the fruit character is popping up again- the wine tastes quite different than it did even just a few months ago. As I sip on it now, it's one of those wines that just makes me look forward to the future and seeing where it goes! Cheers...

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