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November 02, 2011

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Mark - Even their '09 Syrah is impressive, which makes just about no sense. I have to chalk it up to a strong site and savvy winemaking. Have you been to the Sawmill Creek site? It's one of the steepest in the region, and it gets steeper as it heads toward the lake. We know that, scientifically, it's one of the warmest sites, too. Their Syrah has shown that nice peppery, bright fruit character that is very new-world, varietally on-the-money Syrah.

Evan-
Cool. I have not actually been to the vineyard. I need to check it out. If the 09 fruit got that ripe their must be some sort of serious mesoclimate going on there, which would make sense. It's really exciting to see specific vineyard examples like this standing out from others in the FLX. It's just one more puzzle piece coming together for this entire region. To me, this wine didn't bring me to the "new world". It's more in it's "own world" to me. never had a Syrah like this. Terroir, baby.

Great reviews! Can't wait to try the syrah and the pinot.

Evan/Mark,
About 2 years ago I sat down with a winemaker who makes a bunch of Syrah and had been all over the US tasting it and he felt that the Finger Lakes was the closest to what he considered to be the true character of Syrah...in his estimation which was definitely "old world".

Take it for what it's worth but I'm a big fan.

Lou Damiani also has a BRILLIANT site.

I think a region can be known for more than just one varietal- Pinot OR Cab Franc? Why not both, or several? In general, the escarpment has proven to be an excellent region for Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. These are the varieties that have excelled on the Canadian side of the escarpment over the past 30 years and our experience on the US side mirrors theirs (which isn’t a surprise).

Duncan,

I know you've been a reader for a while, so you know where I stand on signature varieties -- I don't necessarily love them, but it tends to happen whether we want it to or not.

I've had excellent examples of some of the varieties you list, with cab franc and pinot standing out most for me. So, for me, those are the leaders right now -- with Arrowhead Spring right at the forefront.

Lenn,

My point is that we should not limit a region's brand to a single variety of grapevine. It's not "this or that", but "which varietals and styles really shine?" As an example, which of the following varietals from Bordeaux would be their signature variety? Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais? How about the Rhone or even Burgundy? Sometimes a region can be a single varietal focus, but usually there are several that will bubble to the top.

We have 200 years of commercial fruit growing experience in Niagara County and have a very wide range of fruit crops that can be grown well here - I wouldn't want to say that only one varietal will do well when I see evidence for at least 6 that perform extremely well.

Duncan, I absolutely understand your point and agree with it 300% philosophically. In reality, however, that's not how many American wine consumers think.

Most, if not all, of the best-known wine regions in the United States, and really the New World, have a single variety that they are 'known for.'

Usually, this grape is one that has either achieved early commercial success (think New Zealand sauv blanc or Aussie Shiraz) or has been pushed by the regions themselves because the grape performs consistently.

Long Island, for instance, often pushes merlot as its signature, but personally, I'm more excited about the region's cab franc, sauvignon blanc etc. -- its diversity. BUT, I'd be wrong to say that merlot isn't the top performer vintage after vintage.

In my experience with Niagara USA wines, pinot and cab franc are the most consistent (keeping in mind that I'm not big on chardonnay, which also does well in the region).

I don't think we disagree as much as it may seem. Regardless, this pinot is delicious and from what I hear selling extremely well at ESC down here.

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