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May 14, 2009


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i am so very sad i missed this. i hope to make it to sheldrake's event.


I'm very curious to see what library Rieslings are poured at other wineries' events. That's because there aren't a whole lot of producers that built much of a library. We're fortunate that Wiemer did so, as did Dr. Frank and a few others. But many wineries sell everything they can sell at the expense of building a viable collection. I understand the necessity of doing so, but I also appreciate the new focus on older wines, and I hope it results in more wineries saving more of their Rieslings.

Perhaps other winemakers / industry folks can chime in with regards to the viability of building a library. It can't be easy when there are bills to pay.


Thanks for letting me know about this.

I write a weekly wine column IN THE FINGER LAKES but don't hear a peep out of the wineries about these things.

The only things I seem to get are promotional pieces about special weekends at tasting rooms, which is not my job to write about in the column.


Some critics have said that Finger Lakes Rieslings tend to hold up as they age, maintaining structure and quality, but not necessarily improving -- just changing. In some cases I think this is right, but in others I think it misses the mark. The Wiemers offer an example of a wine that, in my view, improves and becomes more interesting with age. And I recently tasted a Red Newt '99 that was moving into a gorgeous mature phase.

What do you make of the idea that FL Rieslings tend to change rather than improve as a rule?


I'll give you an example from my own winery.

When i closed the winery in 1992, I had a library of Rieslings from 1985, 87, 88, 89, and 91 (86 and 90 were bad years).

In 2003, I opened the last of those wines for a group I hosted at home. Every one of them had evolved to that place where Rieslings should go--petrol nose, luscious viscosity, some bacon fat in the mouth, and fruit taken over by mineral intensity.

The best of them were the 85, 87, and 88 (18, 16, and 15 years old at the time). In other words, the oldest were the better ones.

The 89 and 91 were fading, but I think that was because of the vintages.


You are balls you dead wrong ... Rieslings in the FL's have improved over the years...not to long ago a bottle of thirty year old Riesling was opened and it was better then most in the world...FROM THE FINGER LAKES...

Question? Where did you ever go to Critic or wine professional wine training?

I would like to know how you became such an expert...how many wine have you tasted from around the world...1, 000 ? 5,000? 10K ? 100K 200 K that's per year?

When you can demonstrate to me who you are then at this point it's pollution on the web...ignorance at it's best..a punk wine want a be, NO ? Unless you can answer the question above...you are dust...

And just a bad blogger !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thomas: You haven't been reading LENNDEVOURS as closely as I thought then -- I listed several of the May is Riesling Month events, including many of these cool verticals.

John Zuccharino (Don Giovanni): I don't even know what to say to comments like this. Evan has done exhaustive research on the Finger Lakes (he's writing a book) and I feel lucky to have him on the team.

And guess what? You don't need formal training in wine. You don't.

Don G,

I appreciate Lenn's comments, but I'll address your questions as best I can.

First of all, you seem to think I wrote something negative about the ageability of Finger Lakes Riesling. To clarify, there is compelling evidence that FL Riesling, when made well, can improve with many years in the bottle.

I have not attended any Wine Critic School as I am not certain one exists. I do not have formal wine professional wine training.

I do not believe that a person needs to be a licensed professional in order to have the right to write about or opine about wine. I think that idea is elitist; the last thing I want is for anyone to be discouraged from tasting and talking about wine.

Regarding my wine experience, wine is a constant learning experience, right? My understanding is ever-evolving. I have traveled to Italy to meet and taste with winemakers; I've been to California; later this year I'm going to France. I enjoy opening bottles from around the world. Recent standouts include an Aglianico, a 1995 Rioja, and a vertical of Chateauneuf-du-Papes. However, I would never claim that I'm an expert on every wine region of the world. The best way to learn is to keep tasting!

I understand that you do not think I'm a good blogger. Trust me, I am constantly seeking ways to improve. The nice thing about blogging is that the market of readers will determine if your content is worth reading. Our readership at Lenndevours is strong, but it could certainly improve. We're working hard to improve the content every day.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. We value all forms of feedback, and it's always nice to hear from winemakers; I have the utmost respect for your profession!



yes I do have ...where have you been..I have been taught by masters from CA, Italy, and NYS...did you know that, no because you only have been to the FL AVA once before ... this must make you an expert... and to write it on a blog makes it real, NO?

So when you can tell me the chemistry down to all the specifics ...I have what is known as better than a PHD in Oenology... I consult for other wineries around the world...you did not know that either, what do you know...How far down the rabbit hole in winemaking do you want to go...???

PS: If you writing a book that must make you an expert, oh it does in the bad blogger world...

The only expert I know of is Thomas Pellechia...you will never learn what this man has forgotten...get real...you are just a blogger ...with a day job... and I don't know how you keep that running this ...???

then again I don't care because you are nothing but pollution on the web...a bad blogger...

you will be taken out by the laws of nature... time will show you this...


Thanks for the continuing readership. Clearly we're saying something here that you enjoy reading, yes?

I'm certainly far from an expert on the Finger Lakes or its wines, but you're wrong on one account -- I've been to the region twice. I'll also be visiting for four days in July and will be working the harvest on the west side of Seneca Lake for a week this fall. I'm thirsty for knowledge and am thankful for what winery owners and winemakers have already taught me and I look forward to MORE of that.

John, you say that you don't care, and yet you continue to read this blog and engage. If you think LENNDEVOURS is useless, I'd invite you to read some of the other great blogs, ithacork.wordpress.com is a current favorite of mine.

You're 100% correct about one thing -- Thomas Pellechia knows more than I do, which is why I appreciate his contributions to this blog via comments and emails behind the scenes.


I still have full access to Jancis Robinson's site...I just don't post on the board where people don't like the truth...they like things that rhyme with time, etc...never bounced I can prove it... you retract your statement as I can prove I have a full paid membership to her site and use it every day...

Retract your libel or I will see you in court...


You cursed...lol...do you know what that means...ROFLMAF...

also you need to trak a good look who is on Jancis Robinson's site right now...ME !

Currently active users: 15 (15 members and 0 guests)
View who's online

JOHN ZUCCARINO, Ithaca, Amit Patel, Epsom, Daniel Eckert, Bachenbuelach, David Schildknecht, Cincinnati, Derek Kranenborg, Toronto, ON, gilles lapalus, sutton grange, Guy Day, Bukit Timah, james taylor, tamarama, Jim Kuroski, Goshen New York, Keith Wresch, Loma Linda, CA, Lisa Shara Hall, Portland, Nathan Lee, Hong Kong, Rupert Taylor, London 1, Simone Baldwin, Coldstream

Hey Strappo...U R putting it to Lenn to have him aid you in libel...as your name suggest do you have him over a barrel ? STRAPPO ROFLMAF ...I see your blog has high volume too ;) ...Best of times ... we will see you soon...

Don G may have "what is known as better than a PHD in Oenology" but he certainly doesn't have a PhD in reading. I think he has misread every single comment here.

Be safe, don't drink and comment!

PS commenting at 1 PM on a Saturday in May? The tasting room must not be that busy!

I Won't Back Down I stand My ground

When you have people working for you ...life is good...no debt all paid for...lol look no debt...all the bills paid...

I will keep on doing what I do...outing bad bad blogging...

I don't post and drink...again you libel me...

please don't ass-ume anything like your quote...Coward: "PS commenting at 1 PM on a Saturday in May? The tasting room must not be that busy!"

it makes an assumption that is not true...

Dollar for dollar net we cleared more than any other winery in the Finger Lakes...we have the best run operation...look out when you can't have people working for y0u like retired State Troopers...Post Office Masters...Parks management... yea I must be doing it all wrong ...because I am calling all the shots...this winemaker wages the dog by the balls...life is good...out to ck on my vineyards...C ya'

Evan -

Not to digress too much from the topic of discussion, but I thought I'd chime in on the thoughts behind the library. My wife and I have very fond memories of Burgess Cellars because because of their library program. Essentially, they would hold back their reds for 10 years from the vintage date, and re-release them. The incredible thing about this whole concept, was that the wine was usually priced only $10 more than their current vintage. Thus, you could taste a current release and a library without breaking the bank. This enabled you to see the value in cellaring wine and how to evaluate the highs or lows of the vintage.

When it comes to the business end of things, cash is king. The wine business is run on very slim margins and most are teetering between red and black. So it is tough to tell a winery to hold back some wine for ten years, when doing so, may make them insolvent in one.

At Heart & Hands, we've built a 10% library factor into our business model. We hope this would enable us to have wine for special tastings, or resale, if the opportunity presents itself. We're hardly a winery to base financial success or longevity on - only being open for 3 months - but we hope we can pay our bills with this model and have some additional wine to share down the road. It does make things a little tighter, though, and you may have to scrutinize your giveaways like sending samples to wine writers, or pouring for events.

In closing, it sounds like Fred poured some wonderful memories from the Wiemer cellar. I'm jealous I missed such a great event and I appreciate you providing us some additional insight based on your experience.


P.S. Please note, Evan. If you don't make it over here before our wine is "sold out", I'm not reducing my library. ;-)


I think it's savvy of you to build a library component into your model. I hope you can hold to that. I'm curious... given that your production is largely Pinot, will you amend that plan on certain years? Specifically, in a year like '06 when a deluge comes, or if a harvest is ravaged by awful weather, or even marginal weather, will you decide not to set some aside?

I have no expectations that you would dip into a library on my behalf, just as I bend over backward to avoid free bottles! It's on me to get over there soon, but perhaps in the meantime I can order some online...? (And my wife is dying for some of that rose).

Evan -

Great question! Vintage may play a better role in figuring out when to release the library. A vintage like '06 certainly had challenges, so there may be some question as to how long that vintage might hold up for in the bottle. Burgundy and Bordeaux have their fair share of some not-so-favorable vintages and the rule seems to be to drink those vintages while you wait for the better ones to age.

We'll probably have enough Rosé for Morgan through mid-July at our current pace. You can always call the winery and we can figure out logistics as to when we'll be attending the same event/dinner to save on shipping. However, I think you'll probably appreciate our unique tasting experience - so a visit to the east side of Cayuga Lake might be your best option. We're planning on releasing the '07 Barrel Reserve Pinot Noir on June 6th - so you may want to plan a visit around this. If you've got some time during the week, you can always call me at the winery and make an appointment.


Good: back on real wine facts...

Some of the biggest producers in CA only hold back one case of wine...I did a poll...one case...unless they are the exception...holding wine back is key to see what you did and if your wine can walk the talk...Cheers !!!

I think every winery should strive to create a library, if only for the in-house learning it provides concerning the life of individual wines and their relationship to each vintage.

Wait, we're back to talking about wine, rather than egos?

It's about time.

Tom: As Evans says, it's brilliant that you've worked the library into your model. And I'm looking forward to visiting you at the winery when I'm in town in July.

Evan: I guess the other factor that we're not discussing (perhaps it's assumed) is that if your wines aren't very good, or are built for aging...I guess you don't need to worry about that :)


If your wines aren't very good, you best NOT keep a library of them--they might explode the building when they re-ferment.

When I say library I don't mean an extensive inventory. Even a tiny winery with limited resources can put away two cases of wine to watch develop over the years, one bottle at a time. One a year gives you 24 years to watch, and if you are impatient, you can do two a year and still watch 12 years worth of development.

Mine didn't last the 24 years, mainly because I was impatient, but after I shut down the operation I also had no more reason to watch their development.

Of course, some wines aren't produced fro longevity, and they don't need to be cellared or libraried (are either of those two words?).

Having older vintages on hand is not only important for individual wineries to develop their brands and reputations but is also extremely important for the development of the brand, Finger Lakes, as a world-class wine region.

How can we prove to consumers and media that Finger Lakes wines not only hold up with age but can and do improve over time? The simple answer is to provide opportunities for people to taste these older wines from providing one particular vintage for a broader panel tasting (something that Dr. Frank's does consistently) to hosting library tastings and sales for case club members.

We were thrilled that Wiemer, Dr. Frank, Sheldrake, and Anthony Road opened up their cellars during Riesling Month and hope these kinds of tastings will be replicated in years to come.

Also a big thanks to Shannon Brock and the New York Wine and Culinary Center for hosting the library Riesling tasting during Rendezvous with Riesling that featured older vintages from Glenora, Fox Run, Ravines, Wiemer, Ravines, and Red Newt.

Finger Lakes UPDATE:
Finger Lakes UPDATE: WE ARE OK...NO FROST !!!...ty G-d we will be making a donation for such fantastic luck...as of last night early we looked screwed...the wood was in place, hay, etc...and you know me ...I was up driving around all night checking the temps ready to start the fires...running on Adrenalin it's time to grab a cat nap for a for a few hours ...

before I hit the bed ... I am making a toast to Mother Nature this AM, although she gave us all a slight heart attack, kept us respecting what we can't control...

Now we should be safe...and I just knocked wood so hard my knuckles hurt...time for some AM wine to help me unwind...

Our low was 34 F ... it was high drama with itchy fingers wanting to burn wood, hay, rice husks...the wood will now be used for a bond fire when we are 100 % sure we are ok...it looks that way, so this is how I will think, positive...can't wait for the no frost party...any excuse...

anyone who ever planted a flower or anything and lost it to weather is scared with this memory...mine is still hurting from 04'...I think I am rambling on so...who ever sent us warm thoughts TY...

Don Giovanni or John or whomever,

You are making an epic, colossally catastrophic mistake mistreating your potential customers in this manner. You are aware of a thing called Google aren't you?

I haven't seen this level of willful self-sabotage outside well, ever. You belittle citizen reviewers and insult the site owner, all on a well-read blog?

Engaging with folks does not mean insulting them. It means trying to understand their perspective, honoring it, and attempting to persuade them to your way of thinking. Instead of berating Evan, and Lenn and whomever disagrees with you, why not sample him at your winery and show him why you believe him to be wrong?

Instead there's this:

"When you can demonstrate to me who you are then at this point it's pollution on the web...ignorance at it's best..a punk wine want a be, NO ? Unless you can answer the question above...you are dust..."

And this:

"Hey Strappo...U R putting it to Lenn to have him aid you in libel...as your name suggest do you have him over a barrel ?"

"Are you putting it to Lenn...?" This is just unacceptable coming from a winemaker. Unbelieveable, even.

I will be using you and your comments as an example of how NOT to engage with consumers via social media in Napa on Wednesday at Jacuzzi Winery. Congrats! And thank you for the material.


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