Tag Archives: Knapp Winery

An Eiswein (Ice wine) themed #winechat on Twitter

The three dessert wines participating

The three dessert wines participating

Disclaimer: The wines were provided by the winery or wine association as samples.

Last week, I participated in a #winechat on Twitter. The theme was Eiswein (and dessert wine). The wines were supplied by Knapp Winery and Boundary Breaks Vineyards of the New York Finger Lakes region, and by the Austrian Wine representatives in the US. At 9pm EST on Wednesday, a group of several bloggers who received samples met with the organizers Protocol Wine Studio, the suppliers, winemakers and others interested folks to discuss the wines as well as ice wine in general.

For those unfamiliar with Eiswein (the German word for Ice wine), I wrote a longer piece about it a while back so please feel free to check it out here. To recap: Eiswein is made from grapes that are frozen on the vine (that’s for purists, like me, some regions, like Quebec, allow freezing off the vine). The grapes freeze, so all the water in the grape becomes ice. When you press these grapes, all you get is minuscule quantities of pure concentrated flavors. Sugar and acidity are extremely present in these wines. They make for some of the rarest wines in the world, and age ridiculously well.

Meats from Biercamp in Ann Arbor

Meats from Biercamp in Ann Arbor

We had a few friends over for trying the wines, because of their intensity, I usually only want a small glass of each wine. It is the perfect wine to share. We paired the wines with mostly cured meats from the wonderful Ann Arbor sausage shop Biercamp (duck bacon, Canadian bacon, and a honey/cracked pepper bacon as well as Andouille sausage), cheese (a creamy Delice de Bourgogne, Manchego, goat Parmiggiano, and Roquefort), as well as homemade (by one of our insanely talented baker friends) sweet macarons. I will write a separate post on what to pair with sweet wines, but for now you should know I prefer salty over sweet pairings.

Macaron made by our friend

Macaron made by our friend

But on to the wines. Up first was the 2012 Boundary Break Late Harvest Riesling (not technically an Ice wine). The wine is made by a young winery whose other Rieslings have gathered quite some praise from The New York Times and others. This wine was made with Riesling grapes from one single clone that come from a single vineyard. The vines were planted in 2010, so they were very, very young when the grapes were harvested for this wine. In Germany, winemakers tend to hold off on producing wine from vines that are under 4 years old. The wine had 127 grams of residual sugar per liter, and 14.2% ABV. The first thing we noticed when pouring was how light in color the wine was. The nose offered aromas of ripe cantaloupe, cream, honey, some vanilla, and something the reminded of gummy bears. On the palate, it was very sweet without much acidity, which was what surprised me the most. Its mouthfeel was light, and there were some orange bitter rinds like in English orange jelly. I struggled with this a bit. There was definitely craft in this wine, but I couldn’t help wondering whether the winemakers should have held off on making a small quantity, high level wine from such young vines. It also didn’t feel like a Riesling to most of us. Trying it with the macarons made the wine a bit more acidic, which was welcome. So this could definitely be paired with sweets. Retail price: $30

Boundary Breaks Riesling Late Harvest

Boundary Breaks Riesling Late Harvest

Next up: Knapp Winery’s 2012 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. Harvested on January 3, 2012 at 11 degrees Fahrenheit (which by my standards makes it a 2011, because the grapes grew in 2011, not 2012), the wine spent almost a year fermenting slowly until it was bottled on December 20, 2012. 24 cases were produced, the wine has 12% ABV and 140 grams of residual sugar per liter. The wine’s color was more saturated than the Boundary Break Vineyard Riesling. The nose was gorgeous, with ripe aromas of spiced orange, some clove, bergamotte. On the palate, this Vidal Blanc showed good acidity, some smoky aromas, with a wonderful viscose mouthfeel to it. I got citrus aromas, mandarin oranges, and raisins mostly. What I was struggling with was the alcohol. It left an almost cognac feel to the wine on the finish, which I was not looking for in an Eiswein. Others on the table had less of an issue with this, so it might just have been me. When I retried this wine 6 days later, the alcohol had stopped bothering me. All in all, a solid wine with good primary Eiswein aromas. However, texturally it reminded me more of an Auslese or Beerenauslese than an Eiswein. I would probably not have identified it as such in a blind tasting. As for pairings: It worked remarkably well with the creamy delice de Bourgogne, taking off the edge of the alcohol. With the goat parmiggiano, more almondy flavors became present, and the bacons worked as well. While I thought it was also good with the macarons, I got shouted down by the table that that was not the case….Retail price: $25

Knapp Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Knapp Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Finally, we tried the Austrian 2009 Höpler Pinot noir Eiswein, an Eiswein made from the red grape Pinot noir. The wine poured in a gorgeous amber color, lush and rich and syrupy in texture. The nose was beautiful, with dried apricots, honey, and rum and raisin aromas. When I tried it, my first note read “ICEWINE”, underlined twice. The richness and flavors worked, the wine felt special, just like an Eiswein should. There was a wonderful smokiness to the wines, with the aromas from the nose persisting. Its finish was great: It became smoky again, with lots of honey, and a wonderful acidity that tickled your throat. The wine was decidedly heavier than the first two, and much more intense in flavors. It also paired the best with salty foods. This was a wonderful expression of how interesting ice wine from a red grape can be. Retail price: $69

Höpler Pinot noir Eiswein

Höpler Pinot noir Eiswein

All in all it was a great experience, and I am grateful for the organizers and hosts for letting me participates. The wines were all interesting and showed the diversity there is. The conversation on Twitter was lively and engaged, and I got into some really interesting side discussions about pairings and occasions to drink these wines.

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Finger Lakes Riesling Launch – 2012 Vintage

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 - The line up.

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 – The line up.

Disclaimer: The wines were received as media samples from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. Opinions are all my own.

Last week, I participated in the Finger Lakes Riesling Launch virtual tasting. For a couple of years now, the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance has been presenting the new vintage of the region’s Rieslings in several events called Riesling Launch. Part of it are several Twitter tastings, in which wine writers and consumers can engage with wine makers. For this tasting, the Alliance was live streaming the wine makers of the particular wines that we were tasting. Writers had submitted questions beforehand, and there were to be answers to these questions…

So much for the theory. I have participated in a Twitter tasting with the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance in the past (see here), and I had a great time. The possibility to engage with winemakers directly, to get answers from them, to exchange ideas, to connect, was awesome. It was overwhelming at times, trying, tasting, typing, reading, engaging, but it was fun. To me, I think the live stream was one dimension too much. It was impossible for me to taste, listen, type, watch, read, engage, and listen again…add to that that the stream just worked for the first half, and I can state that I would have been fine without the live stream. I think it’s an interesting idea, I just think the connection with Twitter and tasting wines is too much…

But to the wines. I have written about the region previously, so feel free to check out this post that I wrote for the Finger Lakes Wine Month back in May.

We had a couple of friends over, I made my Korean spicy-braised potatoes and later we moved on to cheese that our friends had brought. We tasted the wines in order from driest to sweetest, as suggested by the Alliance. The 2012 growing season is generally described as warm and pretty dry, which led to a lot of sugar in the grapes. Ultimately, this can lead to higher levels of alcohol in the wine. All wines were made with 100% Riesling grapes.

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 - The dry wines

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 – The dry wines

We started off with the 2012 Knapp Dry Riesling Estate KV. The winery was founded in 1984 and is located at Cayuga Lake tending to 40 acres under vine. The grapes for this wine came from one 1.5 acre plot (single vineyard, yay!!) called Block 11. The wine has 12.5% ABV, only 182 cases were produced, $18.95. It is a collaboration between the vineyard manager Christ King and the winemaker Steve DiFrancesco. The wine poured in a light yellow color with a sweetish nose of peach, white grape and lemon aromas. The nose prepared me for a semi-sweet wine (it just smelled so sweet), but fortunately the wine definitely tasted dry. It was citrussy and tasted quite nice. Very clean tasting, refreshing. This wine definitely reminded me of a German Riesling. There were slight, slight bitter aromas at the end which were no problem though. Nina thought it was more a feinherb-tasting wine (meaning a drier semi-sweet), but I disagree. To me, it was dry. Definitely an impressive start.

Next up was the 2012 Lakewood Vineyards Dry Riesling.  Lakewood Vineyards Winery was founded in 1989, but grapes have been grown on this family-owned farm since the 1950s. It has 80 acres under vine, ten of them Riesling. The four different blocks of Riesling that were used for this wine were fermented separately and then blended in January. Bottling begins in April. The wine has 11.7% ABV, 810 cases were produced, $12.99. The winemaker is Chris Stamp, grandson of the farm’s founder. This wine’s color was lighter than the Knapp, very light yellow. Its nose was floral, with nectarine aromas being very prominent. It was a beautiful nose. On the palate, the wine seemed a bit heavier than the Knapp giving it a great mouth-feel. There was a nice amount of acidity with pear and sweet apple aromas. The middle part was the best in this wine for me. It just opened up and became wide with a hint of creaminess. The finish then surprised with citrus aromas coming in. This wine really worked for me. Front and middle section were very lovely, the finish was decent. Add in the price tag and you have a stunner!

The last dry-labelled of the evening was the 2012 Lamoreaux Landing Red Oak Vineyard Riesling, another single vineyard wine. Lamoreaux Landing is run in the third generation, with holdings on Seneca Lake. The wine has 12.5% ABV, 400 cases produced, $19.99. In the glass, this Riesling was extremely light in color, almost looked as clear as water (I was surprised by how light the color of the first wine was, but we kept going lighter and lighter). The nose was screaming peaches at me. Peaches, peaches, peaches. Great nose, very fresh, too. I was excited. On the palate, though, this light-bodied wine was somewhat less impressive. The flavors were subdued, just some slight pear and strawberries. There was a tad too much heat for my palate. After half an hour it got a bit milder. I was somewhat disappointed by this wine. Maybe it came in the wrong spot after the very flavorful Lakewood, but it just did not seem very aromatic to me, which is something I want in a Riesling…tweets from other writers suggest that they really liked this wine. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was bad. It was just not aromatic enough for me.

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 - The semi dry and semi sweet

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 – The semi dry and semi sweet

We then entered the semi-sweet zone, one of my favorite zones in Riesling. I just think that some amount of residual sugar really helps bring out the aromatics. So I was excited to try the next two.

First up was the 2012 Lucas Vineyards Semi-Dry Riesling. The winery is located at Cayuga Lake and has been around since 1980 tending to 32 acres of vines, only 5 acres being Riesling. The winemaker is Jeff Houck, the wine has 11.4% ABV, $13.99. I am not sure whether my bottle was flawed, but this wine did not work for me at all. The nose was weirdly devoid of fruit and same goes for the taste. Just nothing seemed to be coming together. I will therefore not comment on this wine.

The final wine was the 2012 Glenora Wine Cellars Riesling. The winery was the first on Seneca Lake, and the wine was also made by Steve DiFrancesco, the winemaker of the first wine. The grapes came from three different farms around Seneca Lake. 2,600 cases were produced and the wine has 12% ABV, $13.99. During the tasting in May, we had the chance to try a Glenora Gewürztraminer which I found pretty flavorful. The wine poured in a lighter yellow color. The nose was pretty, with honey, sweet apple and tropical fruit aromas. I liked it. Maybe a bit too much honey for a wine that is supposed to be medium-sweet, but pretty. On the palate, the medium-bodied wine first showed its 12% ABV. That was a bummer. Aroma-wise, it was great with papaya and pineapple. There was some acidity, but I wished there was more of it. The finish felt a bit flat, with bitter aromas and petrol. This wine started out nicely, the aromas were there, the weight was there. But then I feel like the alcohol took over. I wish it had clocked in at maybe 10.5% or so, with the added sugar, ok, but that might have brought a bit more balance. I can see that the lack of acidity was another problem, so at 10.5 it might have ended up tasting too sweet. A conundrum, for sure…this wine is still very young, so maybe it will need some more time to get the flavors together and for the alcohol to integrate better.

All in all, I was most impressed by the dry wines with the Lakewood being the standout wine here. That just worked for me. Light and flavorful, just like a dry Riesling should be. The Knapp was also a strong showing. The Lamoreux I will have to retry on its own one of these days. I really feel like it might have been harmed by the depth of flavors in and direct comparison with the Lakewood Riesling. This outcome was a surprise for me, given how much I prefer the medium sweet Rieslings in general. But that, to me, is also testament to the quality of these Rieslings…Finger Lakes Rieslings are definitely worth trying out.

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