Keuka Springs Vineyard: Keuka Lake Harvest Festival Part 2

http://keukaspringwinery.com

After a very enjoyable visit to Domaine LeSeurre Winery (post coming soon!), our third stop of the day was Keuka Springs Vineyard. I was very interested to taste here as I heard from some friends that their Rieslings were excellent.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a separate tent for the wine trail event. The pairing at this stop was delicious! Eggplant Parmesan, corn and bean salsa and a piece of apple crisp to top it off. My husband and I both agreed that the food on this stop was to die for (seriously though, where can I get that eggplant parm recipe?!).

At the tent, the first tasting was their 2017 Keuka Spring Riesling. This Riesling is a perfect expression of Finger Lakes Riesling; aromatic with hints of tropical citrus, and honey and pineapple on the palette. This Riesling was not too sweet, very approachable and well balanced with a kick of acidity to offset the sweetness.

We ventured inside after our wonderful introduction to Keuka Springs, and started the rest of our tasting. The tasting room was very roomy and had an incredible vantage of Keuka Lake. While we were there we had the honor of watching a big storm cross the lake. It was incredibly beautiful!

The next up for me was the 2018 Keuka Springs Chardonnay. This was a very interesting Chardonnay. The aromatics did not necessarily lend me to pick out that this was a Chardonnay, however, upon first sip it was clear that this was most certainly a Chardonnay. With a light buttery taste, this is a very easy drinking Chardonnay. It is not overpowered with oak or a buttery taste from undergoing malolatic fermentation (think turning bitter malic acid into milky lactic acid in wines). It is a well balanced, easy drinking wine.

For my next tasting, I ventured into a part of the wine menu that I don’t typically visit; semi-dry wines. Although I don’t often drink glasses of semi-dry wines, I can still certainly appreciate a well crafted semi-dry to sweet wine. The first one from this group was the Crooked Lake White (non-vintage). Keuka Lake is sometimes called the Crooked Lake due to its unique “Y” shape. I already liked this wine based on the fun title! I learned that the wine is a blend of Seyval and Vidal Blanc, both French American hybrids that are easy to grow here in the Finger Lakes. A swirl of my glass sprung floral scents such as honeysuckle, and included scents of tropical citrus and honey. When I tasted the wine, I was surprised by the how well the minerality and acidity balanced the sweetness.

One trend that became clear the more I tasted through the Keuka Springs wine menu is that their wines are incredibly approachable. No fancy-schmancy wine knowledge needed here. Their wines are classic, approachable and meant to be drank young. These wines are perfect to bring to a party!

Next on the list, I went for the 2017 Keuka Springs Epic Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. In speaking with Jim, who is the Tasting Room and Sales Manager, I learned that all of Keuka Springs’ reds are unoaked. This is incredibly unique! In fact, the only barrels they have are used for whites, and they are all neutral oak- meaning that they are used for mouth feel and not for the taste. Keuka Springs Vineyard makes use of many flex tanks, or food grade plastic tanks in their winemaking process. This is an excellent and cost efficient way to hold wines that are not barrel aged before they are bottled. Jim further noted that most years their Cabernet Sauvignon is used in a meritage blend, but in 2017 they decided to do a straight varietal release.

The Cabernet Sauvignon had classic smells of plus, black raspberries, cloves and notes of chocolate. What was so interesting, and surprising to my palette, was that there was no accompanying oak taste due to the absence of barrel aging, as described above. This is a trend I’m beginning to notice in the FLX- the removal of barrel aging in reds (also see: https://flxfinest.blog/2019/05/21/2017-lamoreaux-landing-t23-cabernet-franc-unoaked/). It definitely makes for a unique taste, and quite honestly, goes along with the Keuka Springs Vineyard motto of making wines that approachable and easy drinking.

The next red I tasted was the 2018 Miller’s Cove Red which was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Lemberger, Saperavi, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I love that I am seeing more of the Saperavi grape turn up in the Finger Lakes! Check out my post on McGregor Vineyards for more information on the Saperavi grape (https://flxfinest.blog/2019/09/19/keuka-lake-wine-trail-harvest-celebration-part-1-mcgregor-vineyard/)! While enjoying the aromas of plums, black raspberries and spice, Jim gave me a little history of the winery and noted that it had been in business since 1985 (the winery is older than me!). They are also self-distributed around the area, meaning they do not work with an intermediary wine distributor. This is very impressive!

When I tasted this wine I immediately liked how approachable the wine was. Great typical red blend flavors of dark fruits and spice, but no overpowering oak taste. These reds might be worth trying with your friends who “don’t drink red wine.”

Last but not least, Jim got me to try a Gewurztraminer. It is no secret to my audience, family or friends that Gewurztraminer may be my least favorite varietal on the planet. However, I told Jim I’d give it a try as it is their signature wine at Keuka Springs Vineyards. The 2018 Keuka Springs Gewurztraminer had classic floral aromas. One of the reasons I struggle to drink this varietal is the smell of perfume that emanates from the glass as soon as you pour it. It can be overpowering! However, these aromas weren’t too overpowering. When I tasted the wine I was very impressed by how the floral features of the varietal were balanced by minerality and other crisp fruit flavors. You guys, this is the BEST Gewurztraminer I have tasted in the Finger Lakes, EVER. And that is saying A LOT coming from somebody who pretty much swears off the varietal. The crispness is perfectly balanced with sweetness and a hint of spice. Not surprisngly, this wine won the 2017 Governor’s Cup. I BOUGHT A BOTTLE. Write it down, may be the first and last time here at FLX Finest 🙂

Jim informed me that they usually carry three different Gewurztraminers, but they have already sold out of two of them this year. The two others are single vineyard wines, and are even more special than the one I had tasted. They have 9 acres of estate Gewurztraminer, but source from 12 other growers in order to meet the demand for their wines.

If you are wondering whether or not to make a visit to Keuka Lake, YOU MUST. I know that Seneca Lake is hugely popular, but Keuka Lake is definitely worth the visit. I think that this Wine Trail event has convinced me to go to others as well! I have typically shied away from these events, as they have a reputation for being super crowded, and not that enjoyable as they are so busy. PRO TIP: do Wine Trail events on a Sunday afternoon as the event is winding down. You will get more personalized service, and will have a chance to really learn about the wines and wineries.

Have you ever been to a wine trail event? What were your thoughts?

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