I’m wrapping up my two-week feature on the Finger Lakes where I recently experienced incredible wines, extraordinary hospitality and stunning vistas. I tasted some amazing Rieslings and Pinot Noirs as the micro-climate in that part of New York state is very hospitable to these particular grape varieties and the winemakers are as devoted and passionate and dedicated as any I have met in more than 30 years of professionally imbibing. As I mentioned in last week’s column, I am presenting a series of interviews from my Finger Lakes trip on my weekly TuneIn Radio show.
Belhurst Estate Winery is located at 4069 West Lake Road (just off Route 14S) in Geneva, NY (315 781-0201) www.belhurst.com. This is a sprawling property which includes Chambers in the Castle, Vinifera Inn, Belhurst Wine & Gift Shop, Stonecutters Casual Dining, Edgar’s Fine Dining, Isabella Spa — Salon Castle Ballroom, Meritage Ballroom and White Springs Manor. I tasted a number of Belhurst’s wines but was particularly impressed with the following:
Naturel Sparkling Wine is a blend of Chardonnay (60 percent) and Cayuga (40 percent) and is a dead ringer for Italian Prosecco except it is a creamier drink. My old friend Granny Smith is ever present in the delicious apple flavor. ($19.95)Dry Riesling is loaded with summer fruits and had a distinctly peachy flavor with a drizzling of lime. It is fresh and crisp. ($18.99) Golden Pheasant contains Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc. It has a huge burst of fruit with a touch of creaminess. There’s a trace of peach in its flavor. It is crisp and semi-dry. ($17.95)Red is a fun filled blend of Baco Noir, Merlot and Malbec and if you enjoy the flavor of red berries then this wine will be very welcome. I would definitely chill it down and pop open a couple of bottles to wash down your burgers. ($17.95)Manitou – Meritage is a combination of all the best red grapes one expects in a Bordeaux style blend: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. Deep and dark and intense and worth every penny. ($34.95)I entered a small building tucked away in a corner of Ithaca, on the south shore of Cayuga Lake and felt just like Alice as she arrived in Wonderland. I was greeted by the proprietor who is neither mad nor is he a hatter. Frédéric Bouché exudes all the traits of an artisan, a proud man whose ancestry, documented in photographs and artifacts in a corner of his working space, celebrates Bouché’s wine-making family heritage in Normandy, France. Ports of New York (www.portsofnewyork.com) is a small artisanal urban winery, and tasting room, at 815 Taber St., Ithaca, NY (607) 220 6317) in an industrial area. Very much a GPS destination rather than a location one just “happens to pass by.” Bouché hand makes port, but since port is a fortified wine made in Portugal, just like champagne is a sparkling wine made in Champagne, the two products this amiable Frenchman makes cannot be labeled as port. And so, Ports Of New York is as close as Frédéric comes to identifying his nectar on the label. He calls his product Meleau, and it is the finest port I have ever tasted in the New World. It comes in two colors: White and Red ($40 a bottle). The red has the familiarity of traditional port with a bolder velvety character while the white is a lighter, more elegant version. The red suits me just fine and my only complaint is that the wines are sold in 500ml bottles and that production of this splendid product is so limited that port enthusiasts, like me, must enjoy modest quaffs to make a little last a bit longer. Meleau is pronounced “mellow” and the red is produced primarily from Merlot and Cabernet Franc while the white is essentially crafted from the Muscat Ottonel grape. Monsieur Bouché employs the traditional “Solera” method to age and blend his products taking a portion of the wine aging in his oldest barrels and replacing it with younger wine from a newer barrel. I don’t think Frédéric Bouché’s labels reflect the quality of his wines and since he is also an artist, I asked him to consider creating a one-of-a-kind label for each vintage. Meleau is a true work of art and comes as close to drinking a Renoir or a Matisse as one can get. Do NOT miss this “port” of call on your visit to the Finger Lakes. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly, two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining