Viking Red

Swedish Hill’s Viking Red, featured in a display earlier this year  at the winery as a gold medal winner, earned a double gold earlier this month.

New York wineries won awards for the best sparkling wine, the best dessert wine, six double golds and 10 gold medals in the American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition held Nov. 8 to 10 in Rochester.

This is a great showing because there were only 24 double gold and 24 gold medals awarded among the 527 entries from U.S. and Canadian wineries. 

The competition’s sponsor, the American Wine Society, has its roots in our area. It was founded in 1967 when a group of some 200 wine enthusiasts gathered at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s vineyard on Keuka Lake for their inaugural meeting. Today, the society has 4,200 members in 41 states. The organization is open to the public and provides members opportunities to learn about wine, winemaking and wine and food pairings.

The following top-award-winning wines are representative of the area’s diversity and include sparkling wines, red and white table and dessert wines made from vinifera, hybrid and Native American varieties.

•    Best Dessert Wine: Leonard Oakes Estate Winery’s 2008 Vidal Ice Wine. Jonathan Oakes, winemaker at this relatively new winery on Route 104 in Medina, Orleans County, was raised as a fourth-generation fruit farmer before transitioning to winemaking after graduating from Ontario College in Canada in 2008.

•    Best Sparkling Wine: Chateau Frank’s 2006 Blanc de Noirs. The Chateau Frank Winery has a long tradition of producing outstanding sparkling wine, and it’s particularly fitting that this wine produced by descendants of the American Wine Society’s founder should capture this award in the 2011 competition.

A stellar showing

Swedish Hill, along the western shore of Cayuga Lake, won more double gold and gold medals than any other winery.

Swedish Hill has one of the most versatile product lines of any Finger Lakes winery, illustrated by these top winners that include all major types of wine grapes grown in New York — vinifera, hybrid and Native American species.

•    Double Gold: Viking Red (non-vintage). An affordable ($8.99) red table wine that represents Finger Lakes winemakers’ efforts to produce more reasonably priced, dry red wines from vinifera and red hybrid grape blends that can be enjoyed anytime with simple meals. This wine is a blend of the two red hybrid grapes developed at Cornell (noiret and coiret coir) and lemberger, landot noir and marechal foch.

•    Double Gold: Swedish Hill’s 2010 Delaware ($9.99). One of the few wines available here made from 100 percent Delaware grapes from a single vineyard (Morse Vineyards on a picturesque hillside overlooking Keuka Lake). The vines are more than 35 years old and produce intensely flavored fruit.

•    Gold: Swedish Hill’s Marechal Foch, 2010 ($11.99). A varietal red wine made from one of the older traditional French hybrid varieties. This dry Beaujolais-style red wine goes great with picnic food, pizza and pasta.

•    Gold: Swedish Hill’s 2010 Vignoles, $23 (375ml bottle). A luscious dessert wine made from grapes picked late in the season from one of their estate vineyards. It has 12 percent residual sugar and features peach, pineapple and apricot flavors and aromas. 

•    Gold: Swedish Hill’s Riesling Cuvee, $17.99. A pleasant, semi-dry (3.4 percent residual sugar) sparkling riesling blend that doesn’t have to be saved for a special occasion.

The following two gold medal winners are from Goosewatch, a sister winery of Swedish Hill, that specializes in unique premium wines produced from classic European grape varieties such as pinot grigio, viognier and merlot as well as  lesser known varieties such as villard blanc, diamond and Isabella.

•    Goosewatch’s 2010 Diamond, $10. Made from a traditional American variety that has been grown in New York for more than 100 years, this wine features typical grapey aromas and flavors that bring to mind walking through a vineyard on a beautiful fall afternoon. 

•    Goosewatch’s Golden Spumante, $13. A sparkling wine with a rich, golden color. Flavors and aromas of grapes, spice and peaches.

Casa Larga Vineyards is a “little slice of Italy” located on a picturesque hill in Fairport. This unique winery was designed to preserve the Italian heritage of its founders, the Colaruotolo family. It won gold medals for the following two wines.

•    Casa Larga’s 2010 Vidal Blanc, $9.99. A light-bodied, unoaked wine with citrus and spicy green apple flavors and aromas.  

•     Casa Larga’s 2010 Muscat Ottonel, $11.99. One of the classic European strains of this variety. Spicy with citrus, floral and peach flavors and aromas.

The following Finger Lakes wines also won golds:

•    Lakewood Vineyards’ 2010 Chardonnay, $12.99. One of the few local wines  aged in New York oak barrels. Classic toasty, oaky and buttery taste, with vanilla flavors and aromas. This wine also has hints of citrus and pear.

•    Atwater Estate Vineyard’s 2009 Riewurz, $18. Pronounced “ree-verts,” this wine is a blend of riesling and gewurztraminer that captures the floral and spicy notes of both varieties.

•    Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards’ White Stag, $8.99. A semi-dry blend of 60 percent vignoles, 20 percent golden muscat and 20 percent traminette. A fruity blend with peach, pineapple and floral notes. Goes well with spicy foods or enjoyable for sipping in front of the fireplace.

•    Sheldrake Point’s 2010 Riesling Ice Wine, $40 (375ml). Classic dessert wine with floral, tropical flowers and honey flavors and aromas. A rich full, finish on the palate.

•    Lucas Vineyard’s 2010 Vidal Iced Wine, $24.99 ( 375ml). A rich sweet dessert wine with pineapple, apricot and honey flavors. A full rich finish lingers on the palate. For those who may not be familiar with specific terms on ice wine labels, the term “iced” means that these grapes were artificially frozen and not naturally frozen outside hanging on the vine.

Reissig, an entomologist at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, is a wine enthusiast who has visited wineries in the Napa and Sonoma regions in California and extensively toured Finger Lakes Vineyards for 30 years. He also regularly serves on tasting panels and as a judge for wine competitions.

Reissig, an entomologist at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, is a wine enthusiast who has visited wineries in the Napa and Sonoma regions in California and extensively toured Finger Lakes Vineyards for 30 years. He also regularly serves on tasting panels and as a judge for wine competitions.

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