Friday, February 19, 2010

Red Newt Cellars: Finger Lakes Wines

Last year at the Boston Wine Expo, I had visited a few of the Finger Lakes wine tables, but for some unknown reason, I never checked out the Red Newt Winery. Within the last few months, I had the opportunity to review a couple of their wines, including their 2006 Red Newt Wine Cellars Reserve Riesling and 2007 Red Newt Wine Cellars “Sawmill Creek” Cabernet Franc. Both were enjoyable wines so at this year's Expo, I knew I had to visit their tasting table, and check out more wines from their portfolio.

Red Newt Winery, located on the southeastern shore of Lake Seneca, was founded in 1998 by Winemaker David Whiting and Chef Debra Whiting. At the Expo, I met Brandon Seager, the assistant winemaker, who I have previously spoke to on Twitter (and pictured on the right).

Brandon was very personable and animated, a passionate advocate for the Red Newt wines. He tasted me through seven wines, five whites and two reds. Overall, I enjoyed all seven of the wines, and think the winery is doing an excellent job. My primary criticism is that I feel a couple of their wines may be overpriced for what they deliver.

I began my tasting with three Rieslings. The 2006 Dry Riesling Reserve ($23.99), of which only 240 cases were produced, was dry, crisp, and had delicious fruit flavors of green apple and citrus. It had some nice complexity and a fairly long finish. If you prefer your Rieslings dry, this would be a good choice.

The 2008 Dry Riesling ($15.99) of which only 226 cases were produced, had a bit of sweetness but still restrained. It also had plenty of acidity, nice fruit flavors of citrus, especially orange and line. It was not as complex as the Reserve but still was very pleasant and easy-drinking. If you want some sweetness in your Riesling, then this should be your choice.

The 2008 "Circle" Riesling ($11.99), of which 2100 cases were produced, was the sweetest of the three, though not cloying so. It was a simpler wine, with flavors of orange, lemon and apricot. It would be nice with some spicy Asian cuisine. Though I generally prefer a drier Riesling, there are plenty of people who prefer it sweet, and this wine should appeal to many people. Plus, it is inexpensive and a good value.

Next up, were two Gewurtztraminers. The 2008 Gewurtztraminer ($18.99), of which only 500 cases were produced, was very typical for this grape. It was dry, aromatic, and spicy with more exotic fruit flavors. A very nice example of this grape and I found it very pleasing and delicious. It was well balanced, with a moderately long finish and would pair well with food.

The 2007 Gewurtztraminer Sawmill Creek Vineyards ($35.99), of which only 240 cases were produced, was a much bolder and bigger wine, with much more pronounced spiciness. It is a bit more complex, with more intense fruit flavors, and the finish is a bit lengthier. It is a very good wine, but I feel the price is too high. It just did not possess enough of a wow factor for me to pay over $30 for this wine. Devout fans of Gewurtztraimer might differ.

The 2005 Viridescens ($45.99), of which only 208 cases were produced, is a blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot. The wine was named after the Eastern Red-Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), which is very common in the Finger Lakes region. I enjoyed the nose on this wine, very aromatic and appealing. I also enjoyed its taste, with nice flavors of plum, blueberry and black cherry as well as some vanilla and mild spice. But again, this wine lacked that wow factor which would make me willing to pay over $40 for this wine. It was very good, but not special enough for me to pay that much.

The tasting ended on a high note, the 2007 Cabernet Franc Glacier Ridge Vineyards ($38.99). Only 120 cases of this wine were produced and it reminded me very much of the 2007 Red Newt Wine Cellars “Sawmill Creek” Cabernet Franc which I previously reviewed. The Glacier Ridge was complex, smooth and without any vegetal flavors. The fruit flavors, ripe plum, blueberry and raspberry were lush and nuanced. There were hints of spice and a touch of smoke too. The finish was very lengthy and satisfying. This wine did possess the wow factor I desire, and thus I felt the price was justified here.

My advice: Check out the wines of Red Newt and see what you think. With their portfolio range, you should be able to find a wine that suits your preferences, whether dry or sweet, white or red. I found much I enjoyed and think many others would enjoy their wines too.


Hampers said...

What a wonderful post, beautifully written. It captures these wines so well.

bookconservator said...

If you ever find yourself on Seneca Lake, the Bistro at Red Newt is a fine location for lunch or dinner. Ever changing menu with foods that pair beautifully with Red Newt wines. One of my favorite wineries in the Finger Lakes.