Our friend, Staci Nugent, paid us a visit a while back. It's a long way from Ithaca, NY to the Napa Valley, and we were very happy to see her.
Staci is the winemaker at Keuka Lake Vineyards in Hammondsport, NY. She is also an up-and-coming cheesemaker. On the evidence of the gouda-style cheese she brought, she is already quite accomplished. She is in Switzerland at the time of this writing, learning from master cheesemakers.
Wine she has down. Staci very generously brought us her 2007 Goldman Reserve Dry Riesling and her 2008 Vignoles. Folks, these wines are fabulous. The Riesling is classic in every sense. Textbook mineral and stone-fruit nose, with hints of citrus. Great acid and just delicious. The wine shows what Riesling in the Finger Lakes can achieve with a talented winemaker. Well worth the $18 retail price.
The Vignoles was astonishing. The vignoles grape is a cross of American and French grape variteies. The goal with such crosses is to combine the attractive flavors of the French species with the ability to withstand the temperatures and disease pressures of the US. We cannot attest to its vineyard performance but the flavors in this wine show that the goal was achieved. Certainly Riesling-like, but with a very attractive herbal streak. The wine is labeled "gently dry," and we were concerned that it would be overly sweet. Instead, the sweetness is perfectly balanced with the acidity, and therefore barely noticeable, as in a successful trocken wine from Germany. This wine is a steal at $13.
The only bad news is that the wines have limited distribution (NY, CT, DC) and the winery can ship to only a few states (NY, CA, AK, AZ, FL, MN, DC). Good cheer to readers in those states. The rest of you should keep KLV in mind when you visit the east coast.