Lakewood Vineyards was the first winery on my list for my second visit to the Finger Lakes. I arrived at 11:30 a.m. on April 13, 2013 and co-owner Elizabeth Stamp graciously hosted me through one of the most comprehensive tastings of my life: 17 wines and two meads. Yes, in an hour and a half, I tasted almost all of their portfolio, which includes vinifera, hybrid, and native grape wines. It was my first opportunity to try wines made from Baco Noir, Catawba, Cayuga White, Concord, Delaware, Niagara, Valvin Muscat, and Vincent.
I also spoke briefly with winemaker Chris Stamp. His philosophy of winemaking is to stay as true to the grapes’ inherent qualities as possible and he excels in doing so. Below are some of the highlights of my morning tasting. If you are interested in seeing the complete list of wines tasted, don’t hesitate to contact me with an e-mail address and I’d be happy to send it to you.
2011 Chardonnay, $12.99
What makes this Chardonnay stand out is that it’s fermented in oak from New York State, so it is local through and through. It has all of the good characteristics of an barrel-fermented Chardonnay, aromas and flavors of apricot, butter, coconut, and vanilla. It is a gold-medal winning Chardonnay.
2012 3Generations Riesling, $19.99
This wine is named after the three generations of the Stamp family who grew, fermented, and blended this gorgeous Riesling from their finest lot of grapes. It is bone dry with tree fruit aromas, yet tart citrus flavors and the distinctive Finger Lakes acidity. It was one of my favorite wines of the entire Finger Lakes trip.
2010 Candeo, $12.99
As Elizabeth Stamp told me, this wine is “for those times when champagne is too much and beer is not enough.” Candeo, which means sparkle in Latin, is made from Cayuga White grapes. It’s bubbly, fruity, and fun, perfect for summer celebrations, picnics, and parties.
2010 Cabernet Franc, $15.99
Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned grape that grows well in the cooler climate of the Finger Lakes. This gold-medal winning example is no exception. It’s bright red in color, with light tannins and aromas and flavors of blackberry, cocoa, oak, and tea.
NV Valvin Muscat (hybrid), $12.99 (New Release)
I had this wine twice, once in the tasting room and again that evening at their wine dinner. It is delightful both alone and paired with local cheeses and mixed fruits. It has aromas and flavors of melon, peach, and pear combined with good acidity and a long finish.
2010 Catawba, $8.99
The Finger Lakes area sometimes receives a bit of negative press about this native grape, but it’s very popular and can be quite delicious. I thought this wine would be another great summer sipper, with lots of berry and citrus aromas and flavors. It’s like pink lemonade for grown-ups.
2010 Borealis, $13.99
This gold- and silver-award winning ice-style wine is made from the common Concord grape, the grapes most of us eat and use for grape juice, jams, jellies, and preserves. If I were to describe it, it would be candy in a glass, but for adults, of course.
The Stamps invited me back to Lakewood that evening for their Fightin’ in the Finger Lakes wine dinner, during which their wines were paired against some of Europe’s comparable offerings in blind tastings accompanied by food. The attendees were given score cards and we rated the wines on color, aroma, taste, and pairing, then the winners were revealed. Lakewood Vineyards won the Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc rounds against offerings from France, while their Riesling lost by just one point to a German offering. I am thrilled to say that I correctly identified all three of their wines before the results were revealed. I am on my way to becoming a Finger Lakes wine specialist.
Thank you again, Elizabeth and Chris Stamp, for your wonderful hospitality and for including me in your wine dinner. You made me feel like family during my visit. When I think of my visit to Lakewood Vineyards, this quote comes to mind:
You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again. ― Azar Nafisi