Standing Stone Vineyards

View of Seneca Lake from Standing Stone
View of Seneca Lake from Standing Stone

My first experience with Standing Stone Vineyards was at a wine trade show in Boston in September 2011. I was pouring Napa wines and Standing Stone co-owner, Marti Macinski, was at the table beside me pouring their wines. She gave me my first taste of the Finger Lakes, about which I knew nothing.

Side-by-side Riesling tasting
Side-by-side Riesling tasting

Marti and Tom Macinski purchased the property on Seneca Lake’s east side in 1991, the former Gold Seal Vineyards, with the intention of “harvesting premium grapes and subsequently crafting heavenly wines.” They have succeeded by creating consistently good, award-winning, and age-worthy wines since their first vintage in 1993. This year, 2013, marks their 20th anniversary vintage.

Side-by-side Gewürz tasting
Side-by-side Gewürz tasting

Fast forward to April 2013, my recent trip to the Finger Lakes, and my second experience with Standing Stone. I arrived at their winery on Seneca Lake just before Marti had to leave. I reminded her of our first meeting and I am not sure she remembered, as she travels far and wide showing their wines, but I’ll never forget the first, and now second, Standing Stone experience.

Vidal and Chardonnay Ice Wines
Vidal and Chardonnay Ice Wines

Marti left me in good hands tasting with a gentleman who has been involved in the wine business for 40+ years. He recommended side-by-side tastings of various vintages and varieties. We tasted so many wines I lost count. But what I do remember is that all of the wines were simply outstanding, especially the Alsatian-style white wines and ice wines.

Side-by-side Gewürz Ice Wines tasting
Side-by-side Gewürz Ice Wines tasting

Marti had told me before she left to take a bottle of anything I wanted with me. While I know Finger Lakes Rieslings are some of the best in the world, I was trying to vary my selections on this trip to gain a broader understanding of Finger Lakes wines. Therefore, I selected the 2010 Gewürztraminer ($14.99 at the winery).

Riesling Ice Wine
Riesling Ice Wine

Last night I paired the Gewürztraminer with Kung Pao chicken. A couple of years ago, a friend recommended this pairing with Gewürztraminer from another winery, and it’s never failed me.

2010 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer
2010 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

The 2010 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer, fermented in stainless steel, is a big one. It has lots of floral aromatics, fresh Finger Lakes acidity, a hefty dose of minerality (the vineyards rest over a bed of slate), flavors of orange, grapefruit, and spice, a bit of residual sugar (1%), and a rich mouthfeel from being left on lees for two months. It is an ideal match for Kung Pao chicken’s brown, spicy, and slightly sweet sauce with peanuts. This is one of those pairings you never want to end. You discover yourself eating and sipping until it’s almost all gone. Amazing.

If you plan to visit the Finger Lakes, Standing Stone needs to be on your list of must-visit wineries. The wines, the staff, and the view of Seneca Lake are unforgettable. If you’re interested in other pairings with their Gewürztraminer, visit this page and read the entry for 4/14/13. As you will see, it pairs with a variety of everyday foods and snacks, not just Kung Pao chicken.

Lamoreaux Landing and #ChardonnayDay!

Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars

One of the wineries I visited on both of my trips to the Finger Lakes in November 2012 and April 2013 was Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars. During my first trip, I attended their Harvest Celebration Winemakers’ Dinner and on the return trip, I visited the tasting room.

Bubbles Reception at the Harvest Celebration Winemakers' Dinner
2006 Blanc de Blanc at the Harvest Celebration Winemakers’ Dinner

Lamoreaux Landing has received much recognition in the press, such as being named Wine & Spirits Winery of the Year in 2010 and 2012, and has appeared in Wine & Spirits‘ Top 100 Wineries in the World twice in the past three years, most recently in winter 2012. In the August 2011 issue of Wine & Spirits, Lamoreaux Landing received seven 90+ ratings across four vintages and a best buy designation for their 2009 Dry Riesling. In 2008, New York magazine wrote, Lamoreaux Landing is made upstate near the Finger Lakes, and the cooler climate makes for a fresher, crisper, more elegant Chardonnay than what you’d typically get from California. The winery also graced the cover of Wine Spectator’s May 2006 issue.

2007 Blanc de Blanc welcome!
2007 Blanc de Blanc welcome!

My visit to the tasting room was nothing short of magnificent. The staff welcomed me with a glass of their 2007 Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc. You can never, ever go wrong with bubbles as a welcome.

Wines paired with chocolate!
Wines paired with chocolate!

The staff also treated me to one of their chocolate and wine flights. I chose the flight that paired local chocolates with their 2011 Grüner Veltliner ($19.99, which I purchased), 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling, 2009 Merlot Block 137, and 2010 76 West (a red meritage blend comprised of 52% Cab Franc, 24% Merlot, 24% Cab Sauvignon). First bubbles, then chocolate and wine? I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Local chocolates
Local chocolates

Since May 23, 2013 is #ChardonnayDay, I thought it would be the perfect pairing with my post about Lamoreaux Landing. Below are my reviews of two of their Chardonnay offerings.

2008 Chardonnay
2008 Chardonnay

2008 Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay (purchased at the winery for $12.99 less industry discount)
88 points, Wine & Spirits, and Best Chardonnay from the 2011 NY Wine and Food Classic
I love this barrel-fermented Chardonnay. It has a creamy mouthfeel with oak aromas and flavors like butterscotch, toffee, and vanilla combined with aromas and flavors of apple, citrus, melon, and pear. Even after five years in the bottle, it retains that distinctive cool-climate, Finger Lakes acidity to which I am highly addicted. And it’s only $12.99? Get outta here!

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Finger Lakes
Total Acidity: 9.4 g/L
pH: 3.33
Alcohol by Volume: 12
Fermentation: 67% Oak Barrels
Production Level: 3400 cases

2007 Blanc de Blanc
2007 Blanc de Blanc

2007 Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc ($24.99 at the winery, media sample provided by Lamoreaux Landing)

Made méthode champenoise, this Chardonnay was harvested and fermented initially in 2007, bottled in 2008, fermented a second time in the bottle, then aged three years en tirage on yeast lees. It’s a delicious, food-friendly sparkling wine, with aromas of bread and yeast, a creamy mouthfeel, complex flavors of citrus, tree fruits, and toast, and mouthwatering Finger Lakes’ acidity.

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Finger Lakes
Total Acidity: 9.2 g/L
pH: 2.97
Alcohol by Volume: 12.6
Fermentation: Stainless Steel and En Tirage
Production Level: LOT #1- 52 Cases

View of Seneca Lake from Lamoreaux Landing
View of Seneca Lake from Lamoreaux Landing

Lamoreaux Landing is one of my favorite wineries and I can’t wait to return. If you’re planning a trip to the area, let me know and I’ll assist and/or refer you to one of the best tasting experiences in the Finger Lakes. And, don’t forget! On Saturday, May 25 from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., Finger Lakes Wine Month concludes with Finger Lakes Wine Hour, The World’s LARGEST Finger Lakes Wine Virtual Tasting via Facebook and Twitter! I hope you will join me for this comprehensive tasting of Finger Lakes’ wines.

Lakewood Vineyards

Lakewood Vineyards' Tank Room
Lakewood Vineyards’ Tank Room

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.

Lakewood Vineyards' Barrel Room
Lakewood Vineyards’ Barrel Room

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.

Chardonnay blind tasting
Chardonnay blind tasting

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.

Riesling blind tasting
Riesling blind tasting

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.

The vineyard dog
The vineyard dog

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.

Cabernet Franc blind tasting
Cabernet Franc blind tasting

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.

Valvin Muscat with local cheeses
Valvin Muscat with local cheeses

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.

Winemaker Chris Stamp
Winemaker Chris Stamp

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.

Fightin' in the Finger Lakes
Fightin’ in the Finger Lakes

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.

Fightin' in the Finger Lakes scorecard
Fightin’ in the Finger Lakes scorecard

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