When you take a look around, you’ll find some fresh, new energy rifting through the Finger Lakes wine industry. Young and exploratory winemakers and growers are carving their own unique places in the industry, while also paying homage to those who have spent their careers diligently working to place the region on the global wine map.
At Red Feet, we strive to engage with local wineries; tasting, visiting, and getting to know these dedicated people, so that you are presented with the best new bottlings throughout the year. We recently had the pleasure of tasting and chatting (on separate occasions) with two winemakers that have been hot on the radar lately, August Deimel of Keuka Spring Vineyards and Christopher Bates of Element Winery.
August Deimel joined Keuka Spring Vineyards in 2012 as head winemaker. He often speaks in poetic parlance about cool climate, Finger Lakes varieties, especially Gewürztraminer. As a graduate* of St. John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico), Deimel’s persona is undoubtably influenced by his study of the Great Books and the brilliant minds of renowned philosophers. This mindfulness has likely played a large role in his desire to be somewhat experimental in his approach to winemaking, unafraid of questioning the norm and cultivating his own unique place within the industry. August is also a Cornell graduate, holding a Master’s Degree in Enology from the university.
Although Deimel has a fond appreciation for and adeptness with Riesling, his passion is for Gewürztraminer, which he calls “a beautiful, if misunderstood, grape.” I asked August to elaborate on his fascination with Gewürztraminer, to which he replied:
“Often compared to Riesling because it grows in a similar climate and is an aromatic white grape, it is actually quite different. Whereas Riesling is a medium-weight grape that can trend toward the ethereal, Gewürztraminer wants to be dense and thick. Whereas Riesling will always be about the nose, its beautiful aromatics carrying it forward, Gewürztraminer is deceptive. The nose of Gewürztraminer may be what first captures you, but its the texture that makes it truly beautiful. The mouthfeel of the best cool-climate Gewürztraminer is like nothing else in the white wine world. It can be weighty without being oppressive and powerful without becoming a caricature. It’s exploring that side of Gewürztraminer that I love.”
We had the opportunity to taste the classic 2014 bottling from Keuka Spring Vineyards as well as their 2014 Dynamite Vineyard Gewürztraminer recently, and were extremely impressed with the concentration, texture, and purity of each. You can now find both of these wines on our shelves along with the 2014 Keuka Spring Vineyards Riesling. (All are perfect matches your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner!)
2014 Keuka Spring Vineyards Dynamite Vineyard Gewurztraminer
Dynamite Vineyard is located on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, and boasts one of the largest single vineyard plantings of Gewürztraminer in the Finger Lakes. The name refers to the dynamite once used to break up the dense rocks in the soil in order to put the posts into the ground for the trellis system.
Much of the texture and depth of this wine comes from fermenting in barrel (45% of the total wine) followed by two months of aging in older oak barrels. The aromatics are fresh and vibrant, ushering in notes of lemon zest, lychee, pear, and guava. Texturally, this Gewürztraminer is a star! An incredibly silky mouthfeel couples with nice weight and depth on the palate. Mineral, slate, and spice present themselves right away and continue to linger throughout. Notes of lychee, quince, passionfruit, and lemon pith also come through, backed by well balanced acidity and persisting spice.
2014 Keuka Spring Vineyards Gewurztraminer
Well-structured with a fresh, floral bouquet and wonderful clarity, this classic bottling from Keuka Spring Vineyards dances along the palate with a delicate, yet focused nature. It doesn’t carry quite the viscosity of the Dynamite Vineyard bottling, but still reveals a richness that is undeniable. Almond, candied lemon peel, and ripe stone fruits weave together on the nose, leading to a palate with concentration and complexity. Stone fruits make an appearance again along with notes of lemon, mineral, and a lingering spicy finish with lively acidity. Acidity, weight, and spice are all working harmoniously in this bottling, with each component shining through from the entry on the palate to the finish.
Check back next Friday for PART 2: New Finger Lakes Arrivals to Get Excited About when we’ll focus on Element Winery and local Sommelier-Chef, Christopher Bates.
- K. Rose