|Our patriotic drinks at Belhurst|
We arrived Thursday evening and immediately headed into Geneva town center in search of food. Beef n' Brew, our destination and what seemed to be our sole option for dinner on July 4th eve, was unable to seat us as they had run out of food. Oh, the woes of Small Town, USA. Luckily, we were directed to Belhurst Castle where we found a beautiful patio, sustenance and Belhurst's private label wines. A glass of Riesling, a glass of Cab Franc, some dinner and dessert and we were two very content travelers.
|Art Series Riesling|
Friday morning, our driver picked us up and we were on our way to Anthony Road Winery. We structured our trip so the first day we would conduct a private tour of our own itinerary and Saturday would be an organized group tour. Anthony Road, own and run by John and Ann Martini, was one of the vineyards recommended by my manager at Union Square Wines. At the vineyard, as at most, we were able to customize a tasting flight. After tasting through a variety of wines, I was most impressed with their 2012 Dry Riesling ($16)
with lime, peach, soft minerals and a moderate amount of acidity, although not as viscous as Old World Rieslings; the 2011 Cabernet Franc/Lemberger ($20)
with dark berry fruits, cinnamon, clove and green stems; the 2011 Bellaria ($20)
, a dessert wine created for their 20th anniversary, that tasted of honey and and candied citrus; and the 2010 Art Series Riesling ($28).
With a label featuring one of Ann's paintings, the wine's citrus notes melded nicely with the slate-y minerality, but was tempered by a touch of Granny Smith apples dipped in honey. The one that was a revelation for me, though, was their 2012 Gewurztraminer ($16)
, which became the benchmark for all Gewurztraminers for the rest of the trip. Lychees, pineapple, golden delicious apple and a bit of residual sweetness were given an edge with the spicy notes characteristic of a Gewurz.
|Doesn't look too haunted...|
Intrigued by our driver's story of a haunted winery, we deviated from our plan and made a detour to Miles Wine Cellars. We didn't encounter any ghosts but did come across something much scarier: Cataba
. The sickly-sweet cousin to Manischevitz made its first (and unfortunately, not last) appearance in our glass. Two sips in and we did a dump-and-run.
|On the gator - we totally look like we|
work in the fields
We also made a spontaneous stop at Shaw Vineyard where we tasted through their wines, of which we enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon
the most. More educational, though, was the ride through the vineyards on the gator. We saw the different varieties of grapes being planted, both vitis vinifera
and vitis labrusca,
along with food crops which were planted to imbue the soil with nutrients.
|Tanks at Wiemer|
|Dessert wines |
Hermann J. Wiemer, a high priority on our list, was the next destination and oh boy, they did not disappoint. Guided by Oskar Bynke, the winery's co-owner, we tasted an extensive amount of stellar wines. A few of the highlights were the 2011 Frost Cuvee ($13.50),
a Chardonnay/Riesling/Gewurz/Sauvignon Blanc/Gruner Veltliner blend that married orchard fruits with spice and felt like a Gewurz but without the floral essences; the 2012 Gewurztraminer ($25)
with it's uber-floral, rose bouquet nose, tropical fruits, spice and minerals; the 2011 Magdalena Vineyard Dry Riesling ($36)
, which, with its complexity and balance, ended up in my suitcase*; and the Reserve Riesling (not available for purchase)
, whose apricot, peach and stone fruits were met by slate, minerals, but most unusual for the region, but very welcome, a viscosity and structure that made my palate very, very happy. They also had some gorgeous late-harvest dessert Rieslings
, rich in honey and overripe stone fruits.
|One of the Riesling offerings|
|The wine wall in the bistro room|
Red Newt, another recommended winery with a highly regarded bistro, was next on the tour. Riesling. Damn, these people do it right. We started with the 2011 Dry Riesling ($16)
with golden delicious apple, apricot, minerals and strong acidity that finished refreshingly crisp and dry; the 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling ($14)
with a similar flavor profile and acid level as the Dry, but more residual sugar on the finish; and the 2011 Circle Riesling ($12)
another moderately sweet Riesling that shone a stronger light on the orchard fruits. Also of note was their 2011 Gewurztraminer ($15)
with less floral aromas than other Gewurztraminers but an exotic spice profile of cumin and curry, as well as their 2010 Cabernet Franc ($20)
with chocolate covered strawberries, cocoa powder, black pepper and cinnamon. The stemminess that can often disrupt a Cab Franc for me was gloriously absent and this was one of the rare reds I enjoyed on the trip.
|One of the Sheldrake offerings|
Our final stop of the day was at Sheldrake, a vineyard that came to my attention through the Summer of Riesling campaign. For some reason, though, I wasn't as impressed as when I tried one of their Rieslings back in the city. They seemed to lack a complexity that I found in some of the well-crafted wines we tasted earlier in the day and the roses, which they are also lauded for, tasted like simple Provence table roses.
Post-tour we attempted a walk around by the lake but an impending storm drove us back into Geneva town center, where we fortuitously discovered Microclimate wine bar. Chic yet charming, we grabbed seats at the bar. My palate was definitely a little fatigued but not enough to pass up a rose tasting. With two of my new favorites in the flight - the Ameztoi Txakolina and the Raimbault Sancerre - I wanted to compare them to the Sheldrake rose, which didn't fare so well earlier in the day; the highly acclaimed Robert Sinskey from California; plus one more French rose thrown in for good measure.
|Who can say no to a flight like this?|
Finishing our night with a bite to eat and a stroll back to our hotel, we were tired, satiated and ready for tasting day 2.
*A bottle of their unlisted Lemberger may have also made it's way back home with me....