Articles Tagged Finger Lakes
A few days ago, I received an email containing a unique (for me, anyway) request:
“On your page you have a special photograph of Sammy Argetsinger. Can you email me a high resolution copy of that picture? I would like to frame it and I know a local wine owner in Hector wants one to hang in his winery near Dave Bagley.”
The photograph to which this person was referring is below; it happens to be one of my personal favorites, because of the subject – I was lucky enough to capture Finger Lakes grape grower Sam Argetsinger at a moment that seemed to encapsulate his explosively buoyant and totally unique personality (it helped that the backdrop was his gorgeous vinous “backyard,” too).
From a follow up note from the same person requesting the photo, I was informed that Sam Argetsinger had recently passed away.
It’s sad news for Finger Lakes wine country, and, given how impressive FLX wines have been recently, a loss to be mourned for the greater U.S. and global wine communities, as well.
For more on Argetsinger, see my Finger Lakes write-up from back in may of 2010; he was one of the most authentically unique wine personalities that I’d ever encountered, and trust me when I tell you that when it comes to personalities in the wine world, that is really saying something.
Today, a quick-hit to tell you that my friend Evan Dawson’s recently-released book Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes just took home the award for “International Wine Book of the Year”at the 2012 Louis Roederer Wine Writing Awards.
I am personally thrilled for Evan, who is having a banner year in 2012 as he kicks ass and takes names across the wine writing spectrum. Evan is the kind of writer whose works make the rest of the on-line wine media world look good.
I’d offer you more thoughts on Evan’s first printed work, but as I’m quoted in it and am clearly biased all I can tell you is that it’s a decidedly well-written humanist take on the stories behind the Finger Lakes wine region. For more non-review thoughts on the book, check out my, well, non-review from a little over a year ago.
Congrats to Evan on such a well-deserved win – my friend, you’re making us proud!
Ten years ago, on a trip with friends to New York’s Finger Lakes wine country, I bought a few bottles of bubbly.
I was not a pseudo-wine-pro back then; I was an avid consumer (that term still applies!), and the majority of my vacation travel was centered around wine exploration. I had a budding interest, passionate zeal, and I knew what I liked though I would have had a lot more trouble telling you why, or explaining how, a wine I liked got to that point.
It was one of those gorgeous sunny Autumn days that was quickly turning into a chilly Autumn evening (no sun = no heat) and most of the Finger Lakes tasting rooms were closed or moments-away-from closing; we happened upon what was then a joint-producer tasting room featuring only local sparkling wines.
I knew what I liked, and I really liked the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut that evening. So, my girlfriend and I bought some.
Ten years later, at the surprise 50th birthday party of one of dear friends (who helped us greatly in getting through the tough times leading up to the recent loss of our Weimaraner, Samson, and to whom we gave a bottle of 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio so you know we love her), I had occasion to open the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut – Dr. Frank is one of the birthday girl’s favorite wine producers (alongside the most recent offering of Chateau Frank’s non-vintage Riesling sparkler, Célèbre Cremant).
And it rocked.
The fruit had started to subside a bit, but what remained was bready, lively, and wonderful; still fresh, still food-friendly, still (in the words of Simple Minds) Alive & Kicking.
An apt comparison, it turns out, for the state of NY wine in general…
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“They already got themselves a woodchuck today.”
Sam Argetsinger was leading a slow but determined downhill walking pace, flanked by his two dogs who had done the woodchuck hunting before we’d arrived. He is stout, and affable, and his wide smile accentuates a face of weathered features. Sam’s vineyard is small, relatively steep, and on the morning of May 8 it was playing host to a series of alternating bursts of warming sunshine from above, and strong cold breezes off of New York’s Seneca Lake.
A group of thirty-odd wine writers and bloggers descended onto the area as part of TasteCamp East; I was part of a dozen-or-so who were taking a morning tour of Sam’s vineyard on the second day of our trip. We had already, in a mere half-day, tasted dozens and dozens of Finger Lakes wines, some of which have been sourced from Sam’s vineyard.
“The other thing about woodchucks,” added Sam, stopping briefly and turning to face a small number of our group walking closest to him, and uttering the words without a modicum of sarcasm, “is that they’re delicious.” We laugh, of course – most of us aren’t farmers and none of us has ever tasted woodchuck.
“Must taste like chicken!” one of us says. Sam’s response – again without hesitation and appearing completely genuine: “Naw – it tastes like muskrat, mostly.” Sam then briefly explains how woodchuck gut can be employed to create a fine-sounding drum skin.
Welcome to the Finger Lakes, folks, where the water – carved out of the land like the claw marks of angry gods by retreating glaciers eons ago – runs long, narrow, and deep, like the traditions and views of the region’s people.
It would have been easy to joke that a Fingers Lake red is the best thing to pair with that woodchuck (or muskrat), given the past history of red wines from the region. And there certainly is nothing about Sam’s vineyard that would suggest anything other than the belief that This Is Riesling Country: from the steep plantings facing the water, to the heightened amplification of every nuance of viticulture – aspect, elevation, light exposure, ripening… we might as well be in the Mosel, right?
Exactly what you’d expect of the Finger Lakes.
That is, until you taste the wines that aren’t Riesling. Until you taste the region’s new reds…
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