Sunday, February 15, 2009

Florida in news for more than spring training

Again, here are two items off this week's e-letter from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and director Jim Trezise. He reports on how his state's wines performaned in a competition in Florida and then spends a bit of time offering his views of Florida wines.

NEW YORK GOLD was mined in the Sunshine State last week at the super Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, where New York wineries came home with 186 medals including 6 Double Gold, 26 Gold, 73 Silver and 81 Bronze awards. Topping the list was the Casa Larga 2006 Fiori Vidal Ice Wine which won “Best Dessert Wine” of the competition, with other Double Golds going to Arbor Hill Rhine Street Red, Dr. Konstantin Frank 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling, Imagine More Passion Ice Wine, Swedish Hill 2007 Dry Riesling and Svenska Blush. Gold medals went to Atwater 2007 Vidal Blanc, Chateau Frank 2002 Brut, Cobblestone 2007 Cherry, Dr. Frank 2007 Gewurztraminer, Fox Run Sable, Fulkerson Red Zeppelin and Airship White, Goose Watch Renaissance Red, Hazlitt White Stag, Heron Hill 2007 Semi-Sweet Riesling and 2007 Late Harvest Vidal, Hosmer 2007 Dry Riesling and 2007 Pinot Gris, Keuka Spring 2007 Lemberger, Lakewood 2007 Gewurztraminer and 2007 Dry Riesling, Peconic Bay 2005 La Barrique Chardonnay, Penguin Bay Tuxedo Red and 2007 Rosé of Chambourcin and Percussion, Swedish Hill Natural and Spumante Blush and 2007 Cayuga White and Blue Waters Chardonnay, Torrey Ridge Blue Sapphire and Diamond. In this competition with 1,382 entries, New York wines won 3 out of the 5 Gold medals in the sparkling wine category; the only Gold in the Lemberger category; 1 of 2 Golds in the unoaked Chardonnay category; both Golds in the Dry Gewurztraminer category; all 3 Golds in the Dry Riesling category; the only two Golds in the White Hybrid Blends category; 2 of 4 Golds in the Red Native American Blends category; the only Gold in the Native American Blush/Rosé category; the only Gold in the Stone Fruits category; and the only 2 Double Golds in the Ice Wine category. This clear quality throughout many different varietals and categories, combined with the broad diversity of New York wines, is a major strong suit for the industry.

DR. KONSTANTIN FRANK 2007 Gewurztraminer Reserve won Best New York White and Best Overall White on the national level at the recent Beverage Testing Institute Wine Competition, along with three other Gold medals for 2007 Gewurztraminer, 2007 Dry Riesling and 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling, which also earned a Best Buy Award. All four wines rated 90 points or higher with the Gewürztraminer Reserve taking the highest score of 93 points. The vintage Gewurztraminer secured 90 points and the two Rieslings each got 91 points. Standing Stone Vineyardsalso got racked up some impressive scores from BTI for its 2007 Vidal Ice Wine (93), 2006 Cailloux (91), and 2007 Cabernet Franc (91). Wine & Spirits magazine gave a 93 to Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2007 Homestead Reserve Riesling; and Wine Spectator a 90 to Wagner Vineyards 2007 Riesling Ice Wine.

FLORIDA WINES are lots of fun, just like the people who make them. After last week’s competition I met with representatives of the state’s Viticulture Advisory Council and Agriculture Department to discuss organizational structure, program development, and regional branding (they have a decent-sized annual budget based on a portion of the wine excise tax). There are now 16 wineries spread around the state, and the meeting was at Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg with its copyrighted slogan “Finally, Wines that Taste Good”. Its selection of over 30 different tropical, citrus and berry wines include sparkling wines made from grapefruit, tangerine, mango and blueberry, complemented by table wines made with banana, passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, key lime and tomato, capped by the best-selling Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria blend which has won Double Gold medals in Florida and Indiana (and deservedly so—it’s real good!). There’s even a Finger Lakes transplant in the industry, Peter Schnebly of Schnebly Redland’s Winery in Homestead south of Miami, who is making an avocado wine to add variety to his carambola (star fruit), guava, lychee, and other varietals. And yes, there are even some grape wines—muscadine varieties like Carlos and Noble—which have unique aroma and taste characteristics, along with high levels of healthful resveratrol due to the humid growing conditions. Muscadine, like the labrusca varieties in New York and other eastern states, are very different from Vinifera wines, particularly in terms of a more pronounced aroma (flowery for muscadine, fruity for labrusca), so you need to shed your prejudices to appreciate them. Like wines of all types, it really comes down to balance: the interplay of sugar and acid, and the varietal character of the grape. For more information, go to

No comments: