We are big advocates of biodiversity on our growing farm, and value the symbiotic relationship we have with our land. This weekend, our ducklings were moved from their temporary home in the winery to their new coop in the vineyard. Over the next few weeks they will learn the landscape and begin helping us with pest management. (Bonus: not only are these guys hard workers, but they are pretty darn cute, too!)
If you're interested in learning more, check out this video from a winery in South Africa that employs more than 800 ducks in their vineyard -- it's truly a sight to see.
Visits with Louis always move too quickly. Having the entire team together is always something we look forward to, and while we work hard and efficiently when we're together, we always leave time for play. (And play, we did!)
Jean-Baptiste, one of Louis' long-time friends and fellow French winemaker, came along for the ride, and experienced the Finger Lakes for the first time. What is truly remarkable about this region is that you don't have to go out of your way to introduce someone to this place and the people, it just happens organically. When an unknown person arrives in the Finger Lakes, there may as well be a line out the door of people waiting to introduce themselves and pass on one of their favorite local pastimes or watering holes. The community is woven so tightly here, which is one of the many reasons we love doing what we do, where we do it.
Back to work... Although our rosé production is small—about 100 cases this vintage—it's a fun project for us, and was the first item on the agenda. We were all pleased to see it retain the intensity and expression of the 2015 vintage that we all loved so much. The next big task during Louis' visit was finalizing all of the cuvées: Classique, Les Alliés, and Single Vineyard wines. This means that each and every barrel and tank were tasted, ample notes were taken, blending trials were conducted, and after countless samples and discussion, the wines were realized. Every year it's fascinating to see the sometimes drastic differences between vineyards and terroir when tasting the wines. In our tasting of 2016 Rieslings, we noticed one powerful vineyard (you'll have to wait to find out which one...) that was so expressive, even adding 3% of it into our Classique bottling changed the entire dynamics of the wine. All-in-all, the wines from the 2016 vintage were full of character and finesse, wines that we are proud to be the first to have seen the entire winemaking process from start to finish in our new facility.
It is important for us to constantly taste, to let our palates and our minds experience and understand the world of wine around us. Everyone on the team is encouraged to document the various wines that they try (especially Riesling and Pinot Noir), and share their impressions. The opportunity to taste together is always the most beneficial, and allows us to engage in lively discussion, analysis, and sometimes debate. It was a treat to taste some of the older vintages from Saint Cosme (2004 Les Deux Albion, anyone?) and sample Riesling and Pinot from around the world, each with their own story and personality.
What did we do for play? Aside from taking pleasure in beautiful wines and the Michelin 3-star meals that Rick cooked up, we also wrangled in our bravery and jumped into one of many creeks feeding into Seneca Lake. Nothing is quite as invigorating at 9am as a chilly dip into a pool of fresh water (right, Louis?). We warmed up with a bonfire at the winery, had coffee and pastries, and shared some good laughs about the lunacy that just happened.
These are the moments that remind us of how much we love what we do. Having the team together, seeing our wines come to life before our eyes, and taking in all that the Finger Lakes has to offer (cold streams and all) is the life force of Forge.
Things are busy here in "the lakes" (as Louis would say), so while we're busy tending to things in the winery and vineyard, our wines have taken up the hobby of globetrotting.
Just last week, our Riesling and Pinot Noir were seated among some BIG names in the wine biz for a professional tasting of American wines in Romania. It is an honor and a privilege to wield the flag of the Finger Lakes abroad, and introduce the region and wines to connoisseurs overseas.
Shanghai was the next stop for our Riesling. Liz Thach, MW (Master of Wine) presented our Riesling Classique to 34 Chinese wine professionals during a tasting of "8 Top American Wines." Forge Cellars wines poured alongside Kistler, Domaine Serene, Turley, and Opus One!?
Did you catch our Facebook post last week about Hungary? Our Riesling Classique is the only American wine on the list at Eleven - bor&tapas, a wine bar/restaurant in Pécs.
Wow. What a strange yet amazing feeling to see our project making a splash and navigating the vast world of wine.
In the coming weeks, our home farm will welcome another addition of Riesling and Pinot Noir vines. This past weekend, Rick and James spent their time installing drain tiles throughout the vineyard where the next phase of planting will occur. By "tiling" or adding drain tiles, any excess subsurface water from the rising of the water table will be redirected through the pipe/drain system and moved away from the vineyard. It's a necessary undertaking in a region such as the Finger Lakes, which experiences somewhat significant rainfall in various years.
During the dig, we unearthed quite a bit of shale and blue clay - a combination that will make Pinot Noir especially happy.
It is surreal every time I see Forge Cellars in some place other than our own tasting room!
Yesterday, Louis sent a picture from Clermont-Ferrand, France, where the wines of Château de Saint Cosme and Forge Cellars were being poured.
Last week he was at Prowein showing our wines and this week Louis is in central France with the Forge portfolio. We may need to change his title to read: Louis Barruol - Finger Lakes Ambassador.
A note about Clermont-Ferrand -- most people don’t know that there is a whole range of mountains, the Chaîne des Puys, made up of extinct volcanoes near Clermont-Ferrand. I was blown away the first time I drove across this chain of mountains and saw the distinct shape of extinct volcanoes out my window. Worth a visit.
Our customer, Steven, from Seattle sent us this picture of freshly harvested Dungeness Crabs made into homemade crab cakes. The week before, Steven was telling me how he was out collecting oysters to go with another Forge Riesling. We love nothing more than seeing how you pair Forge Riesling with different foods from your neighborhood.
The saline, oyster water, seaweed character of Harvest Ridge probably went really well with the sweet flavor of the Dungeness Crab. Wish I was there to experience it first hand!
Please keep the pictures coming.
Ratings, ratings and more ratings. It seems like everyday the world of wine is consumed with scores. You can’t blame us really as scores do help to sell wines and are especially important to small producers from emerging regions that lack the sales force or marketing dollars to tell their story. Scores also help to guide consumers in choosing wine in the huge offerings widely available especially when in one of the “big boxes”.
I don’t care what any winery/winemaker/vigneron says, when you get a great score you smile and take a certain pleasure from the recognition.
Today, I think Louis’ father, Henri, is smiling for his son and all he has accomplished not only at Château de St. Cosme but also at Forge Cellars.
Well done Louis….it is not everyday you achieve a perfect score from the Wine Advocate.
A quick piece of advice -- if you are going to have partners in business make sure they are way cooler and more interesting then yourself!
Last week Louis emailed me and said that his Norwegian importer tasted the 2015 Forge wines at St. Cosme and absolutely loved them. They placed a large order of Riesling AND Pinot, so we're very excited about that.
Plus, the week before, Taiwan placed an order!
Yesterday Louis sent me this:
"I am in Tokyo. I sold some Riesling and Pinots yesterday in Kyoto. Tomorrow tasting all day at Imperial Hotel WITH the Riesling. Tuesday with Enoteca buyer to re-present Pinot and Riesling. Wednesday tasting all day at Imperial Hotel Osaka with the Riesling." - Louis
While the rest of the team is hunkered down here in "the lakes" taking care of 2016 vintage, it is good to know that your partner is out in the rest of the world spreading Finger Lakes love.
Every year Les Alliés evolves naturally by "uncovering" itself. Our 100% indigenous yeast Riesling fermentations proceed very slowly, taking a very long time to become totally, completely, bone dry. It's not in spring, but in the summer after the vintage that we are finally able to move toward bottling the wines. Once they are truly finished, our team begins diligently tasting through each of our 70 barrels and two tanks, giving each Riesling a detailed rating and review, and writing personal tasting notes. When we talk about small batch and individualized fermentations, we really mean it--70 separate, small French barriques from 10 individual vineyards, each with its own story and personality. Some barrels simply speak so clearly of their terroirs that they must become single vineyard wines. We do not hold them as "better" than our other wines, but they deserve and earn their places as wines that are so expressive of an individual place that we wish to present them in their own bottlings. (These vary from year to year as different sites reveal themselves.)
Along the way, we decide that some very special barrels are stand-outs. Some are so outstanding, unique, and by consensus, the most exceptional of our Rieslings--dense, pure, minerally, intense and balanced. This is the consensus that makes up Les Alliés -- the allies, the partners, the united ones. We don't "make" Les Alliés, we discover it together, and it's an easy decision because it tells us what it wants to be.
The Les Alliés Riesling is what we call a freight train of a wine--built for the long haul. You may certainly open it now and enjoy it immensely, but save some for your cellar to watch it reveal itself over the next decade.
Forge Cellars Les Alliés Riesling in the Press:
2014 Riesling Les Alliés
92 POINTS, TOP WINE (Wine Spectator)
"Forge Cellars leads the way here with its late-release 2014 Riesling. The Les Alliés (named for "the allies,” the estate’s three owners from America and France) is a combination of the best lots sourced from various vineyards. It shows how complexity and depth can be built in a wine, rather than drawn from a single site. The employment of used barrels for aging Riesling is a relatively new technique in the Finger Lakes, and it’s helping forge this distinctive wine’s personality and mouthfeel." - James Molesworth
2014 Riesling Les Alliés
92 POINTS, TOP WINE (Vinous)
“An exotic wine, with a nose of raw cashews, quince, lemon curd, papaya and the subtle stamp of oak. The palate is lively and layered, with great textural complexity and a palate-coating, lanolin-like quality that carries through into the finish. A unique, and interesting wine.” - Kelli White
2013 Riesling Les Alliés
90 POINTS, TOP WINE (Wine Spectator)
"Focused and pure, with anise, ginger, blanched almond, pear and mirabelle plum notes that extend on the mineral-edged finish." - James Molesworth
2013 Riesling Les Alliés
91 POINTS, TOP WINE (Vinous)
“The Les Alliés is effectively Forge’s reserve wine, assembled from select lots and aged for an extra three to four months in barrel. The nose is marked by scents of warm brown spices, butterscotch, white flowers, and hard cheese. The palate is lovely, with a punchy, expressive personality and a brighter acidity than the basic 2013 Riesling. A touch of flint comes through in the finish, as does a hint of oak.” Kelli White
On Sunday we received news that Louis’ father, Henri, had passed away at the family's estate in Gigondas.
I have had the most difficult time thinking of what I could say about this man that meant so much to Louis. Anytime I have had a conversation about winemaking or life Louis would undoubtedly reference his father. Louis has told me time and time again that his success and the success of Saint Cosme were because of his father's teachings and guidance.
Henri’s importance to Louis cannot be overstated.
This poem was written by Odile Coche-Dury for her husband, Jean-François but I thought it was a fitting homage to Henri Louis Barruol.
In the cellar, in the sun, at the vat, at the wine press,
in the cold, in the wind, under a veil of fog,
near the crackling brazier where the smoke envelopes him,
our ancestors and nature herself have imparted their wisdom.
Often he wears himself out pampering his soil,
and working far too late as the reddening sunset sky lights up,
he finishes his tasks without resentment,
then he descends the dusk-dark slope, weary but proud.
If he possesses the secrets of the vine and the art of wine,
it is because in his youth an old vine stalk gave him a sign.
Henceforth he was and always will be a vigneron.
Life in this garden of vines will serve him well
to better understand the path to the great beyond,
he who from birth was molded by his piece of earth.
by Odile Coche-Dury
March 20, 2006
while attending branches
in the des Enseignères vineyard
Read the article written by Paul Hobbs and Johannes Selbach (December 6, 2016).
Everyone at Forge Cellars is in full agreement with what Paul Hobbs says in his wonderful Op-Ed. Louis has been in Athens, Paris, Berlin and London in the last 6 weeks alone promoting Forge and the brand that is the Finger Lakes. We are in 22 countries and counting. We can now be found in 3 Star restaurants in Paris. How can we talk about a project that “could” generate 3-5 jobs when we are doing the kind of work in our wineries and vineyards that is having a global reach of this magnitude.
Paul Hobbs has a great vision for his property as does Forge Cellars. We are all in this for the long term…in wine we speak of generations, not decades.
Say NO to gas storage.
We planted approximately 95 mostly apples trees and some pear thrown in for good measure. All of these trees were a super kind gift from our friends Autumn and Ezra at Eve’s Cidery. They needed a good home for their extra trees and I assured them we had just the place. One of the core ideas that I have for our development at Matthews Road is lots and lots of biodiversity. I envision many different kinds of fruit trees, blueberry and raspberry bushes along with chickens, ducks and the occasional sheep. At St. Cosme Louis talks about how his mother always came to the vineyard le Poste to pick the best fruit, the best thyme, the best…and the list goes on. He is very careful to not disturb the terroir in this vineyard as it is very diverse and he believes this is one of the elements that helps to define the high quality of le Poste. Across the estate he practices this, the absence of mono-culture, leaving trees and bushes and not clearing the land just for efficiencies sake. Hopefully the apples will be just the first thing we plant and we can create and expand upon our own very diverse terroir here in the Finger Lakes.
Finger Lakes Riesling fans traveling through Wales - be safe to add an evening of dining at The Hand at Llanarmon to your itinerary. We're happy to let you know That you can order a bottle of Forge Cellars Riesling to pair With Their superb and inventive cuisine.
Not traveling to Wales Any time soon? Here's one of Their recipes for you to try out at home Alongside a glass of our 2013 Riesling.
In the spring, we had the chance to plant Clairette vines in Gigondas at Château de Saint Cosme. We received a photo just the other day showing us how they are coming along.
Vines grow much slower at Saint Cosme! The Forge Cellars vines, planted (on Seneca Lake) in June are already nearly 36 inches tall. Amazing, the difference in vigor.
Below is the recap on planting in Gigondas that we sent out via email back in June.
Our Recent Trip to France
June 16, 2016
Each year the Forge Cellars team heads to Gigondas for at least a week for tasting, education and discussions with Louis and the Château de Saint Cosme team. This year was magical as we hand planted a small vineyard at the estate of selection massale Clairette as a small experiment on the edge of the Hominis Fidis vineyard.
Small parcels must be hand planted. This process uses your body weight to drive the spike into the ground. Elbow grease is required and then with a deft hand, you slip the vine into the hole as you remove the spike. Training is required!
This technique requires the skill of a surgeon. Though Laurent (red shirt) doesn’t speak much English, his guidance in French was enough to allow Phil Davis (vineyard liaison) to try his hand at this ancient technique.
Steel - Pressure Treated - Cedar: all ways to build a trellis for your grapes, and all have their own benefits. Steel lasts forever. Pressure treated lasts for a really long time. Cedar lasts a long time and also has the benefit of allowing you to be certified organic if the need should ever arise. Of course, you can do the same with steel (which Louis uses in France at St. Cosme), but I made a big executive decision and decided to go with cedar. I waffled back and forth and then Phil Davis mentioned he had cedar posts in his vineyards that had to be at least 75 years old. So I thought, what the hell, lets give it a try.
Interesting side note-- when I was in the vineyard as the posts were being laid out, I felt a certain pleasure at looking at all the cedar ready to be pounded into the earth. The smell was nice, the colors were interesting, and for some reason, they struck me as uniquely part of the vineyard. Not to become too “biodynamic” on you, but I did feel that it was the right choice. We will see in 8 or 10 years if they all start rotting and snapping in half! Surely, all those Adirondack chairs can't be wrong.
I hope it is possible one day to be organic and I suppose picking a suitable post is a good first step.
I could rant about the necessity of offering a "special member" card, sales during certain days of the year, a "buy 3 get 1 free" deal, or granting membership in a “club"...and on and on.
As a matter of fact, I recently spoke with a “professional” about how to expand our online presence and get wine club (we don’t have one) members to buy more by offering free shipping and keychains. Maybe I am just really old school but I am just happy to keep everything as simple as possible.
Work hard - make great wine - offer it to people in a simple and straightforward manner without having to jump through hoops and keep the price reasonable.
Maybe I am so old school that I'm cool? Not a chance…
Here is to clarity….cheers.
What is the Forge Standard? The Forge Standard is simple, it's standard practice that we offer complimentary shipping on wine orders of six or more bottles. Enjoying wine should be rewarded and rewarding.
92 POINTS, TOP WINE
2014 Riesling Sunrise Hill Vineyard
91 POINTS, TOP VALUE
2014 Riesling Classique
When VALUE, INTEREST, and HAND-CRAFTED join together to form a perfect balance, you’re given a wine that wine drinkers prize. It’s a combination of these elements that give a wine its strength, giving it a life that exists far beyond the bottle. It becomes a Triangle Wine.
Let’s think about this concept with our 2014 Riesling Classique…
Value: James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator awarded this wine 91 points, but more importantly considers it the Top Value out of over 200 wines tasted from the Finger Lakes.
Interest: Combining texture with distinct minerality and freshness balanced by bone dryness, all with a fruit driven core – our 2014 Riesling Classique has a dynamic profile that keeps you engaged.
Hand-crafted: Harvested from low-yielding vines, picked by hand, resorted in the winery, spontaneous fermentation, and made in a small quantity. Each part of the process is guided naturally by the Forge Cellars team, with thoughtful and conscious decisions that allow the wine to speak of place and quality.
There you have it, Forge Cellars Riesling is Triangle Wine.
So go forth, find balance and drink outside of the box.
Recently, much has been said about the Resnick's decision to bulldoze a forest of old oak trees in Paso Robles, California.
This year, we planted our first vineyard here in the Finger Lakes. When we were looking for land, Louis always would say we want “nude” land, meaning land that had already been cleared and was sitting dormant. We found something close to that, which was a vineyard that had not been farmed since 1983. Was it difficult to clear the old wires, posts and vines out? Yes! Wires left behind are a mechanical nightmare to deal with, and they love to tangle up in sprockets and break machinery - things were no different for us. Would we do it differently? Absolutely not. I am really happy to be breathing life back into what was once a productive parcel of land, and having some local long-term economic impact as well. It is the same great feeling one gets when renovating an old house, very rarely cheap, but certainly satisfying.