louis barruol

JUST RELEASED - 2017 Vintage Scores

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Pictured above:  Louis in the cellar gathering Rieslings from barrels for blending trials of the 2017 vintage.

It has been a quiet winter in the cellar and on the eastern slopes of Seneca Lake.  There is a calmness that you can feel in the winery as you pass through racks of barrels playing soothing songs of fermentation.  Allowing our wines to ferment slowly and spontaneously makes for a long winter of watching and waiting, but the reward at the end makes the anticipation worth it.  As a result of this natural fermentation, we find that wines are more aromatic and expressive.

In 2018, we expanded to working with 16 different sites along a small eight mile stretch of southeast Seneca Lake.  The variations in soils, slope, elevation, and growing practices make this landscape a true treasure of terroir.  It is our hope that we can very clearly show you this in the wines from 2018, which will begin to come available in the summer of 2019.

A true pleasure has been watching the evolution of the first wines produced from fruit on our Home Farm.  We harvested a small amount of Riesling and Pinot Noir in 2018--both stunning in terms of quality and flavor.  As we continue to check in and taste them throughout fermentation, they are by consensus, spectacular examples of transparent, honest grape-growing, and speak ofterroir impeccably.  They have been a wonderful case study for us, as we put an inordinate amount of effort into caring for the vines with the help of Autumn Stoscheck in 2018, and are sure they will be an incredible addition to our blends. 

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In the January 2019 issue of Wine Spectator, our complete lineup of 2016 Dry Rieslings was featured among the high ratings from New York, dominating the Riesling category.  At this time, we still have a small amount of 2016 Dry Riesling Les Alliés available, however the rest of the vintage has sold out. 

This great press on the 2016 vintage was quickly followed-up by outstanding scores from Wine Spectator for the 2017 vintage Rieslings, making it another consecutive year of outstanding scores.  (Please see the 2017 reviews below.)

If you are among the lucky ones who have a few bottles of Peach Orchard or Breakneck Creek Rieslings resting in your cellar, you will be happy to read the reviews and thankful that you had the opportunity to add a few to your collection before they were sold out.  One of our most iconic wines, our late-release single vineyard Riesling from Leidenfrost, is still available in limited quantities.  Single vineyard wines are typically released in the summer and produced in limited quantities.  While we do bottle small lots of certain vineyards separately each vintage, the reason we make so few of these wines is because the fruit from these sites are also components in the Classique and Les Alliés bottlings each year.  Every time you enjoy a glass of Classique or Les Alliés, know that you are also tasting a piece of these special vineyard sites, too.  These single vineyard wines tend to sell very quickly and are adored by the press, so we always suggest stocking up when they are first released.  As a subscriber to this newsletter, you are among the first to know of their release, and we will be sure to reach out this summer when the 2018 vintage becomes available.


Dry Riesling Classique 2017
91 POINTS
Wine Spectator, 2019

"Jasmine and mustard seed notes lead the way here, backed by a mix of yellow apple, mirabelle plum and citrus oil flavors. Shows good intensity through the finish." - James Molesworth


Dry Riesling Breakneck Creek Vineyard 2017
91 POINTS
Wine Spectator, 2019

“Juicy and vibrant, with jasmine-gilded yellow apple, melon and mirabelle plum flavors backed by flashes of verbena and green almond on the finish. Shows lots of range and energy.”
- James Molesworth


- SOLD OUT - 


Dry Riesling Peach Orchard Vineyard 2017
91 POINTS
Wine Spectator, 2019

“Mustard flower, white peach, verbena and green almond notes give this a distinct profile, while a creamy frame and a lingering quinine streak add range and length.” - James Molesworth

- SOLD OUT - 


Dry Riesling Leidenfrost Vineyard 2017
90 POINTS
Wine Spectator, 2019

“A jasmine note leads off in this white, followed by grapefruit gelée, verbena and white peach flavors. A nice quinine streak gives the finish some needed tension.” - James Molesworth

2017 Vintage Release

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Momentum is the word that best describes where we are as a winery, and characterizes the 2017 vintage perfectly.  Coming off the heels of the stellar 2015 and 2016 vintages where the quality of our wines reached new heights, and the world seemed to be paying close attention, we knew that we needed to carry this energy through to the 2017 wines.  Now here we are, still rolling full speed ahead, ready to release our newest vintage.  These wines are alive; uncork a bottle and you’ll feel it.

2017 was our second vintage working in the new winery.  The pleasure in having our own space to work cannot be overstated. The flow and efficiency that we have in our simple structure is wonderful. 2017 also marked our seventh vintage.  Of course, each year we aim to become better at the work we do, and it seems that though the 2017 vintage had its challenges, overall it was a great success.  These wines represent joy, precision, and depth. We chose not to make Les Alliés Riesling or Les Alliés Pinot Noir this vintage, and de-classified our fruit in order to ensure the absolute best quality would remain in the Classique, our most important wine.

A portion of the 2017 vintage wines are now available online and at the winery, including our Dry Riesling Classique, and two new single vineyard Rieslings: Peach Orchard Vineyard and Breakneck Creek Vineyard.  The remaining wines will be released throughout the summer and fall of this year. 

As always, thank you for coming along on this journey with us and for your steadfast support. We hope that you enjoy these wines as much as we do.

Louis, Rick & Justin
Dry Riesling Classique 2017
$19


2017 is a vintage epitomizing classicism and balance. The wines are crystalline and laden with freshness. -LB

Due to our focus on this narrow 8-mile stretch of slope on the southeast side which includes 13 of our 14 Riesling vineyards, this will be our first labeling under the Seneca Lake AVA. Our 2017 Classique was fermented and aged in neutral barriques (57%) and in stainless steel (43%). Candied lemon, apricot peel, Asian pear, and anise join with salinity to give impeccable freshness.
Peach Orchard Vineyard Dry Riesling 2017
$26


In a year as cold as 2017, the level of ripeness achieved by the Peach Orchard Vineyard is nothing short of wizardry. -LB

Planted in a former hub of fruit tree production, this aptly named site is the most fruit-focused of our Rieslings. Robust and round, it gives notes of quince paste, stony minerals, dried herbs, tangerine, and juicy peaches.


100 cases produced
Breakneck Creek Vineyard Dry Riesling 2017
$26


As the Breakneck Vineyard produced pure sense of place this year, it seemed important that we introduce it to you.  The wine offers up outstanding minerality and a tension driven by freshness that is magnified by the total lack of sugar in our wines. -LB

Our first year working with this site has already shown great promise. The dramatic landscape of Breakneck Creek—cliffs and waterfalls—carved from hard layers of shale echoes in the minerality of this wine. It is dense with flavors of tropical fruits, lemon tart, chamomile, and vanilla.

125 cases produced
Leidenfrost Vineyard Dry Riesling 2017
$26


Anticipated Release Date: Fall 2018

Leidenfrost encapsulates this history of wine growing and the quality it is capable of producing. -LB

One of our purist expressions of terroir on Seneca Lake, this mature shale-laden, “Grand Cru” site continues to merit a stand-alone bottling. Intensely focused, the 2017 yields notes of candied orange peel, mango and fresh mint.


250 cases produced
Pinot Noir Classique 2017
$26


Anticipated Release Date: Summer 2018

The 2017 Pinot Classique draws marvelous aromas of camphor, Middle Eastern spices, ripe strawberry and liquorice from the shale along our hillsides. Its balance and delicacy meld with natural roundness.  -LB

Hand-harvested fruit from our east Seneca Lake Pinot Noir vineyards were hand-sorted and partially (30%) whole-cluster pressed. Spontaneous fermentations with native yeasts were followed by additional barrel aging for ten months.
Rosé 2017
$17


Anticipated Release Date: Summer 2018

Same style, different site. The 2017 is our first Rosé with Pinot Noir from Sawmill Creek Vineyard. After 24 hours, the juice was bled off of the skins using the saignée method, resulting in the structured, savory style of rosé that we enjoy.
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Here Come the 2015 Wines...

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RELEASE OF THE 2015 WINES
 
Here we are once again.  It's that time of year when our newest vintage of wines
make their debut, and you, a faithful member of the Forge Foundry, are the first
to experience the unveiling.  

 

There is no wine club at Forge, no hierarchy among fans of great wine, no complicated sales gimmicks, just a simple formula for sharing what we do with those who enjoy it.  Our annual offering keeps us engaged with you a few times a year without filling up your inbox.  We would prefer that you read less emails and have more time to visit us in the Finger Lakes. 

The 2015 vintage is very small in terms of quantities.  The volumes, meaning the juice we received from the grapes, was to put it...mildly frightening.  However, wines from 2015 are so much fun to drink that you'll quickly forget how little there is--until you finish the bottle and go to look for another.  Fortunately, you have some 2014 Forge wines that are aging gracefully (you do, don’t you?), and can always turn to this very complex vintage as a very suitable backup.  Trust me, I am speaking from experience.  I believe that for Justin, the patient one of the group, that the 2015 vintage was memorable because of the length of the fermentations.  They were not complete (fermented to dryness) until well into the summer, hence the late release of the wines.  Often I would ask him how fermentations were moving along, and the usual response was…”well, they are GOING…like a turtle." 
Every year, I look forward to Louis' impression of the vintage.  Here are a few of his thoughts:

"One of the nicest aspects of our work is having a different vintage every year.  A computer company has to invent all sorts of new products and develop many kinds of marketing strategies to keep the customers on board  You know what?  Mother Nature does that for us, and it is so creative that every vintage is different.  Obviously, sometimes a vintage can “look like” another, but my experience is that all of them have their own identity.  2015 gives a great picture of this; we had never seen a vintage like 2015 and we won’t see it again.  On a tasting point of view, it is so pleasurable when the mark of a vintage is obvious, it gives a great dimension of “time” to the wine.  The terroir gives the dimension of “place”, of “origin.”  What is important is to get an idea of truth.  It is important that the wine is a translation of a reality, a story, a moment.  So, as a grower it is important to make the best possible wine, but it is a bad way indeed to go “against” a vintage.  This is why I like the 2015, because it has a lot of self identity and when we drink it in 15 years time, the way it will taste will have a “time machine effect” on us and it will make us happy."

It will make us “happy”…this is indeed the 2015 vintage.  They are hedonistic, exotic, and unlike any of the wines we have had the pleasure of crafting before.  Enjoy, be happy.

-RR
RIESLING CLASSIQUE 2015
$19


A classique not that classique. As Rick says it is more a great Burgundy than anything else. Ripe, wide, profound, long. But the freshness is still very present. An enormous impact of the vintage on this wine. A style on its own. -LB

Our most important wine aims to reveal the true nature of the vintage and to explore the terroir of east Seneca Lake. Working with 8 different growers on 10 parcels, we see the depth of expression possible in a ripe vintage. With this level of ripeness, fermentations continued into late spring in order to finish bone dry. Quince, lemon, fennel and slate mingle with marzipan and white chocolate, supported by precise acidity.

Production: 1800 cases
LEIDENFROST VINEYARD
RIESLING 2015

$24

A ripe, smooth, round riesling from great vegetal material.  So different from Sawmill and geographically so close. -LB

We consider this a “grand cru” site because of its close proximity to the lake and rocky terroir of shale near the surface. This vineyard always expresses its terroir clearly; grapes ripen early and well, yielding distinct character and power. The 2015 is savory and intense with flavors of stone and saline interplaying with apricot skin, apple and anise.

Hector (east side, Seneca Lake)
Soils: shale
Production: 50 cases
LOWER CAYWOOD VINEYARD
RIESLING 2015

$24

A very expressive wine with a stunning complexity and identity.  A really great terroir/location/vine.  No doubt.  An aromatic spectrum that I deeply like.  We do have something very special there, for sure. -LB

These 40-year old vines are part of the original Charles Fournier plantings, planted on shale with minimal topsoil. Due to some extra-loving care throughout the growing season, this site produced dynamic flavors that deserved its own bottling. Lifted aromas of menthol, wild herbs and wasabi contrast sharply with a rich, lush palate of glazed apples, preserved lemon, raw honey and dried orchard fruits.

Lodi (east side, Seneca Lake)
Soils: shale
Production: 25 cases
SAWMILL CREEK VINEYARD
RIESLING 2015

$24

That is classicism more than the classic.  So elegant and talking about this particular microclimate on a very precise way.  I think Sawmill is a wine to taste old.  This is a proper super great pedigree wine, no doubt.  The balance is great and works naturally well every year. -LB

We have come to expect great complexity and expression from well-farmed grapes on this site which lies in a slope contiguous to Leidenfrost. This vineyard is a jewel of the Finger Lakes where Riesling expresses itself with both minerality and ripeness year after year. A riper, heftier style that mixes dried apricot, dried apple and wild peach with honey, anise, ginger, white pepper and loam.

Hector (east side, Seneca Lake)
Soils: shale
Production: 100 cases
PINOT NOIR CLASSIQUE 2015
$26

Very Burgundian in style but very « east side Seneca » in expression. It makes sense: the style is given by your work. The expression is given by…nature. And obviously our aromatics and texture are highly related to shale in this wine. -LB

Attractive mulled plums, violets, raspberry tea, truffle and charcoal aromas can be found on the nose. The ripe results of low yields in a warm growing season are evident in the density of this year’s Classique. Sweet plums, raspberries and pure cherry juice are spiced with cinnamon, cocoa powder and violets. Savory elements of underbrush and stone join the profile, staying focused and juicy on a long finish.

Production: 625 cases
ROSÉ 2016
$17

This rosé of Pinot Noir is full-flavored and structured with notes of vibrant crunchy red cherry, cherry pit, thyme, and mineral. Produced using the saignée method, grapes were hand-harvested from Standing Stone Vineyard (located in Lodi on the east side of Seneca Lake) and experienced 16 hours of skin contact to retain its rich color.

Production: 84 cases
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Louis' Visit to "The Lakes" - May 2017

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.

-KR

A Perfect Score

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.

-RR

Forge Cellars in Japan

A picture of Louis sharing Forge wines in Japan. On the right of the picture is our dear friend, Rudi de Pins of Château Montfaucon.

A picture of Louis sharing Forge wines in Japan. On the right of the picture is our dear friend, Rudi de Pins of Château Montfaucon.

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.

-RR

Les Alliés Riesling is...

Louis Barruol - winemaking, cellar, Riesling

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

A Homage to Henri Louis Barruol

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.

-RR

                                                                                        

VIGNERON

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
at Puligny-Montrachet
while attending branches
in the des Enseignères vineyard