new york wine

The Evolution in the Cellar

(Sourced from our e-newsletter on April 20, 2018)

Winemaking at Forge Cellars - Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York

Here we are, in between the calmness of slow, steady fermentations and the thrill of preparing these barrels for the journey ahead. Using natural yeasts as we do, our wines take their sweet time to ferment to bone dryness and the 2017s are still finishing this evolution. It’s a busy time of constant tasting and note-taking, discovering the vintage in our cellar.  There is hardly anything more exciting than tasting through the wines from our collection of vineyard sites, and experiencing the “colors” of the eastern shore of Seneca Lake.  People often ask about our interest in working with so many sites; the simple and honest answer is that, at this young stage of Forge and the Finger Lakes, we want to explore our terroir more completely and partner with the best growers, while still focusing within a tight eight-mile strip that we love along southeast Seneca Lake.   Keep in mind the narrow terroir that is in our Riesling Classique: even with 15 plots, we are essentially working with vineyards between Lodi and Hector, except for one late-harvest site. 
 
There are certain terroirs that offer intensity and precision, while other sites offer savory, stony minerality, or flavors that make you feel like you just bit into the juiciest peach of your life.  Blending these profiles together allows us to give you a bottle that is layered with the complexity we find in the lower-east microclimate of Seneca. To define this connection, beginning with our 2017 vintage, our wines will be labeled with the "Seneca Lake" AVA rather than the wider-ranging "Finger Lakes."
 
What about the single vineyard wines?  There are always a few vineyards that so clearly portray their terroir that they compel us to study them alone. They are masked within a blend and brilliantly complete on their own. Similarly, we note a few barrels among both the Riesling and Pinot Noir that are truly exceptional, and can be nothing other than our Les Alliés.
 
In these coming days, we will sit together as a team and uncover the 2017 vintage.  More than one hundred barrels will be individually tasted, assessed, blended, and the final wines realized.

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