pinot

Why do we make Pinot Noir?

(Sourced from our e-newsletter on Jan. 18, 2018)

2011, our first vintage of Pinot Noir. (Photo: Wendy Houseworth)

2011, our first vintage of Pinot Noir. (Photo: Wendy Houseworth)

Just about every week we have someone visit the winery for a tasting, and often one of their first questions is, "Why do you make Pinot Noir?” 

True, with with our variable weather patterns and cool, northerly climate, nothing is easy here; certainly not the fickle, seductive beauty known as Pinot.  But we have always had the confidence that if we chose the right sites, balanced the yields, worked with dedicated growers, and paid attention throughout the season, we could absolutely achieve excellence. Notice I have mentioned nothing about the winemaking, which must be watchful, disciplined and intensive. This past fall, Justin and I used our brain power and brute strength to figure out how to break through the foot-thick cap of grape skins to punch down our Pinots. Louis haranged us day and night about fermentation temperatures, and we bit our nails in suspense over whether our French barrels would arrive from Santa Rosa, California while it was burning from wildfires.  

Seneca Lake Pinot Noir truly excites us and gets us up in the mornings. We believe it is possible to translate our terroir into a sublime glass of Pinot. Some of the very factors that deter and stymy are those that have the potential to make our version so compelling. We continue our quest for finesse, delicacy, seduction and charm, and we invite you to come along on this journey. Such is our confidence in the variety here, that  in 2016 and 2017, we planted ten acres of Pinot on our home farm. With the help of our Vineyard Consultant, Phil Davis (Damiani Wine Cellars) and our vineyard team, which now includes Autumn Stoscheck from Eve’s Cidery, we look forward to raising our young vines in the most eco-friendly and balanced manner possible that they might tell you a brilliant Finger Lakes story one day.

If you like Burgundy, we think you will especially find our Pinots attractive. These are wines that reflect their delicate and gradual Finger Lakes ripening and their foundation in shale soils. They are alive, expressive and mysterious, unfolding at will. I'll be heading to Burgundy for inspiration and wisdom from the holy grail of Pinot Noir in just a week, so stay tuned for updates, and in the meantime, check out our newly released and rated Les Alliés 2015.

-RR

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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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