pinot noir

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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Tales from the Shale - Vineyard Journal Apr. 23, 2018

AutumnStoscheck.jpg

Have you met Autumn Stoscheck?  She's the powerhouse behind Eve's Cidery, farmer extraordinaire, orchardist turned vigneron, and generally just a badass lady.  Autumn is on sabbatical with the cidery and working with us to develop our biointensive home farm.  Her methodologies and holistic approach to the land echo the philosophies of Forge and Saint Cosme, while also bringing a unique perspective to the mix.

Throughout the season we will share some highlights from the vineyard, and bring you along to explore the terroir of our site.


April 23, 2018 -- MAKING BIOCHAR
Written by Autumn Stoscheck (Instagram: @myvineyardyear)

#1 Vine prunings from 3 acres of 3 year old vines, the pit, and my fire starter. I dug this pit in 2 hours with a front loader on a little Kubota and hand held hoe. It's cone shaped, 3' deep in the center with a 6' radius up top.

#2 Started a very hot fire with scrap wood from old pallets.

#3 When it was raging, I began adding the prunings. The trick is to continue to add as much fire as possible with out smothering it.

#4 Fire burns twice, first making charcoal, then ash. The cone prevents air from reaching the bottom of the fire, leaving behind the charcoal. The fire is so hot it makes no smoke, only steam. The pit was full when I threw the last of the vines on the fire.

#5 Luckily our sprayer only uses organic certified materials, so I had a convenient method to pump the 100 gallons of water that the fire required to quench.

#6 Apx 200 gallons of high quality, uniform biochar ready to inoculate and add to our compost pile to be returned to the vineyard.

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.

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

The perfect wine for Thanksgiving -- 2015 Dry Riesling Classique

Don't fret about Thanksgiving wine choices - just about anything goes

On Thanksgiving day, two things are more important than the wine you pour. No. 1, of course, is the people you are with. (If you thought "watching football" was No. 1, you might need a re-education on the meaning of Thanksgiving; start with a "Charlie Brown" special.) No.

"How many times have we walked away from meals talking more about what was in the glass than what was on the plate? Many times."  We couldn't agree more with Michael Austin of the Chicago Tribune.  Of course, the feast is centerpiece of Thanksgiving, but without wine, the feast is incomplete.  In his article of must-have wines for Thanksgiving, Austin recommends our 2015 Dry Riesling Classique, calling it "full of minerality, almond, orange zest, citrus and a whisper of smoke — soft and luscious with bright acidity and a dry finish."

One of the best things about the holiday season and the foods that accompany them is that our Riesling and Pinot Noir offerings were practically made for them.  The Rieslings have weight and concentration with the perfect amount of freshness and acidity to complement rich dishes (poultry, pork, creamy squashes and soups) while also not overpowering the lighter fare at the table (salads and fresh vegetables or cheeses).  Vegetarians or those with carnivorous cravings will take pleasure in pairing a variety of foods with our Pinot Noir.  Our Pinots have unbelievable intensity with the perfect amount of restraint.  Earth, mineral, and fruit are woven together with precision and intention, while the tannins and acid breathe structure and freshness into the palate.  Poultry or red meat, root vegetables and mushrooms, lentils or salmon, and of course the traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and stuffing -- these are just a few ways you can introduce Forge Pinot to the food and guests at your table.

-KR

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

Forge Around the World

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.

Photo: Facebook page of Liz Thach

Photo: Facebook page of Liz Thach

Photos: Facebook page of Liz Thach

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.

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