We are a small, artisanal producer focusing entirely on Dry Riesling and Pinot Noir. We are made up of three partners —French Winemaker-Grower, Louis Barruol of Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas and Finger Lakes partners Richard Rainey, and Justin Boyette.
Our goal is for our wines to reflect the place that they come from, because this is where the pleasure is. When you smell a wine, you should to be transported to its origins and see the landscape. It should relate to good memories, and provide a strong feeling of identity. This is why we try to listen, be soft and transparent in our winemaking.
Our choices in the cellar guard the purity of our vineyards. Simply put, we make wine in the traditional, handcrafted manner. We harvest by hand. We sort by hand. We load the grapes into the press by hand. We shovel the vats out by hand. We employ spontaneous fermentation and ferment in very tiny lots, so that we truly understand the expression of the vineyard each year. We use very low levels of sulphur, ferment our Rieslings bone dry, and do not fine or filter our red wines.
Our indigenous yeast fermentations proceed very slowly. It is not in spring, but in the summer after the vintage that we are finally able to move toward bottling the wines. Once fermentations are complete, our team begins diligently tasting through our barrels and tanks, giving each a detailed rating and review, and writing personal tasting notes. When we talk about small batch and individualized fermentations, we really mean it — hundreds of separate, small French barriques from 15 individual vineyards, each with its own story and personality.
What is “Bone Dry” Riesling?
Irrespective of acidity, at Forge Cellars we consider less than 4 g/L (grams per liter) or 0.4% R.S. to be considered dry. Relating the notion of dryness to the level of acidity is not completely foolish, but it is not completely clever either. Because this sensory notion of how the wine feels is impacted by several additional parameters such as bitterness, saltiness, minerality, alcohol levels, and many others, why just take one of them to measure against sugar? We cannot talk about dryness relative to sensations. At Forge, we prefer a proper, objective, and understandable scale that considers the limit between dry and non-dry at 4 g/L of residual sugar.
This same definition of “dry” at 4 g/L or less was passed by the General Assembly of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV Resolution no.18) in 1973. It was three years later when the same definition was passed into the European Commission rulebook (Regulation 1608/76) that an exception for high acid wines was added. The exception states that a wine is dry if it has a maximum sugar content of 4 g/L or 9 g/L maximum if sugar does not exceed acidity by more than 2 g/L. It is not known how this exception came to be or what sensory science was used.
At Forge Cellars, we systematically adhere to the less than 4 g/L threshold because this is how we want to express our idea of what we call “Bone Dry” Riesling. We have experienced perfect balance, precision, style, finesse, and terroir expression between 1.5 g/L and 4 g/L. This low level of residual sugar creates stable wines that allow us to work at very low total sulfur levels, and can firmly be considered “dry.”
Our Classique bottlings are our most important wines, as they aim to reveal the true nature of each vintage and to explore the terroir of east Seneca Lake. These wines are the foundation of Forge, and each year we aim to craft a wine that consistently speaks of the style of Forge and a pure expression of the vintage.
Each of the 16 vineyards that we work with contribute to the blend that make up our Classique wines. These wines showcase the beauty of Seneca Lake: to be able to consolidate the various elements of each site into a perfectly balanced wine. Very few regions in the world provide in a natural way this perfect combination.
Our single vineyard bottlings allow us to explore the impacts of soil and terroir on our different vineyard sites. The eight-mile stretch that we work with along southeast Seneca Lake offers an unrivaled diversity of soil types. We consider that our task is to explore them, understand them, and offer you the finest possible rendition of them through these wines.
It is important to understand that Riesling is the ideal translator of shale soils. It is a chameleon cultivar that adapts to its surroundings and reflects them down to the finest details—in this respect, it is a mirror for terroir effect. Riesling has boundless possibilities; it can produce bone dry wines, sweet wines, late harvest wines, and can take on very different personas depending on the place where it is grown.
If there was such a thing as a formal ‘Grand Cru’-style classification of the finest soils in our region, our single vineyards would undoubtedly be a part of it.
the allies, the friends, the united ones.
Every year Les Alliés evolves naturally by “uncovering” itself. After the long, steady fermentations are complete, we decide that some very special barrels are stand-outs, and by consensus, the most exceptional of our Rieslings and Pinots. 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.
Each year, our rosé is made in very small quantities and is released in the late summer. It represents the fun, laid back side of Forge, and satisfies rosé cravings throughout the summer, fall, and winter.