Element Wines

Riesling

A grape that causes more discomfort, possibly than any other. It is often the first wine people start drinking, and when they want to become “serious” wine drinkers they are weaned off of it. They are conditioned to believe that it is not good wine because it is not dry enough, strong enough, red enough, manly enough, heavy enough, painful enough, etc.

And yet, in the full circle way that the world works, we find that most wine professionals return to the glories of the grape.

As the Finger Lakes begins to define itself and emerge and emerge as a fine wine growing region, Riesling has become the flagship. Riesling is often associated with cool climates, but, it is not its ripening ability that makes it so important here in the Finger Lakes, but, rather its cold tolerance that are securing it, along with Cabernet Franc, as the most acclimated to the region. While not the first vinifera planted in the Finger Lakes (that was Chardonnay), it was one of the early highlights and wineries like Dr. Konstantin Frank and Hermann J. Wiemer became icons, largely based on their love and affinity for it.

Don’t feel embarrassed, don’t think Riesling is for beginners. These are the wines we drink because they are delicious. And delicious wines make for smiles.

Current Release: 2011 Riesling

Varietal: 100% Riesling
Production: 247 cases

Viti/Vini: Year 2011 was a challenging vintage for red wine production in the Finger Lakes (which is why we produced only 80 cases of reds), but was fantastic for whites, especially those that can handle a bit of botrytis. A balanced summer gave way to a wet, cool harvest, allowing for the spread of botrytis. The long cool autumn allowed for long hang time, giving us riesling with great acid, elegant structure and full flavor development. A long hand sorting period removed much of the botrytis, but not all, giving us a hint of it in the finished wine. This wine was fermented using only natural yeasts, in stainless steel, and then allowed a long time to rest on its natural lees, with little stirring, which has added an amazing weight and texture.

Tasting Note: Focused and pure, with a slight bruised red apple note adding to the green apple, and just ripe peach and apricot notes on the nose. A fine minerality, and slight herbaceous and spicy notes are balanced with just a hint of honey, saffron and ginger. The finish is long, and pure with a racy structure. This wine is beginning to emerge from its shell, but is built to age!

Past Release:

2012 Riesling, Off Dry

Varietal: 100% Riesling
Production: 108 cases

Viti/Vini: Year 2012 was outstanding in the Finger Lakes. A near perfect summer followed by a warm, balanced autumn produced healthy, clean fruit, giving growers and winemakers the ability to allow the fruit to hang. This produced grapes of exceptional ripeness for the Finger Lakes. Our 2012 Riesling is no exception. Full ripeness without botrytis led to a wine with a more opulent, ripe nose, and great weight and structure. This wine was fermented using only natural yeasts, in stainless steel. Then we halted fermenting. There is a noticeable amount of residual sugar to balance the acids.

Tasting Note: Aromatic, ripe red apples, stone fruit and baked pineapple aromas meld with ripe white flowers and a slight herbaceous note. The palate is round and full, with a large impression of fruit, balanced but crisp acid and a bit of grip from slow basket pressing, allowing a small amount of natural skin contact. This wine has a long future ahead of it.

The 2012 vintage is currently unavailable, but check out our other great selections.

2010 Riesling, Dry

Varietal: 100% Riesling
Production: 307 cases

Viti/Vini: Year 2010 was a near perfect classic vintage in the Finger Lakes. A wonderful summer and moderate fall gave clean, ripe, and elegant fruit. Full ripeness without botrytis gave us wines with much softer acids than 2009 and great weight and structure. This wine was fermented using only natural yeasts, in stainless steel, and fermented completely dry.

Tasting Note: Baked golden apple, and waxy, honied, oily notes dominate the nose and support a rocky mineral character. The palate is soft, textured and warming, with an impression of fruit sweetness. The wine is completely dry, but the softer acids of the vintage produced wines that are more round and weighty. Delicious, soft and balanced, the finish is deceptive in its concentration.

2009 Riesling, Dry

Varietal: 100% Riesling
Production: 297 cases

Viti/Vini: 2009 was a very cool vintage in the Finger Lakes, and produced Riesling with stunning acids and amazing purity, density and focus. This wine was fermented fully dry in stainless steel, and then spent nearly 3 years on its lees to build texture and weight to balance the stunning acidity.

Tasting Note: Lime leaf, burnt mineral, toasted yeast and smoke dominate the nose, with tart fruit and defined minerality rounding the aromas. The palate is bright and vibrant, being lifted by stunning acidity. The crisp, clean finish is tart and bright, with balanced weight and lees adding to the length and complexity. This wine is developing at a monumentally slow pace, and should have an amazing future in the cellar.


Chardonnay

With so much attention on Riesling these days, it seems that Chardonnay is slipping through the cracks. It is easy not to notice it, but that would be a mistake. There is a reason Chardonnay was the first vinifera to be planted in the Finger Lakes. Chardonnay fits our climate perfectly when planted in the correct areas. While it is a bit more sensitive to the bitter cold of Finger Lakes winters and takes more care to plant in some of the warmer and more protected microclimates, the climate during the growing season is perfect for cool climate Chardonnay. Whether it is grown to be vinified as a sparkling wine (one of the Finger Lakes’ hidden treasures) or as crisp, still Chardonnay, we believe this is one of the most exciting and unsung grapes in the Finger Lakes.

Current Release: Unavailable

Past Release:

2011 Chardonnay

Varietal: 100% Riesling
Production: 60 cases, 24 magnums

Viti/Vini: 2011 was a very challenging vintage. We morphed from a cool summer to a wet fall that gave us extra disease pressure and therefore drove many to harvest early. Luckily, our Chardonnay grower is one of the most meticulous we know, and managed to harvest some stunning Chardonnay for our first vintage. The grapes were hand-harvested, meticulously sorted, and gently pressed in our tiny little basket press. Fermentations went spontaneously, half in stainless and half in a neutral french oak barrel. Malo happened naturally, and the wines rested on their natural lees for nearly 24 months without SO2 before being blended for bottling.

Tasting Note: Bruised apple skin, ripe pear, baked pineapple, bread dough, and creme fraiche emerge on the nose, while the palate brings on the chalky mineralogy, bright citrus (lemon rind), and salinity. The palate is taught and structured, with only an impression of roundness from the oak. The wine is bone dry and the acid is crisp and bright.

The 2011 vintage is currently unavailable, but check out our other great selections.


Red Table Wine

While much of what we focus on is defining the style and character of individual grape varieties produced in the Finger Lakes, our Red Table Wine is different. Our flagship blend, this wine is really about creating a composite of tastes that represent the Finger Lakes more than any particular varietal, and allows us to explore the art of the blend.

In a world where specificity is equated with quality, we believe that while that can be true, it can also lead to wines that are singular. We love the art of blending, be it grapes (Bordeaux), Vintages (Champagne), soils (CdP), picking times, or winemaking techniques, and this is our nod to that love. Red Table Wine is our playground. It is for experimentation, change, love, passion, and whims. The blends will change every year, and are comprised of our favorite barrels that play well with each other. Why do we call it something so generic? It’s red. It is wine. And it definitely belongs on your Table.

Current Release: Unavailable

Past Release:

2010 Red Table Wine

Varietal: 100% Syrah
Production: 235 cases

Viti/Vini: 2010 was a near perfect classic vintage in the Finger Lakes. A wonderful summer and a moderate fall gave clean, ripe, and elegant fruit. This was hand-harvested and hand-sorted. Roughly 60% were whole clusters with the remainder destemmed. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 30 months on their lees. While this wine is not from a blend of varieties, it was selected as a blend of our favorite barrels of Syrah that we felt best represented the character of the Finger Lakes without the varietal identity obscuring that sense of place.

Tasting Note: Red and black fruits mix on the nose, with impressions of cherries, plum skin, and blackberries mixed with a slightly herbaceous and earthy note. The palate is focused but complex, bringing green herbal notes in balance with the core of fruit and turned earth characteristics. Just a touch of pepper and olive come out on the finish, and keep the wine centered. The acid is present and the tannins are round and resolved. This wine is just beginning to show evolution, and will age well over the next decade. 

The 2010 vintage is currently unavailable, but check out our other great selections.


Pinot Noir

Our first foray outside of the Finger Lakes! As our goal has always been to explore cool climate, not only finger lakes terroirs, we have had our eye on the impacts of this Limestone band for long time, and we finally found the vineyard we had been looking for. Dijon clones, tight spacing, low fruiting zone, tiny clusters, this vineyard has it all. America’s sweetheart grape at the moment, Pinot Noir is one of the most challenging grapes to work with. Naturally thin skin and tight clusters make it prone to disease pressure, and it can be sensitive to extreme winter temperatures. But when it is planted in the correct microclimates and tended very carefully, it flourishes. The Finger Lakes has everything we need to grow fantastic Pinot Noir, from our cool climate to our long growing season and complexity of soils.

We still believe that the Finger Lakes has the ability to make absolutely stunning, aromatic, delicate, and balanced Pinot Noir, and we are excited to explore our nuanced Niagara Escarpment! The thin skins of mean less color and tannin to extract, but certainly not less flavor, texture, weight or complexity. This is a signature grape that we try very hard to respect.

Current Release: 2013 Pinot Noir

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Production: 98 cases, 54 magnums, 18 jeros

Viti/Vini: 2013 was a difficult vintage in Upstate which made our sorting process more important than ever, and after a long and tedious sort, the fruit that emerged was beautiful. This further cemented our belief in the importance of everything we do, from hand picking to extensive sorting, as the 2013’s would never have been possible without these. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until its first birthday. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 24 months on their lees.

Tasting Note: High-toned with ripe, sun baked cherries and sweet spices (not cherry cola), brambles, forest floor and an herbal note leap from the glass. The palate is no less intense, with a ripe round texture to the fruit and a soft, supple, sexy texture. The wine is beginning to evolve and taking on beautiful secondary notes of truffle and bark, but still stays focussed and fresh on the palate.

Current Release: 2013 Niagara Escarpment

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Production: 54 cases, 30 magnums and 8 jeros

Viti/Vini: 2013 was a difficult vintage in upstate, which made our sorting process more important than ever, and after a long and tedious sort, the fruit that emerged was beautiful. This further cemented our belief in the importance of everything we do, from hand picking to extensive sorting, as the 2013s would never have been possible without these. Unfortunately, it also meant that from the 3 tons of fruit we started with, we were only able to produce one barrel, but, it was well worth it in our eyes. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until its first birthday. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 24 months on their lees.

Tasting Note: Black fruit dominates the nose with ripe bing cherry, plum and blackberries, while balanced comes from a touch of sour red cranberry. The palate has smoke, forest floor, and a slight herbal note, leading to an elegant structure and long finish. Comparing these two Pinot’s is amazing.

Past Release:

2012 Pinot Noir

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Production: 124 Cases and 18 Jeros

Viti/Vini: 2012 was an outstanding year in the Finger Lakes. A near perfect summer, followed by a warm, balanced fall produced healthy, clean fruit, giving growers and winemakers the ability to allow the fruit to hang. This produced grapes of exceptional ripeness. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until its first birthday. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 18 months on their lees.

Tasting Note: Ripe red and black cherries emerge with turned earth and notes of thyme and sage. The wine shows beautiful purple flowers and a dusty minerality, while hints of cranberry and pomegranate balance the opulence. The palate is soft, but the tannins are firm and the grip is deceptive and integrates its structure well. This wine will develop beautifully over the next decade or more.

The 2012 vintage is currently unavailable, but check out our other great selections!

2010 Pinot Noir

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Production: 219 cases

Viti/Vini: 2010 was a near perfect classic vintage in the Finger Lakes. A wonderful summer and moderate fall gave clean, ripe, and elegant fruit. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted. Fully de-stemmed. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until prior to bottling finished. After basket-pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 22 months on their lees.

Tasting Note: High-toned with ripe, sun baked cherries and sweet spices (not cherry cola), brambles, forest floor and an herbal note leap from the glass. The palate is no less intense, with a ripe round texture to the fruit and a soft, supple, sexy texture. The wine is beginning to evolve and taking on beautiful secondary notes of truffle and bark, but still stays focussed and fresh on the palate.

 


Lemberger

Also known as Blaufrankisch, is beginning to really gain some steam in the Finger Lakes. While this grape is more often associated with Austria, and to a lesser extent Germany, it has begun to make waves here in the last few years. Not the most well known, or immediately recognized by anyone but the geekiest, this grape’s growing popularity is due directly to its natural affinity for our climate, much in the same way that Cabernet Franc has established itself. Thick skins and generally loose clusters lead to a strong resistance against disease, and it seems to be quite cold tolerant.

We debuted our first Lemberger in 2013 and could not have been more excited. Unfortunately, as the crop was so limited in 2014, we were not able to produce one, though we will be back in production with the 2015 vintage.

Current Release: 2013 Lemberger

Varietal: 100% Lemberger
Production: 56 cases, 48 magnums, 10 jeros

Viti/Vini: 2013 was a challenging year, with an autumn that quickly turned rainy . This made our focus on hand-sorting more important than ever, and after cutting our teeth on the challenges in 2011, we were better prepared and more proactive in handling the vintage. Hand-harvesting was one of the keys to this vintage, and sorting allowed us to retrieve some beautiful fruit with amazing aromatics. The successes of our 2013’s are truly a tribute to the amazing growers we work with, and to the hard work they put in. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted, before manual crushing with 100% whole cluster fermentation. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 16 months.

Tasting Note: Amazingly aromatic, with floral and tart black fruit aromas. Violets, cocoa, blackberries, brambles, pepper, smoke, and minerals all combine on this nose to make a beautifully aromatic wine that is light on it’s feet and fresh on the palate. Super delicious, bright and focused, the tannins are soft and the acid is mouth watering.


Syrah

Syrah is synonymous with the northern Rhone, though it has exploded the world over. But Syrah has gotten confused. Vintners and consumers alike are under the impression that Syrah is a hot climate grape. Often, they call the Northern Rhone a hot climate region. We too were under this misconception for a long time. This could not be farther from the truth. The best part (Cote Rotie) of the northern Rhone is warmish, but cooled by the constant cold Mistral blowing south from Switzerland, and as California producers are now focusing more and more on their own cool climates. Some of California’s great examples of Syrah are being grown in areas directly in the cooling influence of the Pacific.

So, we thought, why not in New York? We found an acre of Syrah that was about ten years old, and immediately snapped it up. While still controversial here in the Finger Lakes, Syrah ripens beautifully here, and its thick skins allow it to hang late into the fall for flavor development. The one downside is it’s sensitivity to extreme cold, meaning that Syrah, like Chardonnay and Pinot, require protected microclimates. Our Syrah is a bit of a rarity, but truly shows the potential of cool climate Syrah production, and it has been very exciting to see more and more interest in the grape here in the Finger Lakes.

Current Release: 2012 Syrah

Varietal: 100% Syrah
Production: 196 cases, 60 magnums, 21 jeros

Viti/Vini: 2012 was an outstanding year in the Finger Lakes. A near perfect summer, followed by a warm, balanced fall produced healthy, clean fruit, giving growers and winemakers the ability to allow the fruit to hang. This produced grapes of exceptional ripeness. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted before manual crushing with 100% whole cluster fermentation. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 24 months.

Tasting Note: Significantly riper and more opulent in style than the 2011, this will appeal to those who like a bigger, rounder style. Blackberry, black plum and black currant all mix on the nose, with a touch of black olive, and black pepper spice. The bacon fat, smoked meat component in this wine rounds out and balances the fruit, and the texture is open and opulent. This wine is showing great right now and will continue to develop in the long term.

Past Release:

2011 Syrah

Varietal: 100% Syrah
Production: 90 cases, 60 magnums

Viti/Vini: 2011 was an extremely challenging vintage. Rain caused a rapid decline in grape health and a fast spread of disease. We lost most of our fruit and unfortunately had to make the decision not to bottle Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc as it did not meet our expectations of quality. But our Syrah is a different story. After deciding to use our 2010 Syrah in our Red Table Wine, we worked closely with our grower to manage the vineyard in a way that we thought would really help make those stereotypical Syrah components to the forefront. And it worked. One of our key components was to reduce yields, which we did quite drastically. This allowed us to really have control of what little fruit remained. Even in this rather rainy and wet vintage, we were able to harvest fruit with strong, thick skins and amazing concentration and focus. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted before manual crushing with 100% whole cluster fermentation. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 225 liter French oak for 24 months.

Tasting Note: This wine screams Syrah. Black pepper, green olive, leather, blackberries, plum, currant, smoke, meat and bacon. It’s all there. And on the palate, it is lively, defined, fresh, and almost briny.


Cabernet Franc

Along with Riesling, Cabernet Franc seems to be the most natural fit in the Finger Lakes. A grape most traditionally associated with the Loire Valley (Chinon, etc.), it has seen only a moderate amount of attention outside of France. While there are some notable examples of great Cabernet Franc being made round the globe, they are limited. It seems as though the Finger Lakes may be a stronghold for Cab Franc in the new world, which is fine with us.

A bit lighter than it’s much more popular offspring Cabernet Sauvignon, it excels without the ripeness that Cabernet Sauvignon so often seems to need. Add that to it’s thick skins and loose clusters, allowing airflow, and we have a grape that seems made to excel in our cooler, moister climate. To seal the deal, it is very cold tolerant. We believe Cabernet Franc will be the iconic red grape of the Finger Lakes before long.

Current Release: Unavailable

Past Release:

2010 Cabernet Franc

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
Production: 230 Cases

Viti/Vini: 2010 was a near perfect classic vintage in the Finger Lakes. A wonderful summer and moderate fall gave clean, ripe, and elegant fruit. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted before de-stemming and fermentation. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 30 months.

Tasting Note: Red and black fruits mix with red currant, black currant and plum on the nose, with perceptible green pepper notes, tobacco and cedar character. The finish is long and elegant, and the wine is beginning to reach its first prime drinking window.

2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
Production: 80 cases, 100 magnums

Viti/Vini: 2010 was a near perfect classic vintage in the Finger Lakes. A wonderful summer and moderate fall gave clean, ripe, and elegant fruit. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted before de-stemming and fermentation. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 30 months.

Our goal is not to make single vineyards, reserves or any such thing to boost our label count. We want to make one wine that is representative of it’s varietal and vintage each year. That’s it. Unfortunately, something happened with the 2010 vintage. And so, right out of the gate, we screwed up and made a reserve wine. Sorry. The 2012 Cabernet Franc is the equivalent of the 2010 Reserve.

Tasting Note: This wine is our flagship wine. We knew from the beginning that these two barrels were special, and they continued to be. It was a tough choice, but, we decided to bottle them separate, and what is in this bottle shows why. Cassis, black plum and blackberry, mix with herbal, pyrizinic notes, hard mineral, cigar box and gravel notes, leading to a big full round finish that maintains its balance and elegance throughout.

2012 Cabernet Franc

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
Production: 90 cases, 60 magnums, 19 jeros

Viti/Vini: 2012 was an outstanding vintage. A long, warm summer gave way to a gentle fall, allowing for maximum ripeness potential. Hand-harvested and hand-sorted before de-stemming and fermentation. Spontaneous ferment, with no additions or additives, and no SO2 until malolactic finished. After basket pressing and a short settling, the wine was aged in neutral 500 liter French oak for 30 months.

Our goal is not to make single vineyards, reserves or any such thing to boost our label count. We want to make one wine that is representative of it's varietal and vintage each year. That’s it. Unfortunately, something happened with the 2010 vintage. And so, right out of the gate, we screwed up and made a reserve wine. Sorry. The 2012 Cabernet Franc is the equivalent of the 2010 Reserve.

Tasting Note: Dark fruit, currant, black plum, black cherry and blackberries, this wine demonstrates the classic Franc aromatics of herbal, leafy, pyrizine notes associated with the varietal, but balanced and integrated with mineral, gravel, violet and tobacco. The palate is long, balanced, and elegant. This wine is perfect for long term aging, but drinks well now.

The 2012 vintage is currently unavailable, but check out our other wonderful selections.