LOOSE TASTING NOTES FROM Michigan, NEW YORK, AND Virginia — January 18, 2021

These near-weekly posts contain short reviews that come almost verbatim from my notebook with only limited editing for wines that – for one reason or another – won’t get standalone reviews on the site.


Bel Lago Winery 2018 Pinot Grigio ($17*)
Clean nose of ripe peach and citrus with just a little green apple. More apple and pear on a fruit-forward palate. Good-not-great acidity but nice juicy apple. Not complex, but solidly done. 86pts.

French Valley Vineyard 2017 Stainless Chardonnay ($18*)
Quite nose is mostly apple with apple skin and lightly bruised apple too. The abv (13.7%) peeks out a bit on the palate. Apple fruit with a grassy edge. Good acidity. As it warms though, a dry cardboard note emerges. Not corked. 82pts.

French Valley Vineyard 2017 Oaked Chardonnay ($18*)
Basic oaked chardonnay for the most part. Apple, toasty spice and a little vanilla. Higher abv (13.9%) stands out some but not overwhelming. 84pts.

New York

Bedell Cellars 2019 Corey Creek Vineyard Gewurztraminer ($30*)
There is a punch of ginger and lychee on the nose along with floral and citrus notes. Lighter body but not dilute, there is a steely minerality along with layers of ginger, pineapple and lychee. Classic bit of gewurzt bitterness on the end of a long, fresh finish. 88pts.

Heron Hill Winery 2017 Macri Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay ($20*)
Nutty, toasty oak greets the nose along with marshmallow — with some floral and citrus notes beneath it all. Fresh style. Much less oak on the palate. Melon and citrus with tangy edge. More marshmallow as it warms. 86pts.

Lenz Winery 2015 Estate Selection Malbec ($40*)
Fascinating nose combines ripe blackberries with dark chocolate, blood orange and hints of tropical fruit. Fresh and lighter-bodied. Plenty of ripe, dark fruit with violets and chocolate. Lower tannin. The tropical/citrus fruit is less obvious on the palate. 88pts.

Liten Buffel 2018 Perfetto Vineyard Pinot Noir ($25*)
Consistently one of my favorite Niagara Escarpment pinots. Cran-cherry nose with cherry skin, forest floor and a savory/umami edge. Lighter bodied but with plenty of red fruit and florals. More cran-cherry with loam and fresh acidity and lower tannins. 89pts.

RG|NY 2018 Scielo Chardonnay ($25*)
Nose is green apples and grapefruit with a whisp of white pepper and vanilla. Balanced medium-light body palate. Apple, pear and white grapefruit fruit flavors with some vanilla and a drip of butter. Good acidity but not super-fresh. Medium-long finish. 87pts.

Scout Vineyards 2019 Riesling ($25*)
Peach and tropical fruit aromas are accented by spicy botrytis notes and some yellow apple. Nice balance, but not particularly nervy. Peach and pineapple flavors, lighter body. Fruit forward with spicy edge. 87pts.

Stony Lonesome 2018 Estate Reserve Barbera ($24*)
Unique variety for the Finger Lakes (they may be the only ones growing it) shows some potential. Dried cherry and cranberry nose with a little dusty chocolate. Sweet fruit on a medium-bodied palate – jammy strawberry and cranberry sauce. Soft and approaching lacking structure. Light campfire and cocoa powder on the finish. 86pts.

SUHRU Wines 2019 Sauvignon Blanc ($20*)
Long Island sauvignon blanc is getting a little pricey for daily drinking, so it’s nice to see this one at $20. Melon, gooseberry, peach and pear fruit with just a little lemongrass on the nose. Medium-light body. Peach and pear. Rounded edges. Good acidity but not super-brisk. Chalky minerality on the end of a long finish. 88pts.

Trestle 31 2017 Chardonnay ($32*)
Complex on the nose shows ripe citrus and baked apple fruit layered with restrained nutty oak, buttery caramel, and a distinct minerally vein. Soft and supple in the mouth. Medium-bodied. Nice nutty, leesy quality. Controlled oak with good-enough fruit concentration on the mid-palate that is perhaps a little thin toward the end. Not super focused, but far from flabby either. 87pts.

Wagner Vineyards 2016 Meritage ($30*)
Blend of 64% cabernet sauvignon, 18% cabernet franc and 18% merlot. Chocolate-covered cherry on the nose with plum, blueberry, toasty oak, and Dutch-process cocoa powder. Fresher, lower-tannin style. Less oak on palate. Light on its feet but not on flavor. Cherry, plum and currant fruit with some woodsy spice. Medium finish. 87pts.


Fifty-Third Winery 2018 Chardonnel ($20*)
Apple-y on the nose with pear and a distinct seyval blanc-like wet hay aroma. Medium-light body. Not neutral per se, but just kind of “white wine” on the palate. Apple and some lime candy. Lacks concentration of flavor. 84pts.

Pippin Hill Vineyards 2017 Petit Verdot ($60*)
Chocolate-covered blueberries and pomegranate aromas are somewhat lifted. Polished, modern style. Black and blue fruits with oak-born vanilla and spice. Petit verdot isn’t shy, but this wine doesn’t scream the varietal. Still, it’s well made and not entirely overoaked. Expensive though. 88pts.

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