On a beautiful day in early June, my wife and I found ourselves standing at
View from Dr. Frank Wine Cellars Hammondsport, New York
the tasting bar of Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, New York taking in the spectacular view of Keuka Lake. We were led through a tasting of Dr. Frank wines by someone who knows them better than anyone, none other than Fred Frank, grandson of the legendary Dr. Konstantin Frank. After sampling several excellent Dr. Frank wines that included a few fabulous “Sparklers” Fred walked across the room holding a bottle and said to me “I know you like to try the different wines” as he held it up to show me the label, “Cuvée d’ Amour 2014.
Cuvée d’ Amour is made from the fruit of the vitis Amurensis grape. Dr. Konstantin Frank was familiar with this extremely cold-hardy grape and brought it to the FLX from Russia. This grape species is native to the Asian Continent where it is known as the Amur grape in Russia and Shan Pu Tao in China.
The first thing I noticed as Fred poured the wine into my glass was its dark red color. Cuvée d’ Amour 2014 is a flavorful full-bodied red with bright acidity that fits nicely within its well-defined structure leading to what Dr. Frank aptly describes as a “Crisp finish reminiscent of a fine Bordeaux or Borolo.” I would lean towards the Bordeaux but it also has characteristic hints of several wines but they aren’t prominent enough to mention.
If you want to indulge your curiosity for something unique I would suggest trying Cuvée d’ Amour 2014. It is available online at http://drfrankwines.com or at their tasting room in Hammondsport, New York for $29.99.
Russia and China have invested a considerable amount of time and money into the development of vitis Amurensis. This grape has a long list of positive traits that makes it highly desirable in that region of the world. It is probably the most cold-hardy vitis grape at -30°C but while that fact is impressive this grape also has a strong resistance to disease including powdery mildew, white rot, grapevine anthracuose and black pox. Since it has no distinctive aroma it provides a “Blank Canvas” that will not disturb the aroma profile of varieties that it is being hybridized with.
The story life story of Dr. Konstantin Frank is a fascinating one and has been recounted by author Tom Russ in his book “Finger Lakes Wine and the Legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank”. Fred Frank generously gifted a signed copy to me during our visit and I am very grateful for his kind gesture. You can purchase it on Amazon.com
When I was contacted by South Australian wine journalist Dan Traucki informing me that he was putting together a Saperavi tasting with wines from around the world I was intrigued. He had already gathered a diverse group of samples but was very interested in obtaining bottles from the “New World” producers here in North America. The North American entries were provided by the three pioneering wineries of the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York that have advanced the development of this versatile grape for decades. The wineries are McGregor, Dr. Konstantin Frank and Standing Stone. At last count Dan had received 33 bottles with more arriving daily.
This event will give us a good idea about how the Saperavi grape is adapting to the different growing regions that it has been introduced into and how it is expressing the nuances of the terriors.
I have high hopes for the North American Saperavi and its potential to impress when it has its turn in the spotlight. It is said that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” and I believe the FLX Saperavi will shine bright.
Dan had scheduled the tasting for Tuesday January 31, 2017 and you can follow his twitter @dandanwineman or mine @wpawinepirate for updates and links to any articles relate to this event.
McGregor Winery Saperavi Samples
Standing Stone Vineyards Saperavi Samples
Dr. Konstantin Frank Saperavi Samples
Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, Hammondsport NY, is releasing it’s new line of single vineyard wines named in honor of three of the most prominent Frank women and the contributions that they have made to the Frank winemaking legacy. These highly anticipated releases celebrate Eugenia (wife of Dr. Konstantin Frank), Hilda (daughter of Dr. Konstantin Frank) and Margrit (wife of Willy Frank).
“Eugenia” was released in December 2015 and is a Single Vineyard Riesling made from the oldest block of Riesling grown on the winery’s Keuka Lake estate. It was from these steep slopes and shale-rich acidic soil that Dr. Konstantin Frank produced his first Finger Lakes Riesling many years ago. The winery tasting notes describe this Riesling as “Bone dry, with brilliant acidity, elegant minerality and notes of Key lime, stone fruits, pineapple and lime zest.” Cellar through 2024.
On January 9th, 2016 Dr. Frank Wine Cellars released the second wine in the “Frank Women’s Series”. “Margrit” is a 2014 Riesling made from Dr. Frank’s Hector, NY vineyards. This vineyard is also on a steep slope and is known for being one of the warmest in the FLX. The property has a loamy soil profile that produces a ripe, fruit forward wine. The tasting notes say this Riesling has flavors that are “Tart, tangerine, Granny Smith apple and grassy with a balanced acidity.” Due to limited production these wines will only be available for purchase in their tasting room.
I think these great photos transcend time and place to express a certain elegance and class that is hard to find in present day society. All photos courtesy of Dr. Frank Wine Cellars. A special thank you to Erin Flynn at Dr. Frank’s for her excellent articles about the Frank women that were the source for this article.
DrFrankwines.com Twitter: @DrFrankwine
Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery
Standing Stone Vineyards “Officially” releases 2012 Saperavi. Standing Stone becomes the first winery in the U.S. to bottle and release the newly classified Saperavi grape under its newly recognized and rightful name. In conjunction with the iconic Dr. Konstantin Frank Cellars, Standing Stone Winery filed a petition with the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in late December 2013 to have the Saperavi grape recognized as an approved wine grape variety. The Saperavi grape is a cold weather grape that originated in Georgia, Russia. Owner and winemaker Marti Macinski has always had a fondness for this grape said “We’ve been growing Saperavi for 20 years and we’ve been using it in blends and bottling it under different names. But now that Saperavi is again an officially recognized grape, we are thrilled to be able to put it on our label. And I’ve got to tell you this 2012 vintage is unbelievable. The vines have really grown to maturity and we have 20 years experience of working with the grape and understanding how to bring out its characteristic in the bottle”. This grape has grown well in the Finger Lakes “Banana Belt” and is believed to be able to grow anywhere Riesling thrives. Saperavi grapes produce a deep red wine with good structure and texture that is rich but not overly tannic. This could be the grape that elevates the reds of the Finger Lakes to a level that would provide a nice complement to the world-class whites of this region.