Saperavi World Prize 2017 Results

Photo Courtesy: Hvino News

The results are in from the inaugural Saperavi World Prize 2017 wine competition in Tibilis, Georgia. There were entries from seven countries and several continents with the most samples being submitted by Australian wineries. The three Grand Prize winners were awarded either a gold, silver or bronze miniature “azarpeshas“, the ancient Georgian drinking cup. Congratulations to the winners and all the participants of the 2017 SapPrize.

     Tastings were held on December 15th in Tibilisi, Georgia at the headquarters of the International Chamber of Commerce. The competition is open to producers outside of Georgia who make wine from the Saperavi grape. Entry is free and judging is conducted by an international jury of wine experts. This event was not conceived to be solely a wine contest but to become a forum for wine makers to interact and forge new relationships where they could share information and experiences to advance the understanding and quality of Saperavi wine worldwide.

 

SapPrize Grand Prize winners received miniature “azarpeshas”

It is always challenging to plan an award ceremony of this significance. The SapPrize award presentation had to be rescheduled when the American Ambassador couldn’t attend because of the “Shutdown” of the U.S. government due to the budget bill failing to be approved.

     Grand Prize Gold: Cirami Estate 2015 Saperavi from Australia. “The Gold Azarphesha” was presented to David Kereselidze, Director of Department of Asia, Africa, Australia and Pacific Rim of Georgian Embassy in Australia, he will present it to the winner in Canberra. Cirami Estate isn’t a winery but a non-profit organization called “Riverland Vine Improvement Committee”.

     Grand Prize Silver: McGregor Vineyard Black Russian Red 2010 Saperavi from the U.S.A. “The Silver Azarpesha” was presented to Elizabeth Rood, Charge d’ Affaire at U.S. Embassy. The Embassy will deliver the award to winner John McGregor in the U.S.A. John McGregor commented ” We are so honored to receive such recognition. We planted these grapes in 1980 and were the first commercial producer in the United States. It is wonderful to see confirmation of my father’s belief that Saperavi could grow in New York and make world-class wine”. John also won Silver for his 2011 Black Russian Red and 

John McGregor holds two bottles of his award winning Black Russian Red Saperavi

Bronze for his Black Russian Red 2013 Barrel Reserve.

Grand Prize Bronze: Lagyl Arba Saperavi 2013 from Kazakhistan. “The Bronze Azarpesha” was presented to Gulmira Sultanali, Charge d’ Affaires of Kazah Embassy.

Congratulations to Jim and Kathy Baker owners/wine makers at Chateau Niagara in Newfane, New York for being awarded Bronze for their Chateau Niagara Kagor 2016 made with Saperavi  from their vineyard.                   

I would like to say “Thank You’ to Inge Olsson of Hvino News for including me in the SapPrize and I enjoyed working with you on this project.  For more information on the Saperavi World Prize and a list of all the participating wineries go to  sapprize.hvino.com           

Grand Gold Prize winner Cirami Estate Saperavi 2015 from Australia

Elizabeth Rood, Charged d’ Affaire of U.S. Embassy accepts Grand Silver Prize for McGregor Vineyard

 

Shocking

     You may have heard the term “Bottle Shock” and didn’t know what it is or what causes it. Bottle shock refers to a condition when wine exhibits symptoms from getting too much air mixed into it in a very short time.  When this happens the wine will lack character in all respects.

This condition normally affects wine during the bottling process. Bottling is the most common cause of bottle shock because wine can easily absorb more oxygen than normal while being moved to a bottle and become saturated. Rough handling of bottled wine can also result in bottle shock because shaking the bottle can also mix air into the wine.

The good news is that bottle shock is temporary. After a few weeks of rest the ill effects will subside leaving the wine to not only recover but develop into a more complete

Barrel Room: Savage Wines Cape Town, South Africa

 wine than it was before the extra oxygen was introduced. The reason for this fortuitous transformation is that wine needs oxygen to age but it needs it added very slowly. Natural corks are perfectly suited to do this because air can penetrate them in such minuscule amounts that the oxygen can be gradually absorbed by the wine and not be overwhelmed by it causing the aging process to get out of balance.

     If you are patient with a bottle you think is suffering from bottle shock you will be rewarded for your patience with a wine that is better than it was before it got “SHOCKED”   

Book Review: Dr. Konstantin Frank

     My wife and I had the good fortune to meet Fred Frank during a recent visit to Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellar. Fred could not have been a more warm and welcoming host as we talked and sampled his excellent wines. As we were enjoying our visit he surprised us with a gift. The gift was a copy of the Tom Russ book “Finger Lakes Wine and the Legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank” that he thoughtfully signed with a message for us. I had some idea of the history surrounding Dr. Frank and the groundbreaking changes he brought to the wine industry in the Eastern United States but I was astonished to learn how world events conspired to bring this amazing man to New York and start him on a lifelong quest to bring vinifera grapes to the vineyards along the East Coast. Author Tom Russ takes his readers on the journey of Dr. Konstantin Frank from his birth on July 4th, 1899 in the Ukraine to his passing in Elmira, New York on September 6th, 1985 chronicling all the twists and turns that defined his life.

     Russ captures Dr. Frank’s vision that Vitis vinifera wine grapes could be successfully grown in the Eastern U.S. because “He felt Americans deserved only the best wines”- Frederick Frank. This book documents the life and legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank that continues to evolve today in wineries and vineyards east of the Mississippi River and in Southeastern Canada. Tom Russ conveys the all consuming and sometimes misdirected obsession that Dr. Frank had for the promotion of vinifera wine grapes as seen through the eyes of family, friends, cooperators and adversaries to weave a compelling story of a complex man who changed the wine industry to the benefit of everyone that loves good wine. This book is available in print or e-book from http://amazon.com , http://arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626197343 and at the Dr. Frank tasting room Hammondsport, New York.

 

“From Russia with Love” Dr. Frank Cuvee d’ Amour 2014

 

     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  

 

“New World” Saperavi Update

      When I began following the Saperavi grape in North America it was viewed as a grape with great potential in the vineyard and winery but still unproven as to just how the public would receive it. It had the reputation of being a “cult” wine because its limited production caused demand to exceed supply. With the four major Saperavi producers increasing their

Saperavi Grapes

Saperavi vineyards plus new producers and growers beginning to enter the market Saperavi availability has improved. What’s driving this interest in Saperavi you may ask? There are plenty of reasons for wine makers to like Saperavi, not the least of which is the higher price this dark red wine commands.

One of the new producers that I learned of recently contacted me after reading my guest post about Saperavi on my friend Anatoli Levine’s wine blog http://talk-a-vino.com    Jim and Kathy Baker own Chateau Niagara in Newfane, NY. They grow many of the well-known varieties of wine grapes on their 31 acre Niagara Lake Plain property along with several exotic plantings that include Saperavi, Turan and Feteasca Neagra. Jim uses Saperavi from his 5-year-old 1/2 acre vineyard to produce Kagor and his soon to be released first vintage of a dry Saperavi varietal. He got his first Saperavi clippings from a friend in Washington state but suspects that is Saperavi-Svernyi. The vines came through Nova Scotia then traveled to British Columbia and finally across the border into the U.S. He bought his Saperavi vines from the Amberg’s and their Grafted Grapevines Nursery Clifton Springs, N.Y. Jim told me he is tempted to plant another 4 1/2 acres of Saperavi but will wait to see how his varietal sells. Chateau Niagara is one of the few wineries in North America to make the traditional Hungarian wine “Bulls Blood” http://chateauniagarawinery.com

Shalestone Vineyards owners Rob & Kate Thomas offer a Saperavi for sale at their Lodi, N.Y. tasting room and online. Shalestone doesn’t currently grow Saperavi in their vineyard but expect to plant it in the Spring 2018. They currently source their Saperavi from grower John Beckhorn in Valois, N.Y. Before visiting always check their website for tasting room hours. http://shalestonevineyards.com  

To my knowledge the White Barrel Winery Christiansburg, Virginia is the only Saperavi grower in Virginia. White Barrel’s Rik Obiso tells me that things are going well in their young Saperavi vineyard and they will be adding 200 new vines in the Spring of 2018 bringing their Saperavi planting to about 1/2 acre. White Barrel won’t be relying entirely on its own vineyard to produce Saperavi but instead building upon its excellent relationships with Georgian (Russia) vineyards to possibly begin importing bulk Saperavi wine to meet their needs. This story is just starting with more to come in 2018 and 2019. http://whitebarrel.com 

The big news this year has been the sale of Standing Stone Vineyards Lodi, N.Y. (east side of Seneca Lake) to premier Riesling maker H.J. Wiemer Dundee, N.Y. (west side of Seneca Lake). Standing Stone is one of the original four producers that I began to follow when I took an interest in “New World” Saperavi. H.J. Wiemer will keep the Standing Stone line of wines and continue its Saperavi program/nursery operations.

At McGregor Vineyard John McGregor told me that the latest release of his iconic Black Russian Red, which is the only Saperavi – Sereksiya Charni blend in the world, was the best he had ever made. From his Dundee, N.Y. tasting room he pointed out the areas in his vineyards where he plans to plant more Saperavi in the very near future.

Chuck Zaleski owner/winemaker of Fero Vineyards & Winery Lewisburg, PA. remains committed to his Saperavi program. Chuck planted his first Saperavi vines in 2010 and has kept expanding his plantings and knowledge of this grape ever since. Fero is the only grower/producer in Pennsylvania and benefits greatly from its site in the heart of the Susquehanna River Valley. Due to high demand Fero Saperavi always sells out so it is wise to check online or call the winery about availability before you visit. http://ferovineyards.com

The first sentence on Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines home page says it all!!!!  “Dr. Konstantin Frank ignited the “Vinifera Revolution”, a movement that forever changed the course of wine growing in the Finger Lakes and United States.” That same pioneering spirit is alive and well at Dr. Frank’s today thanks to the efforts of his grandson Fred Frank. It only made sense that Dr. Frank would favor grape varieties he knew well from Eastern Europe and Russia. He cultivated Saperavi, Rkatsiteli and vitis Amurensis in the Finger Lakes. Dr. Frank has two Saperavi vineyards, one the west side of Keuka Lake and the other on the east side of Seneca Lake. Once only available at their Kueka Lake tasting room in Hammondsport, Dr. Frank Saperavi can now also be purchased on their website. http://drfrankwines.com

 

The Saperavi story keeps getting more exciting as these producers and growers continue to push the development of “New World” Saperavi forward while always improving the quality of the wine. If you are a Saperavi grower or producer or if you know of a grower/producer please contact me at http://wpawinepirate@gmail.com

I attempted to contact Knapp Winery about their Saperavi vineyard but I did not receive a response before I posted this article.

Rumor Has It FLX

     During our recent visit to the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York (FLX) we tasted some great wine and heard some interesting news. There is plenty happening around the lakes so let’s get right to it.

The sale of Standing Stone Vineyards by long-time owners Marti and Tom Macinski to Fred Merwarth and Oskar Bynke owners of H.J. Wiemer Vineyards was the big news that had everyone’s attention. With the addition of the Standing Stone vineyards H.J.Wiemer has sizable acreage on both sides of Seneca Lake not to mention a nursery on the Standing Stone property to continue its Saperavi program. H.J. Wiemer will be keeping the Standing Stone line of wine and Marti will stay on to help Jess in the winery. Marti and Tom will live in the house on the property as long as they want and with the view of the vineyard and lake who can blame them for wanting to retire there.

     You can now find Weis Vineyards at the former Lime Berry Winery 10014 Day Road, Hammondsport. This new  winery specializes in traditional German-style wines and why not since its winemaker Hans Peter Weis was born in Zell Mosel, Germany. Weis finds himself right at home in the FLX because the winemaking environment is very similar to his native Germany.  

Just like pro athletes , wine makers often change teams to pursue their dreams. Winemaker Aaron Roisen left Hosmer Winery to join winemaker Justin Paolicelli at Three Brothers Wineries and Estates. Sheldrake Point’s assistant winemaker Julia Hoyle will now be the head winemaker at Hosmer Winery.

Las Vegas has landed in Waterloo in the form of the del Lago Resort & Casino. This newly opened Las Vegas-style casino offers everything from entertainment, dining, upscale lounges and of course gambling. Sign-up for a players card and spin for free play.

del Lago Casino & Resort Waterloo, NY

The winemaking community that has evolved around the lakes is dynamic and always changing. Without this unbridled energy the region would have stagnated after its rebirth with the passage of the Farm Winery Act in 1976 by the State of New York. If you are curious about what’s happening around the lakes just ask and I’m sure you will hear something interesting. 

 

 

Guest Post

    When Anatoli Levine invited me to write a guest post about Saperavi for his blog talk-a-vino.com I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce this fascinating red grape to wine lovers that probably never have of it. With that in mind I happily accepted Anatoli’s generous offer and started organizing years of information that I had acquired from the winemakers and vintners that are the vanguard for this grapes accent in the wine community. The finished product was published two days ago and I have been very pleased on how well it has been received. I invite you to read the article and have included a link to the http://talk-a-vino.com/2016/11/02/desperately-seeking-saperavi blog where it is being featured.  While you are on the site please take advantage of the opportunity to browse the other posts that you will find there. I think you will be glad you did. Thanks!

Golden B&W Memories

Eugenia Frank

Eugenia Frank

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

Margrit Frank

Margrit Frank

From The Beginning

     I have been told great wine is made in the vineyard. I believe this to be true because no matter how good a winemaker is there is only so much they can do in the winery to improve a wine made from average grapes. There are a myriad of factors effecting grape quality in a vineyard but it all starts with the vine. Virtually all wine grapes in the U.S., with the exception of those grown in Washington state, are grown on grafted vines. Grafted vines have Phylloxera resistant rootstock with scions of a varietal wine grape grafted to it. Phylloxera is a tiny aphid-like insect that feeds on the roots of the Vitis vinifera grape.

In the not-so-distant past the world’s wine vineyards were devastated by this pest but it isn’t the only threat to the vines. There is a long list of disease, fungus, mold and pests of all shapes and sizes that can damage a vineyard. Dagger and Rootknot are caused by Nematodes (microscopic worms) and are a common problem in the eastern U.S. but their threat can be lessened by choosing the correct rootstock for your situation. Because there are so many factors to consider when choosing a vine for your site it is important to evaluate the characteristic of each rootstock to match it to the needs of your vineyard. The 3309c rootstock is the most widely used rootstock in the eastern U.S. and it can be said that eastern viticulture is built on it.

     In Washington they grow grapes on own rooted vines that makes them susceptible to Phylloxera, although Phylloxera has never been reported there.  The advantage of own rooted vines is that if they are damaged they can regrow from the roots while if a grafted vine is damaged below the graft it has to be replaced or regrafted. A study comparing grapes grown on own rooted vs. grafted vines showed for all practical purposes there was no difference in the quality of fruit produced.

     The Grafted Grapevine Nursery in Clifton Springs, NY was started in 1957 by Herman and Ute Amberg while Herman was working for Dr. N. Shaulis at Cornell University’s Geneva Experimental Station. They specialize primary in one year old bench-grafts but a few varieties are available as own rooted. While looking for Saperavi vines I had the pleasure to correspond with Herman and Ute’s son and Operations Manager Eric. The following is an excerpt from an email Eric sent me in response to my questions about the availability of grafted Saperavi vines and his opinion on a planting density plan for Saperavi.

     “We will be propagating extra Saperavi this year to compensate for its sudden surge in interest. Regarding the planting density for Saperavi. The number of vines is a factor of row spacing and vine density within the row. Row spacing is based more on your equipment than the vine’s need. The standard spacing in most of the eastern half of the country is 9 feet. Density within the row is based more on the vines vigor and training system. We have found that a 7 foot spacing works well. Therefore 691 vines/acre would be appropriate.”

     We sometimes forget just how much thought, effort, cash investment and yes, good luck goes into a great bottle of wine.  Contact info:  graftedgrapevines.com 

Grapevine Pricing Charting: Courtesy of Grafted Grapevine Nursery

Grapevine Pricing Charting: Courtesy of Grafted Grapevine Nursery

Standing Stone Barrel Bonanza

Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery

Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery

     This is the perfect event for any wine enthusiast that simply can’t get enough. What is Barrel Bonanza? Barrel Bonanza is an opportunity for you to tour the Barrel Cellar and taste finished and just finished fermented wines every hour on the hour. Learn what type of yeast you like and compare the difference in flavor that new oak verses older oak has on  Chardonnay and Saperavi. Taste the 2014 Reserve Saperavi straight out of the barrel and if you like it you can buy futures at a 20% discount. You can also choose a mini Vertical Tasting of Saperavi, Cabernet Sauvignon or Petit Verdot. If you need to take a break there will be live music and delicious food for you to enjoy.

Barrel Tastings are noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 – you pick one. Saperavi Vertical is @ 12:30, Cabernet Sauvignon @ 2:30 and the Petit Verdot is @ 3:30. The cost of this event is $20 per person and includes one Vertical Tasting. Extra Vertical Tastings are $10 each.              

Date: Dec. 12, 2015     Time: 12:00 to 5:00   Place: Standing Stone Vineyards 9934 NY-414 Hector, NY.  Call or e-mail for reservations.  607-582-6051   ssvny@standingstonewines.com

Entrance to Standing Stone Vineyard & Winery

Entrance to Standing Stone Vineyard & Winery