Last year, my husband Marc and I made our very first trip to the Finger Lakes. Evan Dawson, the brilliant wine writer for The New York Cork Report, was entirely responsible for the decision to head north. His passion for the wines of the Finger Lakes convinced me that I should take a closer look at the region.
On the eve of our departure, Evan graciously emailed me a chapter of his soon-to-be-published book, Summer in a Glass. I was grateful to get an insider’s peek. Evan’s writing brims with passion for grapes, wines and the Finger Lakes. Marc read it aloud as I drove, our excitement growing with every page.
The chapter in question was about Morten Hallgreen, the talented winemaker of Ravines Wine Cellars. By the time Marc had read the last line, we were 30 minutes away from Ravines. We decided we needed to pop in, even though the tasting room was about to close.
Five or six wines were poured, all of them excellent, but the Pinot Noir caught my eye. As the wine trickled into our glasses I smiled: the color! Ruby with garnet hues; it was so light that you could see your hand right through the glass. Making a Pinot Noir this pale took some courage. But having just heard about Morten’s extraordinary journey as a winemaker and his relentless dedication to his craft, I knew we were in for a treat. I couldn’t wait to take sip.
Producer: Ravines Wine Cellars
Region: Finger lakes
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
I recommend decanting the wine for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
Swirling and sniffing the Ravines Pinot Noir is pure pleasure. The wine is bright, youthful, alive, and bursting with aromas of red cherry, plum, strawberry, white pepper, violet, vanilla and earth – a lot going on for such a young wine! Every taste bud is now begging for a sip.
And all those gorgeous aromas that filled the nostrils now amply expand in the mouth. Delicate notes of cedar and herbs follow. Light-bodied with bright acidity and soft, ripe tannins, this Pinot Noir is nonetheless intensely flavorful. As a last teaser, it offers a lengthy finish. Such great structure and flavors make this a marvelous wine to enjoy with food.
Since warmer temperatures are here to stay for some time and since fresh, local vegetables are now abundant, I wanted to pair Ravine’s Pinot Noir with a light summer dish. This trofie with arugula pesto and flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes ended up being just right.
The acidity in the wine is perfectly at ease with the tart-but-sweet cherry tomatoes, all the while keeping the pesto sauce in check. But the thing that’s most striking is how perfectly the body of the wine matches the lightness of the dish.
Tucking away a couple of bottles of this delightful Pinot Noir seems like a very good idea. Undoubtedly, it’ll have many more gifts to bestow in a few years.
I’ll always be grateful to Evan Dawson for introducing me to the winemakers of the Finger Lakes. Through his eyes, words and palate I’ve been able to connect with their work in a deeper way. The wines become personal, intimate. The winemakers Evan writes about don’t just put their craft in their wines, they put their soul too. A pursuit as thrilling as the quest for terroir.
Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes, Evan Dawson (Sterling Epicure, 2011)
Evan’s book is beautifully written, soulful and downright addictive.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.