New York State is an exciting, emerging area for cool climate wines of freshness and elegance. The man who truly revolutionized the industry here was a Ukrainian immigrant named Konstantin Frank, who arrived in the United States in 1951. Frank, a professor of plant sciences with a PhD in viticulture, introduced Northern European vitis vinfiera vines to the Finger Lakes region and the rest, as they say, is history. Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, on the southwestern hills surrounding Keuka Lake. The winery has a collection of old vine plantings that few others in North America can rival. Today, the winery is under the stewardship of grandson Frederick Frank and great granddaughter Megan, Frank. Along with their passionate and experienced team, they continue to push the boundaries of what the region’s wines can offer. The most important work is done in the vineyard, with a very deft touch at the winery. All vines are dry-farmed and spraying is kept to the bare minimum, utilizing only organic products in the process.
Despite its relative anonymity, the Finger Lakes is a region that has been around for some time. Less than a 5 hour drive from both Toronto and New York City, this bucolic area is now home to over 160 wineries. Grapes here range from the obscure (Rkatsiteli) to the familiar (Riesling) and plenty in between. The region’s cool, continental climate produces wines that exhibit Old World freshness, bright flavours and elegant structures. They are a perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of foods and festivities.
Grüner Veltliner is the signature grape of Austria and by far the nation’s most widely planted wine grape. Classic Grüner shows citrus aromas (lemon peel and grapefruit) complemented by stone fruit and fresh vegetal notes and the variety’s trademark hint of white pepper. It has become increasingly popular in the New World and New York state versions are similar stylistically to their Austrian counterparts, but often even more intensely aromatic. Dr. Frank’s 9 hectares of Gruner under vine are the most for one winery on the American east coast. They were the very first vines that Fred wanted to plant, following his European studies.
Grapes are sourced primarily from the original Keuka Lake vineyard, with a smaller amount of fruit coming from the Seneca Lake site. The Keuka Lake shale-based soils provide minerality and acidity. The Seneca Lake vineyards, with their silty loam soils and warm meso-climate, add warmth and upfront fruit flavours. Hand-harvested and de-stemmed, the grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel. There is some lees contact, in the Austrian style, that imparts complexity and richness to the wine. Varietally on point, this beautiful expression of Gruner offers aromas of ripe pear, honeysuckle, fresh cut flowers and white pepper. The palate adds notes of nectarine and minerality alongside a touch of leesiness to add intrigue. Try this with roast chicken, pork hocks with Spätzle or alongside some mussels in white wine and garlic. 91 Points, Decanter.
Grüner Veltliner 2019
Varietally on point, this beautiful expression of “Gruvey” offers aromas of ripe pear, honeysuckle, white flowers and white pepper. On the palate, the pear comes through, with notes of nectarine and minerality. There’s a touch of leesiness to add complexity, leading to a crisp, acid-driven finish. Try this with roast chicken, pork hocks with Spätzle or alongside some mussels in white wine and garlic.