By Martha Gioumousis
Pinot Noir is the famed grape of Burgundy and a cool climate variety—making it ideal to grow in the Finger Lakes. Except it’s a challenging grape to grow—and it’s a challenging wine to make.
It all starts in the vineyard, where Pinot Noir is an early bloomer, making it susceptible to frost damage. Then the grape clusters are tight, so there is more disease pressure due to limited airflow around the fruit. And the grapes are also more susceptible to disease.
Many winemakers hand pick the fruit and then sort extensively, removing any rotten fruit by hand. Yields are greatly reduced, driving up the final cost of production and, thus, the bottle price as well.
Winemakers are challenged to produce a Pinot Noir with a rich dark color, especially if there is rot present in the grapes, which robs the wine of color. Many will add enzymes or oak products to alleviate the problem. Other challenges include lightness of flavor and high acidity.
Among the lighter-bodied red wines available in the Finger Lakes, Pinot Noir wines are characterized by fruity aromas and flavors, light tannins and limited use of new oak. Most producers reserve their costly French oak barrels for Pinot, even while choosing American oak for other varietals.
Ryan Williams Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir $29.95
Red Tail Ridge Winery 2012 Pinot Noir $22.95
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir $24
Lakewood Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir $25
Rooster Hill Vineyards 2017 Estate Pinot Noir Reserve $20.99
Forge Wine Cellars 2017 Pinot Noir Classique $26
Hosmer Winery 2016 Pinot Noir $20.00
Zugibe Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir $20.99
Bellwether Wine Cellars 2013 Sawmill Creek $32
Wagner Vineyards 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir $24.99
Heart & Hands Wine Company 2013 Mo Chuisle Pinot Noir – Estate Vineyard $42.99
Martha Gioumousis is a winemaker, wine writer and editor of Finger Lakes Wine Gazette and coordinator for the Tompkins County Community Beautification Program.
This article appeared in our 2018 Wine Edition.