One of our vineyard visits at TasteCamp was to this little, husband and wife run boutique winery called Ravines Wine Cellar in Hammondsport, NY overlooking Keuka Lake. Morton and Lisa Hallgren — Husband and Wife; Winemaker and Chef; Scientest and Foodie. That is the marriage of Morton and Lisa. And together they make the wine that goes best with food; how Ravines wine should always be consumed. Lisa and Morton opened their winery to us and opened some of the most unique memorable wines of the trip.
Morton comes from a long history of winemaking and grape growing. His family has made wine in Provence in south France at Domain de Castle Roubine. Morton also spent time in other vineyards around the Finger Lakes, like at Dr. Frank’s. He always knew that the Finger Lakes Region had and has the potential to become a world class wine region.
Ravines was established in 2000 when they purchased land on Keuka Lake. The land is situated between to deep ravines, hence the name of the winery. The mineral rich soil that is well-drained and well ventilated, thanks to the ravines, help the vines achieve their full potential and best possible wines.
Now, I just left the Grand Tasting at Heron Hill Winery to kick off TasteCamp and I had my share of wine. Some good and some not so good. However, I was excited to get to Ravines, I had their wine once before and really wanted to hear about them. I knew they made some world-class wine, but I had no idea what I was awaiting me.
If you are looking for an off dry Riesling, or a semi dry Riesling or even a late harvest Riesling, don’t consider Ravines, you will not find it. But if you are looking for the best, thirst quenching, food friendly and dynamic Riesling, than make sure you stop and visit Lisa and Morton. I am sure glad TasteCamp did.
We tasted a few of their releases, the first one was Ravines 20006 Dry Riesling. So dry that there is only 0.3% residual sugar. Floral fragrance filled the glass with hint of lime and rocky minerality. The taste was loaded with zinging acidity and notes of grapefruit, lime and granny smith apple. Puckeirng dry yet very enjoyable. The first food that came to mind with this Riesling was fresh bay scallops and oysters, right from the shell.
Next up was Ravines 2007 Dry Riesling. I found this more floral than the 2006 with a bit of an herbal note which could have also been a bit of a tea leaf element. Again, this had 0.3% residual sugar, and the acidity was off the charts. Lots of lemon and lime zest with great citrus flavors and great mineral notes.
We then went on the Ravines Dry 2008 Riesling, which was not released yet. Citrus heaven with granny smith apple and juicy pear. Bright lemony lime zest with a clean wet stone finish that had the slightest orange peel note.
We then tasted their wine club only release 2008 Dry Riesling Argetsinger Vineyard. Argetsinger Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards on the finger lakes farmed by Sam Argetsinger. Some of the Tastecamp-ers would be visiting the Argetsinger Vineyard in the morning. The wine showed a domination of lemon and lime citrus nose with a hint of floral . The nose continues on the palate with a bit more of a grapefruit zest and racing acidity. The minerality of the wine seems to be more present on the palate and finish. I had tasted this wine before thanks to the New York Cork Club.
We then tasted what could very well be my wine of the weekend. This really brought me to my knees. A Provençal style rosé, Ravines 2008 Rosé of Pinot Noir that was loaded with cranberry strawberry and watermelon and earthy funk. This was my first rosé of Pinot Noir that I have ever tasted and after getting into Pinot Noir more recently, this had me savoring every sniff and swirl. Again this wine was bone dry, about .3% residual sugar. It was like a chilled Pinot noir; earthy, funky, cherry and a little strawberry that was thirst quenching. I did not want to let this one go.
We the moved into the world-class red wine that Ravines Wince Cellars produces. The white wines we tasted were exceptional, so I had a feeling we were not going to be let down by the reds.
First up was the Ravines 2007 Pinot Noir. It smelled beautiful in the glass. Aroma of Cherry and earth dominated with some spice and pepper. Cherry and earth carried over on the palate with a hint of wood and exotic spice. The finish was long and spicy. There was great acidity and great balance. I really wanted to have this with some food. It was making me hungry.
Next we were poured their 2007 Cabernet Franc. Looking back at my notes I put an asterisk next to this wine, and had I know what I know now, this was the best Cabernet Franc I had all weekend. I am kicking myself that I did not pick up more than a bottle this while there. Dark berry fruit dominate this fruit driven wine. Blackberry, dark cherry and some cranberry fill the glass. There is some dried herbal notes and a touch of spice on the nose. In the glass, more of the dark fruit is showing very juicy. Big acidity and a very nice finish of a minty herbal note. For $18.95, this wine is pleasing not only on the palate but also in the wallet. Might be the best bang for your buck in the Finger Lakes.
Lisa then poured us Ravines 2007 Meritage. A blend of the three classic Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. As Lisa was pouring, a discussion and debate ensued about the word Meritage. It’s kinda like using the word Champagne on sparkling wine, Morten noted. Lisa was in favor of keeping it, but Morten wanted to change it, but could not come up with a name. As long as he does not change the ingredients, this was showing some ripe blackberry and raspberry and cranberry. Spicy and woodsy. It had some great acidity with a comfortable amount of tannins. The tannins that were present were food tannins, the kind that get you at the back of the gums. This was a well done fruit forward food friendly wine.
Our last tasting of the day was Ravine’s first Merlot release Ravine 2007 Merlot Glenn Eldridge Vineyard. Glenn Eldridge is one of the oldest vineyards in the Finger Lakes, located on Seneca Lake. This wine was showing some wonderful fruit characters of raspberry, cherry and blackberry. There was some plum too. Nice black pepper and spice appeared on the palate. This was a very food friendly wine that has a long life ahead of it.
If TasteCamp would have ended now, I would not have been disappointed. Ravines makes the dryest Riesling in the Finger Lakes and they are proud of it. They also make some of the best red wines in the Finger Lakes. Lisa and Morten make wine that goes best with food, they also happen to make wine that they like as well. Old world european style wine in a new world wine country. When you are in the Finger Lakes and you are staying a few days, make sure you visit and taste Ravines. And if you happen to be around when they have wine pairing dinners, makes sure you make reservation. I know I would.
Note: The photos used in this piece (except for the bottles) are from the Ravines FaceBook Page.