Tuesday, August 7, 2012

CWT Field Trip: Johnson Estate Winery in Westfield, NY (Part Two)

Bring on the wine!

After our enjoyable (and incredibly interesting) tour of the vineyard, we brunched in the tasting room with the rest of the guests. While I thoroughly enjoy food (No surprise there; pretty much every post at least mentions food and some form of the word "yum"), I was more than a little excited to start tasting the wines.
The tasting bar, a perfect spot for keister-parking. 

The tasting room is the sort of low-key, inviting space I always feel very relaxed in; I imagine myself swirling a bit of vino around in a cool crystal goblet, talking about flavonoids and somehow sounding intelligent. Ambient lighting that twinkles off of the soft edges of the bottles, lots of finished wood and humongous, shiny stainless steel casks add to the effect (at least for me) at Johnson Estate. In the background of the photo next to this paragraph are those cool casks. Most of the wines are aged in the casks and any oak is added by soaking long strips, NOT by aging the wine in oak. The winemaker, Jeff-- who was unfortunately off duty during our visit-- has a light hand with oak, which I appreciate because I hate it when my tongue feels furry. 

I was more than happy to park my keister in front of the tasting bar and take notes.
I'd like to give a shout out to
Jennifer Johnson, who gave me this
notebook to take notes in because
I forgot to bring mine.
Johnson Estate, 1. CWT, 0.
And oh, did I ever take notes! I think I mentioned this before, but while we were there we sampled 29 wines. 29 WINES!!! 
I scribbled furiously, my handwriting growing less legible with each sampling. I couldn't possibly tell you about all of them. For one thing, even the truest of tongues can tire from that much tasting. Even with palate cleansers (some wonderfully nutty Parmesan, herbed crackers and some kind of sugarcoated hazelnut thing that I couldn't have due the possibility that my face might erupt in hives) it started to get a little difficult to pick out all of the complexities toward the end. Also, I couldn't stop giggling. I needed a big glass of water and at least an hour of sitting-on-a-bench time to avoid possible felony charges were I to drive. It's a good thing we weren't in a hurry, and it's for this reason I suggest renting a limo (or at least enlisting a reliable DD) if you are winery-hopping-- when you're ready to move on you just go; we had to wait it out.

Tasting and note-taking.
What an awesome job!
Back to the wine. Johnson Estate Winery grows 11 grape varieties and bottles 32 unique wines, including a port, a sherry and North America’s only sparkling Traminette made in the traditional champagne style. They do some of the standard New York State fare, such as Riesling and Concord (you're in Welch's neck of the woods), but are also branching out into new territory. The most recent addition is a Pinot Noir which won't be completely added for some time; right now the grapes they're practicing with are purchased from a Long Island vineyard, while their own vines mature in a Washington State nursery.
My favorite wine was (not surprisingly) their best seller: The Marechal Foch; a robust, jammy red with a woody, peat smell and a smoky strong smack at the back of the mouth. Not far behind the Foch is a much different but just as iconic wine, the Freelings Creek Reserve Riesling (which I described a little in Part One of the field trip). Very different, just as delicious.

I could probably go on and on, but I won't. I will, however leave you with this recommendation: if you do decide to head out to Lake Erie and pay Johnson Estate a visit, ask Fred what the difference is between the House Red and the Proprietor's Red. There's a great story there; you won't be disappointed!

This concludes our tour. Please mind the gap as you exit the
vehicle and don't forget to tip your driver!

Next week we're back to a regular wine review (my tastebuds should be fully recovered by then). I'll be tasting a Peter Brum wine; which one will be a surprise for the both of us!

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