It was raining here earlier this afternoon, so my lawn mowing would have to wait. Knowing that the new Three Rivers Wine Trail opened this weekend was all the excuse I needed for a bit of a drive. The only winery I have not yet tasted at on the trail is Falconer Vineyards Winery in Red Wing, Minnesota. Most Americans will recognize this name from the popular shoes still made there (I passed plant #2 on my way to the winery). Falconer is a family winery with vineyards in the bottom of a small valley which somewhat protects the vines from our harsh winter weather. They grow Minnesota-bred varietals such as La Crescent and Frontenac, along with French-American hybrid stalwarts Seyval Blanc and Marechal Fosh. Like all the other wineries here in Minnesota, they import grapes from California and New York’s Finger Lakes region for some wines. But I was there to taste the Minnesota grown wines today.
I had not yet tasted wines made from La Crescent, a cross between St. Pepin, a Swenson selection from V. riparia (native American grapes) and Muscat Hamburg. In fact, only two wineries are producing wines from this grape and this was the first released vintage for Falconer:
Falconer Vineyards Winery, La Crescent 2005 ($17) – Clear straw in color with aromas of apricots and lychee. Very interesting citrus (grapefruit?) and pineapple flavors finishing with reasonable acidity. A quite quaffable off-dry white for summer drinking and a very promising new variety. I’d like to see what this varietal tastes like in a dry style. Score: 7.5/10
As a Minnesotan I really want to like Frontenac, another variety developed by the University of Minnesota for our unique terroir. But every example I have yet tasted has been moderately to harshly acidic which really spoils the overall pleasing black cherry and blackberry flavors. So it was great to see Falconer offer this variety in a rosÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© style:
Falconer Vineyards Winery, Frontenac RosÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© 2005 ($12) – Light ruby in color with aromas of strawberry and bing cherry. Vibrant strawberry fruit flavors finishing off-dry with racy acidity. I think this would pair well with light fare on a hot summer’s day. Score: 7.5/10
This Frontenac got me thinking about my (home) winemaking past when we lived in Wisconsin. I harvested Seyval Blanc, Aurore, De Chaunac, Marechal Fosh and LÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©on Millot grapes in a vineyard near Madison. I crushed and pressed the whites in the vineyard and carted them home with the crushed reds for fermentation in my basement. After the first disappointing harvest with harshly acidic (and grossly over oaked) reds, I did some research and found that carbonic maceration might tame the acidity somewhat. So I made a Marechal Fosh nouveau and was quite pleased with the result. I just might buy some Frontenac this fall and try my hand at this style and make a vin gris version, as well. Stay tuned.
I enjoyed my tasting at Falconer Vineyards Winery and encourage local readers/listeners to pay a visit this summer. If you are not local, I encourage you to drink local this summer and visit a winery near your home.