During the NiagaraCOOL Saturday winery tour last June, one of the wineries we visited was Warm Lake Estates.
Located on the Escarpment in Niagara County, this winery is the largest producer of Pinot Noir in NY State. Their wines are pretty much sold out as futures, so I stopped by there yesterday to pick up the 3 bottles of ’05 that I ordered during the NiagaraCOOL visit. The wines were bottles during the past week. In addition, I ordered a case of the ’06, which hasn’t even been picked yet, as a wedding gift for my son and his bride, who will be married in about 3 weeks. These should be bottled in about a year. I’m watching the weather, which has been damp lately to see if it looks like a good vintage. If so, I may order another case for myself. Currently, according to Ron, one of the winery workers, the vineyard is currently at about 15 Brix, so it will probably about 2 more weeks before harvest. Mike Von Heckler, the proprietor, was not there during my visit, so after Ron and I took care of the previously mentioned business, he poured me tastes of some of the currently available wines. The first one I tasted was the ’05 Warm Lake Estate Pinot Noir, which I had just purchased 3 bottles of (I purchased the 3 bottles for $26/bottle as futures in June and they are now retailing in the winery for $45/bottle). Medium intensity color, with hints of purple on the edges. Clean nose of red fruits and bit of tobacco. Full cleansing, long, dry finish – tannins from the oak a bit hard, but overall a truly remarkable wine, especially considering this was bottled less than a week ago and was poured from a bottle that had been open in the tasting room for at least several hours. I'm already planning a '10 dinner featuring this wine. Next on the counter of the tasting room were 4 different bottles of the ’05. These were wines made from distinct vineyards on the estate. Some of these we barrel tasted during the June visit. I’m guessing these were left over after the blending process. The first was from a newly planted site at the west end of the estate – much lighter than the blend with hints of anise. The next was named after a type of clay in the soil, and was similar to the previous wine, but without the anise. The third was another type of clay found at the extreme east end of the estate. This had much more color and the first impression was one of high alcohol. The last one of these was from the first vines planted on the estate, which had similar color to the previous wine but without the high alcohol and more complex aromatics. I know there are different clones planted in the estate, but I don’t know which ones or where they are planted, so this could also be reflected in the variations. It was very interesting to taste the components that went into the final blend, but none of them, on their own, compared in quality and complexity to the final product, which I re-tasted at this point. Next, I tasted the ’04 Warm Lake Estate Pinot Noir. While a pretty good wine, it was thin and light compared to the ’05. Finally, I had the ’04 Mountain Road, which is a second label. I liked this, which is selling for $19. I meant to pick up a bottle of this for early consumption, but it slipped my mind, as by this time, Ron was getting ready to go home for dinner.