Our final event of the year was the annual red barrel tasting at McGregor Vineyard. Our wines were the reds of 2013, and we were able to sample:
- Two different Pinot Noirs – one a single clone and the other a blend;
- McGregor’s three Bordeaux grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc – as well as the blend McGregor labels a Rob Roy, and;
- The Black Russian.
As John McGregor explained, 2013 was a challenging year for red wines due to a late start and a damp summer that delayed ripening and created quite a bit of disease pressure. Nonetheless, thanks to good work in the vineyard, terrific fall weather, and more good work in the cellar, McGregor eeked out a wonderful selection of wines.
We thought the two Pinots – labeled “A” and “B” for the time being – were among the best Pinots to come out of McGregor. The single clone “A” was more fruit forward while the “B” blend was a bit darker, but both were terrific examples of what the Finger Lakes can do with this finicky grape. Asked which we preferred, the group was split right down the middle, with our coming in on the “A” side.
McGregor has only a small plot of Sangiovese that does not bear sufficient fruit every year to make a varietal, but it did well in 2013. We enjoyed the sample, but seem to recall preferring the warmer vintages for this wine. There will be no Sangiovese in 2014 due to the polar vortex, and we are hoping the vines will recover and resume production. Time will tell.
Turning to the Bordeaux grapes, both the Merlot and Cabernet Franc were fruity, nicely balanced, and ready to drink now, with the Merlot showing quite a bit more tannin. It was harder to get a fix on the Cabernet Sauvignon, and John agreed this one would take some time. The Rob Roy blend was 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, and seems to have great promise. Finally, the Black Russian was simply wonderful. We will probably have a chance to revisit this wine in the spring when McGregor has its annual Black Russian Bash weekend and dinner. Between now and then, it will be cold and white.