Thanks to the WINEderful folks at the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, I am getting to enjoy wine from the Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York for the first time in my life. I started with two Rieslings, followed that up with a delicious dry Rosé, and am now following that up with a Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc. This one was a 2014 Chateau Lafayette Reneau Cabernet Franc.
About Chateau Lafayette Reneau
Similar to Billsboro Winery, which I talked about last week, Chateau Lafayette Reneau is situated near Seneca Lake and began as a fruit farm. The property was converted into a winery in the mid 1980s, when the then owners, Dick and Betty Reno, replaced the existing vineyards, comprised primarily of native grape varieties (Catawba, Niagara, and Concord), with cold-weather-friendly vitis vinifera grapes, including Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Seyval Blanc.
According to their website, “Our 110-acre estate provides optimal sun exposure and air flow for consistently aromatic white wines and rich, full-bodied red wines… The stony shale soil and rolling slopes of Seneca Lake–the deepest of the glacier-cut Finger Lakes–are ideally suited for growing cool-climate grapes.” The winery currently produces 15,000 to 20,000 cases each year and has won many awards for their wines, including the 2017 Finger Lakes International Silver Award for their 2014 Cab Franc.
In 1993 they opened The Inn at Chateau LaFayette Reneau on the property. The Inn is a large Craftsman-style house (circa 1911) that is a fully restored five-bedroom farmhouse. Boy, would I love to stay there! Wouldn’t you?
Tasting Notes for the Chateau Lafayette Reneau Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc
The 2014 Chateau Lafayette Reneau Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc was bottled in Jan. 2017. It was aged in French, American and Hungarian oak for 18 months. It is primarily Cabernet Franc, with a small amount of Merlot added “for harmonious balance and mouth-feel.” According to their site, the wine has “aromas of cherry and chocolate follow through on the palate. Pronounced tannins with a smoky oak finish. “ According to the notes on the bottle, the wine features “cherries, berries and currants on the nose and mouth, with a silky pepper finish.”
The wine can age for three to 10 years. It has no residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol.
My Chateau LaFayette Reneau Cabernet Franc Tasting Notes
I had a mixed experience tasting this wine. When I first opened it, I wasn’t very impressed. The wine tasted a little thin and over-the-top vegetal. While I expect vegetal notes from a Cab Franc, this was a little too much for my taste. But when I retried the wine the next day, I loved it. What was different? The temperature. On Day 1, the wine was probably around 70 degrees. On Day 2, after storing the wine in the fridge and letting it warm up just a bit, the wine was probably at 58 degrees. What a difference that made. On Day 2, I got a lively, full dose of cherries, berries and currants, with a silky pepper finish and a hint of chocolate. Yum! What a great reminder of the impact temperature can have on wine.
My excursion into the Finger Lakes region, this time for a Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc, was a big treat. I’m looking forward to tasting many more wines from this region and would love to hear from you about your tasting experiences there.
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