To our surprise, the tastings weren’t presented according to the printed tasting menu, and we actually began with the two sweeter whites before moving on to to the lighter, drier whites. It was an interesting choice, explained to some degree, by our server’s announcing that the first two she was pouring for us were her favorites among the Heritage Trail wines. Unfortunately, they weren’t ours. The first selection was the
Winthrop White. 100% Cayuga estate grapes, the tasting notes indicate that this is Heritage Trail’s “Estate Boutique label.” It’s a sweeter wine, almost too sweet, but is completely overpowered by the nose which is very earthy and bordering on unpleasant. As this was our first wine of the tasting, both Christy and I thought the odors were from the glass – as if it had been washed in extremely hard water. But after surreptitiously sniffing our water glasses, we realized it was the wine. The nose has a strong, pungent, mustiness which Christy said reminded her of the smell of a manure. Interestingly, you don’t taste the earthiness; the wine itself is light and sweet. With a softer – or fruitier – nose, the wine would have been quite pleasant, but we just couldn’t get past the nose.
We quickly moved on to the
Sweet Reserve A blend of 70% Cayuga and 30% Seyval grapes, this, as the name implies, is another sweet wine. The tasting notes indicate this is a semi-sweet wine, but it more closely resembles a sweet dessert wine. In the mouth, there are lovely notes of citrus and apricot, although there is a strong citrus/acid bite at the end which was a bit startling. But as with the Winthrop White, what we tasted was overshadowed by what we smelled: another strong, musty, earthy nose. Not as pungent as the Winthrop White, we still found the nose unpleasant and had a hard time getting past it to enjoy the wine.
We were thinking about saying something to our server when she returned, particularly given that she had been so enthusiastic about these wines when she poured them. Perhaps we had gotten tastings from a couple of bad bottles? But then we overheard a different server saying to the people next to us who had openly commented on the smell, “oh yes, we get that a lot; people often say they find the nose to be very strong…” and we realized, no we didn’t get a bad bottle. But it did make me wonder why they didn’t mention the nose upfront and perhaps explain what it is we were smelling and why…
Christy suggested it might be the grapes – both were predominantely Cayuga. Maybe the nose was a hallmark of the grapes? But we’ve both had a number of Cayuga wines at other wineries, and didn’t have this reaction to the nose. We then started to worry that perhaps this was a hallmark of all the Heritage Trail wines. Luckily the next wine was much more to our liking…
Quinebaug White Another Cayuga blend, this time with Vidal, the Quinebaug is a light-bodied white wine, drier wine with a touch of sweetness. The nose is pleasantly earthy, with grassy notes. In the mouth, the wine has subtle notes of citrus and pear with a crisp finish. We both liked this wine, although in all honesty, some of what we liked was that it didn’t have the nose of the first two wines. Finally, we finished up the whites with the
Chardonnay This is an unoaked Chardonnay with a soft, fruity nose with notes of grapefruit. In the mouth, the wine is smooth with lovely notes of grapefruit and a nice balance of acid at the finish. Very nice Chardonnay, particularly for those who prefer their Chardonnays without oak.
With the whites behind us, we rinsed our glasses and awaited the Reds…
Continued on Tuesday, November 17th.