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New Wines at Pail Shop Vineyards – There’s More Than Baseball in Cooperstown

pailshop imageWe were in Cooperstown, New York over the weekend, visiting Alex at school for Easter, and used a few pailshop logoleisure hours to visit some of the local wineries.  One, Rustic Ridge, we had been to before and the reviews this time were similar.  The other however was brand new, and we got a chance to talk to Brad Carso, owner of pail shop vineyards, as well as winemaker, vineyard manager, tasting room manager, and everything else that goes into running a vineyard and winery.  You have to love this business to be this committed, and Brad does and is.  He was there on Saturday, working between the production room in the back and the tasting bar up front.  This is, of course, when he’s not in the city doing his day job.  Sounds a little like us, only we just write about the people who actually do the hard work.

pailshop winter 1

Why they need hardy vines

We had a chance to taste six wines currently for sale.  The emphasis here is on cold weather hardy varietals, and hybrids tend to fit that requirement.  These may not be the usual ones you would recognize in the northern climates, such as Vidal Blanc, St. Croix and Chambourcin.  Here they are close to Cornell University, and that is the source for some of the local varieties.  Hardy vines are a must, as the past few pailsop summer vineswinters can attest to.  Brad still doesn’t know if he lost many vines this past season, as the snow was still on the ground in places when we were there, and it was still snowing.  Any significant new planting he had planned is likely to become replanting as they replace what was lost.  This has got to be frustrating as the are just producing their estate wines, with two acres currently in commercial harvest.  They do have more land, and an intention to expand grape production.  Wine production is currently in the 1700 case per year range, with some of the grapes coming from various Finger Lakes sources.

Here is what we sampled:

Trimanette – Dry and Oak Fermented: This was 70% oak fermented with the other 30% in stainless.  It also underwent partial malo-lactic fermentation to soften the acid just a bit.  This grape is a hybrid of Gewurztraminer, which is not generally one of our favorites.  As a hybrid it is much hardier than it’s parent however, and the flavor profile is also different.  There are subtle hints of the Gewurztraminer, but the floral notes are compliments and don’t dominate.  The oak is also subtle.  They oak with barrel staves here as the investment in a large number of barrels is a few years away.  It works though.  This wine showcases beautiful fruit flavors and aromas, with tropical nuances.  I got ripe pineapple as well.  It’s really a very good white wine, period.  Not for a hybrid, not for an upstate New York wine from a new winery, just a good white wine.  We bought the last two bottles they had of this vintage.  $17

Noiret (pronounced Noir-ay): This is from Finger Lakes grapes.  It’s a rich red color and carries a bit of tannin, but as with most red hybrids it carries some of the foxy qualities of it’s American side of the family.  We’re not huge fans of that and weren’t of this wine, although it is well made.  $16

What we really liked though is an experimental wine Brad is working on made from 30% Noiret and 70% Marquette.  Marquette is another hybrid, a grandson of Pinot Noir, that Brad first came across in upstate Vermont.  He’s currently playing around with different levels of tannin.  The first one we tried is pretty darned good.  The wine had more traditional fruit aromas and flavors.  It carried just a touch of bitterness at the end, but overall was a definite winner of a red.  We’re hoping it shows up in bottles in the near future.

Trimanette – Semi-Dry: This is actually misnamed, as the wine is almost dry and the residual sugar on the edge of what people will notice.  Once again a wine of excellent fruit flavors, with a good acid balance.  $14

Rose: This is off dry, with red fruit aromas and flavors.  It’s not made in the traditional Rose method of pressing red grapes and allowing a small amount of skin contact.  This is a blend of a red (Noiret) and a white (Trimanette).  It works pretty well, and the wine is quite delicious.  It would make a perfect summertime wine, great with a picnic or a cozy chair on the back deck.  $14

Painted Pail White: This is more towards the semi-sweet sugar level.  There are floral and honey notes.  It’s very easy drinking and should please anyone who likes somewhat sweeter wines.  A blend of 20% Trimanette, 20% Muscadet and %60 Vignoles.  $11

Painted Pail Red: This is made with Concord Grapes, cut with some Noiret, and the wine has that traditional grape jelly or Welch’s Grape Juice flavor profile.  While we wouldn’t sip it based on our tastes, we both agreed it would make a great Sangria or be outrageous mixed with Prosecco or Champagne.  $11

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Cold-stabilization: brrrr!

pailshop winesThere are very good things happening here at Pail Shop Vineyards.  Brad is clearly focused on producing quality wines from varieties appropriate for the somewhat challenging climate.  He worked in a winery during his law school days, and it seems it found its way into his blood.  After purchasing this parcel of land it became clear it was perfect for a vineyard and winery, and we agree.  When you drive up you get a great view of some of the southern facing slopes that maximize sun exposure.  As the vineyards mature, and the experiments fine tune the right methods and treatment of the grapes, we can only assume it gets even better.  The wines exceeded our expectations.

If you’re in Cooperstown this is a great little side trip, and it’s only a few minutes from downtown.  It’s aso right on the way to Fly Creek Cider Mill.  You can visit their website here: http://www.pailshopvineyards.com/.

A votre sante!

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