The Slow Wine Guide

A different way of evaluating wine.

 

Anyone who drinks wine has most likely heard of wine scores. Each year tens of thousands of bottles of wine are blind tasted and rated. These scores offer an assessment of the wine itself, but do have some shortcomings.  The amount produced, production style and source of the fruit used to make the wine are not considered. Furthermore, the only wines rated are those who submit their wine for review.

For decades, the wine industry has relied on this 100 point scale system as seen  in Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Wine Enthusiast Magazine to rate their wines. Wineries have long sought good scores in order gain recognition in the market and persuade consumers of the quality of their wines. From a consumer’s perspective, scores provided a gauge of wine to taste and consider in a world with thousands of producers, making wines in different countries, with different varieties and a myriad of styles. 

Italy’s Slow Wine Guide emerged in 2010. The approach they used in evaluating wine turned away from the conventional score based evaluation of wine. Instead, the group not only considered the quality of the wine, but the practices of its producers. Rather than just blind taste the wines, Slow Wine takes the time to get to know the producers and the sustainable approaches they use from the vineyard to the bottle. 

Beginning in 2017, Slow Wine began exploring American wines. First, they started building relationships with California producers, followed by Oregon and now New York. The philosophy they ascribe to is that wine is more than just what we taste in a bottle. Wine provides us with a sense of place and time, and they want to tell the wineries’ stories. 

We are excited to announce our 2018 Cabernet Franc was named a Top Wine for the 2021 Slow Wine Guide. This wine is perfect for winter! So order yours today online or swing by the wine shop daily from 12pm until 5pm!

Top Wine Award Slow Wine Guide 2021
Slow Wine Guide Top Wine Award

So, about that Vintage …

How was the 2020 Harvest?

How was the vintage? Will it be a good one? Frequently, winery staff hear this question beginning in June, just as the fruit set has occurred for the vines. People become even more curious during harvest. Will the wines be any good? Truth is, we often can only comment on the growing season, the quality of the fruit at harvest and perhaps list a few challenges the vintage faced. More times than not, what the vintage will look like in the bottle and how it will taste remains a few years down the road. 

We have learned the hard way in this industry to never write a vintage off as being unworthy. More often than not,  several years later that same vintage comes into its own with additional cellaring time and evolves into a fantastic vintage. 

The article we are sharing with you here should answer as succinctly as possible any questions you may have regarding vintage 2020. The majority of the wines from the vintage are still in process. Many will not be bottled until late spring or summer – then we wait and see.

FLX Times Article – the 2020 Harvest opens in a new window

Notes from the Winemaker

A Sneak Peek in the Wine club

by Kelby James Russell

We sent out our inaugural Wine Club Holiday Packs one week ago. So, we thought you might like a little peak into what we offer. Every Wine Club shipment comes with a newsletter and recipes from members of our team to go along with each wine. Below, you will find what Kelby submitted for his recipe. 

“In this unique holiday season in a rather difficult year, I find myself thinking back to holidays past.  These memories are warm and wonderful, but also a reminder that every year has its ups and downs, challenges and rewards.  The first year a loved one isn’t at the table, or that a new face is.  A holiday when gifts are an afterthought, but the laughter is not.  The holidays are our collective and individual prism on the year, and it is worth cherishing them past and present.

This year, I am thinking about the 2012 holidays.  Newly appointed the winemaker here at Red Newt, I was also in the midst of closing on my first home.  At the same time, Julia was living and working in Avignon in Southern France for a seven month stint.  While it was difficult being apart, we had secretly made plans to elope in Paris when I came to visit that holiday season.  And on a shoestring budget, we did just that.  

But where do you go for a honeymoon when you can barely afford to elope?  We settled on the Alsatian city of Strasbourg, the self proclaimed capital of Christmas, and found an impossibly inexpensive (and small) AirBnB to rent for a few nights.  And when I think back on that trip, I no longer remember those financial worries about making everything work out.  Instead, I remember the Christmas markets.  Snowflakes on our tongues and a skip in our hearts as we dashed about town.  The flash of Julia’s smile as she joked with a vendor in French, the sparkle of the Christmas lights in her eyes. 

And we both remember the dish below, even though it took us years to sort out what it was called.  A Christmas market staple of potatoes cooked with bacon, onions, and a ridiculous amount of cream and mountain cheese; easy enough to cook over an open fire, even easier in an oven.  A steal for a couple of euros, enough to fill both of us without worrying about the cost.  And the perfect companion for a rich and elegant Riesling to counterbalance the winter-hardiness of the dish: tartiflette.”

Ingredients

  •             Sea salt
  •             2 pounds waxy potatoes, like fingerlings, peeled
  •             1 tablespoon olive oil
  •             1 small onion, thinly sliced
  •             ½ cup diced bacon or pancetta
  •             1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  •             ¾ cup white wine
  •             Butter, for buttering gratin dish
  •             ¼ cup crème fraîche or heavy cream  
  •             ½ pound fragrant semi soft cow’s milk cheese (raclette, gruyere, limburger, or camembert)

 

Preparation

  1.           Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pan with water, season with a generous amount of salt. Add potatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are almost tender but still slightly firm in center, about 10 minutes. Drain and slice thickly.
  2.           Return pan to medium heat. Add oil and bacon or pancetta, cook until the pork begins to brown.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, then mix in potatoes and thyme.  Cook for 5 minutes, then pour in white wine and reduce until almost gone. Season potatoes with salt, if needed. (If potatoes are not yet cooked through, place a lid on the pan and cook over low heat until tender.)
  3.           Butter a medium gratin dish. Pour in potato mixture and spoon over crème fraîche or heavy cream. Cut rind from cheese, and slice into large, thin wedges. Lay cheese over potatoes. Bake until the cheese is melted, bubbling and golden brown.

Happy Holidays to all of you. Be well, stay safe and we hope to see all of you again soon. You can follow the link below to join the Wine Club. 

Join the Red Newt Wine Club opens in a new window

 

A FLX Story Part V

A Harvest Reflection

By Jamie Rubin (Harvest Intern 2020)

Today we present the last installment of Jamie Rubin’s harvest reflection. We hope you have enjoyed reading about his harvest experience. This story first appeared as a post for Sommation_live, an IG channel offering a venue for wine education through shared experiences. 

Part V: November 22

Harvest has come to a close. Our final bit of fruit was something less than a ton of botrytized Riesling, which we hand harvested on a stunningly warm November day. It was foot trodden and basket pressed into old puncheons for fermentation. It smelled incredible! 

Much of this last week has been focused on clean-up. We’ve shut the press pad down for the winter, made sure that all the barreled wine is safely set aside to age, and done a  lot of cleaning and organizing. As they say, winemaking is mostly moving heavy things around and cleaning things. 

I can’t express my love and gratitude for the team at Red Newt Cellars. I feel incredibly privileged to have come here and turned what could have been a meaningful downshift in my career into a powerful learning experience. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

A FLX Story Part IV

A Harvest Reflection

By Jamie Rubin (Harvest Intern 2020)

Here is the next installment of Jamie Rubin’s harvest reflection. We hope you have enjoyed reading about his harvest experience. This story first appeared as a post for Sommation_live, an IG channel offering a venue for wine education through shared experiences. 

Part IV: November 15

For much of my time here, we’ve been using the pneumatic press. This has been exclusively for white wines. Largely, we’ve crushed and destemmed Rieslings followed by a cold soak for a few days. This allows the juice to pick up a phenolic load from the skins prior to fermentation. Then, we pressed the juice out and it went to the tank. 

This week, we’ve started taking our reds, which have finished fermentation and macerated for a while on their skins and stems, to press them off and into used oak barrels to mature. This process has been the most intuitive for me so far. It aligns with what I’ve been taught as a sommelier. The big learning curve here, as it always is, has been the equipment itself. This basket press has a bladder inside which inflates to about 60 psi and presses the grapes against the staves to extract wine. 

As always, I’m very reticent to operate a new piece of equipment until I fully understand it. When dealing in high pressure and high volume, the consequences could be intense. Luckily, this one is relatively simple and intuitive. Right now, the Pinot Noir is safely sleeping in the barrel. Next up is Merlot!!! The Cabernet Franc isn’t quite through ferment, but it smells amazing!

 

A FLX Story Part III

A Harvest Reflection

By Jamie Rubin (Harvest Intern 2020)

We continue to share with you the story of our harvest 2020 intern Jamie Rubin. This story first appeared as a post for Sommation_live, an IG channel offering a venue for wine education through shared experiences. Please enjoy!

Part III: November 8 

The fruit is mostly in! 

Last week was positively exhausting. We brought in huge lots of Riesling and were working around the clock to get it crushed, briefly cold soaked and pressed. The pace was much higher than it has been as seems like the year-round crew were simply waiting for this. 

The tasting room crew cooked us some wonderful dinners which really kept us going. It was a kindness that I really wasn’t expecting but reflects the attitude of the collaboration and teamwork that exists not just at Red Newt, but in the region as a whole. Now we begin to shepherd the juice through fermentations. I’m learning about additions like bentonite and acid. Early on, I was very confused by the usage of the word “Lees.” As a somm, my understanding has always been that lees are dead yeast cells. It turns out it is used as a catch all term for solids. Glad to be caught up on what feels like a very basic thing I missed out on. 

There’s a tiny bit of fruit left to come in, but largely the job over the next few weeks will be to rack tanks, filter lees, make small chemistry tweaks here and there, and make sure that we’re getting out of the way as fermentation begins.  

 

A FLX Story Part II

A Harvest Reflection

By Jamie Rubin (Harvest Intern 2020)

We continue to share with you the story of our harvest 2020 intern Jamie Rubin. This story first appeared as a post for Sommation_live, an IG channel offering a venue for wine education through shared experiences. Please enjoy!

Part II: November 2

2020 continues at a slow but steady pace. Everyone still seems mystified by how easy it is. They’re all used to 12+ hour day and 6 or 7 day weeks during this time. We’ve been out of the winery at a reasonable time most days. 

Riesling has started to roll in with force. There was a bit of a hiccup last week when a mechanical picker broke down, but between Sunday and Monday we brought in many tons of gorgeous, aromatic Riesling. Also, a fair bit of Cabernet Franc that’s destined to be rose. 

For my own part, I’m finally comfortable operating a pump. I can set up the crusher/destemmer and the press without supervision. I’m getting an idea as to how and when additions are being made. I still feel like I’m fumbling in the dark sometimes. But, it’s starting to become clearer.

I’ve been tasked with learning VinTrace which is a cloud based bit of software that’s meant to track grapes as they become must as it becomes wine as it enters bottles. It’s given me a much better idea of how things move through the winery as I enter our daily activities. The ‘why’ of things is still sometimes elusive, but Kelby and Meagz are usually on hand to provide that insight. 

A FLX Story

A Harvest Reflection

By Jamie Rubin (Harvest Intern 2020)

When you work in the wine industry, your life exists in rhythm with the cycle of the vines and customers. All too often, we become so consumed with our own mindset of the season, and the connections with those who experience life the same way we do, we fail to realize not everyone has the same perspective. 

Each year interns arrive at Red Newt Cellars from a diverse set of backgrounds looking to experience the rush of harvest. The interns return home at Thanksgiving, the majority of harvest complete, and only the sounds of bubblers remain to remind us that harvest is only partially complete. Seeing this year’s harvest through intern Jamie Rubin’s eyes gives us the opportunity to share with you some of what is experienced during a harvest. We hope you enjoy his A FLX Story. We will  post all five segments separately to stay tuned each day for another installment.

 

By Jamie Rubin

Part I: October 25

First of all, simply being in upstate New York during the fall is amazing! The colors are changing slowly this year, quite possibly due to drought conditions. This is making very day’s drive into work a complete sensory joy ride. Some areas have bare trees, some are just yellowing, some are fire orange and red, and there are still some places totally green!

We recently picked Gruner Veltliner from Lahoma Vineyards, which is situated on the other side of Seneca Lake from the winery. We were able to do a three day cold soak on it before pressing it off! This wouldn’t have been possible in a normal year simply due to the volume of fruit arriving at the winery. This is destined to become a new SKU in the Kelby James Russell (winemaker at Red Newt) line of wines and I can’t wait to taste the finished product. The fruit was gorgeous!

As for myself, I’m adjusting to being the least knowledgeable person in the room at any given time. It’s definitely a challenge after running four restaurants and always being the guy with the answers. Now, I find myself being given what sounds like basic instructions only to need to ask two or three follow-up questions to make sure I don’t f*ck anything up. That’s a really long of way of saying that I’m being humbled daily and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to learn more!

Harvest Interns Spotlight

Red Newt’s Amazing Crew for Harvest 2020

Each year as summer comes to a close several interns arrive at Red Newt Cellars. Over the years, they have come from Australia, Switzerland, and various states from around the country. Some have worked harvests before, some come looking for a different experience, other come to learn more about wine. Every year their hard work helps the Red Newt winemaking team create carefully crafted wines reflective of time and place. So, let’s meet the 2020 Red Newt Intern Crew who have been hard at work.

  • Harvest Intern Jamie Rubin
  • Harvest Intern Jamie Schlicht
  • Harvest Intern Katie Cochrane
  • Intern Taylor Stember

Meet Taylor Stember!

She hails from Carmel, California. As a UC Davis graduate, she enjoys traveling and working harvests around the world. In fact, Taylor spent the past two years working the harvests ‘down under’ in Australia. Her favorite variety of grape is Frappato. The variety is Italian, and mostly grown in Sicily. Frappato produces a light bodied red with juicy aromatics.
 
Intern Taylor StemberHarvest is physically demanding work and therefore, harvest snacks are essential for one’s survival! Taylor relies on apples and peanut butter to get her through. Demanding work requires great music. You will frequently see her dancing on the crush pad. Her favorite music jam while working harvest is anything Beyonce!
 
Many interns return home or head off to another harvest once the Finger Lakes harvest is complete. We have a feeling you’ll be seeing Taylor around for quite a while following this year’s harvest! 
 
 

Meet Jamie Schlicht

Jamie Schlicht is Brooklyn born and Long Island grown. She says, “Hospitality is my thang!” Jamie began in the hospitality industry in high school. Since then she’s worn the many hats of hospitality including server, bartender and sommelier. When not working in the hospitality industry Jamie is a perennial student who works with economically underserved GED and adult TESOL students while taking her own graduate classes.
 
When asked why the Finger Lakes, she admits, “I’ve had so many compelling wines from the region, but as yet had not actually been to the area.” Since NYC restaurants closed, an opportunity presented itself to come work a harvest.
 
Doing something you have never done before presents many challenges and Jamie has loved learning how we make wine from the ground up. What’s her favorite wine? Chardonnay! Jamie loves the endless expressions of the variety, which match any mood and many of the different foods she loves.
 
Intern Jamie Schlicht
 
Favorite snack and harvest music? Well, it’s a tie between Swidish Fish and beer! As for her music choice, she likes to keep things festive, so jammin’ to Samhain keeps things interesting! 

Meet Katie Cochrane

Katie hails from Philadelphia by way of Brooklyn, with numerous other stops along the way. Katie’s background is in food science. In fact, her various food science work has had her formulating chicken mcnuggets to cake mixes and ice cream to yogurt. Now, she’s a brewer who specializes in mixed culture fermentations. For the most part, this means she works with mostly sour beers.
 
Katie wanted to diversify a bit and try working a wine harvest. However, she wanted to do it a bit closer to home, so the connections and relationships she built during harvest would not seem like a completely separate world. So, naturally the Finger Lakes was one of her first choices. Each day brings something different and new to learn, and she hopes this is not her only stint in the region.
 
Katie is still learning about wine so she doesn’t necessarily have a favorite varietal. Each day she learns something new about wine and gets closer to figuring out what she likes! Her favorite grab and go snack to keep her energy up for harvest are apple slices. What song keeps her going during harvest? “Running Up that Hill” by Kate Bush. 
 
Intern Katie Cochrane

Meet Jamie Rubin

Last, but certainly not least! Meet Jamie Rubin. When asked where he’s from, he responds, “Bad things happen in Philadelphia.” Jamie comes from a diverse background having worked at a dog kennel, a pet shop, cleaning offices, as a puppeteer, in filmmaking, retail, fast food delivery and a handful of other jobs. Most recently he has worked extensively as a restaurant general manager and sommelier. Jamie worked the 2016 harvest at Element Winery and fell in love with the area, the people and the wines. When COVID shut down restaurants in Philly and the opportunity presented itself, Jamie decided to return to the Finger Lakes for another harvest and has worked with Red Newt Cellars since September.
 
Jamie’s favorite time of year is harvest in the Finger Lakes. He thrives on the massive load of information he learns each day he works and loves the ability to be away from a city right now. Jamie loves the people of the Finger Lakes, and the spirit of genuine collaboration between the communities and the wine industry community.
 
Hey Jamie! What’s your favorite varietal again? “ZINFANDEL! Yes, I like my wine to taste like fruit, and sometimes I don’t want to decide whether to drink something full or light bodied. Besides, Zin brings people together!” He loves grapes so much it is also his favorite snack at harvest. We have warned him though, he will eventually tire of that and if you ask about his favorite music while working harvest – 1990s hip hop. Who’d have thought? Jamie is full of surprises! 
 
Intern Jamie Rubin
 
We thank our interns for their great attitudes, hard work and dedication to harvest 2020! We look forward to seeing where you go from here. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Regarding Kabinett

What is it?

Red Newt Cellars Kabinett Explained

Red Newt Cellars has produced a Lahoma Vineyard Riesling since 2009. The nature of the block has always lended itself to a more fruit forward and slightly sweeter style of wine. Beginning with the 2012 vintage, our winemaking team started pursuing a more traditional style of Kabinett, looking for that perfect balance between flavor, sweetness and acid.
The 2013 Riesling Lahoma Vineyards is exciting and racy with bright citrus aromas in the nose, a perfectly balanced palate with a luscious sweetness and edgy acidity, and a lingering finish of white peach and honey. The vibrant interplay of sweetness and acidity create a wine that is intriguing and pairs remarkably well with food.
This wine seeks to bottle that joyful fruit expression of tangerine and apricot every year in its most exuberant form. Modeled off the balance point of a German Kabinett, it is juicy to drink when young but has the sugar and freshness to reward cellar aging.
Stop by today to purchase the 2013 Riesling Lahoma Vineyards. We’re open 12pm until 5pm daily.