Fresh and delicate is the best way to describe the best Finger Lakes Pinot Noir. Simple, thin and under-ripe describe the worst. Although Pinot Noir will usually ripen here, in bad vintages it won’t have the hang time to develop much character and in all vintages disease pressure on this thin-skinned varietal with its tight, claustrophobic clusters demands careful spraying in the vineyard and meticulous sorting at harvest.
Only producers who make a total commitment to this grape can succeed with it here. One of them is Morten Hallgren of Ravines Cellars who is largely responsible for developing Finger Lakes Pinot Noir.
2012 was a good vintage for red grapes and that ripeness is apparent in the glass. The bright, pretty nose of cherry, red currant, and lovely earth mixed with cinnamon has intensity and clarity. The lightly concentrated palate is soft yet spicy with a glossy, silken texture and a finish that hovers between crisp and tender. The tannins are so finely rendered, it has the discreet structure of a Japanese shōji—a paper wall supported by a firm wooden frame that blends into the background.
Only 10% new French oak keeps the toast and vanilla away; 10 months on the lees contribute to the sensuous texture.
If you’re new to Finger Lakes Pinot don’t expect West Coast bluster. But the Ravines Pinot will satisfy like this earthy, tender version of Julia by John Lennon