This winery has always been a favorite of mine. My husband and I had a “date day” and we decided to do an early spring visit to one of my favorite wineries! Why do I love Billsboro Winery? Good wine, good vibes, and the friendliest staff!
A little background about the winery and the winemaker… Vinny Aliperti s also the head winemaker at Atwater Vineyards. However, Billsboro is his “muse.” Here he tries fun wine making techniques, experiments with different varietals, and really shows the art of winemaking.
First up on our tasting list was the 2018 Mousseux Chardonnay ($18). I LOVE FLX Sparkling wines. And Billsboro does some of my favorite affordable Sparkling wines! A traditional “Champagne” (by the way you can only use this term if the wine is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France), is typically made of a mixture of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. However, in true FLX style, many producers often break this mold. This sparkling wine was straight Chardonnay, and had a wonderful nose of citrus. Upon first sip I noticed the crisp acidity and the lovely texture of the bubbles which were fine and not overpowering. This wine was absolutely lovely and is a crowd pleaser for sure. In fact I shared a bottle with my sister in law recently, and she loved it! Although I have to admit, I think I prefer the Mousseux Riesling that Vinny has made in years past over the Chardonnay. But I’m really splitting hairs here as both are wonderful wines!
Next up was the 2016 Barrel Fermented Dry Riesling ($20). A barrel fermented dry Riesling?!?! You almost NEVER hear of a winemaker utilizing oak barrels in a dry Riesling. I was instantly intrigued! Deanna (Tasting Room Manager) gave us the full scoop that the oak used was neutral french oak (meaning it wasn’t new, and should not impart an overly oaky taste to the wine). I could tell that this was barrel fermented upon first sniff; there was a toasty butterscotch scent in addition to your typical honey, floral and citrus scents you typically find in a Riesling. The taste continued the surprises for me! Although it tasted like a Riesling, it had a heavier mouthfeel and a bit of oak spice on the finish. Overall, a very well done wine, and certainly a fun bottle to share with a Riesling lover!
Ahh, onto my favorites, crisp dry whites. Honestly, I don’t think anybody else on Seneca Lake does a better crisp dry white than what Vinny does at Billsboro! I was excited to try the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc ($18). Not many wineries are doing a Sauvignon Blanc in the Finger Lakes, and I can only count a handful that do it well. Deanna gave me a great lesson in the soil of the area and why the whites are just so good here. There is good topsoil and a shale layer underneath that imparts an impeccable minerality to the wines. This Sauvignon Blanc was no exception. Typical scents of dill, grass, herbs and green apple emanated from my glass. The taste included all the wonderful citrus and herbal notes you’d expect from a cool climate Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to a crisp acidity and typical Finger Lakes minerality.
Deanna also reminded us that 2017 had a dry and mild fall, which made for the 2017 whites to be exceptional. The 2017 Albarino ($20) was indeed exceptional (as it always is, in my opinion)! If you are not familiar with Spanish white wines, do yourself a favor and go try a few today. Albarino happens to be one of my favorites. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it is like the Spanish version of a Pinot Grigio, but of course with its’ own personality. The minerality and mouthfeel of this wine is amazing. Crisp and full of citrus, this is the perfect sipping wine. It is my go to bottle when I have a girl’s night! Everyone loves this wine! Deanna shared that Fulkerson Winery just released an Albarino and Sheldrake just started planting this varietal. So stay tuned, Albarino could be the next Riesling here in the Finger Lakes!
Onto the reds! One of my all time favorites as you probably have guessed, is a good Dry Rosé wine. Rosé ALL DAY folks! The 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($18) was everything that I hoped it would be. Full of fresh strawberries on the nose, and a wonderful citrus taste. This is an excellent example of a FLX style Dry Rosé.
Last but not least, the 2016 reds! I can’t tell you how excited I have been to try 2016 reds from the Finger Lakes. I remember the summer of 2016 quite vividly, as I gave birth to my son Finn on 7/7 of that summer. IT WAS HOT. Like hotter than hot. Like hottest summer I ever remember in my 30 years at the time. Although the heat wasn’t so great for a mom and new baby (literally have never sweated that much in my life), I was sweating it out that summer and thinking “the FLX reds are going to be amazing this year.” But of course, reds need to age so I knew I’d have to wait a few years. So without further adeiu, I present to you the Billsboro 2016 reds. Go buy some quick. These are going to sell out before you can blink an eye.
2016 Pinot Noir. The nose of this wine was so appealing to me as I LOVE cherry everything. This wine smelled just like a bowl of black cherries. When I sipped the wine, I was so impressed by the body of the wine. Pinot Noir is not necessarily known for being a big bodied varietal, but the 2016 vintage had just enough heat to give this wine much more body than I have experienced in other vintages. The taste had a wonderful taste of dark plum, and was positively lovely.
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30). Amazing nose of blackberry, plum, blueberry and clove. One of the best reds I’ve had from the FLX in a long time. This wine was so aromatic, and perfectly balanced. An excellent sipping wine or pairing wine!
And finally… the 2016 Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon. This was different than the prior wine, as indigenous (wild) yeast was used in the fermenting. The wine was aged for 21 months and I could tell when I tasted it. This red was exceptional. With scents of clove, blackberry and white pepper, and tastes of blackberries, plum and clove, I loved this wine even more than I did the first Cabernet Sauvignon we tasted. The wine was quite a bit spicier than the first Cabernet Sauvignon, and in my mind, would be a better pairing wine than the first one we tried.
Overall, this was an excellent visit! While I was there, Deanna shared some upcoming events with me. Call the winery for more details on their Saturday morning “Yoga and Mimosas” from 9am-10am in June. Also, don’t forget to register for the upcoming Pizza on the Patio events- a favorite of many locals! Grab a table and bring your friends for excellent wine and wood fired pizzas out on their gorgeous patio. The 2019 dates are: 5/31, 6/14, 7/11, 7/25, 8/8, 8/22, 9/6, 9/20, 10/4 and 10/18.