My husband and I found this rare gem on accident while we were attending the Keuka Lake Harvest Festival. One of the tasting room servers at McGregor Vineyard had noticed my excessive note taking during the tasting there, and recommended I swing by Domaine LeSeurre if I had time. OF COURSE I had time for a local’s recommendation! PRO TIP: always take the recommendation of locals!
When we first arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the quaint, yet modern feel of the tasting room. Every detail, down to the door handle to go inside, looked like it was hand selected for this intimate tasting room. Upon entry, we were greeted by a few friendly faces who helped get us set up at one of the tasting room bars.
After being handed a tasting menu, Holly, our tasting room server, gave ourselves and a few other couples an overview of the winery. The winemakers are a husband (Sébastien) and wife (Céline) team both from France. They met at a winery in New Zealand and eventually fell in love! Their winery was founded on classic French wine making techniques including an aging program with French oak barrels, the concept of terroir and usage of battonage sur lie (stirring the fine lees- yeast sediment, in the wines and aging the wine with those fine lees present).
The first wine I tasted was a 2016 Dry Riesling. I love starting a tasting with Riesling as it truly sets the tone for the rest of the wine list. Although I knew going in that these wines were made with a lot of French wine making influence, if I hadn’t, it would be unmistakable upon tasting. Citrus, lemon zest and lemon custard aromas filled my nostrils, but were not overpowering. Upon tasting the wine, the classic French minerality (and FLX minerality) was present. This was a beautiful version of a Riesling, and quite a good showcase of FLX terroir. Beautiful fruit with crisp acidity makes this wine a strong contender with Hermann Wiemer Rieslings, which are the best of the region.
The next wine we tasted was the 2017 Riesling Terroir D’Excellence which is a single vineyard Riesling. Single vineyard wines are hard to come by these days in the Finger Lakes, so I inquired. Holly mentioned that the wineries are so competitive in sourcing the right grapes for their wines, that they would not disclose where the vineyard is located. She did note that they are 1971 plantings with shalestone soils, and it took the winemakers six years to get access to this fruit. In grape growing, typically the older the vines, the better the wine. The Riesling did not disappoint. It was a bit more fruit forward compared to the 2016 Dry Riesling, and had different aromatics including honeysuckle and lotus blossoms. The wine’s minearality was a bit more muted as well. Nonetheless, it was still an excellent expression of a Riesling. Holly recommended a pairing of lemon chicken and an arugula salad with this wine, and I couldn’t agree more.
I was ecstatic when I found out that Domaine LeSeurre had a rosé on the tasting list. The French have been making excellent dry rosés for centuries, long before rosé was all the rage. Their version of a rosé is a 2016 Cabernet Franc Rosé. I was super intrigued to see a 2016 dry rosé still on the shelves! Holly explained that a lot of times, dry rosé is made from a combination of white and red grapes that are leftovers from other wines. This does not produce a rosé that will age well, and most need to be sold within one season. However, at Domaine LeSeurre, they do a single varietal rosé that spent 22 hours on the skin and underwent battonage monthly in stainless steel. In traditional French style, the rose was not super aromatic, but had a lovely taste of raspberries and strawberries. Holly noted that rosé in France is the type of wine you would bring to a barbecue. I’m glad to see that rosé seems to be a universal party wine!
I was extremely excited to try the next wine, a 2016 Pinot Noir. You’ve probably heard me rave about the 2016 vintage before, with it’s desert like temperatures and drought. It was a vintage that allowed Finger Lakes reds to actually ripen to full potential, and reduced rot on the fruit. Pinot Noir is particularly prone to rot, so it does well in hot years. As I was sniffing the amazing aromatics of this wine, Holly gave us additional information about the winery’s aging program. There is a three year aging program that most of the wines go through. Wines spend two years in French Oak barrels, and the third year is spent in French Oak barrels that range in age from new to almost neutral. When I tasted this wine, it did not disappoint. The wine smelled and tasted of cherries, cooked fruits, and had amazing herbal characteristics.
The last wine we tasted was the 2015 Reserve Speciale Red Blend. This is a Bordeaux style blend with Cabernet Franc, Lemberger and Cabernet Sauvignon. What is fun about this wine is that the blend of this wine is all based on the winemaker’s palette. So the percentages of the blend are solely based on what the winemaker prefers. This wine was very aromatic with notes of spearmint, violets, herbs, cloves, and hints of white and black pepper. This wine was EXCELLENT. It was so approachable, and is a red that can be drank with or without food.
One thing that is remarkable about these wines is how incredibly balanced they are. The French are well known for making perfectly balanced wines and Domaine LeSeurre is no exception. I believe this balance is a direct result of certain wine making techniques. For example, Domaine LeSeurre makes wine using biodynamic practices which includes using techniques such as punch downs and pump overs that follow the lunar cycle. They also do long skin contact, as well as cold soaks that establishes neutral juice that has character and sets the color for the wine. Also, the winemakers will only make a wine if the conditions are just right for it. For example, they have only make a single varietal Pinot Noir twice since they have been open, since they truly believe that it must be the right vintage and the right terroir for the wine to be excellent. These gentle wine making techniques make incredibly delicious and balanced wines.
I’m so happy we stumbled upon this gem by chance. It is certainly one of my favorite newcomers to the FLX. I want to give a HUGE shout out to the Domaine LeSeurre tasting room staff, including Holly. We spent over an hour tasting five wines there. We were not rushed, and the tasting room staff was incredibly knowledgeable about the wines, and the wine making techniques used to produce the wines. One thing that has always peeved myself and my husband, is the hurriedness we usually feel when we are tasting in the Finger Lakes. Typically staff will only give you information if you ask for it, and on busy days, it’s clear that they want you out of there as quickly as possible. Tasting at Domaine LeSeurre was such a pleasure as we were allowed to truly enjoy the tasting.
Have you made any recent winery discoveries? Drop me a line! firstname.lastname@example.org