So I made this white wine last year. It turned out flawed, hazy, and unexpectedly fizzy. The last third of each bottle is a yeasty murk and somewhat undrinkable. Corks shot from bottles until I caged them. Luckily, I like bubbly.
But how bad is it really?
We need a point of reference.
Back when I bought the juice from Fall Bright growers, I also visited a few wineries on Keuka Lake (right).
Between the rods of this tuning-fork-shaped lake sat a white, neoclassical mansion. The tanks and carboys fermenting out back and grape vines looming above it were the only tells of a winery.
The door claimed this was “Yates Cellars“. Firstly, you have no idea how desperately I need to add a possessive apostrophe to Yates. Also, why is it “Cellars”? There’s one garage, no cellar, let alone multiple.
Once through the entry, a bare wood interior hollowed open before us. A young lass greeted us from the other end of the cavern. Her unlit counter had a view, not out on the lake or rolling hills, but into a dark kitchen and/or wine lab.
The wines tasted equally unpolished. Yet some things were drinkable, or at least interesting (a dry, single varietal vincent? Geek-tastic!). Credit goes to any winery that’s only a decade old and growing its own grapes.
Charmed, pitying, or just curious, I bought their vignoles. It had residual sugars roughly near where I wanted my vignoles and was from the same lake. It would provide comparanda, when I finished my own.
With another Fall at hand, and half my vignoles drunk, I open Yates Cellars’ vignoles.
Now comparing wines is wrong. It’s like comparing children. Not only might it traumatize the tikes, but it reveals more about my own biases than any wine’s inherent qualities.
But Yates is special.
The chart below reveals many similarities in the orange-lined-yellow boxes. Both wines start clear but develop floating particulates by bottle’s end. Both noses are highly intense and clean of major faults: very vignoles. The medium-high acids reveal their cool climate origins. Tannins are low and the sweetness keeps the alcohol moderately low. The quality verdict for both is poor.
Where we diverge is more interesting. My wine is clearly a year younger: its color is less deep or browning, its nose remains fresh. Mine has less clinging sweetness and seems lighter. Its fizz might help that.
I’ve drunk other vignoles. King Ferry Winery‘s vignoles was also poor: 9% residual sugar with 12.2% alcohol made a jammy, musky, dull desert. Fulkerson‘s “Ravat 57” was actually good, albeit swamped with sweetness.
It seems like a draw. Yates provides little for the palate to play with beyond jagged, steely grapefruit acidity countered by too much sweetness. Yet however much my vignoles is flawed and fizzy, it is still an enjoyable tasting drink.
The proof that mine is the winning loser: Yates is the first wine in memory that I couldn’t finish.