I’m in Lake Placid for work and managed to sneak away from my hotel for a few minutes to check out the Goose Watch Winery tasting room, which happens to be directly across the street (yay!). The Finger Lakes region of New York is home to more than 200 wineries, including Goose Watch and its sister winery, Swedish Hill.
For $5, I got a sample of six wines of my choice, and I get to keep the glass. If I were to, perhaps, wander on over to Swedish Hill Winery with my glass, I’ll get a $2 tasting there. Not a bad deal!
Goose Watch claims to develop “some of the most intriguing varietals and blends, as well as sparkling wines, port, sherry, and ice wine.” (oooh, ice wine! I’ll get to that in a minute) It has been open since 1997, so still fairly young but using its youth to experiment with grapes and blends that other wineries in the region aren’t doing. The winery works with Cornell University’s viticulture program, which developed a number of Goose Watch’s wines. I love an industry that engages the education system!
I started my tasting with a pinot noir brut rose’, which was a bright cotton candy pink color with a dry grapefruit and cherry flavor. A fun introduction to the winery’s “intriguing varietals.”
The cool climate of the Finger Lakes produces great rieslings and gewurstraminers, and Goose Watch has a blend of the two that is a delightful surprise. It’s dry yet refreshing, floral with a touch of spice.
My favorite of the day was a 2010 chambourcin, a fairly new (1963) hybrid grape that I had never heard of. That may be because it’s mainly an East Coast grape, also grown in the lower Midwest, Australia, France and Portugal. (I had to ask how it’s pronounced, and it’s something along the lines of sham-bor-san.)
The Goose Watch Chambourcin is like a glass of pinot noir roasted over a campfire. The wine is not particularly heavy in feel, but is huge on smoky taste. I like smoky wines, but be warned that this one is really smoky! I think I’ll have to pair it with a really well-marbled steak that is not overly seasoned. A steak with too much flavor would compete with the wine, but the smokiness of the wine would set off a mild yet rich cut of beef perfectly. It would also go well with a dark chocolate dessert.
Finally, I had to spring for the $3 tasting of ice wine. I’ve heard of ice wine but have never tried it. Ice wine is made from grapes that are left on the vine after a freeze. The grapes freeze and shrink up, losing a lot of their water. When they’re pressed, there’s not much juice, but what is squeezed out is extremely sweet and syrupy. To me, it tastes like strawberry syrup. I would pour it over vanilla ice cream or dunk a piece of cake in it. Way too sweet for my taste, but a fun experience anyway.
The Goose Watch tasting room is on the southern end of Lake Placid, right next to Mirror Lake and near the Olympic Center. There’s a fun selection of gifts, wine paraphernalia, and food items like jams and jellies. Now I may just have to take my souvenir glass over to Swedish Hill for a $2 tasting there!