Last Sunday, January 15, Ravines kicked off its "Chef and Winemaker" series with a vertical tasting of 5 vintages of Ravines Meritage.
Attendees had a chance to do a side-by-side tasting of the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages, and winemaker Morten Hallgren surprised everyone by bringing a couple of bottles of the 2006 vintage as well. According to Morten, all of the tasted vintages are "far away from peaking", although both the 2006 and 2010 are closer than the others (2006 because it's older, 2010 because it was riper and more lush).
In his opening remarks, Morten also said that these Meritage blends have amazing aging potential, and that as a relatively young wine region we don't know how many years the wines can age for. "Perhaps in another ten years we can do another tasting like this with the same wines."
Having a chance to taste these vintages together shows the significant differences between years ("vintage variation"). The Finger Lakes doesn't have the luxury of consistent weather - 2006 and 2009 were both cooler years with later harvests, 2010 was warm and sunny, 2008's weather was in-between, and 2011 was a combination of everything with a warm spring and rainy September.
The event started with a chance for attendees to try to create their own Meritage blend. Everyone was given some of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the 2015 harvest (both taken from barrel) and some of the newly-released 2015 Cabernet Franc (poured from bottles), and after tasting each component everyone started to blend different proportions of the three wines together to create something pleasing. Morten tends to use a higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in his Meritage blends (such as the new 2013 Maximilien), but some participants seemed to prefer a more Merlot-heavy blend.
Ravinous Kitchen Chef Scott Riesenberger created a slate of small bites to complement the wines. Smoked duck, fondue, and potato tart each harmonized with the Meritage and enhanced the experience - as it should be, since Ravines' wines are designed to go with food.
The full schedule for upcoming Chef and Winemaker events is available here. Seats are limited, so book yours early!