Far above Cayuga wine

Lucas Vineyards Cayuga White 2008

lucasCW

Appellation: Finger Lakes
Grape: Cayuga White
ABV: 11%
RS: 2.4% (wow, it’s been a while since I reviewed a non-dry wine, eh?)
Price Point: $9
Closure: Extruded synthetic (boo! If you’re going synthetic, then I much prefer molded to extruded, aesthetically speaking)

Technical Notes: Machine-harvested, crushed and destemmed. 19 {Brix} and {chaptalized} to 20, and fermented dry. Total acidity 10.1 g/L, pH 3.0. Filtered and cold-stabilized. Back-sweetened before bottling. (Thanks to winemaker Jeff Houck for the info. Follow him on twitter @LucasWineTalk)

Hedonic Notes: A tutti-frutti nose comes up, with grapefruit, apple, and canteloupe. On the palate, electric acidity is balanced by considerable residual sugar (aside: I always write tasting notes before I receive the technical info), with a loooong finish of mashed banana and a slight metallic note that may just be the tingling of the acidity on my tounge. Like licking the lid of a jar of baby food, or maybe a battery. A hint, just a hint, of labrusca creeps in on the finish, but it’s certainly not a dominant characteristic.

Rating: corkcorkcorknocorknocork 3 out of 5 corks for a pretty good easy drinker.

Science! Grape Profile: Cayuga White

Listen up. Cayuga White is THE MOST IMPORTANT HYBRID in the Finger Lakes.
Cayuga White was released by Cornell in 1972 and has been the most successful hybrid wine grape Cornell has released (The others are Noiret, Corot Noir, Valvin Muscat, Melody, Horizon, Chardonel, GR7 (Geneva Red 7), and Traminette, along with a host of table grapes.) It is a cross between Seyval blanc (a French-American hybrid) and Schuyler (Zinfandel x Ontario). Many wineries sell it as a varietal wine, and it performs pretty well around here. It ripens reliably and provides interesting, fruity aromas with very little labrusca foxy aroma. You’ll find it all over the Finger Lakes, on its own and blended with other aromatic whites like Riesling, and in dry or semi-dry styles. Sometimes “cotton candy” is used as an aroma descriptor. Anecdotally, Cayuga White’s labrusca overtones increase with increasing ripeness. Perhaps the enzyme that synthesizes the foxy aroma compound methyl anthranilate increases with ripening time. That enzyme only been recently discovered, and looking at the expression vs. time data (Wang and DeLuca, “The biosynthesis and regulation of biosynthesis of Concord grape fruit esters, including ‘foxy’ methylanthranilate”, The Plant Journal, 2005, linked above), it seems that expression of this enzyme increases with ripening as well, so that makes sense.

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Published in: on 29 October 2009 at 6:54 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why is it the most important hybrid in the Finger Lakes?

    That’s a bold statement in a land of many hybrids. Are you saying it’s important because its a workhorse for many varietal wines and blends — or because of the rumors that it tops off so many middle-of-the-road rieslings?

  2. I don’t know acreage but this is one hybrid that wineries are proud of. You’ll find it in all kinds of blends and tasting room staff are proud to let you know that it’s a Cornell grape. I would also argue that it makes the most widely acceptable varietal wines.

  3. I guess it depends on how you define widely acceptable — and certainly needs the “table wine” caveat. Vidal ice wines have pretty well broken through the barrier between hybrids and vinifera.

    Traminette, though not my favorite, seems pretty widely made too, but I agree, probably not as popular as Cayuga.


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