Neither rain, nor sleet…or even a hip replacement…can stay the appointed annual barrel tastings with winemaker Eric Fry at The Lenz Winery.
Such was the case at the beginning of March when Eric—fresh off surgery—started his annual run of tastings and explorations into grapes, wines, and the winemaking experience. And true to form, Eric kept it all light, informative, and, most of all, fun!
An Eric Fry barrel tasting is unlike others. The winemaker starts out with two rules: spit it all out (“We’re trying a lot of wines, and we don’t want to carry you out to your car.”) and let the taster describe the nose and the taste because anything said up front (i.e., it has hints of cherry blossoms or lemon grass…) will cloud the participant’s own senses in a case of pure suggestions (i.e., if you hear “black cherry” before trying it, that is what you will observe).
The rest is a journey through the process, starting with the babies…grapes just entering the process, with unfiltered juices just beginning their journeys toward becoming a complete, rounded wine, and ending on a sample of a finished vintage from the bottle to close the circle. Along the way we sampled early versions of Pinot Gris, a variety of Chardonnays, Merlot, Malbec (a grape Eric feels can do very well in the region), and Cabernet Sauvignon. Characteristics in nose and taste were put forth and discussed along with a bit of insight into the grapes and how / why they are handled, blended and crafted.
And Eric, although a bit handicapped by the hip recovery (and very well assisted by Jerol Bailey, the tasting room manager at Lenz), held court among the barrels and answered all questions on topics from acreage in the vineyards to what goes into blends and when a grape should be stand-alone or in a blend (and he does try to make what he calls one “silly” wine per year for a fun blend), to using local grapes, and even whether Lenz buys/sells fruit (NOTE: he does not purchase other fruit from other sources).
Eric will be conducting additional barrel tastings in March…check with the winery for the schedule. And do go…it’s an experience you will enjoy and want to repeat year after year!