New York State (10) Bloomer Creek, Finger Lakes

Debra Bermingham

Kim Engle and Debra Bermingham are the people behind Bloomer Creek, which on this showing is producing some of the most compelling wines in the Finger Lakes. We visited with Debra, who as well as being a professional artist, was also once close to choosing mountaineering as a career.

The Bloomer Creek journey began 40 years ago when they planted wine grapes on their property. ‘On a lark with a friend, Kim started working on the west side of Keuka lake, and fell in love with winegrowing,’ recalls Debra. ‘He found his passion. He spent some time in the Tyrol with a friend and lived the life of wine culture.’

They both studied at Cornell University: Debra graduated and then taught painting at Cornell, while Kim studied small fruits.

They now have 10 acres on the west side of Cayuga lake, with the soils a silt loam with some lime. There they have blocks of vinifera including a nursery row of Chenin. The remaining vineyards are near the winery, on a steep shale slope on the east side of Seneca lake. There are 12 acres, with 8 planted – mostly Riesling, some Cabernet Franc and some Merlot. Production is around 12 000 cases, and the wines are made naturally, with just minimal sulfites at bottling. First vintage was 1999.

The remarkable Gewurztraminer Pet Nat

Debra’s mountain climbing experience has helped with winegrowing. ‘You never look up at the summit,’ she says. ‘With winegrowing it is the same all year long in the vineyard. You keep going.’

And her career as an artist influences an enormous part of our approach to wine – wine as art with a point of view. ‘We had a clear goal even though it was an epic journey to get here,’ she says. ‘As we honed our vision we realised that instead of expanding we wanted to make this an artistic expression. Our approach is not as chemists but as chefs.’

The grapes are grown organically, and the fermentations are all indigenous. ‘Rather than have a consistent bottle of wine every year we embrace vintage variation, but in the Finger Lakes it is wildly different each year. This is the art of wine.’

Bloomer Creek Dry Rielsing Morehouse Road 2014 Finger Lakes, New York
They do multiple pickings each year. This would be the Kabinett. First pass, vineyard on west side of Cayuga lake. After a winter freeze they didn’t prune and just let the vine make what it did, and then hand picked the grapes. So complex, mineral and expressive with lovely texture to the appley, lemony fruit. Some oxidative characters here, but they are beautifully integrated. Amazing concentration and precision with a lovely mouthfeel. Profound. 94/100

Bloomer Creek Dry Riesling Auten Vineyard Second Harvest 2015 Finger Lakes, New York
This is fleshy with nice depth and notes of apples, pears and lemons. This has complexity and tension. It has some breadth and a twist of baked apple sweetness, but also a long, lemony, mineral finish. Complex stuff. 93/100

Bloomer Creek Block 97 Chardonnay 2013 Finger Lakes, New York
12.3% alcohol. Fermented in stainless steel and old French oak (buy them at 4 years old). Tangy, bright, vital and mineral. There’s a slight appley, honeyed richness, but there’s also a vital, electric, mineral character here with good acidity. Notes of nuts and spice. Finishes bright and spicy with good acidity. 92/100

Bloomer Creek Pinot Noir 2013 Finger Lakes, New York
Highly aromatic and oxidative with spice, minerals, herbs and some sour cherry. Juicy, tart and bright with a vital, spicy, zingy cherry and berry character. It’s very savoury amd slightly oxidative with some grip. Such a distinctive wine. 92/100

Bloomer Creek Cabernet Franc 2010 Finger Lakes, New York
This is thrilling. There’s a chalky, gravelly mineral edge to the sweet red cherry and berry fruits. It’s elegant and slightly spicy. Elegant and refined with lovely texture and depth. There’s some nice graininess. Supple and pure with some lovely development. Nice structure. 94/100

Bloomer Creek White Horse 2008 Finger Lakes, New York
70% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot. Supple, bright and understated with a spicy, grainy edge to the restrained cherry and berry fruit. The palate is dry and grippy with a hint of earthiness, but overall this is elegant and taut. Refined. 93/100

Bloomer Creek Dry Riesling Barrow Vineyard Reserve 2015 Finger Lakes, New York
Cloudy and textural with notes of apple and lemons, with lovely distinctive, fresh structured citrus fruits with some green tea notes. Delicate, beguiling and with amazing finesse. Such purity and so many dimensions. Long. Slightly spicy finish. 95/100

Bloomer Creek Riesling Second Harvest Auten Vineyard 2015 Finger Lakes, New York
Nutty and honeyed on the nose with rich, sweet peach, apricot, pear and lemon notes. It’s sweet (c 20 g/l rs) but balanced beautifully by the acidity. Lovely appley richness on the finish. Finely spiced. So lovely. 93/100

Bloomer Creek Dry Gewurztraminer 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
2 days skin contact before fermentation. Slightly cloudy. This is profound, with fine spices and minerals. So bright and detailed with lemons, lychees, ripe pears and spice. Multidimensional and complex. So profound. 94/100

Bloomer Creek Gewurztraminer Pet Nat 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
Cloudy vivid orange colour. No added sulfites, not disgorged. Complex, tangy, structured and pretty with grippy underpinnings to the sweet tangerine and lychee fruit. Dry, spicy and expressive with lovely flavour. 93/100

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NEW YORK STATE WINE

FINGER LAKES

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