New York Wines (17) Boundary Breaks, Finger Lakes

Bruce Murray, Boundary Breaks

Bruce Murray comes from central New York. A few years ago he enjoyed one of Germany’s leading Rieslings (a Spatlese from Nahe genius Helmut Dononnhof Riesling Spatlese with a Thai meal at the Lotus of Siam in Los Vegas. ‘This was a pairing and experience I never forgot,’ he says. He came back to New York and looked for a place to establish a Riesling-focused vineyard.

He found it in the Finger Lakes: ‘I lucked into an ideal spot,’ he says. It was a field with no vines, close to the water on the east side of Seneca Lake. ‘In terms of vineyard establishment it is hard to get a better spot,’ Bruce says. His objective was to make enough wine for this to be a sustainable business, which he reckons is at the 20-25 000 case levels. ‘Around here you can scrape by at 5000 cases, selling through the tasting room. The zone in the middle is a no mans’ zone when it comes to economics. To be able to have a sustainable business at $20 a bottle, you need to make a lot of it.’

He adds, ‘Weimer, Frank and Ravines have done this, but it is kind of an exception. The history is most people were thrown into the business without thinking it out.’

Bruce had some good advice. These were heavy soils so he began by installing drainage in every row, which keeps the vineyard dry and allows him to hang fruit for longer. ‘The drainage tile is the most valuable investment we made,’ he says. The cost was $8000 an acre. He planted 8 acres in 2009, 6 acres in 2010 and a further 6 acres in 2013. He’s also added small amounts of red. The reorganized Scott Henry trellising yields 4-5 tons/acre at 22/23 Brix.

Winemaking is contract, and he has worked with seven different winemakers so far, including Kelby Russell, who currently makes about 20% of the wines. The first goal was to get distribution, and only then was the Boundary Breaks tasting room opened. It now accounts for around 40% of revenue.

‘I aspire not to go broke but not to work myself to death,’ says Bruce.

Boundary Breaks Dry Riesling 239 2015 Finger Lakes, New York
Made by Kelby Russell. Rich and quite textured with sweet pear, peach and orange peel flavours. There’s nice texture here with a generous mouthfeel and a hint of sweetness. Full bodied. 89/100

Boundary Breaks Dry Riesling 239 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
Juicy and lively with lovely bright citrus fruit, as well as some melon and pear richness. Lively and juicy with good acidity. This has pure, sweet fruit with nice intensity and depth. Finishes limey and zippy. 91/100

Boundary Breaks Dry Riesling 239 2017 Finger Lakes, New York
Zesty and juicy with a bright lemony edge. Zippy with good concentraton and depth of flavour. Very fine and expressive with nice intensity and a mineral edge. There’s a hint of sweetness, but overall this is dry. Nicely weighted. 90/100

Boundary Breaks Dry Riesling 198 2014 Finger Lakes, New York
Made by Kelby Russell. Very bright and lemony with sweet apple and melon notes. Very rich and sweet with real intensity and high acidity. 88/100

Boundary Breaks Dry Riesling 198 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
Powerful, sweet and limey with melony richness and keen acidity. Juicy, vivid and intense with a long finish. Quite sweet. 91/100

Dr Riesling 198 2017 Finger Lakes, New York
Very fresh, pure and vivid with lovely lemony intensity. Bright and zippy with keen acidity too. Has great focus and intensity. Sweet but with great tension and freshness. 93/100

Boundary Breaks Riesling 110 Grand 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
Made at Sheldrake Point by Dave Breedon. 14.5% alcohol. Picked at 26 brix, with 10 g/l rs, Auslese Trocken style. Rich and intense with powerful herb-tinged citrus fruit, together with some pear and cabbage hints. Has some warmth on the palate, finishing a little salty. 88/100

Boundary Breaks Gewurztraminer 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
Made at Sheldrake Point. Richly textured with some lychee and pear fruit. Rich and smooth with nice rich grapey fruit. Some smoky hints too. 88/100

Boundary Breaks Gewurztraminer 2017 Finger Lakes, New York
Bright and linear with a freshness under the grape and lychee characters. There’s some varietal character and also nice brightness. Well balanced. Juicy finish. 89/100

Boundary Breaks Harmonic Red 2015 Finger Lakes, New York
Made at Sheldrake Point. Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Sweet, plush, berryish and a bit spicy. Nice smooth, pure fruit here. Quite a rich style with little oak influence. Grainy and chalky with good structure. Attractive stuff. 89/100

Boundary Breaks Harmonic Red 2016 Finger Lakes, New York
Ripe yet fresh with juicy raspberry and blackberry fruit. Supple and gravelly with nice grainy structure. Good concentration and density with nice weight. Polished and sophisticated with nice density. 90/100

Boundary Breaks Riesling Ice Wine 2018 Finger Lakes, New York
This is bright, lemony, pure and complex, with some passionfruit, honey and spice notes. There’s a brightness and balance with incredible tension between the sugar and the acidity. 93/100

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NEW YORK STATE WINE

FINGER LAKES

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