Nestled in a small village just outside of Hammondsport, it the Pleasant Valley Inn, a historic, Victorian era inn that has been converted into a foodie haven. They offer fine dining in their restaurant, casual dining in the pub, and there are four guest rooms available if you’re looking to make your stay a little longer.
In addition to all of this, throughout the year they host winemaker dinners that showcase Finger Lakes wine. We were lucky enough to attend their dinner featuring not one, but two local winemakers who are making a name for themselves in the region: Kris Matthewson of Bellweather Wine Cellars, and Nathan Kendall of Nathan K. Finger Lakes Wine.
Bellweather Wine Cellars opened in 2013, and is known for their single vineyard Riesling and Pinot Noir. It is also associated with Bellweather Hard Cider, which opened in 1999. The winery is located on Cayuga Lake, and is focused on small production of detail-oriented, dry style wines.
Nathan K. (or N. Kendall) Finger Lakes Wine was opened in 2011, and is known for focusing on the cool climate attributes of wine- meaning drier, more austere style. Similar to Bellweather, Kendall is focused on small production and details of the process, producing primarily Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. If you’re looking to taste his wine, head over to Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake.
As we arrived, we met Kris, Nathan, and Blaine, our Pleasant Valley Inn host, collected a glass of Bellweather 2013 Blanc de Blanc, and headed outside to await the other guests. It was a classic Finger Lakes Champagne-style sparkling, with nice fruit forward notes of apple and pear, and a crusty bread note that carried onto the palate. A delicious start to our evening. After enjoying the weather and meeting the winemakers, we headed inside to a grand table and began our meal.
Our first pairing was with the 2012 Bellweather A&D Dry Riesling, which had notes of mineral, lime, and citrus, that became lemony on the palate. It had a silky mouthfeel, and a high cleansing acidity, with lingering notes of lime peel. The A&D notes the vineyard on Keuka Lake where the grapes come from.
It was paired with Seafood Terrine, made with smoked halibut, salmon, leek and celery, with a salsa bianca. When the wine was sipped with the food, the acidity was leveled out and the wine changed to notes of tangerine and nectarine. The bright notes of the salsa bianca became even brighter and refreshing with the wine.
With this course we got our first taste of Kendall’s wine, the 2016 N. Kendall Dry Riesling made from grapes grown on Seneca Lake, which had notes of stonefruit, peach, and mineral. When sipped it was a little more citrusy, with a silky mouthfeel, and clean high acid. It also had a low alcohol, making it refreshing and light.
We had this wine with Pâté on Croûte a ground pork, duck liver, pistachio, and pickled shallot pâté, with cucumelons on the side. Cucumelons as we learned are like little sour pickles, and they are awesome. The wine became more citrusy with the food, calming the acidity, and the brightness of it helped to cleanse the palate after each indulgent mouthfull of the pâté.
Next we had Bellweather’s 2015 Dry Riesling, made also from the A&D vineyard, which smelled of green apple, tangerine, and floral notes. The palate was more tangerine with a very high acidity.
This course was Pork Larb, a dish of ground pork, fresno chiles, tamarind and fish sauce, tulsi, mint and pickled mango, all wrapped in a lettuce leaf. We were shocked at how well these paired together- the sour green apple notes of the wine broke through the spiciness of the dish, and left you with a clean mouthfeel.
I’ll begin by saying that this was by far my favorite of the courses, for both wine and food. The wine was N. Kendall’s 2015 Chardonnay, which had notes of smoky caramel, apple, coconut, and vanilla. The palate was silky with a nice medium acid, and lingering notes of coconut and citrus.
The dish for this round was Squid Ink & Lobster Ravioli with lobster filling, and crispy chorizo and shellfish emulsion on top. When enjoyed together, the coconut and vanilla flavors of the wine were intensified. It was so over the top indulgent, but the citrus of the wine kept you from feeling weighed down.
For this course, we got both N. Kendall’s 2015 Pinot Noir, and Bellweather’s 2014 Sawmill Creek Pinot Noir, both featuring grapes from Seneca Lake. N Kendall’s was lean and bright, with notes of cherry, leather and light smoke with a nice acidity and silky tannin. Bellweather’s was a little more sour cherry with leather and an umani richness to it, that had light tanning and grapefruit notes on the palate.
These were paired with a Duet of Pork: braised pork belly and a pork tenderloin with whipped carrots and braised swiss chard. With the food, the cherry notes in Kendall’s wine increased, adding a nice fruitiness to the dish, and with the Bellweather, the acidity and brightness came out, cleansing one’s palate from the rich foods. It was fun to try two different styles at the same time and see how they changed the meal in different ways.
We ended with N. Kendall’s 2013 Sweet Riesling, which had notes of lime curd, nectarine, and mineral. On the palate it was oily and sweet, but balanced by a bright acidity and lime notes.
This was paired with dessert, a Peach and Almond Tarte Tatin with fresh whipped cream. The acidity of the wine complemented the sweetness of the dish, and it made for a delightful finish to a fantastic meal.
Final Tasting Notes
This was an amazing meal, and a great deal for the price. Some wine dinners give you small samples of wine and little portions- not here! You leave feeling full and completely satisfied. Everything about this meal was perfectly timed, the service was immaculate, and the table was amazingly decorated. Each winemaker introduced their wine at every course, sharing the background and what went in to making it, and the chef chatted about the local ingredients and cooking process. It was phenomenal. If you get the chance, a highly suggest going to one of these.