Sommelier Drew Tschäppät was given the freedom to create the wine list at Farmer’s Creekside, located in Leroy, NY, from scratch, and he took an interesting approach. Instead of filling the By the Glass menu with the usual big brand suspects, relegating the interesting, local and rare wines to the By the Bottle menu, he’s putting local, international and oddball wines in the spotlight.
How do you get away with this type of approach? Education.
Not just education for the guests on what these wines are (what’s Timorasso?), but education for the servers so that they can properly suggest a wine that will fit the guest’s palate (Oh, it tastes like a blend of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, spicy, floral, apple, with bright acidity).
It’s a win-win; the guest gets to try something new but also familiar, and the restaurant gets to share unique wines and set themselves apart from other wine bars and restaurants that still focus on the big locations: I’m talking about California, France and Spain… there are other regions out there making incredible wines and it’s about dang time that someone started pouring them.
Wine Tasting with Drew at Farmer’s Creekside
What I really love about the wine program? Drew is committed to sharing wines that both define the history of wine-making, and are truly reflective of the grape and region. He invited me out to the restaurant to taste through some of the wines that demonstrate this.
We started with two very different interpretations of Rieslings from the Finger Lakes since these are definitive of our area: 2016 Empire Estate Dry Riesling, a wine that truly exemplifies the varietal in the region with notes of nectarine, slate, mineral and lime peel that continued onto the palate with a bright acidity, and 2016 Kemmeter Sonero, an off-dry Riesling with floral notes of honeysuckle and stonefruit that is complemented by an effervescence on the palate and lingering peach notes.
Next, we moved to a 2007 Max Ferdinand Richter Mülheimer Sonnenlay Spätlese Feinherb (that means Riesling), that showed how dramatically Riesling can change when done in a different region- it had notes of petrol, honey, lead, stonefruit, and a nuttiness from the age that was offset by brighter notes of citrus and tangerine on the palate and a bright acidity that hits you in the back of the cheeks.
2015 Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli was up next- an orange wine made in the Republic of Georgia in the traditional method where it is fermented and aged in qvevri, a unique Georgian vessel like an amphora that is buried in the ground. Qvevri were one of the first vessels ever used for wine fermentation and archaeologists have found examples of them dating back to 6000 B.C.E. The wine had a nose like mulled cider- full of holiday spices, floral notes, and apricot, with a chalky tannin, mid acid, and lingering meatiness on the palate. It was delightfully odd.
Finally, we ended with 2015 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso, a wine produced in Sicily on the slopes of Mt. Etna, the world’s most active volcano. It has notes of raspberry, dried strawberry, flint, and a dusty chalkiness on the nose, with a lingering tannin and firm acidity. As Drew noted, you can taste the volcano.
What is so cool about this tasted, it that it moved through wine history, from one of the earliest regions of commercial production, Georgia, through Europe, to our own region which is just beginning in comparison. But we weren’t done… next, was dinner!
Dining at Farmer’s Creekside
Food and wine are working closely together at Farmer’s Creekside, so I decided that in order to get the full understanding of the wines, I’d have to try Chef Sean Wolf and John Steward’s menu!
We started off with an oxtail paté, a divinely rich dish that shows off the gamey and umami characteristics of the oxtail and has lingering notes of earthy fennel, paired with 2013 Bodegas Matsu ‘El Pícaro’ Tempranillo. The light bubblegum, black cherry, and plum notes, with velvet tannin and bright acidity, balanced out the richness of the paté. We also tried it with the Kemmeter Sonero, which was delightful and light when enjoyed together.
Next, we had gnocchi paired with 2013 Cascina La Ghersa ‘Sivoy’ Timorasso. The gnocchi was rich and creamy, melting in my mouth. The Timorasso had notes of apricot, honey, dried fruit and citrus, and when sipped with the gnocchi became citrusy and clean, perfect to prepare your palate for another bite.
Our main course was scallops with a black bean purée, egg white foam and caviar. Which was paired with NV Pol Roget Brut Champagne (which Drew knows is one of my guilty pleasure wines, thank you!). When sipped together, the food was light, but savory, and the wine was bright and full of fruit. Yes wine fans, you can and should drink sparkling wine with any course of the meal you like.
We ended with caramel cheesecake and a delicious sherry-like wine that was so good, I completely forgot to write the name or even a tasting note down. Which is always the sign of a good night.
Finger Lakes Wine: Yes, they have a range of Finger Lakes wine by the glass and an impressive by the bottle menu.
- Rosé and white by the glass
By the Glass Price Range: $6-11 for glass
Wine Knowledge: Yes. All the knowledge. If you’re looking to nerd out about wine, this is the place to go. If you’re looking for an amazing wine pairing experience, this is the place to go. If you want to try something new and different, and have the wine shared with you in an accessible and fun way, this is the place to go.
There is a lot more to discover about Farmer’s Creekside- it is a beautiful building, restored to look like the former tavern and inn that was built there in the 1820s, it has gorgeous rooms upstairs if you want to spend the night, and an amazing patio overlooking the nearby creek. They are also doing interesting wine dinners, showcasing both local and international wines and food.
This is a place to watch, whether you’re ready to dive deep into the wine list, or are just looking for an incredible meal. A huge thank you to Drew for inviting me out to taste through the wine list and learn what the program is all about- I look forward to returning and nerding out once again, and John Steward for sending out the best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted.