Highlights: Red Tail Ridge ‘Frost Smoke’ Blau Franc Blend 2021 Finger Lakes

I’m in Syracuse at a wine conference (Bev NY 2023) and I had a free night, so I went into town to find something to drink – and preferably local. I ended up at The Communion Wine & Spirits where they have a lovely selection of wines. Not lots: more a curated selection of bottles from $18-40, including plenty of low intervention options. I asked for advice and settled on this Blaufränkisch/Cabernet Franc blend from a producer new to me.

Red Tail Ridge is owned by wife and husband combo Nancy Irelan and Michael Schnelle. He looks after the vines while she makes the wine. Nancy worked at UC Davis under Carole Meredith and has a PhD in plant genetics. She then worked for Gallo for 12 years. In 2004 they bought a 34 acre property on the north shore of Seneca lake and have planted 20 acres of vines. She left Gallo in 2005 to focus on Red Tail Ridge, and this is an impressive wine (retail $25).

Red Tail Ridge ‘Frost Smoke’ Blau Franc Blend 2021 Finger Lakes, New York State
11.2% alcohol. This is from young vines, and is a 50/50 blend of Blaufränkisch and Cabernet Franc, fermented and aged on light lees in stainless steel. It has the characteristic lightness of 2021, and this is no bad thing. A light cherry red in colour, it has sweet, slightly peppery cranberry and red cherry fruit on the nose. On the palate, this is crunchy and juicy with a lovely brightness and purity to the fruit, and a lovely stony, mineral edge. This is a lighter-style red for sure, but I really like the focus and precision, and the immense drinkability. 92/100