(Chenango Forks, NY)
Our very last visit before leaving for South Korea and presumably the last brewery/winery we’ll be reviewing in the US for quite a while was actually one of my very first wineries- pre blog days! I loved them then and even though my palate has matured I still think this tiny, award winning winery doesn’t get enough credit. Black Bear produces award winning wines using locally sourced fruit and NO grapes. Pairing their wines with some delicious cheese plates, a wonderful, friendly staff and a great atmosphere with the occasional live band makes them a must see side trip in your travels.
My first “must taste” was Blueberry Melomel. I LOVE blueberries and they had very recently been in season when we were there. Not sure why I didn’t love this one, but it was a bit off. Melomel was surprisingly dry, and perhaps even more surprisingly, not very fruity.
As a child, elderberries among other assorted fruits and berries grew naturally on my family’s small farm. There are few things that fill me with nostalgia like scraping my knees, scratching my arms, and tearing my clothes to earn nature’s sweet, ripe, rewards. Elderberries can’t be successfully cultivated, so impressively enough; this wine is au naturale and though Mama’s Elderberry wasn’t quite as good as I remember it being on my last visit, it’s difficult to mess up that sweet, dry, and ever-so-slightly tart taste of the elder.
Of all of the berries I love in their own form blackberries are probably my least favorite. Interestingly enough, I think they lend themselves perfectly to wine. Black Bear’s BlackBerry wine has captured an interesting, dry red grape quality.
Similar to the elderberries above- I would be “asked” to take a bowl outside to fill with raspberries for pie and or jam. After about about a hour I would come back with a red face, aching stomach, and half a bowl of raspberries. This raspberry wine is pure delight: A jam-like sugariness with noticeable yet subtle boozy qualities make for an amazing fruit wine.
Traditionally you’re supposed to aerate a wine to bring it fully to all of your senses. Don’t aerate Black and Blue. Seriously! It stinks, I don’t know why it’s so smelly, but it’s quite smelly- stinky, but delicious. Take this fine blend of black currant and blueberries, hold your nose, and let it wash over your taste buds.
Black mead was ok and after a few previous trials I’m beginning to think I just don’t like mead. Admittedly, though this may be the best I’ve had, I still didn’t like it.
Though I think they don’t get enough credit and are unjustly scoffed at by wine snobs I also think that when comparing them to some of the world class wines I’ve had in my travels I would be remiss to allow my nostalgia and my sweet tooth to cloud my judgement. When compared to some of the best riesling or chardonnay in the US (or world) they may not be in league, but when compared to other fruit wines they are quite literally second to none. All in all I give Black Bear Winery an 8.3 out of 10.