Niagara Landing, on the lower north side of the Niagara escarpment, is an old winery looking to make a place in the modern world. Where grapes now grow was a landing strip for the family scion’s airplane not too many years ago. Its location near the site of the NiagaraCool picnic, just down the road from Warm Lake, made it a convenient stop for us on our way to the picnic last Sunday.
Our mission was to pick up some Dry Steuben, released just within the past month. Niagara Landing is one of the few New York wineries to make Steuben, but in previous years it was sweet. A new winemaker now at the helm decided to change that and make it dry, so were excited to see what it would be like.
Steuben is a Labrusca cross of Wayne x Sheridan, a product of the Geneva Experiment Station 60 years ago. It can come in any color from dark red to white. This one is red. At its best Steuben can be spicy and fresh, something like Catawba but without the strong acidity. Some call it a picnic wine, which made it seem even more appropriate for Sunday,
Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. Rather than being fresh it was dull. The varietal character barely squeaked through an overall nondescript taste. Although I might have recognized it as a Steueben in a blind tasting, it’s not a Steuben I would want more of.
That’s really too bad. Although I’m a big enough fan of Steuben to give Niagara Landing another chance next year, a lot of folks probably won’t. As for geeks, I’ve learned that most won’t try a Labrusca even once. Twice would be out of the question if the first experience were negative. So please guys, DONT try this one!