New wines unveiled at Coyote Moon Vineyards
By: Joleene D. Des Rosiers
Two brand new red wines were unveiled before dozens of curious onlookers at Coyote Moon Vineyards on Saturday. Despite the rain, Clayton residents and summer tourists made their way to the big white tent where the wine poured freely and food was plentiful. The wines just released are Marquette and Frontenac; two dry, yet surprisingly smooth red wines made with the coming-of-age cold, hearty grape. The grape, which can withstand North Country temperatures of -30 degrees, was created as a hybrid in Minnesota roughly four years ago.
Outside events coordinator Lori Randazzo pulled out cork after cork, pouring the aromatic spirits into etched Coyote Moon glasses for visitors to try. The tasting was free and the food was free. Bistro 108 of Watertown, The Lyric Coffee House of Clayton, and Tony Randazzo of the vineyard prepared the generous food spread. All of the foods were carefully selected and paired to go with the wines.
“The Marquette has a good, rich, ruby color,” Lori Randazzo explained as she poured the new red in a glass. “On the nose it’s chocolaty with a little bit of vanilla. When you drink it you taste dark fruits like black cherries, raspberries and a little bit of pepper spice to balance it out. That way it’s not too sweet, too fruity or too dry and bitter. It’s smooth all the way to the end. We paired it with sun-dried tomato on bruschetta with feta and stuffed mushroom risotto with a cherry glaze.”
As local musicians Brian Purwin and Pete LaGrow plucked away at guitar and fiddle, visitors tasting the wines for the first time agreed on the remarkable smoothness of the spirits.
“I’m not a sweet wine drinker, despite my name!” joked Jane Sweet of Oneonta. “I prefer reds. And these are nice. They don’t bite.”
“I was raised on red wine and both of these are very good. They’re easy on the palate and not harsh,” added Madeline Anuszewski of Pennsylvania.
Both wines sport labels as designed by historical landmark artist and vineyard co-proprietor, Mary Randazzo. Marquette dons an image of the Clayton Opera House while Frontenac is dressed with the historic Frontenac post office that still operates on Round Island in Alexandria Bay.
“Our Frontenac is aged in oak barrels for about seven months,” explained Lori Randazzo. “On the nose it’s fruity and spicy, which is fun. You’re get some current plum, black cherry and warm oak, so it gives you a wonderful sensation as it passes the palate and down the throat. It’s fruity with a bold, intense flavor. And it leaves a nice, smooth, velvety finish in the mouth. So it’s not hard to tolerate.”
Paired with the Frontenac wine was a tomato and buffalo mozzarella olive skewer with a pesto dressing and a warm chicken cacciatore, stuffed in filo and topped with Coyote Moon Casa Papa sauce. Covered In Chocolate brought the meal full circle with chocolate covered truffles.
Vineyard proprietor Phil Randazzo says that while different foods can compliment a glass of wine, the real magic comes during the wine making process that can sometimes yield unexpected flavors.
“Different kinds of yeast promote different kinds of taste,” he said. “The temperature that you ferment it at will give it more fruit and the kinds of oak barrels you ferment it in will add another layer of spice and taste profiles. So you almost know what it’s going to taste like. But there’s always another flavor hiding in there that gives the wine an element of surprise, too. And everyone’s taste buds are different so everyone will taste a little something different.”
In the end, visitors go home with some brand new wine and a story or two to go with it.
“One of the greatest things about being in this industry with family is that we create memories for other families with our wines,” Lori Randazzo said. “And that’s huge. They come here to the Thousand Islands and stop in to buy a bottle of wine from our vineyard. Sometimes they hear the story of how we’ve grown the grapes or the artistry on the bottles and they take those stories home with them. They’re also remembering whatever it is they’re dining on as they’re drinking that wine and that’s also going to be a memorable part of the experience for them. I love that we can do that.”
“We have some ribs slow-cooking back at camp and I think this Marquette is going to go very well with them tonight,” Sweet said, holding up her new bottle of red. “I like the red wines. And I imagine I’ll remember this bottle of wine especially after our meal is done.”
Coyote Moon Vineyards is hosting an event next month that is open to the public. The 2cnd Annual ‘Howl at the Moon’ Event is a farmers market that will feature many local vendors, with food provided by the Pickle Barrel Café of Depauville and Johnny D’s of Watertown. Admission is $3 dollars. The event is Saturday, July 23rd and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, please visit www.coyotemoonvineyards.com