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November 21, 2016

A Sense of Place: Villa Bellangelo Winery


*Wine samples and the A Sense of Place book were received for review from Bellangelo Winery.

I’ve been struggling with a bit of post Wine Bloggers Conference blues as of late. Lodi is still on my mind, but how could I forget the Finger Lakes conference in 2015? My first foray into the WBC world. It was a whirlwind of a trip (see HERE), but it was a magical time when I had just started my blog and was starting to figure out what the heck I was doing in the world of wine. I was exploring with different writing styles, figuring out how to throw social media in the mix, and navigating the wonderful world of requesting samples. The samples received from Bellangelo Winery were the first press samples I ever received! I came back from WBC15 and reached out to a few producers who caught my eye in the Finger Lakes. Bellangelo was one of them. They sent me their book A Sense of Place by Christopher Missick and 2 bottles of wine, which I will discuss below.

History of the Finger Lakes

Back in the day, in the Devonian Age to be exact (approx 400 million years ago), New York was covered in warm seawater. There was lots of marine life in those waters, and the marine life lived and died with their remains deposited on the seafloor. These remains contributed to the limestone deposits that are still there today. The sedimentary rock found in the Finger Lakes was formed by erosion from the Appalachian Mountains. Eleven long, narrow lakes make up the Finger Lakes. These lakes originated as ancient rivers and river valleys. Two million years ago we were in the Ice Age. Glaciation began, which is the advancement of massive continental glaciers. The Laurentide ice sheet both advanced southward and retreated northward carving rivers/river valleys and depositing glacial debris. Those rivers were the precursors to the Finger Lakes.


History of Grapes in the Finger Lakes

Fast forward to the early 1800s and Reverend William Warner Bostwick planted native North American vines (NOT vitis vinifera) to make sacramental wine. He distributed vine cuttings to his parishioners to do the same. There were native grape vines planted before Reverend Bostick came along, but he was determined to proliferate the vines. Dr. Konstantin Frank was the predominant champion of vitis vinifera vines in the Finger Lakes. In fact, in one decade alone he grafted more than 250,000 European vinifera vines onto American rootstock. This ensured that vinifera grapes (i.e. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling) could be grown in the Finger Lakes. Using the native rootstocks allowed for successful grape growing despite winter frost, pests (i.e. phylloxera), and disease (i.e. mildews and black rot).

About Bellangelo

Villa Bellangelo winery, overlooking Seneca Lake, was founded in 2002 by Michael Litterio and in 2011 was acquired by the Missick family. Bellangelo only works with growers who do not produce their own commercial wines and growers who allow their cellar team to work with them during growing season. All grapes must be sourced from the Seneca Lake Finger Lakes AVA.

The Wines

2014 Chardonnay $15 SRP

This wine is a clear, pale lemon color with a clean medium intensity on the nose. Aroma notes of: lemon and green apple with no MLF (as confirmed on the back of the bottle). On the palate I got flavor characteristics of lemon, green apple, stone fruit (peach). Overall this wine is balanced and has a nice length. Bright flavors (because of no MLF plus the use of stainless steel and neutral oak). A nice deviation from the whites I normally choose.

2013 Merlot $20 SRP

This wine is a clear, pale ruby color with a clean and medium (-) intensity on the nose. Flavor characteristics include: blackberries, a little tart cranberry, red cherry, black pepper, slight spice (clove?), and toast. This is not what I expected. The wine has nice fruit and an almost tobacco/leather character. A nice easy red to start the night if you don’t want to start with a white. Very balanced with nice juicy fruit.

Bellangelo wines can be purchased from their website HERE to ship to CA and NY only.

If you are located in any of these states (AK, FL, ID, LA, MN, MO, NE, NV, NH, NM, ND, OH, OR, VA, DC, WV, WY), Bellangelo wines can be shipped through VinoShipper.

The Bellangelo book A Sense of Place by Christopher Missick can be picked up on on their website HERE for $6.99.  It can also be found on Amazon.

Have you ever tried Bellangelo Wines?  If so, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer.

Brianne has educated and entertained over 10,000 people through her in-person and virtual wine tasting experiences.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping people Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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Sample Policy

As a wine writer, I frequently accept samples for review on my  website and on my social media channels. Please contact me at to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions.

All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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