I had heard that the Finger Lakes region in New York was producing some nice Riesling wines but I had never had one before today. I may have even seen them on a restaurant wine list but had never ordered one. That has pleasantly changed now. The Finger Lakes Wine Country and Finger Lakes Wine Alliance sent us five Rieslings to taste and asked us to join them tweeting about each wine for the Finger Lakes Riesling Hour, part of their Finger Lakes Riesling Launch Event. Everyone involved tasted and tweeted with the hashtags #FLXWine #RieslingHour.
Thirty different wineries participated along with seventy five journalists and wine bloggers and hundreds of consumers. Twitter became quite busy, @alawine tweeted it was at a rate of four hundred tweets per hour and we had just been going for about fifteen minutes by then.
All of the wines were from the 2010 vintage which had been the warmest growing season in forty years and was also the wettest since 1973. While that resulted in lower acidity, all of the wines had enough acid to provide a clean finish. We actually expected limp wines but they really surprised us.
One thing that surprised me was none of them had a screw cap, three had real corks and two had synthetic corks. I don’t know the aging potential of Finger Lake Riesling but I would venture most are drunk quite young. I actually prefer screw caps on my everyday white wines as they are easier to open. Just reach in the refrigerator and pull it out, unscrew the cap and pour a glass.
There were three of us tasting the wines while tweeting, myself, Nancy and our friend Dave. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wines. Of the five bottles, three were very dry ranging from .05% to .7% residual sugar (RS), one semi dry with an RS of 2.4%, and one labeled medium sweet at 2.5% RS (semi dry). We had some Gorgonzola cheese, a Goat Brie, apples, pears and Thompson Seedless grapes to pair with each wine. We also chilled the wine quite a bit more than you normally would (40 degrees F) so we could see the effects as the wine warmed up. We tasted the wines from the driest to the sweetest.
2010 Damiani Wine Cellars Dry Riesling Davis Vineyard – This is only the second vintage from the Davis vineyard. A very light colored wine it surprised us with a nose and flavor that was a little grassy with some hay and green apple, like a floral Sauvignon Blanc. As it warms up it gets some additional grapefruit pith flavor. Pairs well with Thompson Seedless grapes and pears. There is plenty of acid and a nice clean finish. If you like a real dry Riesling, this is a good one to try.
2010 Fulkerson Estate Dry Riesling – A slightly darker yellow than the Damiani, with a somewhat closed nose of petrol with a little floral hint. Good acidity, typical petrol Riesling flavor with citrus but very restrained. Goes well with pear and apple. Rounder mouthfeel than the the previous wine (the malolactic fermentation) and it improves as it warms up in your glass, the flavor opens up and becomes more complex.
2010 Keuka Lake Vineyards Estate Bottled Dry Riesling, Evergreen Lek Vineyard – Almost completely clear in your glass. The nose is typical Riesling, petrol with a little honeysuckle, very pleasant. The flavor is the same as the nose. This really makes the gorgonzola cheese pop! It does not go well with pear but goes well with the apple, makes it bright in the mouth. The grapes really round it out and it also goes well with the Brie. For those that are interested it is also Vegan.
2010 Lucas Vineyards Semi-Dry Riesling – Pears in the nose with Riesling Petrol characteristics with hint of cinnamon. A lot of fruit, not too sweet, a little petrol and honey flavor. The pear really brings out the flavor. Nice balance of sugar and acid, clean finish. Goes really nice with the gorgonzola and Brie. Best with the Brie. As it warms up you find some sweetness or honey in the nose. There is a nice pleasant long finish.
2010 Rooster Hill Estate Medium Sweet Riesling – Almost a medium yellow color. Petrol and Dave says latex in the nose, with a hint of floral. Real good acidity, almost spritzy. Slight sweet fruit, green apple and real nice spice note. This wine goes really well with the Gorgonzola and the Brie. This is the favorite wine for all three of us.
This tasting was a lot of fun. We really like the social aspect, it’s as if you are at a tasting with a hundred friends. This really opened our eyes and tasters to Finger Lake Rieslings. I’ve never been a fan of domestic Rieslings but all of the ones I have tried previously were from warmer areas in the west coast states. I think Finger Lakes has found their grape and has learned it well. I certainly recommend the next time you see a Finger Lakes Riesling on the restaurant wine list or in a wine store, try it!