Let me begin by confessing I love Riesling! Is it just me or does Riesling seem to be smoking hot right now? According to information provided by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, the International Riesling Foundation claims “Riesling is the fastest growing white wine in the United States, and second only to Pinot Noir of any wine.” This comes as no surprise to me. Riesling is an easy wine to love; it pairs well with most foods, especially those food like Thai, Sushi, Indian where other wines struggle; it offers a wide selection of aromas, flavors, levels of sweetness or dryness, and varying degrees of acidity. It is nearly impossible to find two Rieslings alike. This summer I have had the great pleasure to enjoy high quality Riesling from Germany, France, California and Washington. When it came to my attention a few weeks ago that the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance was sponsoring a #Winechat in celebration of the Finger Lakes 2013 Vintage Riesling Launch I knew I wanted to participate.
Created in fall 1982, the Finger Lakes AVA is the largest AVA in New York. Furthermore, it is the perfect place for producing Riesling; with an ideal cool climate and soil embedded with ancient glacial sediment, the Finger Lakes AVA is home to 850 acres of Riesling and over 200 different Riesling brands. It is truly the patriarchal grape of the Finger Lakes, which is a blessing to all wine lovers! An important aspect of Riesling education is an understanding that not all Rieslings are sweet! It is an unfortunate misconception that the International Riesling Foundation is trying to correct through a system of voluntary technical guidelines by wine makers and winery owners to place a scale on the rear bottle label that indicates between Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet and Sweet where the respective wine falls. This will allow the wine consumer a better understanding of the dry to sweet level of each Riesling in order to make an educated choice.
Before I give you a brief review of all eight Finger Lakes Riesling that were graciously provided to me by the Finger Lake Wine Alliance, I want to remind you about #Winechat. #Winechat is a weekly wine education class hosted by Protocol Wine Studio that takes place each Wednesday evening at 8pm CST that features wineries, distributors, sommeliers and wine writers in conversation with each other as well as followers that range from sommeliers to novices and all in between. All are welcome and encouraged to join the conversation by following #Winechat on Twitter.
Red Newt Cellars 2013 Dry Riesling: Opaque light gold in the glass, aromas of citrus and honeysuckle, flavors of ripe Meyer lemons and grapefruit blended with peaches and balanced minerality of wet rocks; creamy texture, crisp acidity, medium body with medium finish; a smooth and lovely wine that expresses Finger Lakes terrior quite well. 11.8% alcohol. SRP $15.
Fox Run Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling: Similar color to the Red Newt but with tighter viscosity; zesty aromas of bright stone fruit and citrus; flavors of peaches and honey crisp apples with a touch of crushed stone wrapped in a creamy texture with mouthwatering acidity. Another lovely Finger Lakes Riesling! 11.2% alcohol. SRP $18.
Boundary Breaks Vineyard 2013 Dry Riesling #239: light golden wine with aromas of yeast, minerals and citrus; met the palate with flavors of lemon curd, lime zest, crushed stone and a hint of tar on the back of the tongue; the creamy texture has a slight effervescence and is paired with tight acidity and long, elegant finish. This wine was quite different than the previous two; demonstrating the diversity in Riesling as well as the Finger Lakes AVA. A Nice wine that takes a little patience while it opens to reveal itself. 11.6% alcohol. SRP $20.
Knapp Winery 2013 Dry Riesling: crisp golden wine with an elegant floral aroma combined with stone fruit and fresh cut herbs; flavors of white peaches, apricots, citrus, fresh herbs and minerals blend together with balanced acidity and a medium finish to create another crisp, fresh Riesling. 12% alcohol. SRP $16.
Thirsty Owl 2013 Riesling: glistening golden wine met the nose with ripe stone fruit and citrus; on the palate this creamy semi-sweet wine tasted like peach cobbler with lemon zest, followed by mild flavors of fresh cut herbs and a touch of wet rock; well-rounded acidity to balance out the touch of creamy sweetness and a long finish. My one word to describe this wine: YUM! 11% alcohol. SRP $15.
Swedish Hill 2013 Semi-dry Riesling: beautiful golden in the glass; aromas of citrus, melon and honeysuckle great the nose; on the palate delicious flavors of pineapple, honeydew melon, crisp Asian pears and a touch of herbs and wet stones; well-balanced acidity to the crisp sweetness with a lingering finish. Very nice Riesling. 11.5% alcohol. SRP $16.
Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2013 Semi Dry Riesling: this delicate golden wine met the nose with an amazing floral bouquet of violets, roses and gardenias wrapped around bright citrus; on the palate great flavors of ripe melons, pineapple, lemon custard and lime zest; slightly sweet yet well balanced with bright acidity give this wine perfect Riesling character. This was a very nice Riesling that was hard to stop sippin! 11.5% alcohol. SRP $15.
McGregor Vineyard 2013 Riesling: pale yellow with golden highlights met the nose with stone fruit, melons and minerality; flavors of ripe peaches, crisp Bartlett pears and honey crisp apples, with ripe Korean melons balanced with minerality; great wide acidity and a touch of effervescence evens out the sweetness; contained 10.5% alcohol. This was a lovely wine!
Did I have a few favorites? I did; however, each and every one of these wines were very characteristically Finger Lakes Riesling that beautifully exemplify the climate and terrior of the region. Each one was delicious and each one is a very sound purchase!
Friday Night follow up: Since I had eight delicious bottles of Riesling with very little gone after Wednesday night’s #Winechat we invited some friends over, ordered Thai and each sampled various Finger Lakes Riesling throughout the evening. Although each wine was unique and offered its own flavor profile, they all paired well with the Thai cuisine. Though we each had our favorites all were well received.
One final note, in Dallas Rieslings are easy to find. We have a solid selection of Rieslings from Germany and France as well as California and Washington; however, the Dallas market is greatly lacking in Finger Lakes Rieslings. So I encourage you this September (and me) to go to your local retailers and request Finger Lakes Rieslings. These are high quality wines representing a great US wine producing region and I feel they should be sold throughout the US!
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with these eight Finger Lakes Rieslings is Enter Sandman by Metallica. This song selection goes back to my article Spending the Summer of Riesling in Alsace where I shared an article written by The Drinks Business and brought to my attention by Tina Morey of Protocol Wine Studio. The article was based on a survey completed by D & D Wine. It determined Riesling is the wine most enjoyed by rock lovers. In my opinion you cannot get much more “rock” than Metallica. Though they are loud, they are quite talented musicians and I had the pleasure of seeing them perform live at a rock festival in Dallas in the early 90’s. Their performance was very impressive; full of energy and commitment. So in keeping with the enjoyment of rockers everywhere this is my song pairing for these lovely Finger Lakes Rieslings.
Get your own bottle of any one of these delicious Finger Lakes Rieslings and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!