For many years it has seemed that Finger Lakes wine was an insider secret. Incredible whites, especially Riesling, and Cabernet Franc at practically a song. But to experience them, in most cases, you have to travel to upstate New York.
The word is getting out – and that is a good thing for the wineries of our favorite region. It also makes possible pleasant surprises like a recent one in Philadelphia.
I had arranged an executive board dinner at Fork, a pioneering farm-to-table restaurant headed by Chef Eli Kulp. Upon scanning the wine list, I was tickled to find this 2013 Dry Riesling from one of our favorite producers, Ravines Wine Cellars.
Ravines is a family-owned winery nestled on a scenic hillside overlooking Seneca Lake. Not only do they knock it out of the ballpark with their Riesling, but their Cabernet Franc and Meritage are noteworthy as well. They secured a warm spot in our heart during our first visit, when we straggled in during a rain storm and then were treated to a stratospheric tasting paired with chocolate while we enjoyed a perfect view of the lake.
I opted for the Ravines Dry Riesling for our first course, a choice of kale salad (with burnt honey vinegar, pecorino and ginger crème fraiche), scallop crudo with fermented parsley, or spruce smoked yellow beets with poached oysters, horseradish and green juniper. We had three entrée selections: arctic char, NY strip steak or charred cauliflower “steak.” For those choosing the NY strip, I selected a nice French Chinon.
The Ravines was a superb introduction for my board members who hadn’t tried Finger Lakes Riesling. The grapes come from White Springs, 16 Falls and Hobbit Hollow vineyards. The wine is a very food-friendly 12.5% alcohol.
The wine is dry at 0.4% residual sugar and aging on the lees provides a gentle rounded texture. The flavors are delicate citrus, white flowers and apple. The trademark minerality and ample acidity keep it fresh and lively.
With outstanding quality like this bottle from Ravines, I won’t be surprised the next time I see Finger Lakes on the wine list at a fine restaurant in a major city. Kudos.
Rating: 4 of 5 Value: 5 of 5 (based on $17.95 SRP)