Friday, September 23, 2011

Finger Lakes Riesling Hour Tasting: 2010 Vintage Has Favorites for Everyone

The Finger Lakes is considered by many to be North America’s premier cool climate wine growing region, featuring more than 100 wineries and 9,000 acres of vineyards. The region is home to more than 200 Riesling brands and this versatile grape was front and center during last night’s Riesling Hour tasting.
TWAV joined hundreds of other tasters in sampling the 2010 Finger Lakes 2010 Riesling vintage last night.
Our lineup included:
  • Casa Larga Dry Riesling (0.4% Residual Sugar)
  • Swedish Hill Winery Dry Riesling (0.5% RS)
  • Lakewood Vineyards Dry Riesling (0.98%)
  • Keuka Spring Vineyards Riesling (1.25% RS)
  • McGregor Vineyard Semi-Dry Riesling (1.5% RS)
  • Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars Semi-Dry Riesling (2.7% RS)
Josh arrived early and he and I got a head start on the Casa Larga. The nose was outstanding with cool minerality and floral aromas. On the tongue it was flinty with high acidity and Granny Smith apples. I remarked that if I drank only one wine this evening and it was Casa Large, I’d be very happy. A nice way to begin.
This was my first taste of Swedish Hill, a winery that I have somehow missed on our previous trips to the Finger Lakes. It is one of the largest wineries in the region and produces 60,000 cases annually. This opens with a light nose and has pear notes on the palate. It wraps up with a short, dry finish. This was my favorite of the dry Rieslings.
We jumped next to Keuka Spring Vineyards. This winery is a new favorite of ours based on a great time at their tasting room during our last Finger Lakes visit. This wine moves (slightly) up the sweetness scale. Swirling releases the trademark Riesling aroma with mineral, green apple and pear. Josh commented that this was more toward the German (and Michigan) style of Riesling. This wine opened up beautifully and the chill wore off. Ace of Bass raved about this wine, especially its ability to pair with all sorts of food from grilled chicken to Caesar salad.
McGregor’s Semi-Dry Riesling took the stage next. Jazz man waxed poetic with this wine, declaring it as “light as the lilt of a Scottish brogue.” It is similar in sweetness to Keuka, but has a bright quality and a touch more acidity, which gave it a nice airiness. We dubbed McGregor as McAwesome!
We circled back for a Dry Riesling and uncorked the Lakewood.  Jazz Man and Wine Chick gushed about this wine. Lakewood is one of the best and most consistent Finger Lakes wineries. This wine had the fruit dialed back in favor of a steely minerality. Citrus flavors circulate amid a dry and flavorful finish.
Dr. Frank was batting clean-up for us, with its Semi-Dry Riesling. This drew raves from the entire tasting team – including Green Dragon. It is the quintessential Finger Lakes Riesling (try spelling that without spellcheck after your sixth wine!). We decided  that this wine really defines Riesling. Although higher in residual sugar than the other five wines, the acidity is dialed in so well it doesn’t taste overly sweet. This has citrus flavor notes dancing with apple and peach. It’s an elegant, complex wine.
Finger Lakes 2010 Riesling is a strong vintage. Of the six wines we sampled it’s easy to see how any one of them could become an instant favorite depending on an individual’s palate. The styles ranged from racy acidity to smooth, swirling fruit. The winemaker’s artistry was displayed in many different ways but each a pleasing result.
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