Monday, September 24, 2012

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch of 2011 Vintage A Tasty Success

The 2011 vintage of Finger Lakes Riesling was released with great fanfare last weekend. TWAV was pleased to participate in a virtual Riesling Hour event as we tasted through four of the Finger Lakes finest wines.

“Our bright, fresh and vibrant 2011 wines echo the life and energy that abounds in the Finger Lakes at this special time of year,” said Bob Madill, chairman of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. We certainly share his enthusiasm for this Riesling vintage.

We began the tasting with a surprising Dry Riesling from Montezuma Winery. We visited Montezuma a few years ago and found their lineup to feature an abundance of sweeter wines including fruit wine and mead. This Riesling is a new offering and it is very good. 530 cases were produced.

The wine is bone dry with just 0.3% residual sugar. It is unique because it isn’t 100% Riesling, but features 2.5% each of Traminette and Valvin Muscat. We found it to be refreshing with a nice balance. Citrus rules the flavor profile. 11.8% alcohol. Worked well with our bowl of Oriental noodles.

Fulkerson Winery’s Semi-Dry Riesling is on the dry side of the semi-dry range. It is subtle and understated with peach and pineapple notes. We noshed on shrimp with Saigon sizzle sauce and it paired nicely. I found the second glass to be more revealing than the first as I was able to tune in to the softer fruit flavors.

Our quartet of tasters (including Glorious T, the Cabinator and Green Dragon) then uncorked the Semi-Dry Riesling from Red Newt Cellars. This wine received high marks from all.

The glass erupts with honey, pear and tropical fruit. This Newt is sweeter on the palate with residual sugar of 2.5%. Skilled winemaking keeps the sweetness dialed in properly. The wine has a clean, crisp finish. This is a fuller bodied white than our first two samplings.

Red Newt is one of our favorite wineries and this reminded us why. We’ve enjoyed a couple winemaker dinners in their Bistro and very soon were talking about making another visit in the near future.

On this night we closed with a sweet surprise. As a group we favor drier wines and weren’t sure whether the Wagner Vineyards Riesling Select would overpower us.

The wine has 4.4% residual sugar and so is on the drier side of the sweet Riesling category. It is Wagner’s sweetest Riesling and is made from their oldest Riesling block. This is a wine that could age for five to seven years.

It has lush flavors of tropical fruit and honey. The sweetness is very apparent at first but then retreats. There is a nice mouthfeel with a liveliness on the tongue. Wagner’s Riesling Select is solid and satisfying.

In the US, the Finger Lakes region is the undisputed ruler of Riesling. The blend of minerality, terroir, acidity and taste add up to standout wines at smile-inducing prices. The low alcohol levels (ours ranged from 10.1% to 12%) also ensure the 2011 Finger Lakes Rieslings are food friendly.
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