Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Lindsay Morris and Joelle Schiller Tasting Six 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings in Washington DC
The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York in the USA is one of the world's leading Riesling producers. 30 Finger Lakes wineries teamed up to jointly debut their 2010 Rieslings this week with events around the New York State and online. In this context, I was provided with six 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings, which I tasted with fellow wine blogger Lindsay Morriss from Rhode Island.
The main event of the 2010 Finger Lakes Riesling Launch is Riesling Hour on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, an event were people will connect via social media. People will taste 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings at various sites or in their homes, connecting with each other by Facebook and/or Twitter, using the hash tag #FLXwine. For more information, go to www.rieslinghour.com, email info@FingerLakesWineCountry.com or call (800) 813-2958. The idea sprang out of the online Riesling Hour in May 2011, in which I also participated.
Riesling in the World
Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.
Finger Lakes AVA
The Finger Lakes AVA in upstate New York encompasses seven glacial lakes, although the majority of plantings are around Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes. Most vineyards are planted on hillsides overlooking the lakes. These deep lakes help to moderate the climate, as stored heat is released from the lakes during the winter, keeping the weather mild during summer extends the growing season. This cool-climate region is often compared to the wine-growing region of Germany, and like Germany, has had special success with Riesling.
Pictures: New York State and Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes include 4,452 hectares of vineyards, making it New York State's largest wine growing region. New York State is with Washington State the second largest wine producer in the US, with a bit more than 10.000 hectares. Of this, 400 hectares are accounted for by Riesling.
The 2010 Vintage
The 2010 Finger Lakes harvest was the warmest growing season in nearly 40 years and the wettest since 1973. Combined with an early bud break in April and adequate rainfall throughout the summer and fall, the wines from the vintage are varied in style, but with a general slant toward lower acid and intense fruit. Some vineyards harvested early while others chose to let their fruit hang through the end of October resulting in rather high Brix.
If you follow German wines in the American wine blogger scene, you inevitably come across the wine blog Lindsay du Vin. The author is Lindsay Morriss, an energetic and very charming young women from Rhode Island, who graduated with a MBA from INSEEC in Bordeaux. Her MBA thesis was on how to improve the profile of German wine in the United States. When the case with the 6 wines from the Finger Lakes arrived last Friday, Lindsay Morris happened to be in Washington DC at my house. The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) had invited her to provide a summary of her findings and to lead a tasting of wines from Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider in Nierstein, Germany, where she had interned.
Picture: Lindsay Morriss
Lindsay’s presentation and tasting at the The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) was on Friday, September 16. The following day, we toured Virginia and visited 3 wineries during the day, arranged by Wine Blogger Allan Liska (his CellarBlog is among the top 20 wine blogs in the US – Wikio ranking). In the evening, after the tour, Lindsay and I tasted the six 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings. Unfortunately, Allan could not join us. Three of the Rieslings were dry and three were medium-dry.
Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller, Lindsay Morris and Joelle Schiller Tasting Six 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings in Washington DC
As my one year old granddaughter Lorelei (as well as my daughter in law Joelle Schiller) joined us for the tasting, I decided to also open a crisp and dry 2009 Riesling trocken from the Winzergenossenschaft Loreley, Mittelrhein, Germany as benchmark and reference.
Picture: Lorelei Schiller with 2009 Riesling trocken from the Winzergenossenschaft Loreley, Mittelrhein, Germany
Picture: The Dry Rieslings we tasted
Hosmer Winery: Dry Riesling 2010
The Winery: Cameron and Maren Hosmer established the winery in 1985. The 60 acres of vineyards include European and European-American hybrid grapes. The Hosmer Winery is founded on the principle that great wine starts in the vineyard.
In addition to the vineyards on Cayuga Lake’s western shore, Cameron and Maren are also stewards to 160 acres of forest, lakeshore and meadow. Part of the proceeds of the sale of wine is dedicated to the protection and management of these areas.
Technical notes: Brix at harvest: 20.1, 11.7% alcohol, 5 grams per liter remaining sugar, 524 cases.
Tasting notes: Pale yellow with green tinges in the glass; green apple, grapefruit and pear on the nose, very crisp and refreshing on the palate, full of lime and orange blossom flavors, with some hints of wet earth, good finish.
Anthony Road Wine Company: Dry Riesling 2010
Winery: The Anthony Road Wine Company, a top winemaker in the Finger Lakes region, caught international attention recently with their 2006 Finger Lakes Riesling Trockenbeeren, when it was awarded one of the 7 Trophies of Excellence of the Riesling Du Monde Competition 2010 in France. I have written about it here.
Ann and John Martini opened the winery in 1990. It is on the west shore of Seneca Lake in the town of Torrey, about 10 miles south of Geneva. The winemaker, Johannes Reinhardt, is a German native, born in at little village of Franconia, 80 miles east of Frankfort. Johannes grew up in a family that has been in the wine business since 1438. He has been in the vineyards and wine cellars all his life. He joined Anthony Road in 2000.
Technical notes: Brix at harvest: 22.1, 12.6% alcohol, 7 grams residual sugar per liter, 412 cases.
Tasting notes: Pale lemon in the glass, subtle notes of lemon blossom and pineapples on the nose, flavors of lemon and lime citrus on the palate, with hints pineapple, noticeable creamy texture with a lingering finish.
Ravines Wine Cellars: Dry Riesling 2010
Ravines Wine Cellars is a boutique winery on Lake Keuka. It is the dream and passion of Morten and Lisa Hallgren, a European Winemaker/Oenologist and his Chef/Foodie wife. Together they have created a small, distinctive winery crafting elegant and food friendly wines using Old World winemaking traditions with New World innovation. Morten was raised in the Provence region of the South of France. The Hallgren family owned and operated Domaine de Castel Roubine, a 270 acre estate with 170 acres of vineyards.
Morton received an advanced degree in both Enology and Viticulture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie in Montpellier, one of the world’s top winemaking schools, and spent his first harvest in Bordeaux, at Chateau Cos d’Estournel. Before founding Ravines, Morton was the chief winemaker for Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars for six years.
In 2000 the Hallgrens purchased a 17 acre parcel of land on a glacier-carved hillside on the Eastern slopes of Keuka Lake. This land is located at the widest part of the lake which allows grapevines to receive maximum benefit from its temperature-moderating effects, it has a good slope which keeps the mineral rich soils well-drained, and is situated between two deep ravines, which drain cold air from the land during the winter. These ravines are the namesake of the winery.
Technical notes: 4 grams residual sugar per liter, 12.5% alcohol.
Tasting notes: pale yellow in the glass, notes of yellow, but also red fruits (strawberries) on the nose, creamy texture with hints of guava, pineapple and peach, very harmonious, good finish.
Picture: The semi-dry Riesling we tasted
Standing Stone Vineyard: 2010 Medium-Dry Riesling
"We decided to enter the wine business because we believe that the Finger Lakes region can grow wines that are among the best in the world." Say Tom & Marti Macinski, Owners of Standing Stone Vineyards. In 1991, they purchased vineyards on the east side of Seneca Lake. The first crush, in 1993, yielded only 800 cases. Today, Standing Stone Vineyard produces 8000 cases. The white wines are made in stainless steel tanks, allowing temperature control of fermentation and cellaring, and the red wines and Chardonnay are made in oak barrels - primarily American Oak.
Technical notes: Harvested at 22.3 Brix, 11.7% alcohol, 15 grams residual sugar per liter.
Tasting notes: Light yellow in the glass, restrained nose with some green apple notes, lively on the palate with tropical fruits, pleasant finish.
Though it says “medium dry” on the label, I would put the wine in the “dry” category. This impression is confirmed when you look at the technical data: 15 grams residual sugar per liter.
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars: 2010 Semi- Dry Riesling
Mark Wagner founded Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars. Mark's family has been in the Seneca Lake grape business since the time of his great grandfather, and since the 1940s has produced vitis labrusca and French-American hybrid grapes for sale to big wine producers. As estate wineries emerged in the wake of the Farm Winery Act of 1976, Mark took over the family business in 1978 and shifted the emphasis of the family farm to cultivating premium vitis vinifera grapes to supply the budding new wineries. Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars was the logical culmination of generations of grape-growing knowledge and decades of Mark's viticultural experience. The winery opened in 1992.
Technical notes: 12.4% alcohol, 21 grams residual sugar per liter.
Tasting notes: light yellow in the glass, aromas of tangerine, honeydew melon and apricot on the nose, beautifully balanced, smooth creamy texture, hints of raspberries and honey on the palate, nice finish.
Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars: Semi-Dry Riesling 2010
Dr. Konstantin Frank (1897-1985) ignited the so-called vitis vinifera revolution, which changed the course of wine growing in the Finger Lakes and the North-East of the US. Dr. Frank’s vision, knowledge and determination are credited with elevating the New York wine industry from a state of happy mediocrity to a level that today commands world attention.
He was born in the Russian Empire into a family with German roots. The Germans came in waves from the West to Russia and settled there from the 16th century onwards. At the time Konstantin Frank was born, Odessa belonged to the Russian Empire. When he left for the US, it was part of the Soviet Union. Now, after his death, it has become Ukraine. I met Dr. Konstantin Frank's grandson, Fred, who now owns and runs the estate last year; we communicated in German. Fred got his wine growing and wine making training at the wine college in Geisenheim in the Rheingau, Germany.
Dr. Frank Wines had featured at the State Luncheon for Chancellor Merkel when she was in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. When I lead a tasting of US-American Wines in Hochheim, Germany last year, I included a Dr. Frank Wine. I have also written about Konstantin Frank in the context of my German/American winemakers series.
Technical notes: 11.5% alcohol, 27 grams remaining sugar per liter.
Tasting notes: Light golden in the glass, beautiful earthiness on the nose, coupled with orange blossom and lavender, vibrant mouth feel with flavors of rose petals and sweet red tree fruit, zesty fruit finish.
30 Participating Wineries
Dr. Konstantin Frank
Glenora Wine Cellars
Red Newt Cellars Winery
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