Riesling Hour. What hour of the day shouldn't be devoted to this wonderful grape. For those unfamiliar with Riesling, here's what wiki has to say: Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world's 20th most grown variety at 48,700 hectares (120,000 acres) (with an increasing trend), but in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the "top three" white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly "terroir-expressive", meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine's place of origin.
And for native terrior, there's no place like Finger Lakes Riesling. And on May 26th the Finger Lakes Wine Country organized a casual social media tasting of a few Finger Lakes Rieslings. We received bottles from Fox Run Vineyards, Heron Hill Vineyards, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. The first two were made dry while the Hazlett was crafted off-dry.
We started with the Fox Run Vineyard, a winery we are very familiar with from their excellent Cabernet Franc & Lemberger wines. We have also tasted their Riesling at many trade events so it was no surprise to us that Dry Riesling 2009 ($15.99) was a nice wine. Full of citrus (lime & grapefruit) aromas and flavors and then balanced with a refreshing acidity. This is my kind of summer wine.
We have also tasted Riesling from Heron Hill Vineyards, but its been awhile so this was a nice refresher. We won't let this long pass again. Immediately after sipping the 2008 Ingle Vineyard Riesling ($15.99), the first involuntary impulse exclaimed "wow". Here was the first silky, structured Riesling I can remember tasting. The grapes are from thirty plus year old grapes grown on the Ingle estate on the west side of Canandaigua Lake (the far western lake). The wine has less acidity than the previous, but it didn't need much since it was a fuller wine. A Riesling wine with character.
We ended the session with the Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling ($12.00). We've seen Hazlitt pouring their wines at many festivals and trade shows, but never tasted because they always seem to attract long lines for their Catawba based Red Cat. That was a mistake. The winery also crafts excellent vinifera based on this wine. This off-dry Riesling has some sweetness (1.8 r.s.), but most is offset by the bright acidity. That balance allows the fruit flavors to linger (I was getting mostly peach).
This was a nice set of wines. We need to plan a road trip to Finger Lakes Wine Country very soon. There's just too many good things happening up North that we can no longer ignore.