WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

15 March 2014

USA: New York State Riesling

Claiming to be "America's oldest winery," established in 1839, and "home to the largest underground wine cellar in the country," Brotherhood Winery (link to their site) is obviously full of superlatives. I did like these two subtle Rieslings though (tasted last year and neglected up until now); they also make Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot and a whole host of other curiously named/labelled bottles, some of which will make certain European producers' hair stand on end. You'll find them in Washingtonville in the Hudson Valley, a good trek directly north of New York City.
Brotherhood 2011 Hudson Valley dry Riesling - aromatic floral vs oily notes, delicate lime fruit with developing nutty oily flavours vs 'chalky' edges. Good. $9.99
Brotherhood 2011 Premium Selection Riesling - medium 'Mosel' style, 'chalky' and zesty with underlining sweet citrus fruit. Attractive. $9.99

From www.drfrankwines.com
Dr. Konstantin Frank emigrated to the States from the Ukraine in the early 1950s armed with a PhD in viticulture and, after doing some research, came to the conclusion that "the lack of proper rootstock, not the cold climate, was the reason for the failure of Vitis Vinifera (European) vines in the Finger Lakes region." He founded the winery there in 1962 planting Riesling and other aromatic varieties, and his work has been followed on by son Willy and now grandson Frederick. It's located in Hammondsport, upstate on the Lakes to the west of Ithaca.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2012 Finger Lakes dry Riesling - aromatic zesty and limey with lively crisp and 'chalky' mouth-feel, intense and concentrated. Lovely. $14.99

Nestling by the wee town of Lodi lying between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, northwest of Ithaca, Boundary Breaks only grows (overseen by vineyard manager Kees Stapel) and makes Riesling, four different ones in fact. "Why?" as it says on their site: "Because we only want to do one thing, very, very well." Like their style, especially since the vines were only planted in 2008 and the results already look quite impressive. Apparently the "breaks" are dramatic mini gorges caused by glaciers found at either end of the vineyard; the landscape around here certainly looks stunning from the nice photos on boundarybreaks.com.
Boundary Breaks 2011 Finger Lakes Riesling - developing oily and honeyed notes with lime too, perfumed vs fairly rich style with nice bite and refreshing finish. Good stuff.

Lamoreaux winery is a neighbour of BB above found "on the eastern hillsides of Seneca Lake," although they've been around for "three generations." This family business was founded by manager-winemaker Mark Wagner and is co-owned by Josh Wig. They have over 100 acres (40 ha) of vineyards in 20 different blocks planted with a mix of white and red varieties. More @ lamoreauxwine.com.
Lamoreaux Landing 2012 Red Oak Vineyard Finger Lakes Riesling - more delicate style and a tad sweeter, oily vs citrus combo leads to a zingy more closed up finish. $19.99

You'll find this curiously named winery in Hector a little to the south of the two vineyards mentioned above, just west of the Finger Lakes National Forest. Red Newt sounds pretty geared up for visitors and groups too, as there's a bistro, coffee bar, tasting room and shop. They make quite a wide range of Rieslings including a few single site wines. Check it out @ rednewt.com.
Red Newt Cellars 2011 Sawmill Creek Riesling - lifted lime aromas vs oily undertones, steely 'chalky' palate vs attractive sweeter oily side, nice style and balance mixing maturing yet lively characters.
Red Newt Cellars 2011 Lahoma Vineyard Riesling - lovely linseed oil vs lime combo, a tad riper and fuller with complex developing flavours vs crisp backdrop. Very good. $20

Another proud Riesling specialist (they do five), Fox Run's winemaker is Australian Peter Bell who's been at the winery since 1995 and says this is what brought him to the region. As their site (links) enthuses: "Riesling is king in the Finger Lakes. This noble grape is the most widely planted Vinifera variety with nearly 1000 acres in production and almost every winery produces at least one Riesling brand. The microclimate conditions and the slate soils that are so special to the Finger Lakes are exactly what make Riesling thrive here." FR lies to the northeast of Penn Yan on the other side of Lake Seneca.
Fox Run 2012 Finger Lakes Riesling - a touch of SO2 on the nose when I tasted it, zesty and 'chalky' with yeasty undertones, delicate and closed up; quite intense, fine and crisp though needing a little time to open up and settle down. $13.99?

Sheldrake Point has 44 acres (18 ha) planted on the west shore of Cayuga Lake just east of Ovid, and they have a second tasting room in Hector too. As well as a regular (reviewed below, I think...) and Reserve Riesling, the winery also produces late harvest and ice wine versions; these Rieslings are modelled on the Alsace style according to their site. More info @ www.sheldrakepoint.com.
Sheldrake Point 2011 Finger Lakes Riesling - maturing oily notes, quite concentrated with 'chalky' and crisp vs perfumed profile, nice intense lively vs maturing mix. $16

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