Tag Archives: riesling

Finger Lakes white wine tasting tonight!

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 - The line up.

Finger Lakes Riesling Launch 2012 – The line up.

I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to participate in a Finger Lakes white wine tasting tonight, my second time after last spring. While back then, the Finger Lakes were still an exotic wine destination for me, I have now tried more and more of its wines and am quite impressed, so tonight’s line up including Chardonnay, Gewuerztraminer and Rieslings should be fun! The tasting happens on Twitter at 9:00pm EST and you can follow it via the hashtag #winechat (it takes place under the auspices of Protocol Wine Studio (@ProtocolWine), which skilfully hosts #winechat every week).

I did some research on the Finger Lakes last year, and figured it was helpful to read through it again, so I am reposting this. May is Finger Lakes Wine Month, so why not give their wines a shot?

The Finger Lakes region became an officially recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1982 and consists of approximately 4,451 hectares (11,000 acres) that are operated by around 100 wineries. The main glacial lakes that make up the area are Canandaigua Lake, Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. These (and other lakes) stretch from North to South just South of Lake Ontario which explains their name: Finger Lakes. Apparently, the first vines were planted in 1829. The Finger Lakes really seem to have taken off when the above mentioned Dr. Konstantin Frank (a Ukrainian immigrant with a PhD in plant science) started experimenting with roots and grapes varieties there for Cornell University in the 1950s and 60s. His work proved to be the first that enabled wine makers in the North Eastern United States to grow European grape varieties, in a climate and area that had been deemed off limits for these grapes.

What is interesting about the region is that the lakes lie at different heights, with land surrounding Canandaigua Lake reaching up to 2,000′ in height, with the land between the lakes further to the East successively reaching lower heights of  1,500′, 1,300′ and 800′. So this should actually make for different micro climates and therefore perfectly situated for single vineyard wines.

The region’s dominating grape varieties by acres under vine are mostly North American usual suspects: Concord (1,814 acres), Catawba (811 acres) and Niagara (667 acres). However, the Finger Lakes region’s second most planted variety is Riesling with 828 acres under vine. The climate should be favorable to Riesling and other varieties grown in colder climates like Germany. Actually, if you look at data gathered by Cornell University in the summer of 2012 (which also provides the other numbers), there are many obscure German or Austrian varieties planted in the area: from Zweigelt to Siegerrebe to Geisenheim to Dornfelder.

The Finger Lakes have been pushing their Riesling credentials, and from what one can read and what I have tsted in the past, rightly so. Its slate soils and cooler temperatures seem to give their Riesling grapes all the ingredients a winemaker needs to make good Riesling: slow ripening conditions to develop sugar and acidity and mineralic soil…

 

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2012 Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling

America's go to riesling with Korean pancake

America’s go to riesling with Korean pancake

Just a quick alert: Sunday, I had my first Dr. L from the 2012 vintage. I know I am late to the party, but we had so many 2011s still stashed away and I wanted to get them out of the way first. I first wrote about the 2010 here, and let me quote more about the wine in general before:

“For those not familiar with the wine, just a few quick facts. Ernst (or Ernie) Loosen, the owner of Dr. Loosen Estate, is one of the major producers along the middle Mosel with vineyards in many prime sites (Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat, Erdener Treppchen). He is a charismatic figure and has done loads for promoting German rieslings. The Loosen Bros. Dr. L is his entry wine produced for a global market. The Riesling grapes come from all over the place and are blended for this wine.”

You might remember that this has become my got to, everyday Riesling: easy to drink, with the right amount of residual sugar, and a solid bet. The price is decent (I wouldn’t pay that much for it in Germany, but for the US, the pricing is decent). So value-wise, it’s about as good as it gets for a decent entry-level Riesling. The 2011 suffered from the generally lower acidity in the vintage, but the 2012s are way more exciting now. And they are out on the shelves, so go ahead and stock some. They last for at least another year or two.

So, what’s to like about the 2012? More acidity than the 2011, making it fresher and crisper. There are nice apple aromas and some sweet pear, just an easy going, enjoyable wine all by itself on a warm or warm-ish afternoon.

In Ann Arbor, they are available at Trader Joe’s for $11.99 (I believe) andat Whole Foods for $12.99, but you can buy them for $8.99 at Costco. The best thing is, you do not need a Costco membership in Michigan to buy alcohol. If they ask you for the membership card at the entrance, tell them you only want to buy alcohol and you can go in. Then same story at the cash register. It’s super easy and very convenient (their wine selection is pretty good and very well priced).

So, what are you waiting for? Get a bottle and let me know what you think. You can always go and buy more if you like it!

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Sunday Read: Silvaner – The Best Spring Wine You’ve Never Heard Of

With today being Easter (happy Easter to those who celebrate!), spring is finally, officially and weather-wisely here. We’re having a gorgeous spring day here in Ann Arbor, and I hope so do you…

Spring also means white wines, finally. While I never stop drinking whites in the winter, red wines replace a sizable chunk of my consumption and by the time spring arrives, I am happy to change back to whites mostly. Naturally Riesling takes its part in this, but Lettie Teague reminded me that there is another German grape that is worth checking out: Silvaner.

A less acidic alternative to Riesling that is used in Germany mostly in spring for its great pairing abilities with seasonal food like white asparagus. It’s hard to find in the US, and many of its incarnations in Germany tend to be flat and boring, but when done right, they can be exciting spring wines. I tasted a great bottle of Silvaner a few weeks ago that is part of the importer Rudi Wiest’s portfolio. I will write more about that in the very near future.

In any case, it’s spring and time for more whites. What white are you looking forward to this spring?

Lettie Teague: Silvaner – The Best Spring Wine You’ve Never Heard Of

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