We had eight people over and more samples of foods to complement the wines than was necessary. Our group was not comprised of wine aficionados per se so our whole evening was experiential – the way real people drink and enjoy wine – with food and friends. The wine of course made its way into the conversation but not in that hypercritical wine blogger geek way we have of over-analyzing every aspect of the wine. I did provide the spec sheets and an Aroma Wheel for each guest and they did get into the spirit of trying to identify aromas, at least through the first three wines. After that the evening kind of fell into an eating, drinking, and conversating (I love that John Leguizamo word) flow. We did start out with the wines in order of dryness according to the new IRF (International Riesling Foundation) scale. We noticed something interesting in the middle. The middle wine tasted more acidic than the first wine even though the scale told us it wasn’t. I had experienced the same thing at the tasting on Monday as well.
All of our wines were in the semi-dry range with the exception of the first one, the Damiani. I cracked up reading the spec sheet when they describe the Davis vineyard as being on the “lower east side” of Seneca Lake. In my mind “lower east side” is forever connected to Manhattan. I liked that the wine was hand-harvested and included Botrytis grapes from their Damiani estate. The wine had good acidity, pale color with greenish reflections, not much on the aromatics. Tart apple and citrus. This was the only wine priced at $21.99, but still a good value. The group clearly treated the first wine as if there was nothing to compare it to so they didn’t have much to say, until they tried the second wine.
Next came the Keuka Spring and at first everyone proclaimed it the favorite. It was at first taste a leap forward in body and sweetness. For our group it was kind of like the Damiani set everyone up for this wine. This wine had much more fruit on the nose and the palate that it popped. At $13.99 this is an excellent value. Technically this wine has more acidity than the Damiani but the huge difference in residual sugar and higher pH gave it that sweeter taste. Our aroma wheel users came up with pear and pineapple all on their own and I was proud of them.
The Keuka Lake was the wine in the middle where it tasted drier than the one before and I’m guessing that .07% residual sugar had a hand in that. The yeasts ate up much more of the sugars in these grapes than in the Keuka Spring and therefore the alcohol by volume came in at 12.8%, higher than the two previous wines. We talked a little more about the chemistry of this wine than anything else. I only noticed this morning that this wine is labeled as Vegan-Friendly. $18 retail.
It was interesting to me to notice how these various differences in residual sugar, acid levels, and pH play out in the final taste of the wines. I will be curious to taste these wines again when they aren’t as new and sample how aging plays into the picture.
The Lucas Semi-Dry came next. I found this wine well balanced. By this time most of my friends were looking for the when the next wine being poured was going to make its way to their glass. I enjoyed the stone fruit and spicy elements in this wine. Again, at $13.99 this is a great value.
Lakewood’s “Dry” Riesling was really more on the sweet side but had good fruit on the nose and palate. It lacked the crisp acidity of the others but did not taste flabby or flat. We were just progressing on the sweetness scale. I enjoyed this one with buffalo chicken. $12.99
The Fulkerson was a Riesling-Traminette blend. I received the wrong technical sheet on this wine because it showed the wine as extremely dry on the IRF scale and it was not dry at all. I don’t know if it was our bottle but it presented with off aromas. The synthetic cork easily went all the way back into the bottle with only a slight push so I wonder if air got in the bottle. I got a little whiff of stewed apples and that certainly was not one of the descriptors being used by the winery. No one liked this wine so I’m going to give it a pass and say it was a bad bottle and not the wine itself.
I go a little overboard with compatible foods during my tastings. I wanted to show the range of flavors and food styles that Riesling go well with so I offered a little bit of a lot of things. We had warm artichoke dip, spicy nuts, buffalo chicken, bean salad, hot salsa and guacamole, a couple of cheeses (Swiss and triple cream), biscotti, and caramel apples. A good time was had by all. I can’t wait to get my PO Box three miles away over the Massachusetts line in New Hampshire so I can start ordering wines from the Finger Lakes. A wino has to do what a wino has to do.
Taken from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance website:
2010 Vintage Riesling Launch Participating Wineries
The following 30 wineries are the featured participants of the Finger Lakes 2010 Vintage Riesling Launch. Click on the name of any winery listed below and you will be directed to their website.