Monday, September 26, 2011

Riesling Hour Tasting

Oolong and the wines awaiting my guests

A few months back, an announcement went out on twitter about a promotion called Riesling Hour: "Join us on Thursday evening, September 22 during the height of harvest for our next Riesling Hour, the world's largest virtual Riesling tasting, as we celebrate the arrival of the 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings. This time we are extending the party (to three hours) and adding a bunch more venues around the country. Get more details on the participating wineries, restaurants and wine shops at Cheers to Finger Lakes Rieslings!"
As part of the promotion, they selected bloggers and tweeters around the country to receive a shipment of Finger Lakes Rieslings so we could taste along. I signed up right away because, having heard so much about Finger Lakes wines, I had not had the opportunity to try very many at all as they are not very available in the Bay Area. I then forgot all about the event. So much so that I did not change the mailing address for the package and had to make a trip back to my old office to pick up my shipment. 

Wines finally on hand, I invited a few friends over to share the the wines and their opinions. For those concerned about such things, our tasting panel was 2 men and three women, none very familiar with Finger Lakes wines. We had six wines to taste, ranging from dry to medium sweet.  All of the wines were from the 2010 vintage which had been the warmest growing season in forty years and was also the wettest since 1973.

First up was the Anthony Road 2010 Dry Riesling, $15.00 on their website. I thought that this wine suffered a bit from being a bit cold when first opened. It seemed very light and in the words of one of the tasters "innocuous." But after a little bit of time and air, the apple and citrus notes grew more pronounced and innocuous changed to "Can I take this home to try again later?" One of the favorites of the night for everyone and the favorite for one.

Next up was the Fox Run Vineyards 2010 Dry Riesling,  $15.99 on their website. Two out of the five tasters picked up some petrol notes, though the others did not agree. This wine was richer, with stronger mineral notes. The favorite of the night for 2 out of five tasters.

Third in our lineup was the Ravines Wine Cellars 2010 Dry Riesling, their website lists the 2008 vintage at $16.95. The two men in the group both liked this one a lot, saying that they tasted more "minerally." The women picked up more tropical notes. I thought it needed to open up a bit, but showed promise. The favorite of the night for one taster.

Fourth was the Dr. Frank's Semi Dry Riesling 2010, $14.99 on their website. One taster felt that the best descriptor for this wine was "white melon." Although not everyone agreed with that, all agreed on fruitier and rounder. 

Fifth up was the Wagner Vineyards Semi Dry 2010 The 2008 on their website is $12.99. This was the least favorite bottle of the night. Because I have not tasted it before, I can not be certain there was a problem with the bottle, but given the reviews I looked up online, that is probably be the case. Almost all of the tasters agreed that the nose was very off-putting and that they were only willing to taste it because they thought they should give it a try. Swirling and eventually decanting did nothing to help. It was the only bottle that someone did not take home at the end of the night.

The final wine was the 2010 Red New "Circle" Riesling $12.95 on their website. Stepping up again in sweetness, this was a hit with almost everyone. "Easy to drink," was the most common refrain. Four out of 5 tasters would buy this wine if available locally. Lots of ripe fruit. The favorite of the night for one taster.

Hard to reach conclusions after tasting six very young wines. As you can see above, the favorites were not all the same. I was pleased by most of what I tasted, particularly the dryer wines, especially given the price of some of the wines. Would I rather drink these bottles than my favorites from the Mosel? No. But, I don't drink those every night. I was impressed enough to want to taste more and will seek some out on my next East Coast trip. As for my guests, I think all of them would be pleased to see more of these wines available locally. None of them drink as much Riesling as I do, but felt that these wines were ones they would buy and drink again.

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