Spotlight on Finger Lakes Riesling

If you are a Riesling fan, you should definitely have the Finger Lakes wine region on your radar.  New York’s Finger Lakes region has an ideal climate for producing diverse Rieslings that range from dry and crisp to sweet and fruit forward.  The region is mostly composed of small family wineries and they are increasingly producing world-class Riesling.

Last week, I joined in with several other bloggers and wine lovers on Twitter to taste through 8 Finger Lakes Rieslings from 8 different producers.  We progressed from dry to sweet and each wine was distinct and expressed totally different flavor profiles.   Here are a few standouts from the lineup:

Finger Lakes Riesling
Finger Lakes Riesling

Fox Run Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling

Tons of grapefruit on the nose and palate of this dry Riesling.  There are also notes of lime, peach, and golden delicious apples.  Racy acidity and a zesty, tart finish! (11.2% alcohol, $18)

Red Newt Cellars 2013 Dry Riesling

This wine opens with aromas citrus and honeysuckle.  The palate is balanced with tastes of apricot, grapefruit, peach, and lemon.  Crisp acidity and a refreshing finish.  One of my favorites of the lineup! (11.8% alcohol, $15)

Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2013 Semidry Riesling

Enticing floral aromas with hints of pineapple.  The palate has addicting flavors of melon, citrus, and pear.  Slightly sweet with balancing acidity.  Super food-friendly and delicious! (11.5% alcohol, $15)

*Media Samples

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#Winechat – The Diversity of Riesling

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to join in with other wine writers and wine lovers to taste Riesling from three different regions.  We sampled Riesling from Alsace (France), Rheingau (Germany), and Kamptal (Austria).  Each wine was completely different from the others, showing the vast diversity of the Riesling grape.  Here are my tasting notes from the #Winechat Twitter event!

Three very diverse Rieslings
Three very diverse Rieslings

Alsace – Paul Blanck & Fils Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2010 

This Riesling opens with abundant citrus aromas.  The bright, balanced palate offers citrus and tropical fruit flavors and there is healthy acidity that gives the wine a nice lift through the tart, lengthy finish.  Full of character yet elegant! ($13% alcohol, $35)

Rheingau – Schloss Schönborn Riesling Kabinett Erbacher Macrobrunn 2011

Enticing aromas of green apples and tropical fruit jump out of the glass.  The palate is slightly sweet with tastes of green apples, pineapple, lime, and a touch of honey.  There is ample acidity present to balance the sweetness.  If you think you don’t like sweet Riesling, I am pretty sure this wine will change your mind! (9.5% alcohol, $24)

Kamptal – Brandl Riesling 2011 from the Heilingenstein 

This is the biggest and boldest Riesling of the lineup.  The wine begins with aromas of minerals and citrus.  The mineral-driven palate offers tastes of stone fruit, citrus, and ginger.  The palate also is a bit thicker than the other two wines of the evening.  I think this wine destroys any argument that Riesling is meek and mild.  (14% alcohol, $34)

*Media Samples

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Weekend Wine and Food Pairing – Riesling and Fish Tacos!

Last week, I was enjoying some Riesling samples from Alsace when I came across a fantastic pairing…fish tacos.  As I ate a taco filled with ahi, avocado, and pico de gallo, I realized that Riesling really made the flavors in the tacos come alive.

Riesling
Domaine Ostertag Riesling Vignoble d’E

When picking a bottle, definitely look for a dry Riesling with a citrus packed palate and a nice kick of acidity.  My favorite Riesling with the tacos from the evening’s lineup was Domaine Ostertag Riesling Vignoble d’E 2011.  Full of citrus and peach with a lovely lift from the acidity makes it an awesome combination with fish tacos.  Hope you have a chance to enjoy this wine and food pairing over the weekend!

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Wines of Alsace Twitter Tasting Wrap Up!

Here are my tasting notes from the Wines of Alsace Twitter Tasting on June 27th.  Each dry Riesling is distinctively different and perfect for the hot, summer weather that seems to be taking over the country!

The lineup for #AlsaceRocks!
The lineup for #AlsaceRocks!

Trimbach 2010 Riesling

Beautiful aromas of sweet ginger and fresh flowers are followed with a crisp and vibrant palate.  Racy acidity and flavors of peach, lime and ginger make this wine a perfect match for sushi! (13% alcohol, $20, B+)

Weinbach Riesling Cuvee Theo 2011

Opens up with a nose of delicate flowers, peach, orange and anise.  The palate has lively acidity and tastes of orange, herbs and lime.  The finish is long and the palate shows some depth and character.  Only native yeasts were used for fermentation with minimal intervention in the winemaking process. (13.5% alcohol, $30, A-)

Meyer-Fonne Riesling Reserve 2011

This organically farmed Riesling opens with gentle aromas of dried pineapple and citrus.  The palate is elegant with noticeable yet soft acidity and tastes of citrus and sweet white peaches.  A great wine for those not familiar with dry Rieslings!  (13% alcohol, $22, B+)

Domaine Ostertag Riesling Vignoble d’E 2011

To me, this was the most interesting wine in the lineup.  Floral aromas with citrus accents.  Lively acidity envelopes tastes of white flowers, citrus, peach and minerals.  Biodynamic with only native yeasts for fermentation.  Definitely my pick to pair with fish tacos! (13% alcohol, $24, A-)

 

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Pierre Sparr 2009 Riesling

Pierre Sparr 2009 Riesling is another great summer sipper from Alsace.  Riesling is one of my favorite wines to sip in warm weather because it compliments almost any food and is generally light and refreshing.  This 100% Riesling isn’t complex but it is well-balanced and food-friendly!

Riesling

Tasting Notes

This bright gold wine has a bouquet of citrus and green apples.  The palate is dry and clean with flavors of tart lemon and green apple with hints of minerality.  Crisp, refreshing, and easy to enjoy!  (12%, $14)

My Wine Rating – B+

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with sushi, oysters or baked salmon with roasted vegetables. 

*Media Sample

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Mini-Review – Mud House 2009 Riesling

I have been tasting through a lot of “winter whites” lately and some have been fantastic and others mundane.  Mud House 2009 Riesling was one of the wines in the line up and it definitely provides an interesting experience for your palate.

Riesling

Rich gold in color, this New Zealand Riesling has aromas of pineapple, honey and flowers.  The palate has some unique notes of tangy lemon, tangerine, rose petal and ginger.  Tart lemon lingers in the finish.  A great wine to pair with sushi or teriyaki tofu!  (13% alcohol, $12)

*Media Sample

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Mini-Review- 2011 Cupcake Vineyards Riesling

Cupcake is a wine brand that you see everywhere.  The most impressive part is, even with mass production, many of their wines are actually pretty enjoyable.  One of their latest releases is the 2011 Cupcake Vineyards Riesling from the Mosel Valley region of Germany.  If you like a Riesling that is a little on the sweet side, you might want to grab a bottle.

This Riesling has an aromatic nose with aromas of peach, melon, and lemon.  Creamy, sweet notes of pear, melon, and lime fill your palate.  The wine follows with a tangy, citrus-filled finish.  An easy sipping wine perfect with spicy Asian food or as an aperitif.  (B, $10, media sample)

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Wrapping up a Series- White Wine Values for the Holiday Season

I am wrapping up my series on holiday wine values with a few white wines that are readily available and affordably priced.  These wines are bottles that should be easy to pick up in a hurry and pleasing to your holiday crowds.

My first pick is a great Dry Riesling from Cupcake Vineyards.  The 2010 Dry Riesling comes from the Columbia Valley of Washington and has an aromatic nose of sweet peaches and pineapple.  The palate has tastes of lime, orange, and peach with a tangy, dry finish.  A perfect wine to pair with poached pears or a smoked ham and nicely priced at around $13.  (this wine was sent to me as a sample)

My second pick is Bogle 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  A grassy nose with touches of citrus that follow into a palate of pineapple and pear.  Crisp acidity and a price of around $9 makes this a great holiday find.  Pair with a warm goat cheese dip or pan roasted tuna and puffed fried shrimp (if you do a traditional Italian Christmas “Feast of the Seven Fishes” like my family).

My last white wine pick is a Gruner Veltliner from Biokult.  This wine is a little harder to find but I know you can pick it up at a lot of Whole Foods.  It’s also a nice bottle if you want to introduce your guests to a new varietal.  On the nose there are notes of citrus, grass, and ginger.  The wine tastes of citrus with lively acidity and a hint of white pepper on the finish.  It pairs well with potato latkes at Hanukkah or a Christmas ham and retails for around $12.

Hope you guys enjoyed my holiday picks.  Next up, some recommendations for the wine lovers on your Christmas lists.

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Tasting with Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars

One of the best experiences I had in Napa was a tasting with Craig Camp, managing partner of Cornerstone Cellars.  He invited Brandon and I to join him in Yountville to try both Cornerstone and Stepping Stone’s wines.  We arrived at their tasting room near famed Bistro Jeanty and Bouchon restaurants.  The tasting room is beautiful with a relaxed atmosphere…a place that makes you want to sit down, enjoy the wine, and have great conversation.

Managing Partner Craig Camp

Craig is great guy who is passionate about giving people exceptional wines.  We started the tasting with Cornerstone’s sister label, Stepping Stone.  Stepping Stone has outstanding wines for a great value.  Each wine seemed to impress our taste buds and make us wish there was more than just a sip or two in the glass.  The 2010 Stepping Stone Riesling is aromatic and refreshing with a dry finish.  The 201o Syrah Rose delivered a field of strawberries that enveloped my palate.  Both of these wines retail for only $18.

Tasting Menu at Cornerstone

The Stepping Stone 2008 Cabernet Franc was a favorite of mine (so much so that we brought home 3 bottles!).   It is one of the better Cab Franc’s I have had…wonderful acidity and a lift at the end makes this a steal for $35. 

After wrapping up with the Stepping Stone we had the privilege to taste Cornerstone’s wines.  The 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet is 100% Cabernet and tastes of dark cherries and spice.  The wine has silky tannins and a spicy finish.  The 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet, the flagship of Cornerstone, is a breathtaking wine.  Rich with smooth tannins and a lively finish…the wine should age gracefully but also impressed us now.  

2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet

At the end of the tasting, Craig brought out a bottle of Pinot from the back that has not been released yet and we were lucky enough to be some of the first to taste it.  The 2009 Cornerstone Pinot Noir is something to get excited about…silky and smooth with dark berries.  The finish is a crescendo of spice…it starts out subtle and explodes at the end.  I asked to buy a bottle (probably should have begged) but I guess I will have to wait until the fall like everyone else 🙁

Be on the lookout for this Pinot!

We were so impressed with the wines that Cornerstone produces.  There aren’t many wineries out their that produce one wine that is better than the next but somehow Cornerstone has done just that.  Check them out at www.CornerstoneCellars.com and whether you buy the $18 Syrah Rose of the $75 Howell Mountain Cabernet, you won’t be disappointed!

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