Finger Lakes Vineyards is anything but uniform. As a result of the geological history of the area, namely the glacial wall of past ice ages that has eroded the land, a mixture of soil types and textures have been exposed and planted on the vines. Moreover, the locations also vary in terms of altitude, slope and proximity to lakes, all of which influence the development of the grapes and contribute to the stylistic result of the final wine.
Like everywhere else in the wine world, many Finger Lakes producers strive to make wines with a sense of place, and Riesling is a natural guide to the region. Always a pioneer, Herman G. Winery Wimmer has been bottling his renowned Magdalena Vineyard Riesling for over a decade. Fifteen miles from the winery on the northwest shore of Seneca Lake, this silty site, one of the warmest in the region, consistently produces a dry, fruity, earthy expression with texture.
Other bottlenecks, such as Wagner’s Keywood East or Red Newt’s Tango Oaks, are newer ventures. The first is a spicy, rocky, streamlined wine from a steep site planted in 2005, while the second is an aromatic, spicy, but primitively fruity Riesling from a unique gravelly site created by a catastrophic flood in 1935.
This is just a drop in the ocean of site-specific Rieslings that seem to have exploded in recent years. But watch out for the buyer: Quality and place don’t always go hand in hand, and of course the other half of the equation for the end result in the bottle takes place in the cellar. Nevertheless, it is important to constantly try to understand how Riesling works in different parts of the region. This discovery only reinforces that the Finger Lakes are a world-class wine region.
Living Roots 2019 Shale Creek Bone-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $26, 94 points. This rich, dry Riesling from Keuka Lake Winery offers dense tangerine, lemongrass, pine and dried honeycomb on the nose. On the palate, it has extraordinary breadth and body, with juicy orange and apple notes breaking through the sultry texture. There is a subtle earthiness to the whole and the captivating finish shows a sprinkling of crushed mineral shale. Editor’s Choice.
Herman J. Wimmer 2019 Magdalena Riesling Vineyard (Seneca Lake); $35, 93 points. Concentrated aromas of lemon oil, peach, pine and flint adorn the nose of this single-variety Riesling. The palate is round and full, full of juicy fruit flavors, but expertly refined with acidity and a hint of white tea. The tone of lemon oil persists on the finish, but with plenty of lift and length.
2019 Stone Dry Riesling (Seneca Lake); $25, 93 points. This characteristic dry Riesling comes from vines planted in 1972. It is infused with aromatic notes of peach, apple, jasmine and slate. There’s width in the air, but tremendous lift and movement, with a long acid and a crushing skirt tip propelling it. The citrus coating is long lasting. Editor’s Choice.
Wagner 2019 Keywood East Vineyard Estate Bottled Riesling (Finger Lakes); $20, 93 points. Intense cooked aromas of fresh lime, crushed stone and peach blossom give this single-vineyard wine a sense of vitality. On the dry palate, bright stumps of lime, grapefruit and lemon come together with a juicy apple heart, leading to a delicate, creamy texture in the lingering finish. Editor’s Choice.
Spring Keuka 2019 Humphreys Vineyard Riesling (Finger Lakes); $22, 92 points. The peach, apple and pink grapefruit scents show incredible spice and brightness on the nose. The taste is medium-bodied and dry, with bright, zesty aromas of tangerine wrapped in a delicate floral touch. The sensation is creamy and gives it great presence and length on the finish. Editor’s Choice.
Red Newt Cellars 2015 Tango Oak Vineyard Riesling (Finger Lakes); $24, 92 points. The nose of this dry Riesling combines aromas of Meyer apple and lemon with a delicate oolong note. A round, compressed mouthfeel where flavors of lemon, apple and apricot are wrapped in a soft grip of white tea tannins. This is a beautiful, pristine expression from a relatively young vineyard planted in 2007.
Dr. Constantine Frank 2019 Marguerite Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $35, 91 points. Sourced from a Seneca Lake vineyard, this wine offers a stony, earthy core surrounded by citrus and apple notes on the nose. The palate is broad and juicy, but dry, with tart notes of sliced lemons, candied fruit and elements of crushed stone.
We recommend it:
Zalto Denk’Art White wine glass
N’FINITY PRO2 LX wine cellar with double zone
Silver Thread 2019 Riesling Estate Vineyard (Finger Lakes); $26, 91 points. A delicate floral note dominates a juicy apple and peach core on the nose of this wine. Although light-bodied, it has fruity, round aromas of red and sour white cherries. There’s plenty of scent and it enhances everything, with a lingering talcum powder.
Buttonwood Grove 2019 Riemer Block Riesling (Finger Lakes); $20, 90 points. On the nose, ripe apples, sugar flowers, candied citrus and ginger, from a vineyard planted in 1999. The medium-bodied palate impresses with its round texture, juicy, fruity flavors, and lifted stacks of grapefruit and tangerine. It has a good carrying capacity and a good length.
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