Every year, the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance (“FLWA”) sponsors a series of virtual tastings for the media to spread the word about the latest vintage of Finger Lakes rieslings. This is the second year that I have participated. So, here is the disclaimer: I received the wines reviewed in the post and six others as a free sample package from the FLWA. I promised no positive reviews, or any reviews at all, in exchange for these bottles.
The Finger Lakes is a wine region in upstate New York. Although it does not get the same press as wine-making regions in California, Oregon, and Washington, those of us who have tasted Finger Lakes wines over the years know that they consistently show high quality. Of the many grapes that grow well in the region, Riesling is undoubtedly the king. I have tasted a number of rieslings from the Finger Lakes that rival the best examples of that varietal from places like Germany and Australia. I could bore you with a fuller history of the region, but that work has been done for me.
Two of the first wineries I remember trying from the Finger Lakes were Swedish Hill Winery and Fox Run Vineyards. While they are old favorites of mine, it has been some time since I have had an opportunity to taste any of their wines. Fortunately, that dry spell (pun intended) has come to an end. This year, the Riesling package that I received from FLWA included Swedish Hill Winery’s 2011 Riesling and Fox Run Vineyards 2011 Reserve Riesling.
Swedish Hill Winery‘s 2011 vintage was its 25th Anniversary production. The Peterson Family’s experience with grapes, however, goes back to 1969, when they started growing grapes for sale to other local wine producers. Swedish Hill has collected any impressive number of awards and accolades along the way. Their success allowed them to open Goose Watch Winery in 1997 and Penguin Bay Winery in 2005.
Swedish Hill’s 2011 Reisling is semi-sweet, with 2.35% residual sugar and 11.1% ABV. It is pale yellow in color with aromas of pineapples, peaches, and hints of petroleum. It is well balanced, and the sweetness does not cross the line into cloying. This wine has a delicate mouth feel with moderate acidity and flavors of apples with tropical notes. It’s a good stand-alone wine on a warm day or with the right dish; the winemaker recommends turkey, ham, and fresh fruit, and I can add butternut squash soup to that list. This is a good example of a quality, approachable Finger Lakes riesling. It is also a good value. 3/4, $15.99 per bottle.
Fox Run Vineyards is high on Torrey Ridge overlooking Seneca Lake. Fox Run has 55 acres of vines, including varietals like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir. Fox Run practices minimal intervention winemaking, and Fox Run’s owner, Scott Osborn, is not only a player in the wine industry, but also hosts the Fox Run Glorious Garlic Festival.
Fox Run’s 2011 Reserve Riesling is semi-sweet, clocking in with 2.2% residual sugar and 13% alcohol by volume. The Vineyard’s notes reflect an odd growing season with heavy rains early, a hot and dry summer, and more rains near the end of the growing season, but with enough sun to fully ripen the grapes. Whatever the intricacies of the growing season, Fox Run handled them perfectly. This wine has citrus and latex aromas with hints of kiwi and pineapple. There is a bright, but not overpowering acidity. As the wine opens up is shows flavors of pineapple, melon, and tropical fruit salad, with a bit of unripened peach. Well-balanced and drinkable, this is an excellent example of why Finger Lakes riesling is some of the most underrated wine in the world. 1/4, $29.99 per bottle.
Swedish Hill Winery
4565 State Route 414
Romulus, NY 14541
Fox Run Vineyards
670 State Route 14
Penn Yan, NY 14527