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2013 Finger Lakes Riesling Vintage — They Did It Again

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On September 27, 2014, the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance (“FLWA”) sponsored its annual virtual tasting on Twitter for members of the wine media (using the term very generously in my case) interested in trying the new vintage of Finger Lakes rieslings. I have long been an advocate of the Finger Lakes as an under appreciated wine region, particularly with regard to its rieslings. A look back through my blog entries will reveal many posts discussing Finger Lakes wineries and their prior vintages. Although I am sometimes hesitant to accept samples for fear of then having to write about the wines, I am never hesitant with submissions from the Finger Lakes. The four sample bottles that the FLWA provided this year again showed the consistent quality and wonderful variety of styles available throughout the region. I would recommend any of the four wines I review below, depending on where and how you plan to enjoy them.

Though I will only write about the four wines I tried here, the best way to learn about the vintage may be to read the entire 2013 Vintage Riesling Launch #FLXRiesling Hour transcript, which FLWA has been kind enough to post. It contains not only my posts from @ilove2drinkwine, but tweets from numerous wine aficionados and the wineries themselves. The Q&As between the tasters and the wineries are fascinating. To get the full effect, I would suggest reading in chronological order (which means scrolling down a long way up front). You can also go back in time on my Twitter feed.

The 2013 Finger Lakes growing year was wet in June and July, which slowed the ripening process. But a dry August/September helped to create a successful vintage. As for my wines, they ranged from Dry to Semi-Dry, though even the dry wines contained a bit of residual sugar. This set of wines demonstrate the variety that different climate conditions create even within the region, as well as the effects that different stylistic decisions within the winery can have on the final product. I’ll summarize each wine quickly below, though taking the time to read the Twitter exchange linked to above is really the best way to learn about these wines, particularly through the comments of those who made them.

2013 Hosmer Dry Riesling: Hosmer Winery began as a grape farm in the early 1970s. The winery opened in 1985 and is located on the west bank of Cayuga Lake. Hosmer’s riesling vines range from 25-30 years old and grow in Cazenovian soils. Hosmer’s 2013 Dry Riesling is pretty dry at 7g/L residual sugar and has 8.2 g/L total acidity. It shows aromas of pineapple and green apple with some tropical notes. These tropical notes remain on the front end when tasting the wine, but give way to strong, tart lemon and lime on the back end. The wine as good acidity and is well balanced — very enjoyable wine. 88 points.

2013 Glenora Dry Riesling: Glenora Wine Cellars was the first winery on Seneca Lake. Founded on 1977, it is just 8 miles north of Watkins Glen, NY. Its 2013 Dry Riesling clocks in pretty dry, but twice as sweet as the Hosmer, at 14 g/l. It’s a bit less acidic at 7.2 g/L total acidity. The aromas on the Glenora are subtle, but there are hints of apple, honey, and that characteristic Riesling petroleum. It shows apple, apricot, pineapple, and melon flavors, with medium acidity and a bot smoother mouth feel than the Hosmer. Lovely wine. 87 points, $14.99 per bottle.

2013 Chateau Lafayette Reneau Dry Riesling: If I had to pick a winner for the tasting, this would be it for me. CLR was founded in the mid-1980s on the Southeast side of Seneca Lake by Dick and Betty Reno after vacationing in the Finger Lakes and deciding to retire there. In Fall 2013, the owners of Glenora and Knapp Winery & Vineyards purchased CLR with the hope of maintaining the legacy started by the Renos. The 2013 Dry Riesling come sin at 1.1% residual sugar and .86 g/L total acidity. It is very light and pale (almost colorless), with aromas of apple and honey with hints of dried fruits and petroleum. The palate starts with crisp, tart apple. Then the residual sugar and citrus emerges — the balance of acidity and sweetness is wonderful. 89 points, $14.99/bottle.

2013 Swedish Hill Riesling: Swedish Hill is one of the largest wineries in the Finger Lakes and is owned and operated by the Peterson family. Its 2013 Riesling was the sweetest of the 4 wines that I tasted, clocking in at 2.4% residual sugar and 7.65 g/L total acidity. It, too, had a light, pale straw color. It was the only wine of the 4 where the classic Riesling petroleum aroma hit me immediately. The wine has flavors of peaches and apples, with some tropical notes. The sweetness balances well with the acidity, and this would be the perfect wine to have with a fruit tray. 87 points.

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