The Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York, was not one that I expected to be drawn to. I had always had that joke in my head that the Finger Lakes were low quality, high sugar, wines for the masses. Happily, I can report that I was wrong.
Recently, I was invited to participate in TasteNY, where several bloggers around the country each were offered 12 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes to taste and share. These were offered as no strings attached samples, and we were told that we could blog and tweet about if we wanted to, but the real goal was to get the word out that these wines existed and were an exciting region to explore.
Being from California, and more specifically, the Bay Area, where I have at least 4 wine growing regions nearby, I am somewhat narrowly focused on where my wines come from. I like to taste things before I buy them, and it’s difficult tot find a place to taste such variety outside of the comfort of my own couch. This has caused me to have a love affair with California wines, but also, more negatively, to live with wine blinders on. For that reason, I always love the opportunity to taste outside of my comfort zone, and to share with friends.
The Finger Lakes area is New York state’s largest wine producing region, but certainly not the only. There are more than 100 wineries and vineyards, that are clustered around the small Finger Lakes. The climate that has developed as a result of the lake effect keeps the summer warmth in the soil through the winter, and mitigates the cold northern new York climate. The grapes are naturally protected from frost, and results in a similar climate to the Alsace region of France and some parts of southern Germany. The primary vinifera varitals that are produced here are Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc. There are also some native American varietals produced here, but there are not as well known.
On the day I planned to taste these 12 wines, I invited several wine lovers and wine bloggers over to my house to help me drain the bottles. The only thing I asked them to bring was food that would pair well with the wines, and we had some tasty tid bits as a result. We of course had a lot of Thai food, something that is a natural pairing in my mind, as well as some excellent cheeses and other snacks. The spicy Thai food really paired well with the wines, which ranged from bone dry and minerally, to slightly sweet and refreshing.
the 12 wines we experienced were:
- Heron Hill Winery 2005 Old Vines Riesling
- Ravines Wine Cellars 2006 Riesling
- Red Newt Wine Cellars 2006 Reserve Riesling
- Sheldrake Point 2006 Reserve Riesling
- Atwater Vineyards 2007 Dry Riesling
- Wiemer Vineyards 2007 Dry Riesling
- Dr. Konstantin Frank 2007 Dry Riesling
- Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2008 Homestead Reserve Riesling
- Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling
- Billsboro Winery 2008 Dry Riesling
- Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Riesling
- Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Red Oak Vineyard Riesling
I did not take copious notes on this occasion, but I will tell you that my personal preference was for the dryer versions of the wine. Even paired with the sweet spicy curries and sauces, the petrol, grapefruit and mineral characteristics of the bone dry Rieslings were refreshing and a lively alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. All of these wines are value priced under $20, so they are very affordable as an everyday white that is not the standard Chardonnay or Sav Blanc which is de rigours.
I highly recommend that you go out to your local wine shop and seek out some of these wines. I know I will!