Last month, I wrote an article on “Exploring the Finger Lakes Wine Region,” a wonderful region in upstate New York. In response to my article, I happily received four bottles of Finger Lakes wines from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. Thank you!!! Last night, I tried the two Finger Lakes Rieslings and am devoting this article to the delicious experience.
A Quick Review
Before getting into the tasting, let’s do a quick review of the Finger Lakes appellation.
The Finger Lakes AVA wine region is often compared to the German wine regions along the Rhine river. The region specializes in aromatic whites like Riesling and Gewurztraminer and also cool-climate reds like Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. According to Madeline Puckette, the writer for Wine Folly, this appellation is “Shockingly cultured and yet delightfully unpretentious.”
The Three Wines We Tried
We decided to compare the Finger Lakes Rieslings to a Western Riesling to see if we could find differences. So here are the wines we tried:
- 2015 Thirsty Owl Finger Lakes Riesling, 11.7% alcohol
- 2015 Dr. Konstantin Finger Lakes Riesling, 12% alcohol
- 2015 WineShop At Home Washington Riesling, 11.5% alcohol
All of them had faint noses that became slightly more apparent as the wines warmed up. The WA wine was the sweetest, and the Dr. Konstantin was the driest. Interesting that the order of sweet to dry aligned with the alcohol content.
All three wines were delicious, especially with dried figs and apricots.
Tasting just three wines wasn’t enough for us to delineate the properties of Finger Lakes Rieslings from Western Rieslings. An opportunity to do some more tasting!
2015 Thirsty Owl Finger Lakes Riesling
According to Thirsty Owl’s website, “Thirsty Owl Wine Company is a destination winery, midway up the West side of Cayuga Lake, dedicated to producing high quality wines. With 150 acres and over 2,000 feet of lake frontage, visitors can taste fine wine and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and vineyards. The water’s ability to regulate air temperature lends to a meso climate that produces exceptional wines.”
When the winery opened for business in 2002, they produced approximately 1,200 cases. They have “increased production by over 1000%.”
The winery has a combination of older plantings and newer plantings. According to the label on the bottle, the 2015 Riesling was “produced from three estate grown blocks of Riesling, including the original Plane Vineyard planted in the early 1980s.”
We loved the balance of sweetness and acidity in this wine. We tasted and smelled lemon, jasmine, honeysuckle and a hint of earthiness.
WineEnthusiast gave this wine 88 points and described it like this: “Subtle tones of smoked nut and smoky mineral accent, easy fruity yellow-apple and grapefruit flavors in this delicate off-dry Riesling. A burst of sunny lemonade acidity brightens the midpalate leaving a brisk, clean finish.”
2015 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling
The founder of the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank, is responsible for New York’s success in the wine world. Before Frank, nobody thought that Vitis vinifera, the traditional grapes of European winemakers, would grow in cold upstate New York. But Frank was from Ukraine, so he knew that this could be done.
According to their website, “Dr. Konstantin Frank ignited the ‘Vinifera Revolution’, a movement that forever changed the course of wine growing in the Finger Lakes and the United States. Dr. Frank’s vision, knowledge and determination are credited with elevating the New York wine industry from a state of happy mediocrity to a level that today commands world attention.”
Their website describes the 2015 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling like this: “A crisp acidity and characteristic Keuka Lake minerality enhance the lively lemon, green apple and floral notes of this wine.”
We also got notes of roses and newsprint. That probably sounds a little weird. But it was very good.
If you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Finger Lakes Rieslings, please share your experiences with us here. Cheers!
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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