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March 25, 2009

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Finger Lakes 2007 Rieslings are redeeming themselves, to say the very least, after an acne-ridden adolescence. This is one of the best.

Peter: I've tasted very few 2007 riesling that truly lacked backbone. Of course, that could be because of acid being added during the winemaking process.

My only complaint, and it's maybe a minor one, is that some of the minerality seems to be beaten into submission but the bigger fruit flavors.

Funny,
I discovered Atwater on the North Fork, too.... way back when Galluccio was open and they were tasting many FL wines. They said it was part of a sharing program they established with some wines in the FL whereby they poured FL wines and the FL wineries poured Galluccio wines.
Galluccio went out of business shortly after that so the program didn't last long.
It would be interesting to see some other wineries strike up such a partnership. It could even be a great idea for The Tasting Room to consider.

As a side, has anyone heard anything more about the Galluccio site? I heard that Macari was going to open another tasting room there last year but it never happened.

Dave: Last I heard, the Macari's had the Galluccio property on the market at a price that would net a nice profit. Haven't heard much lately though.

Peter,

Is there a scientific explanation for why the 07s are evolving to show more structure and balance? For a while it seemed like 07 would be the flabbiest Riesling year of the decade, but the recent showings have been impressive.

Evan,

If there is a scientific explanation, we don't know what it is. That was a strange year. We should know by now about the Ugly Ducking syndrome, but it seemed clear that 07 was not a classic year for Riesling after all our empirical observations this time last year, and we thought that the wines from should be just passed through the market without too much fanfare.

Ok, fast forward to early 2009, and Fox Run's 2007 Dry Riesling is the top scoring wine of 160 wines in an Appellation America tasting in California, getting perfect scores from all the judges. Huh? It's drinking beautifully,as are most other Finger Lakes versions. In this instance, winemakers (at least here at Fox Run) had a very clouded crystal ball.

The Germans have a huge advantage here, by virtue of being able to call on decades of experience, and maybe not releasing a bottling till it is really showing well.

Peter,

Fascinating stuff -- and congrats, by the way, on that honor. Tomorrow I'm going to pick up a bottle of that very wine from Fox Run.

Two points, or rather one point and one question:

1) The Germans not only have decades of experience on their side; they might very well have more financial freedom. Many Finger Lakes wineries need to release wines on dates based at least in part on financial reasons. It's not an ideal world, just reality, and I know I'm not breaking new ground here.

2) Given the seeming evolution of the 2007 Rieslings, what would make for a "bad" or "off" Riesling vintage in the Finger Lakes? Is Riesling nearly bulletproof in this appellation?

03' 04' 06' 08' the ok years

01' 05' 07' the great years

Don,

Just to be clear, you're listing 06 and 08 as "okay" years for Riesling in the Finger Lakes? That is not at all what I've heard. There is palpable excitement about 08 -- Vinny Aliperti said today that based on early results, 08 should grab even more attention than usual for FL Riesling.

Wine buff I am not but this is good stuff.

From what I have tasted, '08 is going to be a great year for FL Riesling.

Peter,

I have to think that, at this point, we're seeing a group of 07 Rieslings that are over-performing because they come from the most talented producers. I've tasted plenty of 07 Rieslings that didn't have that racy edge that we usually see, but then all of a sudden that spark is back. But that spark can be found in Anthony Road, Fox Run, Wiemer, Ravines, Atwater, and a few others. Those names are well known for a reason.

One of the great pleasures of drinking wine is finding the producers who can over-perform in "down" years. I'm not asserting that 07 is a down year, but everyone seems to agree that the weather was not ideal for Riesling. Wine should taste a bit different from year to year, but when a strong winemaker can take a challenge vintage and still make excellent wine, that's something special.

Evan: "Don" is actually John Zuccharino from Silver Springs Winery, who I believe does not make riesling. Perhaps his vintage comments are for his own wines?

You've hit on a thing that I really love too -- finding great wines from off years. Some of my favorite wines in recent memory are red blends from Roanoke Vineyards from the 2003 vintage, widely panned anything but a good year for Long Island reds.

Peter: As a winemaker in the Finger Lakes, would you rather have a year that is brilliant for riesling (06 or 08 maybe) or a year like 2007 that enables you to make some of the region's best reds ever?

For certain, in an "off" year, very good Rieslings can be made. Even '03 and '04 produced some very good ones. One aspect of this is that all white grape varieties get adequately ripe more easily that reds, and Riesling is no exception. Also, we can tolerate or even want some Botrytis in Riesling, while it is never a good thing in Chardonnay.

Of the 19 vintages I have worked in the Finger Lakes, only 1992 was really bad for whites. The degrees Brix and the titratable acidity (expressed in grams per liter) were almost the same.

2007 made some very tasty Rieslings, though not as stellar as 2005, 2006 and 2008. Aside from a slight lack of acid in some of the 2005s, all three of those vintages were fantastic for Riesling.

Lenn,

I'm excited to hear Peter (and Peter Bell -- I believe we've got two winemaking Peters here!) answer your question. Your question reminds me of what Peter Bell often says, and it's something I agree with: The world's best wines are made in cool climates in warm vintages. It's not simply convenient to say so; I think it happens to be right on the mark.

Though let's be clear -- it's hard to beat Cote Rotie or Saint-Joseph in any year. ;)

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