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May 19, 2009

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Do the Finger Lakes wineries have a standard definition of "Dry Riesling"? Noted your impression that you are curious how the driest of these, the Ravines, will age. Were the others comparable? I know that technical dryness does not always translate to the palate (dry Rieslings often fool people by being so fruity that they seem sweet), but curious as to whether this came up. And Was the Fox Run 2004 as low in RS as others, but simply not labeled "dry"?

Tish: I'll defer to Evan on that question, but just in my experience with FL rieslings -- no, there isn't a standard definition. One winery may have a "dry" wine that is 1.5% RS but others consider that "off dry".

I guess that's why the International Riesling Foundation has put together their scale, which takes RS, pH and acid together and puts each wine on a scale. Several 2008s that I've seen have adopted it.

Evan: My question is... are any wineries selling these wines in their tasting rooms? I can go to Red Newt when I'm in town next, but I'd love to buy some of these older wines for my cellar.

Tish,

Ravines was 0.3, most others checked in between 0.7 and 1.2. I asked winemaker Morten Hallgren during the event how he thought a 0.3 Riesing will age, and while I don't want to speak for him, he essentially said that he envisions a long life for the wine. He points to the structure and strong acid backbone, and in his experience his dry Rieslings have slowly brought more exotic fruit notes forward over time. He also pointed out that in such a young region, we're all in a period of discovery, certainly.

Not sure of the Fox Run RS offhand, but I hope Peter Bell or Tricia Renshaw can answer that. It's safe to assume that number is around 2.0. In the Finger Lakes, Dry Riesling runs from 0.3 to about 1.2, but most check in somewhere in the upper middle of that range. Wines labeled "Riesling" or "Semi-Dry Riesling" tend to check in around 2.0 with a little more variability in range.

Lenn,

I don't know the answer, but when it was brought up after the panel, the regular answer I heard was, "Call the winery and we'll talk," or, "We'll see what we can sell." Some of the Red Newt is certainly available; I can't speak with certainty about the rest.

Evan, I enjoyed attending the event and thought that the panel did a tremendous job creating a dialogue with a very curious audience.

My 2 cents: while many of the wines were very good to excellent, the idea of drinking a 12-year-old wine (the Dr. Frank's) and having it shine was most exciting for me. I would have loved an opportunity to taste a batch wines over 10 years old, although what we had was certainly something to work with and all of it will, of course, be over 10 years at some point in the near future. I'm confident many of these wines have some life left in them for many years to come.

Jason,

I understand completely, and of course there is an opportunity coming up to taste 20 years of Rieslings from one winery (that would be Dr. Frank on May 31).

Great post, Evan.

The Fox Run version you tasted was indeed a little over 2% r.s. We find that our dry versions are less apt to develop toast/honey/kerosene flavors with age. They often get a little mean and cranky compared to the bottlings that start off a little sweeter.

I hope everyone has seen this article by now, which came out about 8 years ago:

http://www.rivendellwine.com/article05.html

Tasting this great flight of older Rieslings was certainly a treat.

At the risk of sounding like I'm making a shameless plug, I'm posting a link to the menu of a 5 course dinner that Debra is preparing this Friday at Red Newt. The wines will be:
2008 Red Newt "Circle" Riesling
2007 Red Newt Semi Dry Riesling
2006 Red Newt Reserve (dry) Riesling
2006 Tierce Riesling
2005 Tierce Riesling
2004 Tierce Riesling
2003 Red Newt Reserve Dry Riesling
2002 Red Newt Reserve Dry Riesling

Should be fun!
http://rednewt.com/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72:may-riesling-wine-table-on-may-22nd-7pm&catid=42:menus&Itemid=107

Thanks!

Evan,

You are being overly modest when you write "I was simply trying not to get in the way." The discussion you initiated with Morten on seasonal variation and the interaction of climate, location, and winemaking style was for me the high point of the Library Rieslings tasting. To know something about this subject as textbook knowledge is one thing; to listen to a discussion of the topic with the winemakers present, while comparing back-to-back vintages of their wines, was altogether more interesting and informative. My thanks go out to you for getting the discussion started, and to the other members of the panel and the winemakers in the audience for the substantive conversation that followed.

Best,

Neil Miller
Stressingthevine.com

Neil,

You're very kind. We all agreed that the level of discussion and debate was higher than we anticipated, largely due to a very strong audience. Just hearing the varied approaches by some undeniably talented winemakers made for fascinating stuff!

Thanks for the comment. Cheers.

good post, but I got to say, NOBODY enjoys hemmingway the FIRST time.

Rowland - A fair point! Aged Riesling is more universally palatable, I suppose.

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