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June 01, 2011

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This is a fun read. I have had my own "experiment" going for a bit. TO be clear, though, are you applying these thoughts to all rieslings - dry to dessert style?

Did they say anything else about the 2005, or can somebody else suggest what it is--or might be like? Does saying that it's not how they prefer imply that the others in this tasting did exactly what they'd hope?

Antoinette - Great point and question. My guess is that a well made Riesling will age nicely no matter the RS, but I'd also guess that a dry Riesling will have a different evolution than a semi-dry, and a dessert style, etc. There is some expectation that richer, sweeter rieslings have longer lives. I tend to hold more semi-dry and late harvest rieslngs, but I certainly hold dry bottlings, too.

Knile - I'll let Heron Hill jump on here to answer that question. I know they felt that the other six wines were in line with expectations, but that doesn't mean they agree with all of my notes on the wines.

Back in either 1992 or 1993, while I was working at Glenora we put together a vertical tasting of Glenora Rieslings for Wine and Spirits magazine. I no longer have a copy of the article, but I remember that the standout wine at the time was the 1982 Select Late Harvest. It was amazing the depth that the sweet wine developed over the 10 years it had been in the bottle. However all of the wines tasted that day all the way back to I think the 1978 vintage were showing remarkable youth and vibrance. In 1998 I had an opportunity to try another bottle of that 1982 and while the character had defiantly changed, it was still going strong.

In general the areas Rieslings hold up very well to age. I have found that like all aged wines though, not everyone immediately appreciates the change in character of the wines. Aged Rieslings are something of an acquired taste for some, but for those that understand them they are a wonderful experience.

Michael - Awesome story; thanks for stopping in to share it.

I think you're right: aged riesling is an acquired taste for those who are only accustomed to primary, youthful riesling. But the same can be said for Bordeaux or so many other wines.

It (almost) goes without saying that tasters have to tolerate an ever greater standard deviation in quality as wines are aged; that is, individual bottles are more and more likely to be different from each other as they get older.

Today we tasted the 2005 Tierce Riesling under two different closures: the standard Stelvins and a bark cork. They were almost not recognizable as the same wine. A confounding variable here was that the corks were used in bottles at the very end of the bottling run, when oxygen pickup tends to spike.

And two other points: 1) 2005 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes had a tendency to crash fairly early in their lives, which may be why Heron Hill pulled theirs from the tasting; and 2) I think I will go to my grave feeling that dry Rieslings just don't hold their interest as reliably with age compared to sweeter ones.

Evan - remember when we had the 02 Ingle Vineyard I brought by Luce Hawkins this winter? Whats a pleasant surprise that was.

we tasted 2000-2010 dry riesling from Lucas recently and there was a wide range of flavors going on. For some reason the dry style just doesn't seem to age as well. the 2001 had some wonderful flavors, but the 2009 and 2010 really have great potential. no doubt the techniques have got better, from vineyard to storage and enclosures. also i have noticed a significant difference between the lakes especially during the cooler vintages.
Mike- I have some old Hazlitt bottles that are tasting awesome right now 1998 cab sauv and cab franc and this 2001 Menage is just delicious.
I find it interesting that nobody talks about Gewürztraminer, another very nice grape that grows well in the cooler climate of the finger lakes. I have some older bottles that have held up really well over the years.

Howie,

I haven't had a bottle of the Menage in years. I only made the one vintage, and really always meant for it to hit it's prime after 5 years or so, nice to hear it is holding up. The 1998s were a nice vintage, I have to admit it though I think the 1999 vintage wines were much better.

Gewürztraminer is one that never seems to get much buzz about laying down. I think that it is such a cult wine in general that a very small number of them get saved.

re: 2005 Tierce, how was it? You only mention the closures but not what the wines tasted like. I'm only asking because we have two bottles of the '06 that I'm starting to get curious about.

Here at Heron Hill this is our second year of the Ingle Vineyard Vertical Riesling for '02 to '07, last year we served the 2005 as well. It was very bright, with fantastic acidity and seemed to be one of the favorite of the wines that we served last year, unfortunately we only saved 3 cases of that wine and we sold out of that particular vintage. Due to the success of the Vertical we are on limited supply of wines. We have also saved a few Riesling Reserves from older vintages that we have yet to release. Let’s hope that all the producers in the Finger Lakes start or continue to work on their cellars and save me a few bottles to try!
I know personally, I have just cleaned out my cellar and am starting on some 2002 (when I first started really drinking/buying wine) and am really enjoying tasting these wines. I have gotten burned on a few bottles, but for the most part....I LOVE them!

I'm not willing to go as far and say that sweeter rieslings will develop better in the long term, rather I think that balance determines the viability of the vintage.

http://www.lenndevours.com/2010/07/peconic-bay-winery-10vintage-riesling-vertical-a-strong-argument-for-diversity.html

In the 10-year vertical of our Rieslings conducted twice last year, our bone dry style didn't get in the way of successful aging (with only one vintage showing "atypical aging." Key to aging Riesling must be a very low pH.

All that said, I do feel that for extraordinary aging potential, say beyond 20+ years, residual sugar is bound to leave a better impression when that old bottle gets tasted.

Paul Z,

The 2005 Tierce was still delicious, but 2006 was a much more successful year for Rieslings in the Finger Lakes. As you can tell, I tend to like dry Rieslings on the young side, when their tension and raciness are at the forefront, so if it were me I'd crack open that 2006 pretty soon.

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