By Jason Feulner, Finger Lakes Correspondent
Events sometimes receive an exclamatory billing only to draw attention to an antithetical subtext. The title of the "Riesling Shoot-Out," the brainchild of John Zuccarino of Silver Springs Winery and wine author Thomas Pellechia, evokes a line-in-the-sand Wild West gun fight between Finger Lakes and German rieslings, with only the biggest and baddest wines left standing to proclaim victory.
Of course, the results were far more mixed, and therein lies the point.
The big critics and the publications they work for consider Germany the home of riesling and treat her wines well, giving many a score above the coveted 90-point mark. As this website and others have noted, great wines from the Finger Lakes often hit a ceiling of 88 or 89 points, begging observers to ask, "How can so many Finger Lakes rieslings can get so close to 90 but no standouts emerge from the pack?"
It's a question that both Lenn and I have asked here on LENNDEVOURS as well.
Last Saturday, a panel of 16 judges representing wine blogs, local media, two major wine publications, and even the New England chapter of the German Wine Society, descended on Glenora's hotel and dining facility on Seneca Lake to blind taste a round of 15 rieslings. I was privileged to be one of the sixteen judges.
We tasted the 15 wines, three glasses at a time, in the same order. The organizers told us that these wines were all rieslings, and that they represented Germany, the Finger Lakes, and a single Canadian outlier. No other information was given.
The judging sheet asked us to provide some general impressions about aromatics and varietal taste, and then asked us to give a numeric score on the 100-point scale.
After the tasting was complete, the organizers revealed that there were two repeats (a 2006 Wiemer and a 2006 Prejean, both Finger Lakes wines) in the 15 wine program, so we had really only tasted 13 wines. All of the judges immediately realized, with some mix of humor and horror, that we all had given different scores to the same two wines, with a few of us granting wildly different scores.
At the end of the post I will list the wines tasted during the competition. The general results exhibit what many would expect: the Finger Lakes held up just fine. Four of the six Finger Lakes wines received scores of 90 or above with a total of twelve votes for this distinction divided amongst the four wines. Five German wines received scores of 90 or above, with 15 total votes divided between these rieslings. The Canadian wine received two scores of 90 or above.
The Wiemer and Prejean were the Finger Lakes standouts. The German wines with the most 90+ acclaim were the Donnhoff and the Messmer.