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July 08, 2009


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Great Article Evan! I am ashamed to say that I am in stage 2. Because I have never had a dry Riesling, I ditched them. But because of articles i read here, I am intrigued. I think I am ready to move on to stage 3, I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

My wife and I are planning our first anniversary up in the Finger Lakes this fall. It is a region I have never explored...but hope to in September!


I owned stage two for quite a while. I was its mayor. There's no right or wrong, even though I'm clearly a touch derisive about stage two-ers! I'm just smitten with Riesling and I find this progression to be fairly common.

If you're in the area, certainly let us know. We're always excited to help point people to our favorite restaurants / producers / etc. Cheers!

Stage 4, definately. The precentage of Riesling in my little hoard is slowly but consistently increasing; Australian, German, Alsace & South American - last month I had an Israeli Riesling! Dry, medium, sweet, Eiswein, young or old, I'll try the lot.

It's hard to look back without wondering why it took so long to realise this grape has it all.


How was the Isreali wine? Feel free to post a link here to your blog, which is always an interesting read. For me, Gunderloch was spellbinding, but that's too easy. Which is why it's exciting to be immersed in a Riesling hotbed that is slowly being discovered.

And Mike, by the way - I have nothing against "stage two" wines. I own some and drink some on occasion. I don't generally prefer them to their more distinctive counterparts, but they can be lovely to drink. My Brunello obsession ranges from Biondi-Santi to Siro Pacenti! (Though my preference stays with the B-S profile).

Great post Evan! I am well into stage 3 and look forward to continuing the cycle...

While I don't think I followed these stages directly, I do recall trying to chase after big reds before I began to appreciate the elegance of more subtle versions of the popular varietals. Part of recognition of what is great about the Finger Lakes is realizing that subtle, complex tastes inherent in cool-climate wines are unique, interesting, and in relative proximity.


I've had friends on the west coast tell me that the reason people in cooler climates prefer cooler climate wines is strictly due to viticultural xenophobia. They claim that it's easy to say a wine from a cooler climate is more "elegant" or "distinctive" as a compensation for its inability to provide a bigger profile. I disagree with this notion, but it begs the question: Can't there be elegance and muscle?

I tend to scoff at wine reviewers who pepper their writeups with lines like, "Powerful, concentrated, and yet graceful and elegant..." I've experienced wines like that, but surely not with the frequency that some writers would like us to believe.

Evan: Thanks for keeping the content cranking while I'm in the land of bad wine (so far at least).

I don't think I ever went through Stage 2, but this is an awesome progression and a great post. I'm a card-carrying member of the "Riesling is King" club, but still prefer the dry wines from the Finger Lakes. I just tend to prefer the flavors of the dry vs. semi-dry.

That said, some of the sweeter 08s I've tasted...incredible!


We're just trying to keep the seat warm - you should be basking in the sun and enjoying, as I'm sure you are!

I recently had an '08 Late Harvest Riesling with 4.1 RS and it had acidity in spades... scary. Huge.

Great piece Evan. I have been thinking of Riesling as "the wine that everyone can agree on"- but you raise a good point that some people are in stage 2 (or don't like white wine at all for that matter).

Can you think of another grape variety that is delicious and immediately enjoyable to people who don't normally drink wine -and- is also popular with wine geeks at the same time?

I'm thinking perhaps Torrontes might fit the bill.

Sitting in the condo as the typical Florida afternoon storm rolls through. Dinner at Norman's (www.normans.com) tonight!

Can't wait to taste more 08s next weekend.

Evan, no problem...some people are stuck in stage 2 or have ditched it all together. I can see how some people could be very happy in stage 2, but i am not...this article fits me to a tee.

For example, last month for my B-Day...I love Zin and Noir...but was getting tired of them. So I went out and got me some Wolfer 08 Rose, Shinn 07 & 08 Coalescence and Lenz 01 Merlot...had them all day in that order...fell in love with the 08 Shinn. (I had it at their futures event in Feb and did not like it.) I was/am getting bored of the reds

I am getting the itch for some good to great whites and want to explore the Riesling since I am a novice to it...just like you post states, I am growing tired of the Cab.

So quickly, point me in a direction for easy progression into stage 3, so that when I get to the FL region...I will be ready!

Oh...and Lenn...thanks for the recommend of the Lenz 01 Merlot...It was great!


First of all, you go by "Bob" and not "Rob?" The head spins. :)

I truly don't think any varietal comes close to Riesling in terms of finding something for people new to wine as well as wine geeks. However, geeks like me would love to spend more time with Torrontes -- I'd love to get your suggestion for a few solid producers that can be found with some consistency.


I think the quality that converts many people is balance. I'll ponder it and send you some ideas via Twitter DM.

I usually go by Bob, but it's no big deal either way. Thanks for asking though.

I think you're right, that no other variety matches Riesling in this way. I totally agree that Chardonnay isn't immediately enjoyable (heck, I don't even know if I like it so much). I see Sauv Blanc in a similar light- too crisp sometimes; too tart.

I don't have enough experience with Torrontes to say what it's like across a number of producers. One I had that I thought was quite good (and seemingly available everywhere) was from Crios:


I served a Riesling and this Torrontes to some of my siblings on vacation don't usually drink wine and they did indeed like the Riesling more than the Torrontes (in their words because Riesling was sweeter) but since then my sister has followed up and asked what the brand of the Torrontes was since she wanted to try it again as well.

At any rate, I really want to try some Finger Lakes Riesling to experience the eclectic style as you describe it. Intriguing wording! I like it.


Great post Evan! Being not to far off from your area (Grand River Valley, OH) I see this a lot at our winery. I always tell people our Riesling is the "compromise wine" - for the couple that just can't choose. And I have to be sneaky sometimes too - ours has very low RS, but people will dismiss it because they're stage 2-ers. I always enjoy seeing the glimmer of conversion to Stage 3 at the bar. If I had my way I'd pour everything blind and not give people tasting lists - too psychologically influencing.

I definitely went through this process - thought stage one may have been abbreviated as I was thrust into Loire and BDX reds early on. I'm nuts over German, NY, and S. American Riesling now. Have you had a chance to try Clean Slate? I think it's one of the best $10 bottles I've had - Mosel.



I figured this would resonate most with winery staff; last fall I poured in a busy Finger Lakes tasting room and I saw this all the time. One couple came in and the guy said to the girl, "Why don't you try the Riesling? It's a starter wine - you know, a dessert wine." I had to explain that it's, er, much more than that.

Have not had Clean Slate, but I'll seek it out if it's easily found in the states.

Pouring blind would be interesting, but there is still one psychological barrier that even a blind tasting might not eliminate -- red vs. white. Well, I suppose you could pour into shaded glasses, but now we're getting really sneaky...

Four hour dinners with Lyle, eh? Does he know you're dreaming about him?

David -

We've never met. He couldn't possibly know.

HI Evan - the Israeli wine (Ramim 2003) was sweet (not unexpectedly, there's a big Eastern European contingent over there and they like the sweet stuff), but it had a bit of character as well, not great, but not bad either.

As to other varities, I love Verdejo from Rueda and think Chenin Blanc (Loire & S. Africa) is underrated. I also like Torrontes. I haven't had a Finger Lakes (or any U.S.) Riesling, but hope to some day (being UK based then German is so much easier to obtain!).

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