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August 04, 2010


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I think it all comes down the acid levels. If you have a year with ample growing days (like 2010 seems to be), the sugars will be up, acids will be down, and yuou'll be able to doa good .4RS wine. In a cooler season with fewer growing days (2009) I would think that a .8RS level would offset the acids and flaws in a potentially underripe vintage.

BALANCE is always the key, even in the conversation. Talking about sugar serves to highlight one thing without a sense of balance in the conversation.

With no apparent standard for what constitutes a balanced wine (and no particular means to come to such a standard) "balance," has become a relatively subjective concept. So, a fruity Riesling with .4 RS offset by .8 TA and 3.1 pH is balanced to some palates and unbalanced to others.

Any wine that forces you to focus on any single component is by nature unbalanced. Balance in wine is like the melding of four-part harmony: each voice is unique but together the four create joyous, complementary sound. Whether high or low, the numbers don't mean much if a wine is balanced, except to those of us who can't get past our own taste biases.

I forgot to add that I recently tasted a Dry Long Island Riesling produced from Finger Lakes grapes: no fruit, 13 plus % alcohol, solid acidity, and well under noticeable RS. The wine forced me to focus on its many drawbacks and not on anything pleasurable. The wine's lack of balance extended to its price of $30 a bottle.

In an attempt to produce a dry Riesling, the winemaker forgot about balance, and in the pricing, the owner forgot about value.

Thomas: Welcome back to our comments. Always great to hear from you. I actually know exactly what wine you're referring to (Evan and I had an email chat about it last week) and my review is coming.

Several Long Island producers got in on that same lot of Seneca Lake juice and the varying resultant wines is pretty fascinating. Perhaps I need to gather them for a side-by-side-by-side-by-side tasting sometime.


For various reasons, I have tempered and reduced my commenting on the Internet, until such time as there is a subject that I feel I can contribute to--without starting an argument ;)

If you do that side-by-side-by-side I'd love to know how it turns out. After tasting the particular Riesling I mention I wondered concerning the efficacy (regarding reputation) of one region/appellation selling grapes to another region and then the latter region identifying the former on the label, but the wine does not live up to the reputation of the grape source.

I also wonder why the Finger Lakes region has Riesling grapes to sell, but that has nothing to do with this discussion.


You know we don't mind an argument here on the NYCR every now and again.

I can think of 5 (maybe 6) producers down here who used that Finger Lakes juice to make a varietal riesling in 2009 and then at least two others (with some likely overlap) that used it for a value white blend.

Both value blends are winners in my book but none of the varietal rieslings have been reviewed yet.

Should be an interesting piece if I can pull them all together.


Thomas brings up a really interesting point about how the practice of selling grapes could potentially mar the image of a region that has struggled to elevate its reputation. What's your thought on that?

On a side note, this past weekend I opened 3 FLX Rieslings from Red Newt with a diverse group of neighbors (USA, Australia, China, Malaysia) and the one that got the most comments/questions was the driest of the group.

In all the revelry I forgot to write down exact vintages and wine names. My bad.


Sue: Thomas raises an interesting point, but I'm not sure it puts the selling region at risk. Finger Lakes wineries have been buying reds from Long Island (usually labeling them New York though) for years.

A few LI producers making Finger Lakes-labeled wines isn't going to have much impact I don't think. They aren't big-production wines and some of them are good -- not embarrassing at all.

It IS interesting, however, that there is Finger Lakes riesling to be had given the "rumors" that some of the larger FLX producers are buying west coast riesling juice/bulk wine!

Oh...and if those three rieslings are the samples Dave handed out at TasteCamp, the driest of the three was this one:


Thanks Lenn. After my visit up to the FLX for TasteCamp I was really rooting for the area. Thanks for the link to the Riesling. I see it has .7 RS.


Some Finger Lakes Riesling grapes are sold to a winemaker in California as well--or at least have been sold in the past. While the only thing that can do for California is to raise its Riesling status, a bad wine can hurt the appellation on the label, especially one that continues to suffer the low esteem of so many wine geeks.

As to your other point: it is a mystery to me why Finger Lakes Riesling goes out of and West Coast Riesling comes into the region. The only possible explanation is tonnage price--but saving on tonnage could in the long run produce a pyrrhic victory, as selling lower end product might also put holes in the reputation. Such practices have a historical record that dates back to the Phoenicians and it is the reason behind the collapse of a few well-known historical wine regions.

"Enamel is a nice asset for a set of human teeth, and searing it off with acid water is an unkind trick to turn." - LOVE IT!!!

God, I've had that tooth-aching experience too many times!

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