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June 06, 2011


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Tom, I enjoyed your comments, and I think you've nailed what's going on in Niagara with Riesling. The mantra is that r/s is required to balance acidity, and lovely wines can be made that way.

However, there's a different model of "dryness" that I've been learning about, that seems to be either avoided or missing from Niagara. I've recently had a chance to taste some German dry Rieslings made with riper grapes --- Spâtlese or even Auslese ripeness, which lowers the acidity significantly, and which of course means higher sugar levels and potential alcohol. So dryness (for them 9 grams/litre of less of residual sugar) means higher alcohol (11.5-12.5% abv). The profile of some of these is close to that of an unoaked Chardonnay: say 7 g/l of TA, 4 g/l or r/s and 12.5% alcohol, perhaps with some time on lees. I'd be interested in finding out of there are any dry Rieslings made on this model in your neck of the woods.


Offhand, I would say it's fairly uncommon for that to happen in the Finger Lakes (even though the alcohol levels are almost always around 12%...). Most "late-harvest" Rieslings come in sweet. I have had some ridiculous TBA-style wines from here too (Anthony Road is the star in that department).

I suspect that overall ripeness has a lot to do with it, coupled with the demands of harvest ("add more riesling to the late October/November harvest, sure!"), plus the pressure to maintain clean fruit until then.

Tricia Renshaw and Kelby Russell of Fox Run experimented with some 2010 late-harvest Riesling that was fermented dry. It's a fascinating wine, though I am hard pressed (no pun) to say what exactly is so interesting about it. Mouthfeel, perhaps. We are going to bottle it as its own wine. Stay tuned.

The very same juice was also made in two other ways, one as a low-alcohol (8%) and high sugar (64 g/L) wine, and another as a 'pied de cuve' ferment.

Lisa Hallgren's scratchy cooking is down-home good!

Nice post. I wish it was easier to find these wines downstate.

But - the scientific aspects of biodynamics? Exactly what scientific aspects are you referring to?

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