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Finger Lakes Thanksgiving Wine Battle

November 26, 2010

A while ago I said that the problem with New York wines is that far too many of them just aren’t that good.  And it was suggested that I should really drink more of them.  Well, I took that one step further.

I brought some of the most appropriate specimens down to Connecticut for one of the most important dining events of the year, Thanksgiving.

This bout was scheduled for two rounds.

In the first round, I would pit two Finger Lakes dry Rieslings against each other.  One from a winery the family had previously enjoyed (Hermann J. Wiemer, 2008) and another well-regarded bottle of a different vintage (Dr. Konstantin Frank, 2009).

In the second round, I would put one of my favorite wines, a California gewürztraminer against a highly regarded wine from what I was told is New York’s gewürztraminer giant (Standing Stone, 2008).

How did they do?

In a word, great.

The family was pleasantly surprised to be enjoying wine from New York.  So my mission was accomplished: Spreading the gospel that there is good wine made in the state.

I had a bit of a surprise too.

Turns out of the two Rieslings, I preferred Dr. Frank’s.  This was surprising because I loved the Wiemer dry Riesling the last time I had it.  That wine was just so crisp and bright and alive it made me tingle.  This time it wasn’t.

This time it was Dr. Frank’s wine that really brought the acid and the fruit, and it was the wine that won me over.

But it occurred to me that this could have much to do with the vintage than anything else.  And by that I am not suggesting that 2009 was a better year than 2008.  Rather, that if it is crispness and acidity that one prizes in a wine, it is likely best to find the youngest bottle of the stuff, regardless of producer.

Lesson re-learned.

Considering the Standing Stone gewürztraminer had to go against one of my favorite wines, it did admirably well.  I loved its spicy nose, which was perfumed but not overwhelmed with flowers.  On the palate it offered a leaner style, with less fruit and more minerality than the Navarro.  Some liked this more, and other liked it less.  But I was very pleased to be able to say that this wine came from my state, and I can’t wait to eventually make it out to the vineyards where it is grown.

There will be more New York wines in my near future.  I may have over bought a bit for Thanksgiving.  The two that are waiting for me at home are both from Dr. Konstantin Frank, and given the wineries performance in the Riesling battle, I have great expectations.

I’ll just make sure to drink them sooner rather than later.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    November 26, 2010 1:46 pm

    So glad you took the plunge! Since I’ve been preaching the Finger Lakes wine gospel for so long (especially Dr. Konstantin Frank), I’m very happy you had such good results. To be sure, there are some Finger Lakes wines (and wineries overall) that are just not good – but the region has come a LONG way in just the last couple of decades. With some patient exploration, as you now know, it is indeed possible to be richly rewarded.

    If one of those wines waiting for you at home is the Dr. Frank’s Rkatsiteli, I hope you do taste it soon – looking forward to your thoughts on it!

  2. Lynn permalink
    November 26, 2010 8:53 pm

    I have been pushing the Finger Lakes wines for years, especially over the last 5-10. I lived in the Finger Lakes region for 30 years. During that time, I was able to watch the wineries develop and grow. Every year they got better and better, and there were more and more. Now, when I look at the number of wineries there are in the Finger Lakes, I am amazed. Having so many wineries to choose from makes it difficult to state which wine is your favorite. I have several. My best suggestion to you is to try them all! You cannot go wrong.

  3. November 28, 2010 10:53 am

    A lot of them AREN’T good, but the rieslings and the gewürztraminers are some of the best in the world. I am a big fan of Dr. Frank’s – it’s one of my favorites. Lamoureau Landing also has some great rieslings and gewurztraminers.

    Also, if you like sweeter, fruitier whites (not a lot of people care for them, I realize), the cayuga whites at a lot of the vineyards are really great. The cayuga grape is native to the Finger Lakes.

    Finally, I still think you should check out the Long Island vineyards. They will really blow you away.

  4. kelly permalink
    December 29, 2010 4:37 pm

    You should also try chateau Lafayette reneau if you enjoy a good reisling..there winemake is known for making amazing wines..

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