Washington hasn’t quite cornered the market, thanks to the uniformly delicious wines from this East Coast area.
HERE IN THE Pacific Northwest, riesling lovers have it made.
In Washington, we have the largest riesling producer in the world and dozens of wineries producing delicious examples of the noble white wine. Oregon’s Willamette Valley makes astonishing examples of dry rieslings. Cross the 49th parallel to the north, and you enter the Okanagan Valley, a region that crafts staggeringly stunning rieslings. Idaho recently began releasing examples of great depth and quality.
But it turns out we don’t have the market cornered on great rieslings. In fact, a little region in another corner of the country is not only focusing on riesling but also is making extraordinary wines.
Four to try
Finger Lakes wines don’t have heavy distribution beyond the Northeast. However, top wine shops do carry some of the wines, including Compass Wines in Anacortes and retailers such as Wine.com. And most wineries will ship directly to consumers on our coast.
Thirsty Owl 2016 dry riesling, Finger Lakes, $15: Aromas of ripe nectarines, Golden Delicious apples and spices give way to flavors of bright, ripe orchard fruit backed by glorious acidity.
Red Newt Cellars 2016 riesling, Finger Lakes, $16: Flavors reminiscent of the first bite of a ripe, juicy Ginger Gold apple, propped up by notes of spices and bright acidity, plus bold fruit throughout the lengthy finish.
Anthony Road Wine Co. 2013 riesling, Finger Lakes, $29: Aromas and flavors of Golden Delicious apples and spices highlight this remarkable riesling that is bold and ripe throughout and backed by searing acidity and flavors of ripe peach.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2016 dry riesling, Finger Lakes, $16: A flutter of minerality offers complexity in this superb example, followed by flavors that are in-your-face dry, giving way to notes of Asian pear, spice and dustiness in the long, memorable finish.
The Finger Lakes region of New York, a five-hour drive upstate from New York City, could be described as riesling heaven. It’s so named because of 11 long, narrow lakes that spread out below Lake Ontario.
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There are nearly 10,000 acres of wine grapes established in the Finger Lakes, the earliest planted in the 1830s. Of this, nearly 1,000 acres are devoted to riesling, and most of the 130 wineries produce at least one style of riesling (many, more than one).
The wines are uniformly delicious, bursting with ripe orchard fruit, and backed with impressive and precise acidity. The Finger Lakes region does riesling right. The vineyards typically are planted along the lakeshores, which provide some moderating effect, protecting the vines and grapes from weather extremes.
Riesling is not the only grape grown here. Pinot noir, chardonnay and even lemberger enjoy a following.
The Finger Lakes help prove that riesling is America’s grape, shining across the continent.