That there would be a fair bit of riesling – and good riesling – to be had in the Finger Lakes region, in New York, was hardly a surprise. But I have to say that, even with a warning of sorts by Evan Dawson, one of the organizers of Tastecamp, I was surprised with the range of styles I encountered over this first day. From bone dry to medium-sweet (and I’m not even talking about the icewines), from mineral and petrol aromas to stonefruit, citrus and exotic fruit, there was a whole gamut of interpretations available.
Some good examples were a 2002 Ingle Vineyard dry riesling from Heron Hill Winery, which was hosting a grand tasting of a dozen or so Keuka Lake wineries. Their single vineyard wine had taken on very nice mineral, petrol notes, and felt very open and pleasant. At under 20$, a very good buy. Other pleasant rieslings from the tasting, with a little more fruit and nice mineral undertones were from MacGregor Vineyards and Hunt Country.
But the real surprise came from Ravines Vineyard, a little later on. At this solid winery, where the wines displayed confident and precise winemaking choices, the rieslings were bone dry and built for the very long run. The 2008s, in particular, displayed a very compact profile that seems very promising for the future. Quite unique and very convincing. The reds at the winery were also very well-made, including a very well-balanced 2007 pinot noir. This will deserve longer tasting notes.
In the evening, before dinner at Red Newt Cellars, we also were treated to three vintages of Tierce riesling, a very interesting project from Anthony Road, Fox Run and Red Newt Cellars. After tasting individual rieslings from the three wineries – ranging from drier and more mineral to exotic-fruit laden and round – we also tasted how wines from the three wineries came together in a blend defined by the three winemakers in a rather unique collective effort. The 2006 was particularly successful, bringing together all three styles in a complex, expressive whole featuring a little sweetness, some tropical fruit, citrus and mineral notes. Very good.
A nice surprise, in the evening, was the arrival on the dinner table of some pretty solid reds made – again, together and separately – by the winemakers of Anthony Road, Red Newt and Fox Run. In 2007, faced with a hot year that did not produce the style of riesling they were looking for in the Tierce, this remarkable trio decided to try their hand at a red Tierce, made from cabernet franc, lemberger (or blaufrankish), cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot. Well-rounded, it was a coherent, smooth blend that went well with a nice duck dish and even better with a bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin from the Red Newt Cellars Bistro.
Reds from the individual wineries were also on the table, and I must say I was pretty impressed with the 2007 Red Newt Syrah, which showed lovely fruit and just a light touch of pepper.
A riesling “trockenbeerenauslese” from Anthony Road, all from botrytised grapes, was also pretty wonderful over post-dessert discussions of hockey.
All in all, a pretty good start. Now, off to Argetsinger vineyards (where Ravines takes a fair bit of pinot and riesling) for a vineyard walk under a cloudy sky.