Having been in the wine industry for over 15 years I get to taste a lot of wine, wines I have sold or other wines that are available locally. On occasion I have the opportunity to taste some wines that are not on wine shop shelves or wine lists here in Arizona and that is why I was anticipating my shipment of 5 wines from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance www.fingerlakeswinealliance.com for an online tasting recently. Unable to participate online (had to host a wine tasting in person, go figure) with other wine enthusiasts from around the world, I grabbed a friend and 5 lbs. of mussels (great pairing) and we tasted these 5 white wines.
First a bit about the Finger Lakes region, it was established as an A.V.A. (American Viticultural Area) in 1982, has about 11,000 acres planted to vines and just over 100 wineries. With its cool climate in western New York white wines excel in the region and are compared to the Rhine region in Germany due to the similar growing conditions. Riesling is king here with more acres planted by more than 2-1 over the next most planted, Chardonnay. OK here we go with the wines in no particular order…..
First up the 2011 Knapp Dry Gewürztraminer, 1st impression was its fresh flavor, soft, good fruit, a hint of grapefruit and crisp finish. A beautiful wine or as my friend said “f**king lovely”. Knapp produces 116 cases of this wine from vineyards on the west side of Cayuga Lake. This wine paired well our mussels and would also go well with Asian, Cajun and Latin food. www.knappwine.com
The 2012 Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris is a dry style with nice acidity, crisp that is well-balanced. On the finish there you get some pair and a hint of stony minerals.The grapes are all estate grown in 2 separate blocks and goes through a cool and slow fermentation in stainless steel. A very good wine, perfect for hot summer days. www.thirstyowl.com
With just over 18 acres planted of Gruner Veltliner planted in the region I was surprised when I saw the Fulkerson Winery in Dundee was bottling it. I felt lucky to get 1 bottle of the 253 cases produced. The Fulkerson family has been farming this land since 1805 and opened the winery in 1989. They have over 100 acres under cultivation with the most being Riesling along with other traditional white varieties along with some hybrids and native varieties. To the eye it was a bit cloudy, on the palate it was light, clean and lively. With citrus and mineral this is a very food friendly wine pairs well with white fish, chicken and salads. www.fulkersonwinery.com
A 2nd Gruner was tasted and this one came from Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, which is one of three wineries owned by David and Luanne Mansfield on their Three Brothers Wineries and Estates they purchased in 2006. This Gruner is a pretty wine but it was hard to tell it was a Gruner. It was soft and creamy with fruit and nuances of green apples. They were one of the first to plant Gruner in the region back in 2006. They chose Gruner for its style, versatility and being food friendly. All 300 cases come from their 2 acres of Gruner on the northeast end of Seneca Lake. www.3BrothersWinery.com
The final wine of the evening was the 2012 Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer which is probably the most well know winery in the Finger Lakes. It is the only wine from the area found here in Arizona and several years ago was my introduction to Finger Lakes wine. Dr. Frank founded Vinifera Wine Cellars in 1962 and gained a reputation for his Riesling and his passion and knowledge helped pioneer the Finger Lakes region to what it is today. Eric Volz, grandson of Dr. Frank is vineyard manager of the 90 acres of estate vineyards found on the west side of Keuka Lake. A team of wine makers from around the world contribute their expertise from their region around the world.
The Gewurztraminer has a nice floral nose of orange blossoms and citrus with good fruit, and a soft, dry finish in the mouth. This wine would go well with white meat(pork & turkey) along with Asian and Indian foods. www.drfrankwines.com
Overall, these wines show firm acidity counteracting the flavors throughout making all great food wines along with being bright, crisp & clean, good mineral structure and all very pleasant. All also had a bit of residual sugar. The wines are meant to be drank young but I would be curious to taste older vintages as I’m sure they have and would hold up well.
The Finger Lakes wines will never surpass California in production of fine wines and nor do I think they want to but they should be well received and deserve the critical claim they have been getting as the whites I have tasted rival any white wines from the U.S.A. and abroad. If you see some, buy a bottle or order a glass and see for yourself, you’ll be glad you did. Cheers!