Terrific New York State Riesling

By Ray Isle Posted April 18, 2007

Stopped by a tasting put on by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance yesterday—where they absolutely do not ever use tiger bones in making their wines—and what I've long believed was proven to me once again: the best Rieslings from New York's Finger Lakes wine region can compete with Rieslings from anywhere in the world.

The tasting lined up six Finger Lakes Rieslings against six Rieslings from other top Riesling regions, and while not all of the New York wines were great, my two favorites easily gave the other wines a run for their money, and bested at least half the roster. The comparison wines, for the record, included among others the 2005 Grosset Polish Hill from Australia, the 2001 Trimbach Cuvée Frederic-Emile from Alsace, and the 2005 C. von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser from Germany. In other words, some of the greatest Riesling producers around: This wasn't a set-up. (The von Schubert, by the way, was the wine of the tasting—just stunningly, blow-your-mind good. But that's no insult to the Finger Lakes wines.)

Of the New York wines, the 2006 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling ($18) was a pure and lovely, with floral and quince notes in the aroma, substantial but not weighty fruit and a precise minerally end. The other top wine among the New Yorkers was a library vintage from Red Newt Cellars, the 2002 Red Newt Reserve Riesling ($NA). This had aged perfectly, and had a bouquet of orange oil and green apple, a lean, linear, minerally structure and appealing density, again without ever heading into fatness.

The Dr. Frank wine has distribution in about thirty states, but you can also get it by contacting the winery directly (the link's above). The Red Newt, well, you'll just have to drive up to the Finger Lakes—they're currently pouring it at the Red Newt Bistro (which is a terrific place to have lunch, by the way) at the heartwarming price of $34 a bottle. In other words, a complete steal. But in case you can't get there, here's a terrific recipe from Debra Whiting, chef and co-owner at the Bistro, which we ran last year, for Stuffed Pork Tenderloins with Bacon and Apple-Riesling Sauce. I'd suggest buying a few bottles of Finger Lakes Riesling (other good producers include Hermann Weimar, Fox Run, Sheldrake Point and Heron Hill), using one of them to make this dish, and serving the rest to a few worthy friends. This weekend, for instance.

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