Of all the holidays to convert you into a disciple of Finger Lakes wine, none could be more effective than Thanksgiving Day. Consider the food: turkey (white meat) or ham (salty white meat) and then a cornucopia of flavors from tangy-sweet cranberries to caramelized root vegetables to fresh-bitter greens to thick, rich gravies. We need wines that will get all those flavors to play nice together. Kind of a diplomatic, friendly type to smooth things over when dealing with a range of personalities. Enter Riesling, cool-climate Chardonnay, Blaufrankisch, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. Add Gewurztraminer, a bold leader-type to take charge of the table, and you have a feast with a Finger Lakes signature on it.
At Red Feet Wine Market, we generally print out little icons with harvest cornucopias or turkeys on them and go around attaching these to wines that we consider the best options in the store for Thanksgiving. Although we try to attend personally to every guest, we figure when you get to browsing, you might find these little crumbs of information helpful. We start to feel rather silly when we get to the Finger Lakes section of the store. Should we mark simply everything at Thanksgiving? Print one big huge turkey and hoist it over that area? Or just select a mere 90% of it?
You see our dilemma. So here’s an attempt at some local wine highlights out of a strong pool of contenders. Today’s focus starts with our signature grape, Riesling. Tune in later in the week for Other Whites and then Finger Lakes reds.
Ravines Dry Riesling 2012, $17–Elegant with perfect balance. White flowers, pear, apple, minerals and citrus are intertwined in this crisp, bone dry, always food-friendly wine.
Ravines “Argetsinger” Dry Riesling 2009, $28–This always needs a touch of age and then can be the star of your table. The 2009 is the current vintage and is drinking beautifully. It’s benchmark Finger Lakes Riesling with complex layers and laser sharp focus. You’ll find the nervy acidity washes over and refreshes your palate in this savory, crisp, and persistent wine. This wine’s sewn together so well, it’s hard to pull apart, but you’ll find notes of wet stone, citrus, and honeysuckle along with delicate apple fruit.
Dr. Frank Dry Riesling 2012, $17–The appeal here is the delicacy and restraint of fruit combined with trademark Keuka Lake minerality. Green apple, lemon-lime, slate, crushed rock.
Forge Cellars “Les Allies” Riesling 2012 in magnum, $52–There’s no better time to open a magnum than when you’re having a big gathering like Thanksgiving. This is the top cuvée from newcomer, Forge Cellars, and a limited quantity of magnums were hand bottled. Otherwise, seek out the 750ml which is just being released. White flowers, apricot, chalk, fennel, wet stone, concentrated. VERY LIMITED.
Kemmeter Wines “White Pine Vineyard” Riesling 2012, $32–While talented winemaker Johannes Reinhardt made 20,000 cases of wine last year for Anthony Road Winery, he managed somehow to start his own project, producing a whopping 327 cases with tender, loving care. This comes from a young vineyard near Lake Ontario and it’s off dry. Lovely aromatics seem to be his signature. This is clean and fresh with classic cool-climate Riesling character and excellent balance. VERY LIMITED.
Lamoreaux Landing “Red Oak” Riesling 2012, $21–Feeling nearly off dry, this single vineyard Riesling has succulent flavors of pineapple, apricot, and peach, along with a strike of flint.
Bellwether Wine Cellars “Sawmill Creek Vineyard” Riesling 2012, $22–Here’s a semi-dry option that provides more viscosity and roundness if you’d like a well-crafted wine with some sweetness. Shows the warm vintage with white peach and ripe apples, along with a loamy-earthy undertone.
Hermann J. Wiemer “Late Harvest” Riesling 2012, $30– Introducing your pumpkin pie wine! Citrus confit and orange accent the nose, while the palate is very rich and creamy with honeysuckle, baked apples, oranges, honey and spice. Viscous with a long finish, the wine has 5.8% residual sugar, so it’s not dessert wine per se, but can be enjoyed with not-very-sweet fruit endings.
Kemmeter Wines “San San” Riesling 2012, $39 –Another late-harvest Riesling might be more than you need, but this is just too pretty not to mention. The nose shows florality along with grapefruit and Meyer lemon confit while the palate is rich with elegant acidity and deft balance. Slate, mineral, sweet-tart lemon, mango, apricot jam and marmalade are delicate, never heavy. 5.7% residual sugar. Fruit was 50% noble rot from Red Tail Ridge Vineyard. VERY LIMITED.
Standing Stone Riesling Ice, 2012, $23 (half bottle)–Nectar-like texture with baked apples, honey and spice, this is sweet and rich. You can savor in lieu of a second piece of pie.
Check back on Wednesday for our “Other White” suggestions for Thanksgiving and Friday for recommended Finger Lakes Reds. Or just gobble up one of our 6-packs of wines (we are currently selling 3, one of which is Finger Lakes-focused).
Signing out from Riesling country…