I Heart NY-Finger Lakes Rieslings

 

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of participating in a Virtual Tasting of Rieslings from New York’s Finger Lakes region.  In an earlier post, I wrote about a visit to Lamoreaux Landing in January.  I was really happy about what I had tasted, so when this opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to get more of an idea of what they are producing in my home state. 

We tried eight Rieslings in all.  The first flight was composed of dry Rieslings and the second flight was semi-dry, in order of residual sugar.  For each flight, winery representatives were available for questions and discussion.  The order, with some tweeted tasting notes, was as follows:

Flight One

Hosmer Winery 2010 Vintners Reserve Riesling -Nice nose, dry stone fruit
Fulkerson Winery 2010 William Vigne Dry Riesling-Alsatian style, big mid-palate, paired well with brie/apricot
Red Newt Cellars 2010 Riesling – Sawmill Creek Vineyards-Nice minerality, stone fruit.  Balanced and delicious
Silver Thread Vineyard 2011 Dry Riesling-Wow!  A lot going on. Sweet, floral nose and taste with crisp finish

I invited three other ladies to taste with me and, while we enjoyed them all, the stand-outs in the first flight were the Red Newt Cellars and the Silver Thread.  Great fruit, minerality, and acidity.

Flight Two

Keuka Spring Vineyards 2011 Riesling-Balance of citrus and stone fruits, classic drier Riesling
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2010 Red Oak Riesling-Great stone fruit and acid, lovely elegant finish
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2010 Riesling-more fruit, less acid, would be great with Thai
 Penguin Bay Winery 2011 Riesling-Viognier nose, sweet perfume of muscat, tropical fruit

Of this flight, I think the Lamoreaux Landing and the Penguin Bay were the favorites.  Very different wines, but each interesting and balanced. 

We were all really excited about what we were tasting.  After seeing the price points, we were thrilled.  As I stated in “Taste of Home,” the shipping laws vary from winery to winery.  Some in the region can ship to Texas and some cannot.  I highly recommend taking a closer look at these wine if you are able to get you hands on them.  Each wine was equally friendly for food or sipping on a summer evening.  If you are able to try any of the above, please do. You won’t be disappointed.

As I talked about in an earlier post, Sprechen Sie Riesling, many people have a very narrow view of Riesling.  They think of a sweet, flat one they may have tried and then write off the whole varietal.  If this sounds familiar, please check out what they are doing in the Finger Lakes.  Lots of floral, stone fruits with great acidity and minerality. All very different and all delightful.  Yet another reason why I still love New York.

Many thanks to Finger Lakes Wine Alliance for providing me with these samples and for all you are doing to promote your local wineries. Cheers!

An Elegant Surprise- Gary Farrell Sauvignon Blanc

I have to admit.  I was very excited when I received this 2010 Gary Farrell Sauvignon Blanc from Redwood Ranch in Sonoma County($25)*.   I have heard great things about their wine, in general, and I am a sucker for a good Sauvignon Blanc.  I have been looking forward to opening it and this is the first weekend night, since it settled, that I have had time to open something special.

I love the grassy, citrus notes typical to Sauvignon Blancs and so I tried to pair accordingly.  With two sick kiddos, going to the store wasn’t an option, so I had to go with my quickly emptying pantry for inspiration.  I decided on tofu Spring rolls and Thai salad with chicken.  I wanted to try to bring out the green notes so I used lots of herbs from the garden in each dish.

I need a lot of practice in the rolling department of the Spring rolls, but did well in the flavor profile.  I used Spring mix, cilantro, basil, mint, carrots, cucumber, tofu, and bean thread vermicelli.  For the dipping sauce. I used peanut butter (natural so I added a bit of salt and sugar), coconut milk, rice wine vinegar, and crushed red pepper.

I marinated the chicken in olive oil, rice wine vinegar, basil, mint, cilantro, Serrano, sugar, and salt.  The plan was to grill, but our grill decided to die, so I sautéed them.  I added the chicken bites to a salad of greens, cucumber, carrots, yellow pepper, herbs, peanuts, and a Thai vinaigrette (rice wine vinegar, lime juice, oil, sugar, fish sauce, Serrano, salt).  

After everything was prepped, I sat down to open the wine and taste before my palate changed.  Light straw and great clarity, a lovely, lively wine in the light.  On the nose I got bright citrus, green apple, and something rounder, softer.  I couldn’t place it, but it was unexpected.  The first tasting notes were similar to the nose, but the mid-palate added something tropical.  The finish was creamier and longer than expected.  A very surprising, elegant Sauvignon Blanc.

I like to taste and take notes before I look at the information provided by the winery.  When I read through, I found some answers.  This wine spent some time in oak, thus the softer fruit and long finish.  It was a really balanced wine.  All of the bright, grassy citrus that I love in a Sauvignon Blanc, but softer and rounder than many.  If you think you don’t like Sauvignon Blanc because of the “bite” that some have, this one is for you. 

Because of the surprises in the tasting notes, and because I have a lot to learn, the pairing did not work as well as I hoped.  It was fine; the herbs did what I wanted them to, but I could have done better if I’d known better.  Next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I will pair it with something different.  Perhaps a Piccata, bright and buttery, or herbed snapper with lemon and olives.  A more worthy pairing for this very worthy wine.

*{Disclosure: I was provided with this wine from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}

Crowd Pleasers-Happy 4th!

If you are hosting an Independence Day get-together, you have probably already planned menus and hit the store.  I just returned and it was a mad-house so I am pretty sure I am late on this post, but I wanted to throw out some ideas for cocktails and wines that can please most palates.

When planning drink options, I consider food and numbers.  The more intimate the gathering, the higher the price point for wines.  As much as would love to extend the same “love” at large gatherings, I am just too darn frugal and there are so many great options that are reasonable. For large gatherings, I often plan one signature cocktail and then have some large format or Monday wines.  Here are some suggestions that will please, no matter what the size of your holiday affair.

I was really pleased with all of the Robert Mondavi *samples I received.  The Riesling was bright and not too sweet.  Great for the heat.  The Zin and Pinot were versatile, fruit forward and smooth.  We served the Meritage slightly chilled and I really enjoyed the Bordeaux style blend. It would pair well with steaks on the grill.  Each of the above run about $10. The Woodbridge line also comes in large format. 

If it is super hot, you can’t go wrong with a Vinho Verde.  Some are better than others.  I like Famega, Gazela, and Aveleda.  Low in alcohol and price point, this slightly effervescent wine is a summer favorite.  You can sip through your party and remain a good host.

If you want to stretch your wine a little farther, make a Sangria.  I plan to do a white sangria with blueberries and strawberries to keep it festive.  I will probably throw in some Elderflower liqueur (St. Germain-$35ish or Thatchers Organic -$17ish) and seltzer as well.

You could also do a signature cocktail.  One of my current favorites is Thatcher’s Elderflower, Vodka, Lemon juice, Thyme, and seltzer.  It is pretty, tasty, and you can make a pitcher ahead of time and be done.  Another yummy summer one is a Blueberry or Watermelon Mojito.  Watermelon is good for your love life, too, guys.

Keeping it casual but want a fun new beer?  There are a lot of cans now that are actually higher end brews.  One of my husband’s current faves is Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils.  Dale’s Pale Ale out of Colorado is super tasty, too.   

Whatever you are drinking, be safe, be smart, and have a great holiday!

*{Disclosure: I was provided with this wine from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}