Finger Lakes Riesling: what’s all the fuss?

ravines_rieslingFinger Lakes wines, particularly Rieslings, have gotten a lot of recent attention. So I thought I would check in with them for a piece currently on

One wine that came up repeatedly was the Ravines Dry Riesling (as well as their Argentsinger Vineyard one). I picked up two bottles of the 2012 for $14.99 each and poured them for discerning audiences. First, my wife, who is not generally a huge Riesling fan but she gave this one a thumbs up. I rated it a leading patio pounder for Summer of Riesling 2013. Then I opened the second bottle for my NYU class and poured it blind. Before revealing what it was, I asked them how many of them liked it. All hands went up. When the bag came off the bottle, they were all surprised and doubly impressed.

It seems to be a common reaction with the best Finger Lakes wines, as Thomas Pastuszak from NoMad shares in the piece.

Which are your favorite Finger Lakes wines? Do you think the region is overrated or underrated?

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15 Responses to “Finger Lakes Riesling: what’s all the fuss?”

  1. I am the last thing from a wine expert (my disclaimer…) But I think they are ranked just about right. The best are really good quaffers as you point out and if you can get them for the $12-$15 price range, they’re great in my opinion.

    However, above that price points (I’ve seen single vineyards for $30+) and I think they tend to lose QPR (Quality/Price Ratio). I feel I can find amazing German Rielsings for that price and less (understanding that they are different styles as well – said at the risk of over-generalizing.)

    I also have yet to have a dessert wine from the region that I haven’t liked and can find priced from $20-$50+. I think they are worth seeking out. Two personal favorites are Standing Stone on the lower end and Sheldrake Point at the higher end.

    Having grown up in the region, I also feel the quality of Finger Lake wines in general have really grown over the past 10 years or so. I think its a great time to check them out.

    My two cents… (or maybe three… 🙂

  2. I’ve only really had the pleasure of Hermann J. Wiemer but have enjoyed it every time. I know NY produces a lot of wine, but it’s not exactly a go-to choice, so I assign a bit of extra credit based on the incredulous looks I get when after serving it blind 🙂

  3. I AM a wine expert! I write for Sommelier Journal, Chef and Great Wine News magazines. I am a former sommelier and a current distinguished instructor of wine at University of California-Irvine.

    More importantly, I am a former New Yorker–Manhattanite. I have the greatest respect for Finger Lakes wines. They have gotten to be of the highest quality and not only is the Riesling great, but some of the Pinot Noirs are excellent.

  4. I’ve worked with Finger Lakes Riesling (specifically from Seneca Lake). Love them. Great location; great, highly under rated, variety.

  5. Rieslings lost their popularity in Oz a few years ago, such a shame.
    A nice, not too cold riesling on a hot day with some nice cheese,- heaven.

  6. Fox Run rocks!

  7. I think the wines in general are over-rated, not that there aren’t individual standouts like the Wiemer or Ravines. When I saw the title for this post I was wondering if someone finally had a square criticism of Finger Lakes Rieslings. There are enjoyable wines and some are quite good but on a whole if even a reputable Finger Lakes Riesling or two are thrown into a blind tasting they are typically easily picked out for their lack of concentration and often imbalanced/extreme acidity. I have been a part of at least three 15+ bottle blind tastings featuring some of the very top bottlings from the Finger Lakes, compared with Rieslings of similar price from around the world and it’s never pretty for NY when things are revealed. There’s hope but lots of work remains to be done.

  8. I have tried the Fox Run and the Wiemer, which were both excellent. My go-to Finger Lakes riesling is usually Dr. Konstantine Frank.

    I think almost all riesling is under-rated and under-valued. The Finger Lakes region is also one of the oldest wine regions in the country, so I definitely think these wines are under-appreciated. They are nearly impossible to find in Oregon, but I always look for them when I am on the East Coast.

  9. Why does anyone expect an American wine to sell for an equal or less price than a European made “counterpart”? If you look into the difference between the two continents in terms of 1)costs of farming 2)cost of running a business 3)government subsidies to the wine industry 4)land acquisition/ownership… then you would not expect price parity.

    Although I’ve not tasted all Riesling from the Finger Lakes, I would say that based on what I have tasted the region is underrated. As for other varieties I just haven’t tasted enough to have an opinion.

  10. I strongly recommend seeking out the Rieslings from Fox Run Vineyards. This family-owned artisan winery, one of the most venerable and innovative, has a number of stunning Rieslings, and new to the lineup is the beautiful Geology Series, from single vineyards on the estate.

  11. Finger Lakes wines have been maligned for far too long. They produce some of the best balanced Rieslings in the world, almost always leading with stone fruit or apple nose and transforming into a luscious medium bodied wine with a great minerality and acidic finish. Among the best are Glenora, Ravines, Anthony Rd, Silver Thread, Dr. Frank’s, Herrmann Wiemer, and Red Newt. I’ve also enjoyed some great Cabernet Francs and Pinot Noirs from the Finger Lakes. The wines do a great job of showing off their terrior. Check out the NY Wine and Culinary Center for a nice, unbiased opinion. It’s too bad they can’t get more national distribution going.

  12. Though I’m a fan of dry rieslings out of Finger Lakes, I was assigned to the panel that judged “medium-sweet” rieslings at last week’s Riverside International Wine Competition, a judging wherein wines are grouped by appellation, which judges don’t know at the outset. One flight consisted of 12 rieslings from Finger Lakes. Of the 12, five got gold medals, including three double-golds, meaning the four panelists agreed at the outset that the wines warranted gold. I think that rate of overall gold works out to around 40 percent, which is extremely high for any category of wine in any competition. I think that speaks to the quality of rieslings from Finger Lakes. When results were revealed, we found that the double golds were the Sheldrake Point 2011 ($16), the Belhurst Estate 2012 Seneca Lake ($19) and the Wagner Vineyard 2011 ($13). The other golds were the Keuka Springs 2012 ($14) and the Dr. Konstantin Frank 2012 ($25). I felt that two others deserved gold, but I wasn’t persuasive enough during deliberations to talk fellow panelists beyond a silver, the Villa Bellangelo 2011 ($18) and the Swedish Hill 2011 ($16). Though these were sweet rieslings, with residual sugar ranging from 2 percent to 3.5 percent, they had the sort of zesty acidity that lifted the sweetness and intensified the fruit.

  13. I heard a lot of good things about the Finger Lake region wines, especially Rieslings. Reading the above reviews I have to acquaint myself with FL Rieslings. My favorite thus far has been Rieslings from the Nahe region in Germany. I’ll let you know my impressions. Cheers

  14. I am Huge supporter of The Finger Lakes Riesling. I started with Wash State examples 4 years ago (St. Michelle, Pacific Rim, Chas. Smith) but when I tried my 1st NYS Riesling Dr. Konstantin Frank- I was blown away. I’ve been hooked ever since and travel up twice a year from Cleveland to stock up. My Favorites (Kueka) Heron Hill, Dr. Frank and Ravines. (Seneca) Fox Run, Anthony Road, HJW, Glenora, Hazlitt, Red Newt, Lamoreaux Landing and Damiani. Lastly on (Cayuga) Swedish Hill, Sheldrake Point and Hosmer Winery. I know a lot of purists prefer the German examples (Mosel)or French(Alsace) Regions, but I’m in Cleveland and I’m going to support This U.S. (World-Class) treasure. Besides the Diversity of the Examples of the Wine- Terrior is unbelievable as well. You can go from a Bone-Dry Ravines bottle to a Semi-Dry Tierce Bottle to a Sweet Late Harvest Sheldrake Point bottle and all these examples are WORLD-CLASS.

  15. I have been hearing more and more about the Finger Lakes Wines! I think I am going to have to make a trip out there and explore the area. I also hear it is a beautiful place to stay! I can’t wait for the opportunity to try them! Seems like everyone loves the Riesling the best?


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