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Sunday, 21 November 2021

New York State of Wine

A NY State vs the World Riesling-Off, hosted by Jamie Goode

New York
Isn't New York
Without You, Love

- New York, St Vincent (2017)

If, like me, you have barely tried New York state wines before, your main take away from this should be that they are high-end and at least as good as anything else from more illustrious regions.

The rest, in a sense, is just details - and whilst there are stories of regions, terroir and varieties, simply tasting a few (more) New York wines is the obvious next step.

This tasting, hosted by Jamie Goode, pitted three New York Rieslings from the Finger Lakes area against the same variety from around the world at similar price points.

Once you get into mid-teens pricing and beyond, it's not unreasonable to expect a wine to be competently made from good fruit; Big Name regions will always have a few duds trading on the general reputation, but emerging regions have to start with pioneers who overdeliver for the price and who will make a Name for the region on the back of great wines at relatively moderate prices.

Details on New York State wines from the Finger Lakes areas:

Finger Lakes is one of six major wine growing regions in New York State.

Vines have grown here for many hundreds of years, with the first record of plantings by the Dutch settlers in the late 17th century. For some years, the area was dominated solely by Native American varieties and hybrids, and it was only in the late 1950s that the Ukrainian Dr. Konstantin Frank began experimenting with high quality European vinifera, particularly in the Finger Lakes.

The Finger Lakes are eleven deep and narrow lakes, stretching south to north, moderating the climate by either warming or cooling the surrounding atmosphere, rendering viticulture possible; the two largest Finger Lakes, Seneca and Cayuga, almost never freeze.

This was recognized by German, Swiss and French settlers in the late 19th century who spotted the freshwater orchard potential. The Finger Lakes AVA is one part of a triangle that represents North America’s premier fresh- water lake viticulture areas.

Riesling Battle Royal - tasted in ascending price order

Hosted by wine writer, Jamie Goode and sommelier Caroline Furstoss with producers:

- Kelby Russell, Red Newt Cellars
- Nova Cadamatre MW, Trestle 31
- Oskar Bynke, Hermann J. Wiemer

Robert Oatley Signature Series Riesling 2020 , Western Australia (£13.95, Cambridge Wines, Solent Wine Cellar)

lemon blossom, passion fruit, some diesel; grapefruit, zingy lemon, and lime, sherbet, yellow stone fruit with sweet spices and fresh green apple and pea shoots; steely, pebbly, slatey minerality. 


Schatzel, Riesling 2018 QBA, Rheinhessen (£19.99, Master of Malt, 9 Elms, Vida, Whisky Exchange)

diesel, struck match, stone fruits and blossom; pure, focused and linear-mineral with sherbet, citrus, white stone fruits and refreshing green apple.


Trestle 31, 2019 Riesling, Finger Lakes (£21, not currently available in UK)

white flowers, white pepper and struck match; white stone fruits with cool mint and creamy brazil nut.; textured, broad and leesy-savoury.


Red Newt Cellars, The Knoll 2016, Finger Lakes (£30.50, The Wine Treasury)

complex late-harvest, yellow fruits and aged diesel; ripe, buttery, roasted peaches and apricots, honey and mango with sweet spices; mouthfilling, long and complex.

Very Good Indeed.

Hermann J. Wiemer, HJW Bio Riesling 2019, Finger Lakes (£32.50, Wanderlust Wines)

stone fruits, citrus, blossom and minerality; fresh sweet-and-sour citrus, yellow fruits, sherbet and honeysuckle; saline with a refreshing slatey-mineral backbone, complex and very long. Mosel-esque.

Very Good.

M. Chapoutier, Schieferkopf Lieu-Dit Fels Riesling 2018 Selection Parecellaire, Alsace (£36.50, Uncorked)

complex wild herbs, cidery bruised fruit and menthol; full, supple and leesy-savoury with creamy brazil nut, oatmeal, citrus, stone and orchard fruits and mintiness; very long, broad and adept.

Very Good.


The final results here are of less importance than the fact that three wines from NY state can hold their own against wines from classic Riesling regions.

That said, my favourite was the Red Newt Cellars, The Knoll for its aged complexity and late-harvest richness whilst remaining fully dry.

Technically, the best wine was the Chapoutier, but it is 1) the most expensive and 2) somewhat atypical for a Riesling.

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