How the Finger Lakes Bring Out the Best in Riesling

Glass of white wine on a stone wall in the formal garden
Getty

Home to 130 wineries, the Finger Lakes are New York’s largest American Viticultural Area (AVA). And while the region is home to many types of grapes, Riesling continues to reign supreme.

This white grape is home in the AVA’s loamy, silty and gravelly soils and often produces a full spectrum of Riesling styles, ranging from mineral- and citrus-driven dry wines to juicy peach and apple inflected sweet, off-dry and semidry bottlings.

We definitely had a lot of wines to cull through. But here are some of our top picks that are just under $30 and are a great way to get to know this region’s wine.

A Complete Guide to the Finger Lakes Wine Country

Finger Lakes Riesling to look for

Hermann J. Wiemer 2016 Late Harvest Estate Bottled and Grown Riesling (Seneca Lake); $25, 92 points. This late-harvest Riesling shows a beguiling complexity of pine, citrus oil and furniture polish on the nose. The juicy, sweet palate is concentrated in flavors of dried mango and apricot, with saffron and ginger peppering the edges. The well-structured acidity maintains freshness and will keep it going for years to come. Drink though 2025. —Alexander Peartree

Damiani 2016 Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $16, 91 points. This delicious semidry Riesling offers an exuberant nose of ripe apple, white blossoms and crushed slate. There’s a pleasing roundness to the palate, with a textured, fuzzy feel that carries flavors of crisp apple and lemon underscored by juicy, sweet peach. Laser-focused acidity keeps it all in check, making this a well-balanced offering. Editors’ Choice. —A.P.

Atwater 2015 Riesling (Finger Lakes); $16, 90 points. Sunny, bright aromas of peach, pineapple and tangerine jump from the glass in this late-release Riesling. Semidry in style, it is succulent and juicy yet shows wonderful grip and tension to balance all those tropical- and stone-fruit flavors. Drink now for immediate enjoyment. Editors’ Choice. —A.P.

Heart & Hands 2017 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $23, 90 points. A well-concentrated nose of apple peel, apricot, quince and apple blossom starts off the winery’s entry-level dry Riesling. The palate is slick in feel, with vibrant juicy acidity that propels flavors of fresh orchard fruit and lime. There’s a slight creaminess to the midpalate, with a stoniness rising up on the finish. —A.P.

Hickory Hollow 2017 Riesling (Finger Lakes); $18, 90 points. This well-concentrated wine offers juicy flavors of orchard fruit and pineapple, with bits of pollen and stone. It is persistent and lengthy, driven by laser-sharp acidity and broadened out by ample fruit weight. This is an excellent off-dry entry-level bottling from Winemaker Nathan Kendall. Editors’ Choice. —A.P.

Hosmer 2017 Limited Release Riesling (Cayuga Lake); $25, 90 points. Aromas of citrus blossom, quince and tangerine start off this dry Riesling. Integrated acidity frames the well-formed palate, with broad orchard-fruit and white-blossom flavors extending nicely through the finish. —A.P.

Red Tail Ridge 2016 RTR Estate Vineyard Riesling (Finger Lakes); $16, 90 points. Slate and stone mark this delicately earthy wine, with strikes of green apple and pear in the background. The off-dry palate shows a pleasing roundness, with flavors of green melon and yellow apple giving a juicy feel. Bright acidity keeps this buoyant and lively, while a slightly savory note marks the close. Editors’ Choice. —A.P.

Wagner 2017 Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $15, 90 points. Aromas of fuzzy peach and powdered slate start off this bright, sunny semidry Riesling. The palate brings ripe red apple and dusty minerals to the fore, enlivened by a flowing river of acidity. Ending on a talc-dusted green apple tone, this is a well-balanced, well-priced offering. Best Buy. —A.P.

Boundary Breaks 2017 Ovid Line North Medium Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $15, 88 points. Delicate aromas of pineapple rind and passion fruit move to the semisweet palate. This is juicy and soft in appeal, with luscious peach and melon flavors that are honed by latent acidity. —A.P.

Keuka Lake Vineyards 2017 Estate Bottled Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $18, 88 points. This semidry Riesling offers crunchy apple and tart pineapple flavors. It is well balanced and quite juicy, with persistent shots of acidity keeping it going. A light mineral dusting marks the close. —A.P.

Published on September 26, 2019
Topics: Wine and Ratings


SUBSCRIBE TO
NEWSLETTERS
The latest wine reviews, trends and recipes plus special offers on wine storage and accessories