Thursday, November 29, 2012

Celebrating the Release of the Finger Lakes 2011 Riesling in Washington DC, USA

Pictures: 12 People, 8 Wines and 8 Courses - Celebrating the Release of the Finger Lakes 2011 Riesling in Washington DC, USA

This was the second time I celebrated the release of the new Finger Lakes Vintage at my home in Washington DC. Last year, I had arranged a small party at our kitchen counter with Lindsay Morris, this year, my wife Annette and my daughter Cornelia suggested to throw a little dinner party. So, we were six couples and every couple provided one or two dishes that Annette and the guest had selected in connection with the wine.

For last year, see:

Celebrating the Arrival of the Finger Lakes 2010 Riesling in Washington DC, USA

Weinrallye #57 Food and Wine

This posting is being published as part of the Weinrallye, a monthly blog event in Germany. Participating wine bloggers - mainly in Germany - are all releasing postings today under the heading “Food and Wine". Weinrallye is the brainchild of Thomas Lippert, a winemaker and wine blogger based in Heidelberg, Germany. The first wine rally took place in 2007. Thomas Lippert is the author of the wine blog Winzerblog. This month's wine rally is organized by Susanne Werth-Rosarius from the hundertachtziggrad Blog.

Riesling in the World

Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.

Pictures: Before the Great Event - Annette and Lorelei Schiller

Finger Lakes AVA

The Finger Lakes AVA in upstate New York encompasses seven glacial lakes, although the majority of plantings are around Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes. Most vineyards are planted on hillsides overlooking the lakes. These deep lakes help to moderate the climate, as stored heat is released from the lakes during the winter, keeping the weather mild during summer extends the growing season. This cool-climate region is often compared to the wine-growing region of Germany, and like Germany, has had special success with Riesling.

Pictures: After the Event - 8 Empty Bottles

The Finger Lakes include 4,452 hectares of vineyards, making it New York State's largest wine growing region. New York State is with Washington State the second largest wine producer in the US, with a bit more than 10.000 hectares. Of this, 400 hectares are accounted for by Riesling.

Pictures: Finger Lakes in New York State

There are over 100 wineries, mostly family owned and operated small producers, bottling over 100,000 cases per year. While the region does an excellent job with other grapes like Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and even Pinot Noir, Riesling is the star, with each producer making an average of two to three different styles from dry to sweet each vintage.

First Course

Smoked Salmon with Cucumber-Apple Salad, Foam of Dill

Dry Riesling Ravines Wine Cellars

Ravines Wine Cellars is a boutique winery on Lake Keuka. It is the dream and passion of Morten and Lisa Hallgren, a European Winemaker/Oenologist and his Chef/Foodie wife. Together they have created a small, distinctive winery crafting elegant and food friendly wines using Old World winemaking traditions with New World innovation. Morten was raised in the Provence region of the South of France. The Hallgren family owned and operated Domaine de Castel Roubine, a 270 acre estate with 170 acres of vineyards.

Morton received an advanced degree in both Enology and Viticulture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie in Montpellier, one of the world’s top winemaking schools, and spent his first harvest in Bordeaux, at Chateau Cos d’Estournel. Before founding Ravines, Morton was the chief winemaker for Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars for six years.

In 2000, the Hallgrens purchased a 17 acre parcel of land on a glacier-carved hillside on the Eastern slopes of Keuka Lake. This land is located at the widest part of the lake which allows grapevines to receive maximum benefit from its temperature-moderating effects, it has a good slope which keeps the mineral rich soils well-drained, and is situated between two deep ravines, which drain cold air from the land during the winter. These ravines are the namesake of the winery.

Technical notes: 4 grams residual sugar per liter, 12.2% alcohol.

Tasting notes: yellow in the glass, citrus and floral notes on the nose, creamy texture with hints of pineapple and peach, most mineral driven wine of the night, very harmonious, good finish.

Second Course

Syrian Chicken Pylaf

Dry Riesling Dr. Konstanin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

Dr. Konstantin Frank (1897-1985) ignited the so-called vitis vinifera revolution, which changed the course of wine growing in the Finger Lakes and the North-East of the US. Dr. Frank’s vision, knowledge and determination are credited with elevating the New York wine industry from a state of happy mediocrity to a level that today commands world attention.

He was born in the Russian Empire into a family with German roots. The Germans came in waves from the West to Russia and settled there from the 16th century onwards. At the time Konstantin Frank was born, Odessa belonged to the Russian Empire. When he left for the US, it was part of the Soviet Union. Now, after his death, it has become Ukraine. I met Dr. Konstantin Frank's grandson, Fred, who now owns and runs the estate last year; we communicated in German. Fred got his wine growing and wine making training at the wine college in Geisenheim in the Rheingau, Germany.

Dr. Frank Wines had featured at the State Luncheon for Chancellor Merkel when she was in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. When I lead a tasting of US-American Wines in Hochheim, Germany last year, I included a Dr. Frank Wine. I have also written about Konstantin Frank in the context of my German/American winemakers series.

Technical notes: 11.7% alcohol, 6 grams remaining sugar per liter.

Tasting notes: Classic straw color, notes of fresh lemon and apple on the nose, tight acid on the palate that balances out the fruity residual sugar, with noticeable slatey minerality.

Third Course

German Onion Tart

Dry Riesling Lucas Vineyards

Lucas Vineyards is located along the western side of Cayuga Lake. Lucas Vineyards was established in 1980 and is the oldest winery on Cayuga Lake. Lucas Vineyards has 5 acres of Riesling under vine.

Technical notes: 10 grams of residual sugar and 11.4% of alcohol.

Tasting Notes: Pretty floral nose with subtle peach and apricot fruit flavors. Nice balance of fruit and acidity.

Fourth Course

Scallops, Leeks, Sweet Fig Sauce

Dry Riesling Sheldrake Point Winery

From the web site: Sheldrake Point Winery produces distinctive estate wines that showcase the quality of our Finger Lakes vineyard. Each of our estate wines is crafted to take advantage of the flavor and character of the grapes grown on our 44-acre site overlooking Cayuga Lake.

Our two tasting rooms are beautiful, welcoming spaces in which to enjoy wine and conversation. A friendly, knowledgeable staff looks forward to pouring for you and sharing their wine expertise. You’ll have a good time in our company, and leave with newfound knowledge that helps you better enjoy wine wherever you go.

Technical Notes; 9 gram residual sugar and 11.4% alcohol. 1115 cases made. The grapes were harvested at 20.1 Brix = 83.4 Oechsle (which under German law would qualify as a “Auslese”)

Tasting notes: Notes of lavender and ripe peach on the nose, candied lemon along with some peach and floral notes on the palate, long finish.

Mango Sorbert

Fifth Course

Pork Tenderloin with Cassis Vinaigrette

2011 Reserve Riesling Fox Run Vineyards

Situated high on Torrey Ridge overlooking one of the deepest parts of Seneca Lake is Fox Run - with fifty-five acres of vineyards producing a remarkable range of fine wines.

Under the dynamic, forward-looking ownership of Scott Osborn, Fox Run aims at becoming one of the handful of truly great producers in the Finger Lakes.

For more than a century the dairy farm that is now Fox Run was perched on the steeply sloping shores, overlooking Seneca Lake. The first grapes were planted in 1984 and the Civil War era dairy barn was converted to a modern wine-making facility in 1993. In 1996, farther up the slope a new facility was completed with state-of-the-art capabilities and view of Seneca Lake that is unrivaled.

Working closely with winemaker Peter Bell and vineyard manager John Kaiser, Osborn has introduced a program of minimal intervention winemaking and revitalized the vines by converting to a new trellis system which has had excellent results in Germany, France and Australia.

Fox Run now has 55 acres planted with Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gamay Beaujolais, Lemberger, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Technical Notes: 22 grams of residual sugar and 13% alcohol.

Tasting notes: Notes of peach and nectarine yielding to lime zest and a touch of smoke on the nose, crisp and refreshing flavors on the palate, good finish.

Sixth Course

Spinach Quiche

2011 Riesling Swedish Hill Winery

In 2011 Swedish Hill celebrated its 25th Anniversary of producing wines in the Finger Lakes. The winery’s story actually began 42 years ago in 1969 when the Peterson family planted their first vines in order to sell grapes to other local wineries. Then in 1985 the first grapes were crushed for Swedish Hill, producing 1,200 cases.

Today, Dave Peterson, who has a Ph.D. in Viticulture from Penn State University, is the Chief Executive Officer. Swedish Hill produces over 60,000 cases annually.

Technical notes: 11.1% alcohol and 23.5 gram of residual sugar

Tasting notes: Notes of peaches and tropical fruit on the nose, leading to a slightly sweet but crisp finish.

Seventh Course

Morbier, Bresse Bleu and with Apricot Chutney

2011 Riesling Lakewood Vineyards

In 1951, Frank Stamp, DDS, decided to quit dentistry in Maryland and try his hand at farming. The Stamp family moved to Lakewood Farm, a run-down peach and apple orchard on the west side of Seneca Lake. The next spring they started planting grapes. The original grapes planted were primarily Labrusca and French-American Hybrid varieties, which were favored by the large wineries and grape juice companies. In the mid-80's the family diversified to add some new hybrid varieties and Vinifera plantings.

Today, with 75 acres of grapes planted, the farm is home to Lakewood Vineyards winery. The winery produces wines from all three families of grapes, offering a very diverse selection of wines.

Technical notes: 28 grams of residual sugar and 11.4% alcohol

Tasting notes: opens with bright aromas of pear, citrus and a hint of peach, balanced palate with noticeable sweetness and moderate acidity.

Eighth Course

Welfen Crème (A German speciality)

2011 Riesling Knapp Winery and Vineyard

Knapp Winery is located on the west side of Cayuga Lake. It is nestled in a valley less than a mile from the shore.  Estate grown vinerfera such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Lemberger, and Vignoles comprise much of the farm land that slope to the lake.  A few acres of native and hybrid grape varieties complete the forty acres of the estate.  In thirty years, the winery has seen many changes, including an addition of a restaurant and the expansion of production facilities.

Technical notes: 12% alcohol and 34 grams of residual sugar

Tasting notes: Notes of ripe orange and peach flavors on the nose, followed by a vibrant acidity with layers of jasmine and orange on the palate, a sweet-style wine.

schiller-Wine: Related Postings

1st International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions - I have Counted Five

How does a Sweet German Riesling Become Sweet?

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

American and German Winemakers Among the 7 Winners of Trophies of Excellence of the Riesling Du Monde Competition 2010

German Winemakers in the World: Hermann J. Wiemer

German American Wines: (1) NV Two Worlds Pinot Noir, (2) Poet's Leap Riesling and (3) Herrmann J. Wiemer and his Finger Lakes Rieslings

German Wine Makers in the World: Dr. Konstantin Frank (USA)

Christian G.E. Schiller Leads Tasting of US-American Wines in Hochheim, Germany

Celebrating the Rieslings of the Finger Lakes Region, New York State, US East Coast

Dr. Frank Wines from Finger Lakes Featured at State Luncheon for Chancellor Merkel in Washington, D.C., USA

Kruger-Rumpf (Germany) and Dr. Frank (USA) Rieslings – The Wines I Brought to the 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) Opening BYOB Party

The Wines of Loreley , Germany

Celebrating the Arrival of the Finger Lakes 2010 Riesling in Washington DC, USA


  1. Really mouthwatering. I would like to have a recipe (or at least a slight idea) for the cucumber apple salad. Could you pleeeeaaaaaase have a word with the cook?
    I would have matched this with a sparkling wine, your selection sounds interesting, will try it with a dry Palatine Riesling (once I have the recipe).

  2. WOW!That day must be full of fun and excitement. I do love to taste those wines. Thumbs up guys.

  3. Hi, did you get the Lucas Riesling locally? A friend gave me a bottle and I love it. Wondering where to find it in DC. Thanks

  4. Lisa, no, did not get the Lucas locally. All wines were sent from New York State/Finger Lakes. Cheers. Christian