FLXcursion International Riesling Expo (1) Wrong side of the track


FLXcursion International Riesling Expo (1) Wrong side of the track

Last week I was really happy to attend the first FKXcursion in the Finger Lakes of New York State. The full title of this three-day event was the Finger Lakes International Riesling Expo, and because the annual Riesling Rendezvous wasn’t happening in 2019, they filled in this gap in the calendar, bringing Riesling lovers to one of the few regions in the world that has prioritized this grape variety.

As well as a grand tasting on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were filled with parallel sessions of seminars, each taking a different angle on Riesling, with a panel of experts and carefully chosen wines. I’ll be writing them up, beginning with this one, titled Wrong Side of the Tracks.

This was a tasting looking at Riesling grown in warmer climates, or in warmer vintages. Stuart Piggott, who led the proceedings, began by showing data on global warming. His assertion was that regions that were previously classified as cool climate are increasingly experiencing growing season conditions that are best described as warm climate.

One of his panellists was Cornelius Dönnhoff, from the Nahe in Germant. ‘My grandfather fought for ripeness,’ he says. ‘Today I am fighting against ripeness. Now it isn’t a problem to harvest healthy grapes with over 100 Oeschle.’

Dönnhoff says that now they need to manage photosynthesis in order to avoid too much sugar ripeness in the grapes, but at the same time he needs to protect the grapes from too much sun. ‘We have to bring drown the leaf ratio to grape,’ he says. ‘The middle part of the Nahe is a humid area, and we can’t leave the grapes in the shade. We want to open the canopy, but we also need to shade the grapes a bit. It is like a ride on a razor blade.’

Tom Barry is a third-generation winegrower in the Clare Valley of Australia, and is making the wines for the winery named after his grandfather, Jim Barry. He explained some of the things they do to offset the increasingly warm vintages. ‘Screen and Surround are clay-based sun screens you can put on before heat waves,’ he says. ‘These can lower the temperature by up to 8 degrees, it is claimed.’ Barry says that most of his grapes are picked at night: during vintage it can be 35 C in the day, but 10 C at night. They use machine picking, and process the grapes as quickly as possible to try to avoid any skin contact, because of the high phenolics in the skins that comes from the warm climate.

We tasted a range of Rieslings looking to illustrate how the grape does in warm climates and warmer vintages.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2018 Clare Valley
450 m above sea level. Bright, crisp, lively and intense with a subtle pithy edge to the lemony fruit. High acid. Zippy and intense. Slight hint of mint here. 89/100

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2018 Western Australia
Bright and transparent with nice brisk lemony fruit and a slight saline twist. Very expressive with nice juiciness. 90/100

Brooks Ara Riesling 2017 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Dry, stony and lively with nice citrus fruit core, and a mineral streak. Very lively with a fine spicy twist. Lovely focus and concentration. 91/100

Fabe Riesling 2017 California
This is a new project, and the name of the wine is currently undecided. Linear and brisk but with some herbal hints and a bit of pear and melon, as well as crisp lemony fruit. Has delicacy and complexity. Such precision and detail here. 91/100

Eroica Riesling 2017 Washington State
Rich with a hint of sweetness and some compact citrus fruit, with a twist of melon. Has some spicy complexity. Nice rich style. 91/100

Sphera Riesling 2018 Judean Hills, Israel
Fresh and linear with complex, crystalline citrus fruit. Has good concentration and some spicy complexity. Lovely fruit. Generous and complex. 93/100

Gut Hermannsberg Riesling Seven Terroirs 2018 Nahe, Germany
Honeyed edge. Stony and bright. Hints of apple with high acidity. Has lovely brightness with nice intensity. 92/100

Galen Glen Fossil Vineyard Riesling 2016 Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Shale soils. Fresh, lively high-acid style with lemony fruit and a hint of apple. Juicy and bright, with a stony finish. 88/100

Red Tail Ridge Estate Dry Riesling 2016 Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York
Slightly honeyed with sweet citrus and pear fruit, with a bit of grape character. Quite rounded and sweetly fruited and softly structured. 88/100

Red Newt Cellars The Knoll Lahoma Vineyards Riesling 2016 Finger Lakes
Tight and expressive with good concentration and a mineral edge with real purity and complexity. A lovely wine with amazing focus. 93/100

Hermann J Weimer Vineyard HJW Vineyard Riesling 2015 Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York
Lovely detail and complexity here with some melon and toast hints alongside rich citrus fruit with some pear and apple hints. Lovely depth here, finishing rich with a hint of apricot, and a trace of creaminess. 93/100

Robert Weil Grafenberg GG Riesling 2015 Rheingau, Germany
2015 was a warm vintage. Tight and compact with a pithy edge to the intense citrus fruit. Quite structural and intense. 91/100

Weingut Wittmann Morstein GG Riesling 2015 Rheinhessen, Germany
This is intense with keen acidity and some structure. It has lime and honey, with some pithy notes. Really vivid and intense with some fruit sweetness. Taut and tight wound, but with lots of flavour intensity. 92/100

Meyer Fonné Wineck-Schlossberg Riesling Grand Cru 2015 Alsace, France
This is a ripe yet fresh Riesling with some melony richness and nice citrus fruit. Has some richness and a sweet pear finish. Dry but textured. 91/100

Sommer Handwerk Riesling 2017 Burgenland, Austria
Stony and mineral with lovely texture, showing citrus fruit and a bit of yellow plum. Lovely mouthfeel. Very fine with a hint of mint, and some mandarin brightness. Lovely stuff. 94/100

Schloss Gobelsburg Tradition Riesling 2013 Kamptal, Austria
Aromatic with lovely citrus fruit core and detailed with some lime and mint notes, as well as grapefruit and herb notes. Lovely precision here with nice complexity. 93/100

Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese 2003 Nahe, Germany
2003 was a famously hot vintage, but the wines have aged quite well. Very rich and textured with some creamy notes as well as ripe pear and apple fruit, with a slight cheesy hint. Fresh with some mint and herbs, and fleshy melony fruit. Still very fresh. 90/100

Dr Loosen Bernkastler Lay Riesling Auslese 2003 Mosel, Germany
Mint and cream hints to the concentrated, fresh, sweet pear and peach fruit. Shows nice richness with some apricot character. Some sweetness. Satisfying and broad. 91/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com


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