A Week In Ireland - The Majestic Emerald Isle!

Ireland has always been on my “must visit” list - rolling hills, clashing waves and a pretty cool summer climate (we usually end up traveling in August due to my teaching schedule). It quickly moved up the list after we spent a few days in Dublin for a friend’s wedding several years ago. I absolutely loved the people, the relaxed atmosphere and yes, the food. We began our trip in Dublin, our hub as I decided not to drive this time around (although I would absolutely advise getting a car - and will do so next time). Instead we took day-trips, both on the DART and the tour buses. A quick note of tours - they are well priced, organized and absolutely easy to book. The main negative though is timing - a bus means that everything takes longer and thus, there is much less time for exploring.     

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Dublin is unimaginable without St. Patrick’s Cathedral, especially for me - since I teach Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” almost every semester. It is a majestic building - well worth the visit - and the gardens are a perfect place for a break after. 

There is much to see inside, but I couldn’t get enough of these amazing stained-glass windows. These are not original, but put up in the late 19th and early 20th century. Yet they are absolutely stunning. 

We then walked over to Dublin Castle - to learn more of the city’s history, going back to the Viking Settlement known as Duiblinn (or “Black Pool”). There are still stones from the original Viking walls under the Castle, and you can see them during the tour. 

A short walk to the east, and you find yourself on the Trinity College campus. See the Book of Kells in the Library, or just to walk through its historic lanes. My advise would be to either book a ticket for the Library ahead, or come early in the morning.

Cliffs of Moher are a top attraction, and even though it is a bit of a trek from Dublin, they are well worth it. 

Because of the long drive from Dublin to the Cliffs, most bus tours make a stop along the way. Our tour stopped at a sheep farm to watch how the shepherd dogs gather and move flocks in the hills.

We opted to take the boat tour of the Cliffs in addition to walking along them. 

The power of the Cliffs is on full display from the water.

Back on land. we made our way to the edge of the Cliffs, along with many other visitors.

Even though there are a lot of tourists here, there is enough beauty to go around. If only we had more time to explore!

Our other long bus tour was to Northern Ireland, which included a visit to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

It is a wild, rocky coast. And the tour describes several legendary and scientific explanations for the unusual geological formations in the area.

The bridge itself is really not as scary as it seems, but it allows one to get a good glimpse of Scotland across the sea. 

North Atlantic coast is beautiful and wild. And alive with many bird species. 

We then dove into ancient history of Ireland with a visit to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange Passage Tomb. The ancient earthworks of the Hill of Tara can be seen above.

The Newgrange Passage tomb is older than the Pyramids of Egypt. It is built out of large stones that had to be moved for miles. We still know very little of its original use and intent, but it is constructed in such a way as to allow the sunlight to enter the tomb on the morning of the winter solstice. 

It is an impressive earth and stone construction, made of 200,000 tonnes of rock and other materials. 

On the next morning we drove through Wicklow Mountains to our next destination. 

It was a bright morning and the wild flowers, mixed in with the grasses, made for a spectacular view. 

We were headed to the historic Glendalough, where St, Kevin founded a monastic settlement in the 6th century. 

The round bell-tower can be seen for miles, perhaps a landmark for those seeking the settlement. 

We finished the day with a visit to Powerscourt Gardens. 

We took the DART from Dublin to Howth - a lovely fishing village on a peninsula just North of Dublin. Get some fresh seafood for lunch after the walk!

The Howth Cliff walk, a short stroll away from the station, takes the hiker along the eastern edge of the peninsula and allows views onto the Dublin bay, the city and even the Wicklow mountains beyond. It was one of our favorite moments of the trip.

On our last day in Ireland, we took the DART all the way to the south, to Bray. A small coastal town, with a population that commutes to Dublin. It has a long boardwalk along the beach, and a walk through the cliffs. 

An easier walk takes the hikers from Bray to Greystones (the next town on the coast), but we chose to head to the top of the cliffs - to the Cross. The hike is much more difficult, but the views are absolutely worth it! I hope you enjoyed this brief photo essay. 


German Grosses Gewächs (GG) Riesling – Power, Purity and Presence

Originally Published on “The Cellar Table” - a Morrell Wine & Spirits Blog

Few grapes can match the versatility of Riesling – thus it is often dubbed “King of Grapes” and “World’s Greatest Grape”. My own journey into wine began with Riesling as well, with a Mosel Kabinett in fact, a 2001 Max Ferdinand Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett. And here begins the difficulty of deciphering German labels for many wine lovers – what do all those words mean? I approach it in the same way as Burgundy – Estate / Village / Vineyard. That solves majority of the questions. The wine above, for example is made by Max Ferdinand Richter estate, grown in the vineyards of the village of Wehlen and in the vineyard called Sonnenuhr (sundial – because of the large sundial in the vineyard itself; these are common in German vineyards and thus many villages have a Sundial vineyard). Now comes the last part – Kabinett. This is a reference to the Prädikat system, which was created to provide further information to the consumer on the style of wine in the bottle (how well, or how poorly a system based purely on must weights and focused on ripeness worked is a discussion for another time). Kabinett refers to the lightest of the Prädikat wines, usually made in an off-dry style (unless otherwise noted). The off-dry wines of Germany age effortlessly; they often have a baroque, peaceful quality and their floral and orchard fruit notes match well with a variety of foods, including the spicier cuisine of Thailand and the sweeter sauces of BBQ and many Chinese dishes. 

The “sweeter”, off-dry style, formalized in the 1971 wine law which put the Prädikat scale into place, came into prominence in the early 20th century, with the evolution of winemaking techniques and the ability to create stable wines at any sweetness level. What was German Riesling like before that? Well, that depends… on where, and when. Without modern methods, wine stopped fermentation when it was “ready”. That depended on the yeast strain, on the weather and on the harvest – thus the wines were not uniform. 

If one had to place these wines within the “modern” parameters – words like “feinherb”, “halbtrocken” would come to mind…but they wouldn’t really tell the story. The Prädikat system classifies Kabinett “feinherb” as 18 to 30 grams of residual sugar. What about the 9 to 18 grams? (GG must have 9 grams or less – but we will deal with that in a bit). These wines do exist – often producers give them a name that reflects the nature of the wine, which skirts the need to specify origin and thus avoids issues with the law. However, this article is not about the off-dry wines, as much as I personally love them, it is about the powerful, dry wines called “Grösses Gewachs” – Grand Cru wines of Germany.

Where did the “Grosses Gewächs” come from? The term itself refers to “Great Growths”, thus echoing both Bordeaux and Burgundy in the reference. However, its main focus in on the terroir – on the vineyard itself and the specific expression of the vineyard through a dry wine (up to 9 grams of RS – less than one percent), made of late harvest (Spätlese) grapes. Why did the wines “need” to be dry? This is a multi-layered question. The glut of low quality sweet Rieslings that existed in the marketplace, combined with the lower prices on German wines overall, lead to a perception that identified the off-dry style with lower quality. This was further complicated by the Prädikat system, which assigned value to the ripeness level of the harvested grapes and thus presented the noble-sweet wines like Auslese and Beerenauslese as the pinnacle of vineyard expression. 

However, truly sweet wines were not at all en vogue. In the earlier days, Tokaj was the wine of kings and Champagne was palpably sweet; Port and sherry, too, had their moments. Yet, in the modern world, the lighter, fresher food called for fresher, brighter expressions of the wines. Burgundy, with its steely Chablis, and brilliant Montrachet and Mersault became the symbol of success. California too, pitched in, with voluptuous (if sometimes heavy) chardonnays, bringing intensity and power, but without the pronounced sweetness and softness of the off-dry Rieslings. The VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter), an association of Germany’s premier wineries and estates, created the Grosses Gewächs designation in 2002 as part of their effort to realign the position of German wines on the world market. The goal was to focus on terroir, and on quality; any wine labeled GG had to be a premium expression of the vineyard, to be a representation of a “Grand Cru”.

Yet, these were not wines created out of thin air and based in stylistic expressions of other grapes. While rare, great Auslese trocken (dry) were already being made by prominent estates and winemakers. Moreover, as far as Riesling was concerned, both the Austrian Smaragd wines of Wachau and the Grand Cru wines of Alsace have long proven Riesling to be an excellent grape for muscular, dry wines. The question of terroir remained – would these wines be able to show their terroir as well as the off-dry wines did? Will they feel “polished” or “unnatural”? Frankly, I was not an immediate fan of the style or the wines. I was unsure of how they would age, and many of the earlier examples felt like they were trying too hard. The best early GGs came from the slightly warmer vineyards of Pfalz and Rheinhessen (wines of Keller and Wittmann come to mind). The wines there were already more power-forward, often layering pineapple and grapefruit over the lighter orchard fruit. The dry expressions presented these notes in spades, underlining the mineral notes with broader palate and zestier citrus. 

Nevertheless, there were many wines that felt off-balance, struggling with the higher alcohol, seemingly giving up the sweet, ethereal naiveté of cherubs for the tight suits and close shaves of the boardroom. This was especially apparent in early Grosses Gewächs from the Mosel, where wines are even more ethereal, more orchard-fruit-driven and mineral-forward. As a longtime fan of Mosel Riesling, I was very skeptical – where will these wines go? How will they age? 

The VDP reassessed the classification in 2006 and in 2012, trying to bring clarity to the categories and the winemakers, too, have dialed in their wines accordingly. In fact, from the wines that I tasted for this article, majority came in at 12.5% alcohol and a few were at 13%. I even purposely re-tasted them at slightly warmer temperatures, just to see if the alcohol begins to show, and I must say I was positively surprised. Other than a few hints of warmth on the finish, the wines showed brightness and refreshing qualities even when warmer than usual. 

My own interest in the dry wines began to grow with the 2012 vintage. That was the first time I tasted through a lineup of German wines where the dry/GG wines were as impressive, to my palate, as the off-dry ones. Since then, I have been slowly working on understanding these wines, and how they age. I am still an advocate for the lower alcohol in dry Rieslings, and was glad to see that many of the current releases fit that profile. I was starting to buy and drink more dry wines from the Nahe and Rheinhessen. Yet, Mosel was still the home of off-dry wines for me. Revelation came during the trip to Germany, when I was able to spend 10 days in the Mosel and Saar (and a day in the Nahe). We tasted through many dry wines, much more than I expected, and I was impressed by their lightness, freshness and sheer drinkability. They no longer felt like a compromise to me, they didn’t feel “forced”.  

Our trip, in the Fall of 2017, began in Nahe, with Helmut Dönnhoff and Frank Schönleber. I have had their dry wines before, but never in such depth. As we tasted through the dry side of the lineup, with lighter, “simpler” trocken wines first, and then the “bigger” GG – I began to see the progression and the terroir appear in the glass. That was especially true for me with the Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle wines. It was always my favorite of their vineyards – especially for the rich and powerful Spätlese and Auslese wines. To think that there will be even less of those wines made felt almost like a betrayal… However, the 2016 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle GG showed its class and power. There was no denying it; this dry wine was just as much a Hermannshöhle as its sweeter siblings. I was already a fan of the dry wines of Emrich-Schönleber. Frank’s masterful Halenberg GG is always a stunning wine. In fact, the 2005 Emrich-Schönleber Spätlese Trocken from Halenberg was one of the first dry German wines to make me really think about the category. But that wine was still very young. Here, in Nahe, Frank opened a 2007 GG for us, as a comparison point (almost a decade in the bottle at that moment). It was a beauty – still youthful (one worry alleviated) and yet showing more of that beautiful fruit and the hints of development bringing out the classic Riesling tones that feel sometimes hidden in young dry wines under the brash power of grapefruit notes. 

As I have mentioned, I was prepared for the dry wines of Nahe, but once we entered Saar and Mosel, it was a different story. A quick aside, we tasted mainly wines from the 2016 vintage, with more on the vintages a bit later, but it was hard not to fall in love with the elegance of the wines. Perhaps more ethereal and restrained than the brash 2015, the gentler acidity of 2016 lent itself well to the dry style. But, of course, generalization about vintages are always problematic. In Saar, Ruwer and the Mosel, I expected to love the sweeter wines and, perhaps, be intrigued by the dry. Instead, I ended up falling completely in love with the Feinherb style, and, truly impressed by the GG wines and trockens in general.

My earlier worries were clearly being resolved – the alcohol was in check, the acidity as well (obviously in 2016 – but also in the several 2015s that we tried). The wines were clear, bright and utterly delicious. Obviously, the dry wines of Steinmetz, Immich-Batterieberg and Martin Muellen were wonderful – but that was no surprise. But when we tasted Florian Lauer’s wines, the wines at Von Schubert, Schloss Lieser, where I expected to stick to the Spätlese (well, and feinherb), I had to stop at the dry wines and reassess; they were really good! More than that, they represented what I always saw as the heart of Mosel Riesling – orchard-centered fruit, with a filigree of mineral and herbal notes. Mosel wines, for me, are the wines of meditative quality. They bring peace of mind, and I was afraid that the brasher, polished style of GG would obliterate that quality; I was, thankfully, wrong. They were just as peaceful, if a bit more buttoned up, but give them a chance to relax, a few years in the bottle will do. 

After the trip, my interest grew and I started trying more dry Rieslings from Germany. More wines from Pfalz and Rheinhessen, wines from Rheingau and even a few from Franken. I cannot fathom placing them into one singular description that would be of any use. When one speaks of Loire Chenin or White Burgundy – is it really a helpful definition? On the other hand, I think the GG style does offer some clarity – and there lies perhaps its biggest asset. While there may be other wines that can and do deliver the same type of product, when you pick out a GG Riesling from a shelf or a restaurant list – you can expect a serious dry wine, made from some of the best fruit and vineyards that the region has to offer. And that, I must say, is a very good start. I don’t mean to state that this is the “right” style, or the “wrong” for that matter… nor, and more importantly, the “only” style high-end German Riesling should come in. That is not for me to articulate here. Nevertheless, if one is seeking a high quality dry German Riesling – then GG wines are a great place to look. 

Mosel – Saar – Ruwer

2016 Peter Lauer Feils Riesling Faß 13 Großes Gewächs: Feils is a steep, narrow, southeast facing vineyard between the Saar River and the Saar Canal. It is a warm site, with soils composed of river sediments and rubble. I first had this wine exact wine with Florian Lauer at the winery - right on release. It was already very good but tight and in need of air. Now, two years later, the wine is ready to shine, though still very young and showed much better a few days after opening than on the first night. This is a mineral-driven wine, with slate, lemon and a hint of yellow grapefruit and a touch of passion fruit and mango on the nose. The palate is very bright, with white peach, mineral, smoke and a rounder grapefruit note toward the back. The ripe core, with a lovely oily sheen, is underscored by acidity, leading to a ginger and salty finish. Fantastic. (94 pts.) 

2017 Weingut Max Ferd. Richter Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Großes Gewächs: From one of my favorite vineyards in the Middle-Mosel, a steep, blue and grey slate site with a concave south facing slope. This wines from this vineyard are always evocative of Mosel and I was glad to see this GG do the same. It opens with an intense nose of crushed rock, mineral, big ripe peach and pear as well as key lime and floral notes. The palate is just as intense and juicy, with loads of mineral, bright orchard fruit (more white peach toward the back), leading to a very long, savory and mineral finish. There is a great balance of power and fruit in this wine. Still quite young, it should really come together with a bit more age. I will be putting a few of these away. (94 pts.)

2017 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling Großes Gewächs: I have been a big fan of Thomas Haag’s wines, and he has repeatedly proven the potential of this blue-slate vineyard. Though known mainly for its off-dry version, this dry wine may change a few minds. More than most of the wines I tried for the article, this needed time and showed significantly better after a few days in the bottle. It opens with a nose of sweet, ripe apricots, dripping with honey. Peaches and pears - again quite ripe. There is a hint of lees and smoke on the nose at the start and it takes some time to blow off. The front palate opens with stone, white peach, mineral and savory herb. It quickly envelops the drinker - jumping between sensations, a complete wine even in its youth. The peach at the front turns into mirabelle and yellow apple, while (somehow at the same time) the tangy, savory tones tug at the cheeks. Back palate is all orchard fruit and crushed stone. Green apple peeks from the finish, along with ginger and clove. Excellent, already speaking the language of Middle Mosel, but warrants time. (94 pts.)  

2011 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: This is a fairly large, south facing, Monopole vineyard near the Ruwer river, with history going back to the 14th century. I was lucky enough to get three vintages of this wine to taste. It is always fascinating to watch the evolution of Riesling, and getting a chance to try one with age along with the new releases adds a level of nuance to one’s own perceptions. This wine was tasted from a .375; at 8 years of age, it is showing development and hints of maturity. The apple and pear notes are underlined with a hint of marzipan on the nose. The palate is lovely, bright with pear and peach notes, perhaps a bit more creamy than expected and the touch of almond brings brightness to the back palate. An intriguing example of a more mature GG, with the secondary notes curb the fruit and provide a darker, more brooding experience. The wine continued to evolve in the glass, the bright acidity showing more mineral at one moment, and more texture in the next. The savory herbs added to depth - and showed really well with food. I would not hesitate to open this now, and I could see it pairing well with a wide range of dishes, from bright salads and briny appetizers, to pork and chicken. (91 pts.)

2015 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: The wine opens with sweet white peaches, mineral, hint of floral and herbal notes. On the palate, it showed white peach, even hint of green peach note, herbs, mint, and touch of cassis toward the back. Very sleek and light up front, softer in the mid with orchard fruit taking over from the mineral. The back palate offers sweet pear and peach notes, leading to a zestier, herb (sage) and ginger moderate finish. There is a hint of warmth right on the finish but it does not detract from the bright and light feel of the wine and the chalky, tangy note that sums up the wine leaves the palate refreshed. (92 pts.)

2017 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: Opening with softer peach, yellow and white, pear and apricot, the wine takes its time to really show. A few hours and it becomes more floral, with notes of honeysuckle as well, adding a sweeter touch. Palate is light and quite linear - bright, mineral note pushing toward the back, where it develops notes of mint and savory herb as well as green apple and wet stone. The finish is moderate but with a lovely dollop of green apple and citrus. (92 pts.)

2016 Weingut Clemens Busch Pundericher Marienburg Fahrlay Riesling Großes Gewächs: The blue slate of Fahrlay, distinguishes it from the rest of the vineyard, which cradles the sharp bend of the Mosel River across from Pünderich. The wine opens with an earthy note of herb and savory spices. One of more backward of the wines, showing notes of dry mango, orange peel (perhaps hinting at skin contact) and guava. On the palate, the wine is broad but more directly Riesling-like, with peach and pear notes on the mid palate. The 2016s are elegant, if a hint softer for that and this wine shows it in spades. The wine becomes more tropical toward the back, but with more savory and herbal notes. The acidity is there, but playing second fiddle to the broader herb and spicy notes. The finish is warm, with a juicy peach note along with the herb and red pepper flake. This needs time - to let the herbal notes and the peach come to terms with each other. (91 pts.)

Nahe

2016 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshohle Riesling Großes Gewächs: (tasted in Germany, at the estate) A beautiful, steep vineyard that hugs the Nahe River across from Oberhausen an der Nahe. The soils here are blue-grey slate with clay and limestone. The nose is highly floral, with notes of white and yellow flowers, peach and pear. Palate shows powerful acidity, mouth watering and bright. Chewy, thick mid with complex notes of fruit and ginger (candied). Young but already excellent - and will age marvelously. (94 pts.) 

2016 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: (tasted in Germany, at the estate) A small (under 8 ha) vineyard – but well known for the quality of the wine it produces. This one was no exception, certainly one of the better young dry Rieslings I have tasted. Intensly floral, mineral notes on the nose already show the power underneath, but the palate is mindboggling. Citrus driven, with layers of white peach and stone, light on its feet for such a powerhouse… A wine to put away and watch it blossom. (94 pts.)

2017 Kruger-Rumpf Dorsheimer Burgberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: A small (less than 5 ha) vineyard below a 14th century fortress (Burg Layen) which explains the name (castle mountain). The soils are iron-rich loam with quartzite and pebble. On the nose the wine shows the softer, yellow flowers and peach of Nahe fruit, this was an immediate favorite. Mineral is there as well, with hints of smoke and slate. Very elegant on the nose, even demure. The palate is just as elegant, but in a sleeker, sexier form, bright and juicy peach, stone, pineapple and grapefruit seemingly dancing a jig on the palate. The front begins like the nose, yellow peach, floral and soft but then, by the mid, the energetic tropical fruit set the tone. By the back palate, the stone, orchard and tropical fruit are singing in unison. The finish is tart, with lemon peel and sage. If one had to nitpick, the acidity felt a hint lower than on some of the other wines… but this is spectacular and drinking well right now - I would not hesitate opening it soon. (93 pts.)

2017 Kruger-Rumpf Im Pitterberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: The smaller section inside the Pittersberg vineyard is known for its slate and loam soils that are well drained and hold very little moisture. The wine is sleeker, than the Burgberg, though still showing a nose of soft and tropical fruit, demure and elegant. Yellow peach, mango and a hint of floral notes. The palate is ripe and peachy up front, becoming more tropical and citrus forward toward the back. Quite powerful and broad, but with a bright acidity keeping the wine fresh. Finish shows sour plum and spice. (92 pts.) 

2015 K.H. Schneider Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling trocken: While this is not officially a GG wine, I really wanted to have something in the lineup from this stunning volcanic vineyard. The wine opens with sleek, yellow peach, hint of smoke, tropical notes (pineapple); with time it becomes more mineral, showing less sweet notes and more crushed stone, a hint of spice. On the palate it is quite dry but not at all austere. Pineapple, lemon peel, hint of grapefruit pith drive the fruit profile. Bright acidity on the front of the palate brings to a slightly softer, tropical mid palate (softened by the sweet citrus) and then on to a mineral, bright yellow grapefruit and a pithy, zesty finish. The overall impression of the wine is elegant and balanced, leaning more toward the graperfruit/citrus side of the scale rather than the stone fruit. With more time, it began to really show itself as a true example of Nahe - the combination of elegant yellow fruit, spice and smoke. (92 pts.)

2016 K.H. Schneider Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling trocken: Unlike its slightly older brother above, this is a more demure version. Leaner and lighter on its feet but also much more approachable at this stage. It opened with a nose of ripe, soft peach, coconut, pineapple and stone fruit. Mid is mineral forward, very dry, with lemon and lime slowly morphing into the sweeter citrus notes of kumquat and pink grapefruit. The long finish shows spice and sage tones. An elegant young wine. (92 pts.)


Pfalz

2017 Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz Siebeldinger Im Sonnenschein Riesling Großes Gewächs: The vineyard (translated as “in the sunshine”) is a fairly large (nearly 32 ha), and is made up primarily of limestone and shell. The wine shows a nose of sweet peach, pineapple; it is quite ripe and floral. Plate is rather elegant already, with minerality taking the lead on the front, bringing the wine to a fuller, riper and more tropical back palate. Here citrus dominates, with yellow grapefruit taking the charge, leading to a peach and lemon zest finish with a hint of ginger adding to the tang. Perhaps a bit lower in acid than expected, but that renders the wine significantly more pleasurable now - with just a bit air it really blossoms. When I think of Pfalz trockens - this wine absolutely hits the nail on the head. Tropical, yet mineral driven and composed, with the sweeter notes of citrus giving the wine a fuller body, while melting into the crushed stone of the structure. Delicious already but should age well. (93 pts.) 

2017 von Winning Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Großes Gewächs: Von Winning wines are definitely unusual – with a clear note of oak influence. However, if given the chance, show a different aspect of Riesling. This particular wine comes from a rich vineyard of sandy clay and shows the broader, richer side of Pfalz. The nose is impressively powerful, with yellow peach with a hint of toast and cider apples. While the vanilla and white flowers add nuance, the dominant note is of stone fruit. I was surprised how well integrated the wine was showing, having had it previously several months ago. The palate has a more prominent note of oak, with its roundness and the candied peach on the front. The mid is unctuous, if one may use the word for a “dry” wine, with mango and pink grapefruit notes. This is surely a full bodied example, but it is underscored by great acidity. The finish adds grassy and herbal notes to the party, restoring the freshness and juicyness to the wine. Perhaps a touch front-heavy at this stage, but it is a very young wine and built for age. (92 pts.)

2017 von Winning Deidesheimer Kalkofen Riesling Großes Gewächs: It is not hard to guess what soils dominate this vineyard (Kalk – lime). Situated in a warm and quite dry area of Pfalz, it was well known already in the early 19th century for producing powerful wines. This particular wine clearly need time - as the oak is rather prominent on the nose here, with sweet vanilla covering the ripe yellow peach and floral notes. The palate is ripe and rich, with broad middle offered by the oak. Ripe tropical fruit are balanced by good acidity. Even after being open for several days, it showed little development. Lemon custard on the palate is quite nice and there is a hint of peach on the back, but it is currently masked by the power of the oak influence. (91 pts.)

Rheinhessen 

2015 Gunderloch Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling Großes Gewächs: An east-southeast facing, red slate vineyard hugging the Rhein river; it is impressively steep, with slopes reaching a gradient of 100%! Gunderlock dry wines have been spectacular for a long time, and this fits right into that legacy. The ’15 is in a good place now, with rich lemon custard on the nose, but a juicy, fresh palate of mineral, savory herb and citrus. Broad mid palate offers power along with the mineral notes leading to a long and tart finish of lemon and orange zest. With time, the wines shows more tangy peach and yellow grapefruit. (92 pts.) 

2016 Gunderloch Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling Großes Gewächs: Here, unlike in the 2015. The Hoesch 1200-liter Stückfass used for this wine shows itself with the white flowers and vanilla touch on the nose, along with a hint of mineral and smoke. With time, the lemon curd and orange notes appear. The palate is ripe, pineapple, passion-fruit, but brighter than expected, with the softer fruit notes at the front, and mineral driven through the middle to a juicy, mint and fennel back palate. Lemon zest and mineral allow for a long, tangy, salty and spicy finish. I would not be surprised to see this aging quite well due to its impressive structure. In fact, over the week, it lost a lot of the oak from the nose and palate, becoming more rounded, more classic - in the Austrian Smaragd style. Really good. (92 pts.)

2017 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs: Like the Pettenthal above, this is a red soil vineyard, though even steeper and with less topsoil. This wine is in serious need of time - it showed a lot better after a few days, but was still quite backward. Nose of Mayer lemon and vanilla, still a clear hint of oak influence. The palate is ripe, with a tropical core, juicy and showing good mineral and saline component. Showing incredibly young but should improve with more age. (91 pts.)

2015 Groebe Westhofener Aulerde Riesling Großes Gewächs: This is an unusual wine, with a strong presence of burnt orange and apricot on the nose that perhaps stems from the 6-8 hours spent on the skins. The nose is thus quite exotic, sweet apricot reminds one of Sauternes and is thus quite in contrast with the dry, bright palate. The mid palate has a lot of texture, almost tannic in its presence and quite broad. Some of the apricot follows through here, but in an almost purely tactile function. Mirabelle, yellow peach and savory herb play along with the mineral and sour plum notes, leading to a racy and tangy finish with a hint of apple pectin and lemon zest along with a nuttier, apricot jelly and marzipan note. While quite unusual, for those who like the nuttier, tactile wines this would fit well. It was good to go on day one and only needed an hour or so to get to full speed. (91 pts.)

2015 Groebe Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs: This vineyard, along with the Aulerde above, were first mentioned in the 14th century. Though quite flat, they are protected by the sloping hills and provide a perfect position for the ripening of Riesling. The nose on this wine is of bright peach and pear, with hints of tropical fruit. The mid-palate is bursting with power and shows ripe citrus, stone fruit and mineral. Big, with a broad middle, the wine stays on its feet due to the depth of its structure. Savory herbs and zest follow through to a long dry finish. While this needs time, it is sure to reward. (91 pts.)  

Rheingau 

2017 Weingut Spreitzer Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Großes Gewächs: (tasted at the Skurnik/Theise presentation) While I could not sit with a bottle of this wine (since none were available) I did taste it several times and I wanted to make sure and include a wine from the Rheingau in the article. Spreitzer has been making absolutely classic wines and this GG is a great example of his success. It is simply a knockout. Riper and richer than the Rosengarten, with more power and yet, more mineral and savory at the same time. Citrus and peach strike a balance with the stony, savory notes leading to a stunning wine, with a long tangy finish. Power and elegance – a textbook Rheingau.  


Credits & Resources

Article, Photos and Notes by Mikhail Lipyanskiy 

Thank you to Morrell Wines and Eric Guido for the opportunity to guest-write this article.
Thank you to all the wineries and distributors (Skurnik Wines, David Bowler, Massanois, Vom Boden, Crystalline Selections and Field Blend) for the wines and all the additional information provided.  


Brief Notes from a Week in the Finger Lakes

There are still photos to edit, wines to ponder on and a ton of ideas and questions rolling around in my brain after my weeklong stay in the FLX region. This trip was unlike the previous years, where I hiked the trails, spent time in the gorges and the wildlife sanctuaries. This was a concentrated effort to learn as much as I could about the vineyards, wines and winemakers of the region. Is a week enough? Surely not, but that is all I had and, after 20 appointments and 1500 photos, I believe it was a success. When I think of Seneca vineyards – I can picture at least some of the slopes, both on the east and the west of the lake. I can talk about the Keuka and the Cayuga Lakes with some understanding, beyond pronunciation. Moreover, I have a significantly better grasp on the wines as well – having tasted with many more producers and winemakers. Where does that leave me? What conclusions can I draw? Oh, come on… not everything in one paragraph! 

As I have mentioned – this is not the full scope, there is much to consider. However, I wanted to highlight some of my findings and some of the best wines from the trip. First and foremost – quality. There is a clear interest in quality, and that is evident in the young winemakers in the region; it is evident in the new wineries that are being built “the right way” – with serious cellars, with a clear vision of the kind of wines they want to make, with a view toward either planting their own vineyards, or working closely with the grower to get the quality of the grapes that could catapult the wines onto the world stage. There is a spirit of innovation as well, an excitement about the future – that is what one wants to see in a region – fewer “we can’t” and much more of “why not?” And one other very important thing, though it may seem minor, there is an eye to the world outside of the region. This is a key to success, in my opinion, looking beyond the FLX, beyond the USA for that matter. Learning, traveling, tasting with winemakers from all over the world. Which is why I applaud the FLXcursion Conference and the people who created and participated in it. It is exactly what the region needs – a dialogue with the world of wine. 


Now, to the wines – I separated them into categories and chose my favorites. I am sure there are others well deserving of mention, but I will have more time to talk about each winery and category in the coming months. For now – only a few “must have” wines.  

Sparkling Wines:

While I, personally, do not drink a lot of bubbly, I do find them to pair very well with a variety of food, much better than most wines due to their refreshing acidity and yet a broader, richer mouthfeel (I am a Riesling-geek – and Riesling plays the same game in my opinion). Finger Lakes sparkling wines have always been very good, but I wanted to highlight a few standouts. 

First, the 2014 Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs, I have had several BdN from the region that I found absolutely excellent. This is another example - deliciously delicate, with ripe citrus on the nose, serious yet quite floral. The palate shows good texture, creamier toward the mid, with ripe sweet Meyer lemon. The wine is brighter and fresher toward the finish, with a hint of citrus zest. 

Another, and a very different expression is the 2014 Hermann J. Wiemer Back To Zero Blanc de Blanc. A very floral wine, with a nose of lovely white flowers and toast. The palate is complex with bright acidity, brioche and apple, adding a touch of lemon curd toward the finish. The hint of savory herb adds another layer to the wine, as well as leaves the palate refreshed. Finally, there is the 2011 Ravines Wine Cellars Brut. This is perhaps the most “classic” of the three – as well as benefiting from the additional age. The nose is unmistakable, toast, white flowers, hint of mineral. The palate is bright, citrus dominated with hint of apple at the front, and a bit more ripe lemon curd toward the back. The wine is spicy and juicy, showing a refreshing finish with zest and wet stone.  

Dry and / or “Gently” Dry Riesling


I struggled with this category, because where does one draw the line on “dry”? Several wines here, in my opinion, would better be served in the “feinherb” or “halbtrocken” category. So I chose to borrow a word from Mel Goldman and call them “gently dry”. Sometimes this had to do with the sugar/acid balance, and sometimes simply with the wine itself. However, this is clearly the most exciting category of wines from the region (in my opinion). Riesling’s ability to age, to show terroir/microclimate, to work with and against the hand of the winemaker shows it self especially well here (can you tell I am biased?). 

First, the “dry” – and none more so than the 2014 Tierce Riesling, a collaboration between Fox Run, Anthony Road and Red Newt. Three vineyards, three winemakers - could it be too many cooks? Not here, I absolutely loved it. Nose is lightly mineral, hint of sponti and lees, bright and sleek. The wine shows more stone and slate in mid palate, very fresh and citrus driven. The long finish is quite dry, tangy with some zest. An excellent dry style Riesling. 

Another excellent example is the 2017 Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling White Springs Vineyard. This, to me, is always an exemplary dry-style FLX Riesling. It opens with an ethereal, floral nose, leading to a mineral mid palate with gooseberry and citrus, as well as kiwi. Basil and thyme notes add to the back of the palate, culminating with a ginger and zest note on the finish. Wiemer wines need no introduction but the 2017 Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling Bio HJW Vineyard is an unusual wine. Sourced from a specific block of vines, planted in 2009, and farmed with biodynamic practices. The wine is very dry, with a lighter, more mineral infused style. This vintage showed a floral, juicy peach and apple tones on the nose. The palate was quite light, mineral and citrus driven. The back palate showed fresh acidity and wet stone. A long finish with citrus zest brought the wine to a refreshing conclusion.  

Forge Cellars has been making some of my favorite “dry” dry Rieslings in the Finger Lakes. Their use of neutral oak and spontaneous fermentation gives the wines a unique lightness and allows the natural floral character of the grape to shine. This 2018 Forge Cellars Riesling Dry Breakneck Creek is a great example of that. It was my favorite of the three single vineyards we tried from the 2018 vintage. The nose is of lemon, apple and wet stone, with time the wine also shows a touch of savory herb. The wine is bright and mineral on the mid palate, with grapefruit and sage, and shows broader toward the finish with a lovely saline note. The long finish has a note of juicy citrus and spice. Obviously, this wine is in need of time, but is already a beauty.

Last (but not least – merely a wine that straddles the two categories perhaps) is the 2013 Red Newt Cellars Riesling Tango Oaks. This is an elegant wine, lightly floral (mainly white flowers), with a hint of almond. The palate shows white peach, mineral and is deeply textured, reminding me a bit of Gernot’s Ellergrub. Loong mineral note leading to a dry, tangy finish Impressive. 

Gently Dry 

2014 Keuka Lake Vineyards Riesling Dry Falling Man Vineyard, labeled as dry, it feels closer to halbtrocken to me, and with 11 grams of RS (to the very respectable 8.5 of acidity) I think that makes sense. The wine sits right where my favorite “drier” style Rieslings fall. The wine has a spicy nose, with yellow peach and is quite floral. Ripe, sexy mid palate with a hint of cream before a long bright and tangy finish. I would love to sit with a glass of this and watch it develop (and I will!).  

Another in this category is the 2017 Heart & Hands Riesling Paul’s Legacy, with virtually identical 11g RS to 8g acidity. The wine is very serious from the start, mosel halbtrocken feel with savory herb (sage?), light peach and a hint of yellow grapefruit and melon. There is more pear and peach on the back palate with a hint of cream. Long, savory finish. Delicious if still rather young. The 2017 Heart & Hands Riesling Seneca East Vineyard is once again my favorite Riesling from H&H. I must use ethereal and elegant expression again – as many 17s and 18s show that quality. Palate is mineral, with white peach, soft yellow apple and pear. The wine becomes juicy and flinty toward the finish adding a savory and salty note. Really good! 

The 2017 Silver Thread Riesling Doyle Fournier was my favorite of the three Single Vineyard wines I tried with Shannon and Paul. The vineyard, planted in 1973, is one of the older sites in the region. The wine, with 14 g of RS and 9 g of acidity feels right, as it hits the feinherb line just where I like it. It opens with lusher peach and grapefruit on the nose, showing the ripe fruit. The palate is broad, with grapefruit, mineral and lemon. There is a hint of cream just before a spicy and dry finish. This wine could use a bit of time, but really excellent. Perhaps my favorite “find” of the trip was the 2018 Weis Vineyards Riesling Winzer Select. This is a beautiful wine - especially impressive knowing the tough year. Made in a kabinett feinherb style with just a hint of sweetness and cream in the mid palate. Nose of exotic peach and stone fruit, with a freshness and ripeness I did not expect to find in 2018. The palate follows through with white peach, slate and a kick of ginger. The hint of softness toward the back is perhaps its only flaw. Long and tangy on the finish. I can’t wait to see more! 

Off-Dry Riesling

This category looks a bit skimpy, but only because I have already tasted and wrote about the fantastic 2016’s from Wiemer last year. They did not make Joseph vineyard wine in 2017, and have not released their 2018 wines just yet. Nevertheless, I was happy to add a new name this time around – Weis Vineyards. I cannot wait to see what Hans Peter will show in the coming years, as his wines from the quite difficult 2018 vintage are spectacular. I have already written about the stellar Rieslings at Boundary Breaks. The “198” was a favorite for me last time, and is showing well again. We retasted the 2018 vintage together with the 2018 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling No. 198 Reserve and it was hard to pick a favorite between them. The 18 is more floral, lighter, but with an intriguing note of quince and mango. The wine also shows notes of lychee and ginger on the finish. A very interesting expression.  

The last of the “table wine” Rieslings is the 2018 Weis Vineyards Riesling Winzer Select (A) with (A) referring to Auslese, though technically this is a beerenauslese. This wine speaks the language of Mosel to me. Asparagus and exotic ripe fruit - apricot, peach and plum on the nose, dripping with honey. Mid palate is candied white peach, apricots and stone. Definitely on the sweeter side but keeping a savory edge with herb and freshness underlining the fruit. This needs some time but plays the Mosel card in my mind that makes me want more. Very impressive!

Vignoles


This is an unusual hybrid, but it creates a wine that can remind one of Riesling. Not only due to its ability to make delicious dessert wines, but also with its high acidity and fresh orchard fruit notes. There are several good examples in the Finger Lakes region, but the Turkey Run vineyard wines from KLV simply blew me away. Especially the ten year-old 2009! Up first, the young 2016 Keuka Lake Vineyards Vignoles Turkey Run Vineyard is a serious step up from the “basic” Vignoles in terms of complexity. It is a lighter wine but with clearer, brighter mineral profile. Palate shows light apple and pear tones, crisp and spicy with a hint of warmth on the long finish. Elegant and expressive. The 2009 Keuka Lake Vineyards Vignoles Turkey Run Vineyard was a real shocker. Served blind, I was sure it was a Riesling. Light petrol note on the nose, bright yellow peach and a hint of apricot. Sweeter, riper fruit on the mid palate but driving to a mineral finish with spice and zest. Excellent and a testament to the grape’s potential. 

Gewürztraminer


This is a fabulous, flamboyant and floral grape that does not care whether you like it, or not (but if you do not… you are simply wrong). It is a finicky grape, thin skinned, tightly bunched and overall a pain to grow. But when it’s on … oh there are few others than can be in the same lineup (remind me again why is no one planting Sheurebe in FLX???). Again – I am clearly biased. But, while there is a ton of poorly made wine from this grape, when I find a good one, it always makes me smile.

The first is the 2017 Keuka Springs Gewürztraminer Dynamite Vineyard. This was on my “must try” list and my reason for the visit in the first place. This fits the bill of a Gewurz to get excited about. Ripe and juicy on the nose, with lychee taking charge, and rose petals close behind. This is a shameless Gewurz - floral and loving it. Mid palate is brighter, significantly more dry with just a hint of sweet fruit toward the back palate and a bit more roundness. The finish is spicy, adding the savory herb to the citrus party. Bravo! 

The 2018 Keuka Lake Vineyards Gewürztraminer Sunrise Hill Vineyard was a total surprise. Firstly, I didn’t know KLV even makes Gewurz (I hope they continue to – this is the first one). An impressive wine from start to finish - stylistically closer to the Trimbach wines of Alsace. Roses, subtle lychee tones on the nose. The palate is riper and broader, with ginger, red berry and rose water, but bright, for all the ripeness. Serious and powerful. If this is year one - I cannot wait to see more! 

Chardonnay


Ah…to wade into this argument. Should it? shouldn’t it? In my opinion, the answer is simple. Does the region make good sparkling wines from the grape? Yes. That is all I needed to hear. The rest – let the wines stand in their own. And they do – or rather, some do. Just don’t look for California style wines here… or rather –that may have been part of the issue. Trying to make oaky, buttery Chardonnay in the Finger Lakes produces caricatures, and not pretty ones. Nevertheless, there is good chardonnay here, and this is just a sample and I purposely chose three wines from three very different vintages. There are several others that did not make this list, like Silver Thread and Bright Leaf, for example, but if this article was any longer… 2018 Heart & Hands Chardonnay is an obvious example of why it does work. This is fermented in a combination of large format oak and stainless steel. The nose is very floral, with ripe citrus on the palate and just a hint of buttery note. Yet this is a light and bright wine. Even though the wine went through 100% malolactic fermentation, it keeps itself very fresh, with bright acidity and saline, mineral notes. The finish is long and elegant. It needs a good six month more in the bottle but is very good already. Another excellent wine was the 2017 Nathan Kendall Chardonnay. This wine went through 80 % of malolactic fermentation in neutral oak (5-8 years old). The other 20% was in stainless steel. There is a light vanilla note on the nose that quickly blows off, revealing citrus and white flowers. Palate is ripe, citrus with a hint of butter, broad with lemon custard toward the back. Good mineral notes are hiding under the powerful structure. Long and quite complex already but begging for another year or two. A very serious wine. Lastly, the 2016 Element Winery Chardonnay from the warm vintage. A quite impressive wine as well, with juicy fruit on the palate. It shows a very mineral touch along with savory herb, and citrus. The wine is bright with a hint of softer citrus note toward the back palate but finishing fresh and dry. 

Other Whites 

I hate the “also ran” categories but there were several wines that did not fit the above and yet needed to be highlighted. First up, the 2017 Hosmer Grüner Veltliner Dry. This is an excellent grape, with the freshness of Savignon Blanc, but the broad palate of Chardonnay. And the wine delivers - refreshing, white pepper and herb on the nose. The palate is bright, with sweeter lemon and grapefruit (yellow). The wine shows good intensity with a hint of RS adding a softer touch. The back of the palate leans toward red berry, pear and apple. Very nicely done. Talking about Sauvignon Blanc, here is one - 2018 Hector Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc. This is a wine that deserves a smile – lovely, fresh, grassy nose, sparkling acidity, lemon curd in the mid palate, juicy fruit and white pepper on the back. What is there to not love? Grab a glass, or better, the bottle.   

Now the 2018 Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli Amber is a slightly different discussion. The skin contact and amphora in the winemaking harken back to the grape’s Georgian roots. This vintage is even better than the 17 (which I absolutely loved) - a beauty! Nose is aromatic, sweet peach, perfume. The palate is quite textural from the amphora and skin contact, but also full of bright citrus and stone fruit. Long and delicious - the texture would let this wine pair well with almost any food. I would be happy to see even a bit more skin contact here but I am not complaining – I love it just as it is. 

Pinot Noir

I have written about Pinot Noir from the region before. Forge makes excellent ones (we didn’t get to try them this time as they were just bottled). Ravines, Dr. Frank, Nathan K, Element and Silver thread also showed interesting wines from the grape. However, my “must try” wine this time around was the 2015 Heart & Hands Pinot Noir Mo Chuisle. This is already an impressive wine with high aging potential. The nose is full of high-toned red fruit, cranberry and sour cherry. Tart and ripe core, earthy with deeper savory tones. Serious and needs time. 

Syrah


Here is a grape that two years ago I had no idea I would be writing about. Syrah in the Finger Lakes? You are kidding, right? Ripeness, though, is the lesser issue. The vines do not survive well in the harsh winter. However, as Christopher Bates of Element pointed out, on certain sites, if properly planted – it could work. And here are two such examples – are they light? Perhaps, but Syrah can remind one of Pinot – it adapts well to the climate and since it is not naturally high in tannin, it shows ripe fruit without being harsh.
2014 Element Winery Syrah
is an intriguing wine. Due to very low yields, it showed quite ripe plum, and juicy blackberry notes. The palate is full of black fruit, tart and mouthwatering acidity, more cassis toward back. The wine has a good grip, and is quite refreshing, with minerality showing through behind the fruit. Impressive. The first Syrah from the region that I had was the 2016 vintage from HWC. Planted in 1998, the vines are producing a consistent crop and the 2016 was absolutely delicious. The 2017 Hector Wine Company Syrah is also impressive. Ripe, but with a mineral and earthy component. Cherry, blueberry notes on the palate, becoming drier and redder on the back. This is a drier, earthier expression of the grape but still very much Syrah. 

Saperavi and Lemberger

Why am I grouping these two together? I love what these grapes do overall, offering rich, black and blue fruit while retaining the bright acidity of a cool climate red wine. I am a fan. Firstly, the 2015 Element Winery Lemberger. What can I say - I love this stuff from the region and this is a perfect example. It does not take itself too seriously - and so much the better for it. Nose of perfume and red cherry. The palate is ripe, with sweet cherry, plum and juicy blackberry. Hard to not drink it all in one gulp. Purely delicious.
I have enjoyed the red wines from the 2016 vintage a lot. And these two are a great example. 2016 Dr. Konstantin Frank Saperavi - The jammy, black fruit on the nose offer deep sweet notes of blackberry and plum. The palate has a textured, tannic and juicy black and fruit. Sweet and savory herbs, good power in the mid palate, rich note on the finish this is a delicious rendition. 2016 Standing Stone Vineyards Saperavi Reserve
Offers rich plum, hint of savory herbs, tannic and rustic in the mid palate. Loads of power and rich black fruit, with a beautifully rustic texture on the finish. This one needs time to come together but should reward in a couple of years. 

Red Blends

Like with the whites, there were a few wines that really deserved a mention. The first is the 2016 Dr. Konstantin Frank Lena Reserve Red. This is a combination of all red grapes from the property (Cab Sauvignon leads the blend but the wine also contains Merlot, Cab Franc, Saperavi and Pinot Noir). On the nose the wine shows ripe red berry. The palate is juicy and tangy, with a long savory note and sweet cherry toward the back, as well as cassis. Tannic finish. This is a serious wine that would benefit from some time in the bottle. 2017 Barry Family Cellars Four-Track Demo is a completely different wine. One that is hard not to fall in love with. Ian always wanted to try and co-ferment his red grapes. However, that is hard to do, since they come in at different time – but in 2017 he got his chance. 60% co-ferment of Merlot, Blaufrankish, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (thus - 4 track) This is a cerasuolo-like wine (not in color but in texture) – full of red berries, sweet raspberry and cherry. The whole cluster fermentation adds a savory herb note to the wine. There is an iron note in the mid, tangy bright fruit, lusher toward the back with cherry and softer texture. This is simply a must try wine. Don’t put it away. The wine is playful and ready to drink. A fantastic, fun and “drink now” red.  

Dessert Wines

Dessert wines are a blessing and a curse. On the one hand – they are hard not to love. Especially in the tasting room. They are sweet, full of ripe fruit and always pack a punch… but how often does it appear at the table? That has been my struggle as well – and the issue is acidity. It is one thing to enjoy a glass of sweet wine at the tasting room – but for us to reach for a bottle at home, it needs to provide the refreshing quality we prize in dry wine. I believe the wines below do that. The first is a 2018 Keuka Springs Vidal Icewine, and this is what Vidal is known for. Picked in January of 2018 (thus, technically 2017 vintage but the law specifying the label must state the year the grapes were harvested). Vidal Icewines are always a pleasure-bomb. This one shows a nose of cooked peaches, apricot and tangerine. The palate is ripe but juicy and broad in the middle. White this is a big dessert wine, it is impossible to resist! Reminds me of the old Standing Stone Vidal Icewines of 20 years ago. Next up is the Fox Run Vineyards Fine Old Tawny. A personal favorite project of the winemaker, and it isn’t hard to see why. Just don’t think about Porto - think of Australia or PX Sherry. This is a stunning rendition of the hedonistic, uber powerful sweet wines of Rhutherglen. Figs, dates, clove, almonds, thick and sweet but with a great bite to it. Pure pleasure – but not for the faint of heart. A more classic dessert wine is the 2017 Hosmer Riesling Late Harvest. 2017 was a great year for Late Harvest wine/Icewine in FLX due to the large and healthy crop. This is another lovely example - mirabelle plum, juicy honeyed peach, hint of apricot. The long bright mid palate shows an auslese feel - sweet but not overly so. Brighter and fresher toward the finish. A very pretty wine. Finally there is the 2017 Weis Vineyards Riesling Eiswein. Stunning and only one of three I tried today (the other two are not even bottled yet). True eiswein - with the clean grapes left hanging. Very impressive - could have easily come from Germany. Hints of orange marmalade, candied orange, apricot and savory green peach. Finishes with a tangy sour plum. Not very sweet for all the obvious sugar, really well balanced. Perhaps missing that last spike of acidity but that’s nitpicking! The other two were even more impressive- brighter and (one of them - picked at 50 brix) even more powerful.  

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