Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Riesling Joint Venture from Finger Lakes Winery

Amy Wu (Staff writer The Democrat and Chronicle) wrote, "Wine lovers will be getting a triple dose of Riesling in one bottle, thanks to some outside-the-box thinking from Finger Lakes winemakers...Anthony Road Wine Co., Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Wine Cellars are jointly launching a dry Riesling named Tierce, which refers to the project’s theme of three."

According to Wu, Tierce was released at a gala dinner at Red Newt on May 5, which was put together by three chefs. The new label, with its innovative screw cap, also officially launched Riesling month...

"Local industry observers say it is rare for winemakers to produce wine together. The collaboration shows the growth of the Finger Lakes wine region and its wineries’ efforts to spotlight the region and the Finger Lakes’ specialty: Riesling," reported Wu.

With the launch of interstate shipping, the wineries have come up with their own initiative to promote themselves.

“I know that this idea has been discussed (locally) in the past, but I can’t recall any instances where it’s been done,” said Dave Peterson, general manager of Swedish Hill, Goose Watch & Penguin Bay Wineries and also the president of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. “It’s not a common thing, to be sure.”

Tierce’s tale starts with a friendship involving the three winemakers, whose wineries are among those that ring Seneca Lake. Two years ago Johannes Reinhardt, Anthony Road’s wine maker, approached his friends David Whiting of Red Newt and Fox Run’s Peter Bell, who were equally enthusiastic about the experiment.

“I respected their approach to the business and style of wines,” said Reinhardt, pleased with the end result.

“None of our wines is even close to what we created together. It’s a totally new Riesling experience we opened,” said Reinhardt, whose family has been involved in winemaking since 1438.

The winemakers were confident they would mesh.

“I had kind of thought our styles aren’t too far separated and that they were doing things kind of the same as I was,” said Whiting, the co-owner at Red Newt Wine Cellars. But he pointed out that it helped that “the project came out of our friendship rather than us being thrown into a project and (being forced to) get along.”

From the get go, the team knew they wanted to produce Riesling, which is fast becoming the signature wine of the Finger Lakes.
Each of the winemakers contributed a third of their grapes and spent the early months of 2005 experimenting with different blends.

“We wanted to open peoples’ minds to a different style of dry, a different closure, a different experience,” said Reinhardt.

The winemakers made a limited edition of 95 cases to test the waters, which will be equally divided and sold at their individual tasting rooms.

But the theme of three doesn’t end there.

The launch dinner will be created by chefs from two of the wineries as well as the chef from new restaurant Madderlake Café in Geneva.
The winemakers expect that Tierce will be snapped up by wine aficionados who appreciate Riesling and seek the exclusivity of limited editions. While the product won’t be sold outside of tasting rooms, it is spotlighted on the Web site www.tiercewine.com.

One of the most challenging parts was naming the label. The end result refers to three and is also an industry term that points to a measure of a third of a wine keg.

Tierce’s creators say they expect the wine project will be an annual one; they are already working on the 2005 vintage.

“Once again it shows the creativity and the cooperation of the industry where people really want to work together to try something new and different with our signature grape, the Riesling,” said Jim Trezise president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. “It’s an experimental thing, we’ll see where it goes.”

“This cooperative Riesling winemaking effort is yet another example of the cooperative spirit of the Finger Lakes industry,” said winemaker Peterson.

Nevertheless, as Tierce 2004 waits to be uncorked, the winemakers have yet to come up with a definitive price tag for their creation. For a while, $33.33 was on the radar screen, but not anymore.

“The project is all about three, but we don’t want to get too carried away with threes,” Whiting laughed.

AWU@DemocratandChronicle.com