Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Rieslings of the Hudson Valley

May is Riesling month in New York state. Riesling is certainly one of the wines that people think about when they think of wine from the Empire state. And certainly the Finger Lakes wine region has dominated the landscape when it comes to the German-styled wines so popular throughout the world. But the Hudson Valley has produced numerous award winning Rieslings of its own. So, in that vein, we say, welcome to the valley. Enjoy some Hudson Valley Riesling!

Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are usually made in stainless steel, leaving the fruit bright and pure. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world's 20th most grown variety with more than 120,000 acres grown worldwide, but is usually included in the "top three" white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is most commonly grown in colder regions and locations.

“Riesling is my favorite white grape because it produces some of the most elegant wines on the planet,” wrote Steven Kolpan, Professor and Chair of Wine Studies at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Steven is co-author of Exploring Wine, which has sold more than 125,000 copies, and James Beard award winner. He is one of the most respected wine writers in the country. “German Riesling is still the benchmark for Riesling, sweet or dry. However, I’m happy to report that there is great Riesling produced in the United States,” Kolpan continued. “Here in the Hudson Valley, a number of wineries, including Whitecliff, Brotherhood, Benmarl, Tousey, Hudson-Chatham, Applewood, Warwick Valley, and Glorie Farms produce Rieslings that are dry to semi-dry (just a touch of sweetness balanced by acidity).”

To Kolpan’s point, a number of Hudson Valley wines were made from Riesling grapes grown in the Finger Lakes or Long Island regions. His was a clarion call to the Hudson Valley to plant Riesling, and claim a stake in one of the world’s great grapes and for the Valley to make it one of its own. Many wineries and vineyard owners have heard the call, and new plantings of Riesling are going in up and down the valley as of this writing.

But you don’t have to wait three or four seasons to taste great Riesling in the Hudson Valley. As Kolpan opined, “several of these Riesling wines are quite good.” The tastingrooms are brimming with dry, off-dry, and semi-sweet Rieslings that are bright, refreshing, and delicious right now!

Some of the notable dry Rieslings from the Hudson Valley include:

Altamont Riesling - Harvested from a young award-winning vineyard in Lodi, NY, this wine is dry and crisp. A youthful abundance of acidity, mixed with flavors of tangerine and green apple.

Brotherhood Dry Riesling - Crisp, dry and racy with grapefruit and pear scents, this Riesling exhibits the ripe fruit flavors and slightly mineral qualities of its fine European relatives.

Hudson-Chatham Riesling - A light, dry, clean, Riesling, with lots of green apple, melon and honeydew in the nose. Green apple comes through big. Fresh fruit, nice acidity, with mineral undertones, and with a hint of citrus at the end. A nice, tart finish. Refreshing and delicious!

Saratoga Dry Riesling - This crisp, dry Riesling features mild flavors of apricot and nectarine leading to lively flavors of citrus and fresh peaches. Pairs nicely with grilled pork, seafood and other light dishes.

Robibero 2009 Dry Riesling – This Silver Medal Winner at the NY Wine & Food Classic has a delightful citrusy nose of pear and grapefruit that leads into green apple and lime flavors on the palate. Dry and crisp with fresh acidity and subtle slate character. A lingering spicy pear finish with a touch of honey.

Here are some very popular Rieslings with a hint of sugar

Amici Riesling - Complex and versatile, contains floral, fruity notes, balanced acidity with light sweetness. This wine is wonderful with a variety of food or enjoyed on it own.

Applewood Riesling - Semi-dry, serve chilled. A whisper of fruit to start, cool and dry at the finish. Perfect with today's Fusion cuisines.

Baldwin Joseph's Vintage - late harvest riesling, named after Pat and Jack Baldwin's grandson. Fruity and delicious!

Benmarl Riesling - This semi-sweet Riesling starts off with notes of lime and orange blossom on the nose. The palate is full of crisp green apple, citrus and pineapple undertones. Light to medium bodied with a soft, clean finish.

Brimstone Hill Riesling - A wonderful sweet 2011 award-winning wine with a great balance. Full of fruit and flowers, it makes a very satisfying dessert wine.

Brotherhood Riesling - Brotherhood’s best selling wine, this beautiful Riesling has delicate floral and lime aromas and full, ripe flavors, off dry and very fruity. Perfectly balanced, with a long clean finish.

Colebrook 2008 Old Vine Riesling - Classic German style riesling with a delicious ending.

El Paso Rielsing - This White Riesling is a classic -- sweet, flowery and fragrant.

Glorie Farm Winery Riesling - Semi-dry. New York State is known for its Riesling. Our version features flavors of green melon, pear and honey. It has a mineral and lemon finish. Are you having Maryland crab cakes tonight?

Robibero 2009 Riesling – This Silver Medal-winner at the NY Wine & Food Classic demonstrates a refreshing peach nose with delicate citrus fruit flavors that dance in the mouth. Peach and apricot fill the palate with a sweetness that lingers through the finish.

Saratoga Semi Dry Riesling- This medium-bodied classic Riesling features the aroma of fresh peaches and lively flavors of citrus. Honey tones expand on the palate for a long lingering finish. An outstanding wine. Enjoy it with grilled chicken, salmon, crab, cheese, and salads.

Tousey Riesling – Sandalwood, apricot and peach delight the nose on this complex estate bottled 201 Riesling. On the palate, weight and a refreshing acidity deliver a lasting finish.

Warwick Valley Riesling - Forward fruit, crispness, and purity are all hallmarks of their Riesling that support its gold medal quality and remarkable ability at the table. Put simply, "it is a wine of quiet and enlightened persuasion and pleasure".

Whitecliff Riesling - The 2009 Riesling won Best White Wine & Double Gold Medal in the San Francicsco International Wine Competition 2010. Always a spring and summertime favorite, their Riesling offers a highly aromatic, semi-dry wine with plenty of acidity to balance out the sweetness.

Riesling is a great food wine. The dry Reislings go great with many of the artisanal cheeses of the Hudson Valley. It goes great with poached fish, lightly done smoked salmon and grilled salmon, as well as seafood, roast chicken, and salads. Off-dry to semi-sweet Rieslings can handle grilled foods, especially fish, chicken, and pork, as well as pair beautifully with Mexican, Chinese, Thai, and other spicy cuisines.