Friday, March 6, 2015

Riesling Paradise

After reading the headline of this post, chances are you're thinking this is about Germany or Alsace or maybe even the Clare Valley in Australia, as they're all home to great Rieslings. But no, this is about a specific district in the United States where some pretty special Riesling is also produced. This is about Riesling from the Finger Lakes in upper New York; the producer I will talk about today is one the area's finest, Villa Bellangelo.

Wine has been produced in the Finger Lakes since the mid-19th century and today there are almost 100 producers in the area. There are eleven lakes in total that comprise the Finger Lakes, with the two longest being Lake Cayuga and Lake Seneca. About 50 wine firms are in the Seneca Lake area; Villa Bellangelo is a relative newcomer, having been established in 2002. The current owners, the Missick family, took over in 2011 and have remodeled the winery.

There are several varieties produced at Bellangelo, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. However, their star variety here - as it is throughout the area - is Riesling. I recently tasted three examples of Riesling from Villa Bellangelo and was quite impressed by two of them. Here are notes:

2013 Bellangelo Semi-Dry Riesling
Aromas of yellow peach, apricot and a note of mango. Medium-bodied with very good concentration. Lovely varietal purity, good acidity, ultra clean finish with a light note of sweetness. Beautifully balanced and delicious! Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. $18  Rating: 3 and 1/2 stars (out of five).

2012 Bellangelo Riesling "1866 Reserve"
This is the winery's finest Riesling; the grapes are sourced entirely from a single vineyard (Gibson), situated a bit north of the winery. Attaractive aromas of dried apricot, yellow pear and hyacinth. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Very impressive complexity, ripeness and freshness. Excellent persistence, remarkable balance. Beautifully made wine that is sleek, elegant and displays breeding. Dry finish with notes of spearmint. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. $32 Rating: 5 stars

This last wine is as fine an American Riesling as I've had in many years! The only American Riesling I've ever tasted that is as complex and varietally pure has been from Stony Hill in Napa Valley, a legendary producer.

Bravo to the team at Villa Bellangelo for these beautiful examples of Riesling!

Note: This is my first post on this blog for some time. I've been recovering from heart surgery and it's been some time since I have had the energy to write. Hopefully, I'll write more posts soon.