The Finger Lakes wine region of New York is becoming very interesting. Last night I connected with three of the top producers in the region to discuss their wines. We tasted three: a Riesling, a Chardonnay, and a hybrid called De Chaunac. This is such an interesting region, and it’s really good to see the hybrid and native varieties, when they are managed well, make interesting wines. I’m really excited to see this region progress rapidly.
Nathan K Chardonnay 2019 Finger Lakes, New York State
12% alcohol. This comes from old vines (40+ years), and is foot stomped, pressed, settled for 24 hours and then fermented in older 228 litre barrels. Partial malolactic and ageing on lees. It’s a really impressive, delicate, ethereal Chardonnay with amazing brightness. There’s a fine, mineral, spicy framing to the lemony fruit, with a touch of green apple and quince. Very delicate and linear, with lovely purity. I like the paradox: this is light and ethereal, but there’s some mineral presence on the palate, which is just gorgeous. Such finesse: one of the best Finger Lakes Chardonnays I’ve tried. 94/100
Trestle 31 Riesling 2018 Finger Lakes, New York State
14% alcohol. This is a very interesting expression of Riesling from Brian and Nova Cadamartre. The vintage meant that the grapes came in at 24 Brix with 30% botrytis, so Nova realised that she couldn’t make a dry Riesling, so this has 13.5 g/l residual sugar. But it finishes dry. It has fresh lime and apricot aromas with some spiciness, and then on the palate it is beautifully textured with surprising delicacy considering the inherent richness and the 14% alcohol. Overall, this is utterly compelling, with a balance between the sweet fruit and the fresher elements working well. It has a lovely crystalline, spicy character, too. 93/100
Osmote De Chaunac 2019 Finger Lakes, New York State
10.5% alcohol. The grapes for this wine were planted in 1973. It’s a Siebel hybrid that was named after Adhemar de Chaunac, who was influential in importing new hybrid varieties into the neighbouring Niagara region in Canada in the 1940s, after spending time in the Finger Lakes. Ben Riccardi makes this by macerating the grapes then pressing onto Chardonnay stems and skins for fermentation. He picks early and the result is a really lovely fresh, lighter-styled red wine with lovely purity. It’s juicy and light with some tannic grip and lovely raspberry and cherry flavours, with nice detail and focus. It’s light, fruity, a bit crunchy, and uncomplicated with massive drinkability. 90/100
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