Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Finger Lakes does "Sweet" at Riverside Wine Competition

-Finger Lakes Wineries did very well last week among over 2600 wines from around the world judged at the 2008 Riverside International Wine Competition with White Springs Winery (Seneca Lake) winning a Prestigious Sweepstakes Award (Best of Show) for their 2006 Rose' ($9.99). This is a Semi-sweet Cabernet Franc at 3.5% Residual Sugar, which makes this win all the more surprising coming from professional wine judges whose palates usually swing more to the dry side. This is a fairly new release that I have not tasted yet (but will very soon!), but winemaker Derek Wilber always does an excellent job, with his Red Label Riesling being one of my favorite Finger Lakes Rieslings.
Also winning Double Gold (Chairman's Award) once again in an international competition and continuing to prove that sweeter wines can also be excellent wines is Weekend Wino favorite Torrey Ridge Winery (Seneca Lake) with their Sweet Catawba ($9.99) at 6% Residual Sugar. This wine is sweet but balanced with appropriate acidity and refreshing grape and strawberry tones. The once mighty but now maligned Catawba grape is back! Are the palates of Professional wine judges getting sweeter? Or are sweet wines becoming more balanced and complex?
And 2 more great Finger Lakes sweet wines (and grape types normally underappreciated by the "professionals"), Hunt Country's (Keuka Lake) 2007 Late Harvest Vignoles and Goose Watch (Cayuga Lake) Diamond ($9) also won Chairmans Award Double Golds. The thing is that all of these sweet wines are extremely well balanced with complex flavor profiles and well deserving of being judged among the best in the world. They also represent amazing values. I certainly love a great full-bodied complex dry red wine, but today's winemakers (especially in the Finger Lakes) are taking sweeter wines from lesser known and less respected grape varieties to another level. No, I'm not discounting Finger Lakes dry reds and whites (because many of them are or have the potential to become world class), but I'm tired of hearing from "wine professionals" that the Finger Lakes is not a world class wine destination just because they also make sweeter wines.
Montezuma Winery (Cayuga Lake), which does a great job on another type of wines maligned by the wine professionals- fruit wines other than grape-, won Gold for their Pear wine (and pear wine is a very difficult wine to make well). Another Weekend Wino favorite, Lakewood (Seneca Lake)2006 Chardonnay ($12.99) won Gold, with Golds also going to Rooster Hill's 2007 Silver Pencil (which I will taste very soon) as well as Chateau Lafayette Reneau's (Seneca Lake) 2005 Chardonnay ($14.99), Sheldrake Point's (Cayuga Lake) 2006 Dry Riesling ($23.99), Swedish Hill's (Cayuga Lake) Viking White ($7.99), 2006 Marechal Foch ($10.99), & Svenska Red ($7.49), Dr Frank's (Keuka Lake) 2006 Rkatsitelli ($19.99), & Red Tail Ridge (Seneca Lake) 2006 Semi-dry Riesling ($22). A very impressive showing indeed. Congratulations to all of these wineries!

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