If you like bone dry Riesling and cool climate Pinot Noir then head to Forge Cellars in New York States’ Seneca Lake. It’s so proud of those two styles of wine it makes that they are the main slogan on the company’s website. Forge Cellars is actually a Franco-American alliance between local New York winemaker, Rick Rainey and Louis Barruol of France, owner of Chateau de Saint Cosme and Chateau Rouanne. Here Rainey explains what it has been able to do in lockdown and its plans when restrictions ease.
American viticulture has the ability to deliver fantastic mineral-driven, complex, refined, long-ageing, and refreshing white wines that remind one of great Old World regions such as Burgundy, Mosel and the Loire. But in the past two decades a new breed of winemaker is ensuring that American AVAs are developing their own, unique characteristics. Nowhere is this more true than Finger Lakes in New York State, whose cool climate Rieslings have been going through a Renaissance in the past eight years – switching from a semi-dry style to dry and starting to reap the benefits.
Ben Riccardi was born and raised in the Finger Lakes, the heartland of winemaking in New York State. Whilst he is quickly making his own name for himself in the state as a cutting edge winemaker, producing low intervention, terroir-driven wines, it’s his experiences travelling the world in working with prestigious winemakers in France (Domaine Blancardy), New Zealand (Craggy Range and Muddy Water) and Sonoma County (Williams-Selyem) that has helped shape the winemaker he has now become.
The combination of strong winds coming in off the ocean, with quality soils helps the Wölffer Estate Vineyard produce its signature, balanced, elegant, and age-worthy wines – with a particular focus on making premium rosés. As we continue our series profiling leading New York State wineries we talk to Roman Roth, winemaker at the estate, about being able to make food-friendly, accessible wines that also have the ability to age and improve with time.
Jame Goode first visited New York State’s wine regions in 2018, and he was also able to go back again the following year. He quickly became impressed with the range and diversity of wines being made across its two main wine growing regions of the Finger Lakes and Long Island. It’s time, he says, that the evolution of these two regions needs to be told to a wider audience. So here are the 10 things that he thinks you should know about New York State wine.
You can’t get much more of a New York State producer than Red Hook Winery. It’s situated in the heart of Brooklyn, across the bay from Statue of Liberty, and buys in grapes from every region in the state capable of growing them. It then has three experienced winemakers to craft their styles of wine from a wide range of white and red grape varietals that are true to the plots of land where they came from. Here owner, Mark Snyder, explains what New York wines mean to him.
“A serious producer of fine Riesling – very impressive” is how Jancis Robinson MW has described the wines coming out of the Red Newt winery on the banks of the Seneca Lake in New York State. Which as accolades go is a pretty good one to have, particularly as it now starting to ramp up its efforts to be as recognised outside the United States as it is at home. Here winemaker, Kelby Russell, a self confessed Riesling obsessive, explains the styles of wine he is trying to make in the first of a new series looking at different producers and winemakers across New York State.
In the first part of our report on the debate we held – pre lockdown – with leading importers and buyers on the prospects of New York State wines in the UK, we took an overview of the region and what makes its wines potentially unique, before assessing what the UK panel’s initial impressions were of the state’s wines. In this second part we look at the recommendations they would give producers on how best to promote their wines here, as well as hear their thoughts on the styles of wines that they think are most likely to make it big in the UK as well as back home in New York and the US.
Now New Yorkers are hardly renown for their quiet and unassuming manner. You can normally hear one coming from a block or two away. But its winemakers, up until very recently, have been particularly shy compared to their counterparts on the West Coast. That’s all about to change as New York State becomes one of the most coveted regions in the US for aspiring winemakers to make wine. The next step is telling buyers outside the US about the wines they are missing out on, which is what the latest The Buyer’s debate with key importers was all about.
The premium on-trade will have a field day with the latest wines from Oregon and Washington states be they a pet-nat sparkler, an orange Gewurzt or a ‘cab-mac’ Pinot. Pinot Noir dominated the reds as you might have expected, but there were some interesting Cab Francs and Bordeaux varietal/ blends from Washington as well as some top Pinot Gris and Blancs, made in a fascinating variety of styles. The eleventh hour addition of wines from New York State only added to the eclectic nature of the tasting with the whites particularly strong. Chris Wilson picks the wines that should be on your buying radar.