Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2017 Dry Riesling comes in with seven grams of total sugar, 5.8 of total acidity and 12% alcohol. This is a workhorse wine for Wiemer—6,100 cases produced, a blend of all of the vineyard sites and generally tending to be a third of the winery's total production, more or less. It's why co-owner Fred Merwath considers it the winery's most important bottling, and in this tricky year, the fruit for several single-vineyard sites was declassified to make this better (e.g., Josef Vineyard and Magdalena Vineyard). Perhaps as a result, it shows beautifully, with moderate tension on the long finish and a bright, balanced feel. This, like so many FLX Dry Rieslings, is a fine bargain point in the lineup. It doesn't always show the depth of the best upper-level wines, but sometimes it is not far off. It will age well too—Fred estimates that it can do 15 years. Let's be a little conservative just now and take that in stages, but he's probably right. It will certainly be better and more developed in 2021-2023.
Hermann Wiemer was born in Bernkastel, Germany into a family with 300 years experience in making the distinguished vinifera wines of the Mosel Valley. He arrived in the United States in 1968 already well versed in the European tradition of fine winemaking. To this heritage he added the skill of grafting fragile vinifera vines onto sturdy American rootstock.
In 1973 he bought 140 acres on the west side of Seneca Lake, which he planted with a variety of European vinifera grapevines. Visitors who wish to see these vines, along with ponds and the six acre nursery, can take the popular Vineyard Walk through the property.
The Winery, which produces 12,000 cases each year, was designed in 1982 by an award winning team of Cornell architects. Enclosed within the shell of a seventy-year-old scissor-trussed barn, it accommodates a laboratory, tasting and retail sales, a wine production area and a private tasting room. Its unique white cathedral-like interior counterpoints the bare wooden walls and sleek Italian stainless steel tanks.
Increasingly garnering widespread and well-deserved attention, New York ranks third in wine production in the United States (after California and Washington). Divided into six AVAs—the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, Hudson River, Long Island, Champlain Valley of New York and the Niagara Escarpment, which crosses over into Michigan as well as Ontario, Canada—the state experiences varied climates, but in general summers are warm and humid while winters are very cold and can carry the risk of frost well into the growing season.
The Finger Lakes region has long been responsible for some of the country’s finest Riesling, and is gaining traction with elegant, light-bodied Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Experimentation with cold-hardy European varieties is common, and recent years have seen the successful planting of grapes like Grüner Veltliner and Saperavi (from the Eastern European country of Georgia). Long Island, on the other hand, has a more maritime climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, and shares some viticultural characteristics with Bordeaux. Accordingly, the best wines here are made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Niagara Escarpment is responsible for excellent ice wines, usually made from the hybrid variety, Vidal.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.