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Hermann J. Wiemer HJW Vineyard Riesling 2016

Riesling from Finger Lakes, New York
  • WS93
  • RP93
  • WE92
  • W&S92
12.5% ABV
  • WE94
  • JS94
  • JS94
  • WE93
  • WS91
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12.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

#2 wine in VinePair's Top 50 of 2018

Planted in 1976, our HJW Vineyard features Hermann’s original plantings on Seneca Lake. Mature vines, combined with the site’s shallow topsoil and shale bedrock, produce lower yields, resulting in expressively vibrant flavors. Higher elevation and a greater distance from Seneca Lake contribute to a cooler growing season, resulting in a leaner, more austere wine with intense flavor and an excellent aging potential. These core characteristics of the HJW vineyard are expressed in this exclusive vineyard-specific wine. Invigorating crispness and an appealing balance of flavors combine with an unprecedented minerality, which carries into an impressive and enduring finish.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
WS 93
Wine Spectator
Bright and pure, with a racy beam of yellow apple, white peach, chamomile and lemon pith notes. Flashes of talc and dried chamomile add further tension through the finish, with the fruit keeping pace along the way. Drink now through 2024.
RP 93
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2016 Riesling HJW Vineyard comes in with just seven grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol. This was sourced from HJW vines planted in 1977. This is what the winery calls Hermann Wiemer's "home site," his own, original plantings. Although there are other blocks in HJW now, this upper-level bottling uses only the 1977 vines. Perky, bright, very elegant and transparent, this is another gorgeously balanced Wiemer Riesling this issue. It seems airier and slightly drier than most, yet it is somehow still more personable than most of its siblings. It just dances across the palate. It features both finesse and power, but the lively acidity accounts for its bright personality, despite being perfectly integrated. Even with the modest sugar level, it still seems fruity on first taste, but air and warmth change the balance a little. The next day, it seemed very tightly wound and brilliantly constructed. It displayed its tension and purity as the acidity came to the foreground. This has the longest finish, I'd say, of the dry Rieslings this issue. It's a pretty tasty one, too, with that controlled tension and expressive Riesling flavors. There is a hint of flint after it is open a couple of days. At this point, this was my favorite of the group, but over three or more days, others held better. That's a stern test, to be sure, but it is one that I expect great Rieslings to pass. Overall, while I thought that the Magdalena held better over three days, this should still age very well. As I said with the Magdalena, buy some for now and some for a decade from now.
WE 92
Wine Enthusiast
Intensely concentrated in milky white blossoms and ripe stone fruit, this well-balanced Riesling hits all the marks. There's breadth to the ripe fruit flavors, with plenty of acidity for balance. A delicate, soft grip of astringency holds everything firmly in place, leading into a powdered mineral finish.
W&S 92
Wine & Spirits
Drawn from Wiemer’s original 1976 planting, this has an old-vine elegance and composure. What starts out as sweet and simple—pear juice, with a peach accent—takes on plenty of complexity with air, with a salty minerality that gives it length. Cellar.
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Hermann J. Wiemer

Hermann J. Wiemer

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Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, New York
Image of winery
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.

Finger Lakes

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As the most historic wine-producing region in New York state, winemaking in the Finger Lakes area dates back to the 1820s and today as a region, accounts for 90% of the state’s total wine production.

Its narrow and deep lakes created by the movement of Ice Age glaciers create an environment similar to the classic Riesling-loving regions of Europe, namely Germany and Austria. The Finger Lakes retain summer heat that incidentally warms up cold winter air, making it fall down from the lakes’ steep slopes. When spring comes, the lakes, already cooled by cold winter weather, stave off vine budding until the danger of frost has subsided. The main lakes of the zone, that is those big enough to moderate the climate in this way, are the focal points of prime vineyard areas. They include Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga.

While Riesling has fueled most of the region’s success, today Pinot noir and Cabernet Franc enjoy some attention.

Riesling

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A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. 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. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.

In the Glass

Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings more redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.

Perfect Pairings

Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.

Sommelier Secret

It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.

SKRCHW072_2016 Item# 501763