As I continue to focus on New York wines this summer, two whites from the Finger Lakes region stand out for warm-weather drinking, both of them from one of the region’s leading wineries. And as I post this after a dramatic day on Wall Street, with the Dow dropping more than 600 points, it’s also worth pointing out that they are both under $15.
It’s well known in the wine world that the cool-climate Finger Lakes produce some superb rieslings, and Heron Hill’s 2009 New York Dry Riesling not only supports that fact but demonstrates superb value at the modest price of $14. This light, lovely wine shows a good deal of complexity, with guava and other tropical fruit notes, tangerine, lime and a wet-stone minerality that distinguishes it from rieslings with lesser pedigrees. Its ample acidity not only makes it a thirst-quenching aperitif in these dog days of summer but an excellent match for a variety of lighter foods, including sushi, sautéed or broiled fluke fillets or other freshly caught fish, salads and grilled chicken. Alcohol is 12 percent.
I was also impressed by Heron Hill’s 2009 Ingle Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay, a single-vineyard wine that also sells for $14. The problem with many chardonnays made without exposure to oak is that they lack interest and depth beyond the fruit. In this one, however, the fruit notes, mainly green apple and lime, are balanced – enhanced might be a better word – by a delightful mineral component that gives the wine a lively complexity and reminded me of Chablis, the chardonnay from Burgundy also made, in its basic examples, without oak. This one, with alcohol also at 12 percent, will go especially well with grilled tuna and striped bass, as well as chicken and pork. What makes these wines so appealing to me is their finesse, achieved in part by their modest alcohol levels and cool-weather acidity. Click here to go to Heron Hill’s Web site. Wines received as press samples.