By Lenn Thompson, Long Island Editor and Editor-in-Chief
As previously mentioned, I co-hosted a blind tasting of 24 rieslings (including 12 from the Finger Lakes) at Peconic Bay Winery last week as a part of the TasteNY project. It was a lot of fun and very interesting to taste these wines with 8 winemakers and some other members of the Long Island wine community.
The 24 wines were broken into three flights of eight wines each and were scored using the American Wine Society 20-point system and sheets.
Flight #1: Phillips Eckstein 2006 Riesling Kabinett, Billsboro Winery 2008 Riesling, Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Riesling, Grapes of Roth 2008 Riesling, Red New 2006 Dry Riesling Reserve, Paumanok Vineyards 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, Sheldrake Point 2006 Reserve Riesling, Hermann J. Wiemer 2007 Dry Riesling.
Flight #2: Heron Hill Winery 2005 Old Vines Riesling, Peconic Bay Winery 2003 Riesling, Chateaux Ste. Michelle 2007 Eroica, Peconic Bay Winery 2007 Riesling, Domaine Schlumberger 2005 Riesling, Dr. Konstantin Frank 2007 Dry Riesling, Weingut Max Richter 2007 Riesling Kabinett, Osprey's Dominion 2008 Riesling.
Flight #3: Martha Clara Vineyards 2008 Riesling, Ravines Wine Cellars 2007 Riesling, Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Red Oak Riesling, Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, Palmer Vineyards 2008 White Riesling, Paumanok Vineyards 2008 Dry Riesling, Hazlitt 1852 Homestead Reserve Riesling, Atwater Estate 2007 Dry Riesling.
At the end of the evening, I collected all the scoring sheets and used my rudimentary Microsoft Excel skills to crunch the numbers a bit, dropping the high and low scores for each to arrive at adjusted averages for the wines. Here are the top 10 scoring wines and their score out of 20 possible points:
Phillipps Eckstein 2006 Kabinett 14.9 Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Red Oak 14.85 Weingut Max Richter 2007 Kabinett 14.722 Anthony Road 2008 Semi-Dry 14.67 Billsboro 2008 14.3 Atwater Estate 2007 14.05 Paumanok 2008 Semi-Dry 14 Red Newt 2006 Dry Reserve (tie) 13.6 Sheldrake 2006 Reserve (tie) 13.6 Eroica 2007 13.4
Just out of the top 10 was a cluster of Long Island wines amongst the next five highest scores (with two well-known Finger Lakes producers):
Palmer Vineyards 2008 13.05 Martha Clara Vineyards 2008 12.95 Peconic Bay Winery 2007 12.83 Osprey's Dominion 2008 12.8 Paumanok 2008 Dry (tie) 12.75 Dr. Frank 2007 Dry (tie) 12.75 Fox Run 2008 (tie) 12.75
So what did we learn? I think a few things:
- Long Island riesling can more than hold its own. I'll admit it, I was surprised at how well the Long Island wines fared. Pleasantly so.
- Winemakers are fun to taste with — but hyper-critical. Taking the winemakers out of the data didn't significantly impact the wines appearing within the top 10, but it did impact the average scores. With winemakers, the top adjusted average was 14.9. Without them, the lowest score in the top ten was 15.5 and the highest was 18.5.
- The winemakers did not like the Peconic Bay 2003. The biggest change in the wines between the groups was for the Peconic Bay Winery 2003 Riesling, which received an average adjusted score of 18 from the non-winemakers. It received a 10.83 adjusted average from the winemakers.
I also know from talking to several of the winemakers at the table that they thought that the Lamoreaux Landing was something other than riesling (sauvignon blanc was the most mentioned). That is also reflected in the scores. It was the non-winemakers' favorite wine overall but was in the middle of the pack for the winemakers.
By the way, there were 8 winemakers tasting and 4 non-winemakers.
Ignoring the numbers themselves for a minute and just looking at the order to choose "favorites" we have:
- Finger Lakes: Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Red Oak Riesling
- Long Island: Paumanok Vineyards 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling
- Other: Phillipps Eckstein 2006 Kabinett*
- Finger Lakes: Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling
- Long Island: Martha Clara Vineyards 2008 Riesling
- Other: Phillipps Eckstein 2006 Kabinett*
- Finger Lakes: Lamoreaux Landing 2008 Red Oak Riesling*
- Long Island: Peconic Bay Winery 2003 Riesling
- Other: Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 EROICA Riesling
* Overall favorite within the grouping
I know that I've only offered a little analysis here, but hey, I'm a blogger, not a statistician. It's been a long time since that bio-metrics/statistics course in undergrad.
Once again, I'd like to thank Peconic Bay Winery for hosting us, the winemakers and other industry folk who joined us and to all the Finger Lakes wineries that participated in the TasteNY project.
Next up? What do you think about Long Island merlot?