Riesling gets most of critical attention in the Finger Lakes, and with good reason. There are many world-class rieslings coming out of the region. But it’s not the only variety that thrives in that cool climate.

The aromatic Gewürztraminer grape is another variety that, in the hands of the right winemaker, shines in the Finger Lakes.

Penguin Bay Winery and Champagne House, located on Seneca Lake, opened in 1997 as a sister winery to Swedish Hill Winery, which was recently named "Winery of the Year" at the 2008 New York Wine & Food Festival. They focus largely on sparkling wines (sorry, I can’t bring myself to erroneously call them champagne), but also make chardonnay, riesling, Gewürztraminer and some blended wines.

I haven’t had very many of the wines, but this Penguin Bay 2007 Gewürztraminer ($18) really impressed in a recent tasting.

Unlike many Gewurztraminers, the rose-petal quality isn’t overpowering here, on the nose or on the palate. Instead, the nose presents ripe pear sprinkled with ginger, clove and allspice. There’s a light floral quality, but it’s in the background.

The broad, flavorful palate is dry (.3% rs) and spicy with flavors that closely match the nose. The finish is a little short, but ends with a clean, gingery note. There’s also just the right acidity here, not too little, not too much. Don’t let the cute animal label fool you, this is a well-made, serious wine.

Grape(s): 100% Gewürztraminer
Penguin Bay Winery & Champagne House
AVA: Finger Lakes
Price: $18
Rating: 30
 (3 out of 5 | Recommended)

(About LENNDEVOURS’ Ratings)