By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

DSC_0061The first time I encountered a Hermann J. Wiemer "Late Harvest" Riesling — last summer in their tasting room on Seneca Lake — I was a bit confused.

Aren't most dessert wines bottled in 375 ml bottles rather than 750?
I think it was my wife Nena who actually asked "Is this a dessert wine?" as general manager Oskar Bynke poured the 2007 of this wine for us.

No, it's not dessert wine. But the grapes that go into it are harvested later than most of their other riesling. "Late Harvest" is more akin to Spatlese at Wiemer. In some ways, they are using the descriptor more accurately than most I think.

That 2007 was sweeter than the others, but balanced. We brought some home with us.

This Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2008 Riesling Late Harvest ($23) might be even a bit sweeter (5.9% RS) but it also shows even better balance — though people who are too cool for "sweet" riesling might not appreciate it as much.

Big and sweet on the nose, ripe peach, dried apple, sweet, almost Sprite-like lemon-lime and honey aromas display just how ripe the grapes were allowed to get (26.7 brix) before harvest.

Broad and mouth-filling, flavors of honeyed peach and citrus coat the palate, along with definite sweetness. But just before it gets too sweet, the acidity steps forward on the mid-palate, cutting through that sugar and leading into lengthy finish that features a bright citrusy, zesty end note.

Given the sugar level and the acidity, this seems like a wine primed for many years of evolution and development in the bottle as well.

Producer: Hermann J. Wiemer

Finger Lakes

RS: 5.9%

ABV: 9.8%

Price: $23*
Rating: 40
(4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive

(*Ratings Guide)