bellwether-2012-wild-fermentAs I mentioned last week, Bellwether Wine Cellars is open for business, having opened its doors with a pinot noir and three rieslings available for tasting and purchase.

The first thing you’ll notice about Bellwether Wine Cellars 2012 A&D Vineyard Wild Ferment Riesling ($27) is that it’s bottled under a crown cap — not something you see very often. It’s not just because Bellwether Hard Ciders has that equipment around, though.

Along with being fermented with ambient yeasts (a topic of some debate of late), this wine was bottled with far less SO2 (only 50 ppm) than is typical in the Finger Lakes. The crown cap helps protect the wine from oxidation.

Evan and I often talk about Finger Lakes dry rieslings (and at .8% residual sugar, this one qualifies) sometimes tasting like “lemon water” — crisp with acidity, but lacking much character. This wine leans that direction, but ultimately steers clear of that problem — largely because of extended time (and stirring) on the lees (5 months) and some residual CO2 that adds body.

Though bit austere and lean, the nose is brightly citrusy with Golden Delicious apple and herbal-peppermint oil accents. Right after popping the top, I smelled what I thought was a bit of oxidation, but it blew off quickly. I’ll admit to not knowing what that may be.

Dry, focused and crackling with mouth-watering acidity, the palate delivers edgy citrus and apple skin flavors and is lightly leesy and creamy on the mid-palate, which balances the acid nicely. It’s on the leaner side, but there is a certain savoriness that is appealing and begs for food.

Just for fun, I blended a couple ounces of this into a glass of winemaker Kris Matthewson’s Sawmill Creek Riesling and I thought it showed potential. I like Kris’s focus on single-vineyard wines, but it’s easy to see why some winemakers swear by blending.

Producer: Bellwether Wine Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
Vineyard: A&D
ABV: 11%
TA: 9.9 g/L
RS: .8%
pH: 2.9
Price: $27*

(2.5 out of 5, Average-to-Very Good)