Aahh! It feels so good... Your local wine store—the place to be! As you browse the line of Rieslings from the Finger Lakes on the shelf you see wines from the splendid 2010 vintage, but the first 2011 bottlings have also emerged from the growers' cellars. Then, all of a sudden, this:
"Shaw Vineyard 2008 Riesling"
2008? you think. Surely, a great year in the Finger Lakes, probably the best in decades. But what is it doing here in the "New Arrivals" section amongst all those 2010s and 2011s? "Isn't that odd", you say to yourself.
Winemaker Steve Shaw has grown grapes in the Finger Lakes for over 30 years and he does things a little differently. Instead of bottling his wines right after the fermentation has finished (as most growers in the region do) he left the 2008 Riesling on its fine lees in the tank for three years and bottled it just a month ago. Lees are the sediment of dead yeast cells at the bottom of the tank once the fermentation has been completed. Leaving the wine in contact with the lees for an extended period of time adds complexity to the wine. But it also means that during that time the winemaker does not get any monetary return. This is why most wineries are eager to release their wines as early as possible. In other words: the extra three years in tank are an added value for the customer.
The 2008 Riesling has a pale lemon color and the aroma of citrus and pear is of medium intensity. I caught also a whiff of smoke and I wonder if that can be contributed to the mortuus cellulis. This Riesling pretty much tastes dry on the palate due to its high acidity. The alcohol is medium high. It also has a noticeable creamy mouthfeel (which definitely comes from the lees) and a soild structure. Medium intensity of citrus flavors and hints of tropical fruit, which last through a medium(+) length and is rounded up by a slightly spicy finish.
The grapes for this Riesling come from a single vineyard located at the shore of Seneca lake. The soil consists of clay and shale. 2008 is the first vintage where Steve Shaw bottled his Riesling with screwcaps.
At the point of writing this tasting note the 2008 Riesling hadn't been released yet (I tasted a sample from the winery) but it should be in available in stores or on the winery's website very soon. A refreshing Riesling with a pleasant soft weight—and for about $16 we get a wine that has already been aged for just the right amount of time.