Swedish Hill Finger Lakes Riesling 2007

I’ll confess that the only reason I bought this wine is because it’s from New York. I know, don’t laugh. Thing is, pretty much every book that’s published about wine in the USA has to mention non-West Coast wineries at some point – I assume largely because those markets are pretty darn big, so you don’t want to upset anyone from New England by not mentioning that winery on Long Island that does cab franc or the relatively old New York wineries up on the Finger Lakes that have been growing riesling for decades. To make a bad guess at an Australian equivalent, it’s like writing a book on Australian wine without mentioning wineries in Roma, Queensland or the Swan Valley near Perth: sure, there’s not much there (Houghton excluded), but you just include it out of tradition.

Or so I thought.

This wine is a surprise to me: the nose is entirely varietally correct, with a very pretty beeswax and honey combination that’s the equal of any fine riesling out there. No, it’s not to the heights of a Schlossgut Diel or a Trimbach, but it’s absolutely fine, better than anything from Idaho and more than a few cheesy California rieslings. There’s crisp acidity nicely balanced by a touch of sweetness; it’s all ripe enough (check) and if the finish is a little short perhaps, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it at all.

At ten bucks or so, it isn’t smashing value (those Idaho riesling are only five or so), but it’s far from overpriced too. It also manages to walk the fine line between a wine everyone will like (because it’s delicious and a touch sweet) and wine that pretentious snobs will like too (because it’s varietally correct and tasty, too). In short, this is an unqualified success.

Sadly, I now wonder what a high end New York riesling might taste like – and living in California as I do, my chances of ever seeing that in a shop are basically nil. (This wine came from wine.woot.com – kudos to them for thinking outside the West Coast box for a change. If they ever have Missouri Norton wine, I’d probably spring for that too.)

Swedish Hill
Price: $10
Closure: Cork

4 thoughts on “Swedish Hill Finger Lakes Riesling 2007

  1. Thank you for taking the time to drink, enjoy, and review a Finger Lakes wine. If you ever have the chance to visit the Finger Lakes region of New York State, please look me up. I would love the chance to take you around and show off some of our nationally and internationally acclaimed wines and wineries. It seems as though you have only experienced the tip of the iceberg. There is much more to our New York wines than what you have tasted so far, and I would be willing to bet that you would be incredibly surprised at how well they stand up against wines from the rest of the world!
    – Scott Butler, FLTA

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Scott! I would of course be delighted to have a look around should I ever make it up that way; sadly, it’s not likely to happen any time soon.

      You’re of course absolutely correct that this is the tip of the iceberg; I know embarrassingly little about New York wine in general, having only ever heard of Konstantin Frank and never actually seen a New York wine in a wine shop on the West Coast. If this is any indication – a fairly inexpensive, unpretentious wine turning out to be better than average, especially in terms of value – then I think that bodes well for the region.

      What wines would you recommend as best showcasing what the region has to offer?

  2. We just returned from the Boston Wine Expo where Swedish Hill was one of our participating wineries. We talked about the great success the winery has had with Wine.Woot.com. Establishing distribution networks for Finger Lakes wines is an ongoing challenge and we are thrilled you were able to get your hands (and palate) on this wine. As Scott mentioned above, Finger Lakes Wine Country is now home to over 100 wineries many of which are producing some of the best Rieslings in the world. Cheers!

    • Hi Morgen! Thanks for the comment – I’m glad that Swedish Hill had a good experience with Woot. I’ve only ever ordered three things from Woot, but they’ve offered some interesting things over the last year or so. I jumped at the chance to get outside my usual West Coast-Australia-South Africa-New Zealand box and finally try something from back East, and I certainly don’t regret my having done so.

      I can certainly imagine that finding any West Coast distribution is an uphill battle; after all, you’re probably aware that many of us are convinced that we make the best wine in the world, so if we’re gonna drink Riesling, it had better be French or German (or maybe even Australian if we’re feeling exotic). Eroica, Poet’s Leap, and other Washingtonians seem to be doing well in the sales game, Oregon seems to be MIA in California, and New York I’ve never ever seen here, but that seems a shame.

      Of all of the Finger Lakes rieslings, which ones would you suggest are some of the best in the world? Help me out here, I’m a native Californian who spent too much time in the Clare Valley and could definitely use a clue!

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