Dry & Medium Dry Riesling 2015

Tasting room staff and winemakers have told me repeatedly that 2015 is a richer, better vintage than 2014.  Their argument?  That 2015 was warmer, and good fall weather “saved the vintage."

But is it true?

There is no doubt that 2015 got off to a poor start, with cool weather in the spring and heavy rain during the summer months. September was much better, but on the very last day of that month there was a torrential rainfall.  The Hector/Dundee area received 3.76” of rain and .64” the next day (the first of October).  The next two weeks of October were very cool (chillier than 2014) with little sunshine and minor rainfall on more than half the days.

This rain and cool weather ensured that 2015 would not be a great vintage.  It also meant that growers had some difficult decisions to make about when to pick, which is reflected in the extraordinary length of the harvest season.

Billsboro picked its dry Riesling grapes on September 22, Wiemer harvested over a month-long period (September 21 to October 24), and Hosmer waited and waited — until November 11th! The huge variation in harvest dates resulted in a great deal of variation in the wines.  Not surprisingly, the Billsboro is a lean, tart “green” wine.  The Wiemer seems to show the detrimental impact of early-to-mid October weather. The Hosmer has more of the apricot and peach flavors associated with riper grapes.

It is hard to characterize the wines of this vintage. The best of them have a rounder mouth feel and lower acidity than 2014, with fruit flavors that tend toward ripe apple and apricot.  Lesser wines are overly acidic with dilute fruit and excessive minerality.

Since many high quality wineries produced lesser wines in 2015, I would argue that 2014 is the superior vintage.  Overall, the 2014 wines are better balanced and concentrated. This is an early “call” though, since many of the top cuvées have not yet been released.

The bottles in this report  include tart and lean wines, as well as softer sweeter offerings more suitable for sipping.  The Billsboro is the epitome of the “food wine” style, very dry, with blazing acidity.  The Kemmeter, Dr. Frank, Wagner, and Hosmer Rieslings are also meant for food.  The Silver Thread wines and the Keuka Spring “Humphreys” are better choices for sipping.

© Douglas Hillstrom 2014