New York Riesling Diary: Day 12 – Wine of the Month August

2012 Dry Riesling from Dr. Konstantin Frank for $14.99

German Riesling is calling to me from afar, and today I have to climb on a plane and return to Berlin. Not only will I miss New York, but I’ll also miss the good and great Rieslings of New York State. None more so than the one I’ve drunk most frequently, the dry Riesling from Dr. Konstantin Frank in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes. 2012 is a wonderful vintage for Riesling from the Finger Lakes, and this is neither the first nor the last time I’ll be reporting on these wines, because from what I’ve tasted it’s the best vintage for this region to date. The Dr. Frank 2012 Dry Riesling is one of the finest wines Frederick Frank, pictured above, has made during the twenty years he has been running the family wine company close to Hammondsport on the western bank of Keuka Lake.

It comes from the first Riesling vineyards planted in the Finger Lakes and from other vineyards very close to them. Dr. Konstantin Frank planted his first Riesling vines back in the late 1950s when most of the experts still claimed that the European wine grapes (including the frost-hardy Riesling) wouldn’t survive the cold winters in the region.  Dr. Frank harvested the first commercial crop of Riesling in the Finger Lakes in 1962, also harvesting the first Trockenbeerenauslese style desert wine made in the US that fall. So you could say that with the 2012 vintage, the 51st vintage for the grape at Dr. Frank Riesling has come of age here. By that I mean that it’s now become something traditional for the Frank family and the region as a whole, rather than a fashion or an experiment (however long-running). Now there’s no longer any doubt about the matter!

This is a real “terroir” (taste of the place) wine too. It has the lemon and blossoms aromas plus the racy acidity which I associate with Riesling grown on stony slate soils in this fairly cool climate region. Either you will find that acidity enormously refreshing during hot humid weather of the kind New York generally “enjoys” in August (did somebody say SUMMER OF RIESLING, and if not why?), stunning with all the kinds of seafood indigenous to the waters off the East Coast of the USA (which really bring out the mineral side of this wine), or you’ll find it way too much (take the Stuart Pigott Riesling Global ACID TEST and discover that soda and cola contain at least as much acid as this wine). I know where I stand, and that’s best explained by paraphrasing a famous New York quote, “let’s get out of these sweaty things and into some dry Riesling!”

2012 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling is $14.99 at Astor Wines & Spirits

399 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10003

Tel.: (1) 212 674 7500

PS As Aristotle noted, every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, but what he failed to observe is that the end of one story is also the beginning of another story (to which the first story then becomes the backstory). Tomorrow my Berlin Riesling Diary resumes. Please excuse the erratic postings of the coming weeks, but I must chain myself to my desk and throw myself into the writing of my Riesling book for Abrams Books of New York. Wish me luck in my attempt to hit a very tight deadline (November 1st)!


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