Empire Estate Dry Riesling 2014: $18 Very Good+

The Empire Estate Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, NY) 2014 $18 [Very Good+] is a project of the famed New York City restaurants 11 Madison Park and NoMad in collaboration with Third Leaf Partners.  They chose Kelby James Russell of Red Newt Cellars as their winemaker, and sourced the grapes largely from southern Seneca Lake Vineyards.

The Empire Estate is a very nice dry Riesling, with substantial and precise flavors and excellent balance.  Lovers of “lean, mineral and long” wines will appreciate this bottle. 

The minerality and balance of this wine may not be too much of a surprise, since Russell worked with Thomas Pastuszak (Wine Director at NoMad) on this project.  At the moment the aromas of the Empire Estate are somewhat undeveloped, and this bottle will almost certainly improve with some time in the cellar.

Pale lemon in color, the aromas are pointed and precise, but a bit raw, with notes of sappy grapefruit, tropical fruit, citrus zest, and lots of  smoky mineral.  Medium bodied, dry, and notably astringent, there is oodles of acidity and some spritz.  Balance is impressive.  The lively flavors of green apple, grapefruit, tropical fruit, waxy notes, and smoky mineral have very good concentration and focus.  The finish is linear and lip-smacking with a mini-burst of tropical fruit. There is very good length.

Note: Although there is notable tannin in this wine, this was not from skin fermentation as in “orange wine."  Russell simply left the “pressed” juice with the “free run.”  He notes that —  "There are great flavors in the pressings that are often held out due to fear of the phenolics, or are fined out as a way to deal with the phenolics.  For better or worse, I find that tactile sensation pleasurable when managed appropriately in Riesling (and with the flavors that also result from pressing the skins).”  August 2015.


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© Douglas Hillstrom 2014