By HOWARD G. GOLDBERG
An $18 dry Johannisberg riesling from the Finger Lakes region was voted New York’s best wine of 2003 yesterday in a major contest limited to the state’s wines.
The 2002 reserve riesling, a white wine from the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, on Seneca Lake, defeated 527 wines, the most ever entered in the contest.
The competition, called the New York Wine and Food Classic, is sponsored by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, a nonprofit trade association in Penn Yan, N .Y., in the Finger Lakes.
For the first time in its 18-year history, the two-day contest was held out of state. Using 20 judges, it took place in Napa, Calif., at Copia:
The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.
James Trezise, the New York foundation president, said: “By taking New York wines into the heart of California’s most prestigious wine country and having a majority of judges be from the West Coast, we are making a statement that New York wines are good enough to be considered among the best of the world.”
The Wiemer winery, established in 1979 in Dundee, N .Y., is considered by many in the wine industry to be one of the top riesling producers in the United States. The 2003 edition of “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book” (Mitchell Beazley, London) calls Wiemer rieslings outstanding. Mr. Johnson is a British wine writer.
The German-born Hermann J. Wiemer produced 1,000 cases of the winning wine, which he hopes to release this month. It is not yet available in his tasting room.
The wine trade regards the contest as a reliable index of New York regional development, styles, quality and leadership. Seventy-two of the state’s approximately 176 producers submitted entries.
Riesling also finished first in the 2000, 2001 and 2002 competitions, a trend that has fortified wine critics’ growing beliefs that New York rieslings may one day rank in quality and complexity with those from Germany, Austria and the Alsace region of France.
In the contest, the 2001 Proprietor’s Reserve chardonnay from Chateau LaFayette Reneau, in Hector, N .Y., on Seneca Lake, led in its category. The 2001 gewürztraminer from Corey Creek in Southold, on Long Island, won in its genre.
The 2001 cabernet franc from the Hosmer Winery, a boutique in Ovid, N.Y., on Lake Cayuga, was named best red wine.
Standing Stone, a Seneca Lake winery in Hector, produced the winning Bordeaux-style blend, a 2000 red called Pinnacle.
The best sparkling wine is the nonvintage Celebre Rose from Chateau Frank, in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes. A sister winery, Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, produced the best cabernet sauvignon, a 2001.
The winning merlot, from the 2000 vintage, came from Jamesport Vineyards on Long Island. Merlot is the signature red from the Island.
And a 2002 ice wine produced from Vidal grapes and called Fiori Delle Stelle, from Casa Larga, in Fairport, N.Y., near Rochester, was chosen best dessert wine.