“USUALLY WHEN I HAVE THE CHANCE TO SPEAK with Fred Merwarth for these pages in late August/ early September, he’s already begun harvest. For Merwarth, the owner and winemaker at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards on Seneca Lake, harvest is slightly more than the usual slog. It tends to be an incremental effort, through three vineyards and a dozen or so varieties, beginning with the harvest for sparkling wine, then chardonnay and red varieties like pinot noir and medot. And then there’s the riesling, another level of effort altogether, a protracted, multi-pick operation that may not end until January.
It’s this sort of meticulous attention to his vineyards that put Merwarth and founder Hermann Wiemer in mind ofbottling his rieslings by vineyard, rather than blending them together, as was the convention in the Finger Lakes. Their first vineyard designates came out in the 2007 vintage; since then, others in the region have followed their lead, mapping the region’s varied terroirs vineyard by vineyard.
For Wiemer’s top-scoring wine this year, the beautifully poised 2010 riesling from HJW vineyard, Merwarth made a total of ten passes through the rows, starting on the 21st of September and concluding in November. Some of these picks were based on the specifics of a block: how much shale it holds, for example, or the gravel content, or the age of the vines-some dating to 1976.
Needless to say the press lots from these picks differ dramatically; the early picks, says Merwarth, consisted of moderate sugars, a “low” aroma and plenty of fortifying acid. By the end of the October the grapes had ripened to a golden apple maturity, heavy with flavor-“powerful fruit, powerful aroma, but fairly soft on the palate,” he says.
His final blend in 2010 walks a line within this multi-pick bandwidth, an invigorating riesling that feels full and graceful at once. Its golden apple and peach scents give a heady signature, a set of flavors that are rich in attack but lean in execution and finish, the wine ample in its flavors and racy in its energy.
In a sense, Merwartn.’s rieslings are built as much as grown, a matrix of shades and flavors that come together to serve as one the essential voices of Finger Lakes riesling.” -P.].C.
92 Dry Riesling, HJW Vineyard 2010
91 Dry Riesling 2010
91 Dry Riesling, Magdalena Vineyard 2010