By Richy Petrina and Julie Purpura
He said roasted lemon, she said lemongrass. Each time I serve this wine to someone for the first time, the response I get—usually after a slight pause and musing look—is a surprise and understated wow.
It is a bold, rich, expressive, opulent style of Riesling. Like a baby Alsatian Krug Grande Cuvée, if there ever could be such a thing. A singular blend reinvented every year from sixteen single-vineyard wines hopscotched around southeast Seneca Lake, each with its own voice, coming together like a well-rehearsed choir.
Two-thirds of the wine is fermented in French oak barrels, which you can see in its golden-yellow hue. Not quite illuminating like Pantone’s 2021 color of the year, but certainly richer and deeper as compared with its contemporaries from the region. I picked up dried spices, bergamot tea, honey, roasted lemon, and lemon zest.
The remaining third is fermented in stainless steel and offers fresh minerality. Julie detected herbal notes of lemongrass, slate, apricot, and mandarin orange.
She The salinity added to its refreshing characteristic and its body and texture. High acidity had my mouth watering and itching for another sip. Aged in neutral oak barrels, this wine has structure and complexity. It is bone-dry and very food friendly.
Notably, this producer picked late in a wet, cool vintage. This caused some of the grapes to have botrytis (Noble Rot) which usually leads to a sweeter/late-harvest style wine. But since this was fermented dry, you get the aromatics and complexity without the sugar.
I love the classic style of dry Rieslings that we make in the Finger Lakes. I practically grew up with that formula embedded in my taste buds, and it is what I enjoy most often. But this wine is on another level. It certainly requires a different approach by the folks that make it. And I find—in a good way—that it requires a different, more contemplative approach when enjoying it.
What we recently paired with this wine: One evening we made a traditional lemon pasta with capers. Another evening called for broiled crab cakes with baked potatoes and mustard aioli. In her home, Julie made fresh chicken empanadas. What we learned: this wine can hold up wonderfully with richer flavors.
Learn more about the Forge Cellars Dry Riesling Classique 2018 by visiting Forge Wine Cellars.
Richy Petrina & Julie Purpura are two friends who both love Finger Lakes wines. They paired up to write this piece and have also paired up to bring you WINEcsa.org.