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Semi-Dry Riesling Vertical Tasting

October 22nd, 2016

A long-time friend of the winery contacted us and wanted to share a 19 year old bottle of Fenn Valley Riesling from his personal collection.  He had opened a bottle of the same wine at his own home and was amazed at the quality, and wanted to share his last bottle with us.

This generosity prompted us to hold an impromptu tasting of the last bottles of some our oldest Rieslings.  We went through our library and selected the following collection to evaluate, and what we found was amazing.  While the oldest bottles of wine were clearly past their prime, even the oldest bottle(s) could be enjoyed and appreciated.  But the true winner was the 1997 Riesling that sparked this tasting – it was amazing, and if you have a bottle in your collection, you should enjoy this fantastic wine within the next year.

vertical-rieslings

Tasting Notes

1991

  • Color: Amber
  • Aroma: Shellac with faint apple character
  • Taste: Crisp acidity with strong apple character
  • Finish: Crisp, apple continues to linger
  • Winemaker Notes: Near end of life after 25 years!

1993

  • Color: Amber
  • Aroma: Faint apple fruit, distinct dried apricot, no oxidation
  • Taste: Initial mouthfeel crisp. Apricot on the palate, no oxidation. Smooth texture.
  • Finish: Short – apricot, pear, apple
  • Winemaker Notes: Amazing botrytised fruit for a 23 year old wine!

1995

  • Color: Golden
  • Aroma: Apple – ripe, cellar notes. Faint oxidation.
  • Taste: Moderate crispness. Apple, pear, no oxidation in taste.
  • Finish: Long, crisp and clean. No oxidation.
  • Winemaker Notes: Amazingly clean and fruity!

1997

  • Color: Light Golden
  • Aroma: Pear, apricot, tropical fruit – botrytised.
  • Taste: Pineapple, apricot, pear. Strong, clean fruit. Noticeable “road tar.” No oxidation.
  • Finish: Long and clean. No oxidation. Lingering tropical fruit.
  • Winemaker Notes: Truly a great wine. Actually can be enjoyed!

1998

  • Color: Brown-amber
  • Aroma: Oxidized (sherry) nose. Pear and red apples.
  • Taste: Slight oxidation (sherry) character. Red apple and pear.
  • Finish: Very long, crisp. Over-ripe fruit. Carmel apple.
  • Winemaker Notes: Over the hill.

2005

  • Color: Light, yellow-gold
  • Aroma: Cooked sugar and cooked/pasteurized apple juice nose.
  • Taste: “Classic” Fenn Valley Riesling taste. Apple, peach, pear.
  • Finish: Long – apple, pear, peach and other tropical fruit.
  • Winemaker Notes: Fantastic wine right now!

2015

  • Color: Light
  • Aroma: Apple, peach, resin (pine).
  • Taste: Ripe apple, orange blossom, strawberry, faint chocolate notes.
  • Finish: Medium-long. Apple and white tree fruit.
  • Winemaker Notes: Young, alive.

We then went on to analyze the winemaking notes to see if we could draw any correlation between chemistry, process and longevity. Based on the data we don’t necessarily see a correlation between total SO2 and quality of the wine for the long haul. Intrinsically we still believe an appropriate amount of total SO2 is generally good for wine, but eventually age catches up. We did see a fairly strong correlation between wine pH and longevity. Generally speaking wines with a pH above 3.00 didn’t age as gracefully as those below. This is not necessarily a surprise, but what was unexpected was just how well wines with a lower pH aged. On the other hand, wines with a low pH can be unapproachable when they are young. Much like a lot of winemaking decisions, balance is the key.

Rating Total SO2 pH Comments
1991 ** 80ppm 2.95 1.2ppm free SO2
1993 *** 137ppm 3.41 11% Vignoles
1995 **** 71.8ppm 3.21
1997 ***** 56.4ppm 2.89 Still had road-tar character
1998 *** Unknown 2.94
2005 ***** 66.4ppm 3.03

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6130 122nd Ave | Fennville, MI | 49408 | 269-561-2396