What more can we say about Riesling? We spend a lot of time talking about the wines from the Finger Lakes, but we seldom have the chance to compare them to the Rieslings from other regions. While we can speak at length about the strengths of this grape in our favorite region, it is good to compare it with other styles, to learn more.
To see what we could learn from a direct comparison, we decided to open a bottle of Finger Lakes and California Riesling each, to test with the same dinner. Over a meal of Indian food, we found many similarities between the two. With only a sample of just two bottles, we can't draw any real conclusions about the regional styles, although we could learn a bit more about what makes for an excellent wine. Both wines had the characteristic crisp fruit, but the Finger Lakes wine had more complex layers of sweet fruit and minerality. Against the spicy Indian food, the sweet flavors of both wines became more pronounced.
The question is, what does this tell us? As a way to guage the two regions, nothing. Comparing two wines is just too small of a sample size. We could theorize that the warmer climate of California doesn't give the Riesling grape--a varietal made popular in the cooler climates of Alsace and Germany--the full time it needs to develop the depth of flavor. But that is a shallow understanding of the wine regions of California, as the mountains and northern growing regions can match Germany's cool climate. It could be the difference between a good vintage in NY compared to an average vintage in California, or a carefully selected single vineyard wine from the Finger Lakes compared to a more general run of wine from (Sonoma). But it was fun to open two bottles of wines and pretend we had a more important reason than that we were simply excited to try them both.