In the last quarter of 2013,Webster’s is proud to offer a series of short-term glass pour flights featuring significant wine estates from around the world.
• this month’s featured estate •
HERMANN J. WIEMER, FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK
No conversation about the present and future of winemaking in the New York Finger Lakes – and, I would add, that of the entire East Coast – can occur without discussing the Hermann J. Wiemer estate. A native of the famed winegrowing city of Bernkastel, in Germany’s Mosel river valley, Hermann moved to the Finger Lakes in the late 1960s, and after stints at several wineries, planted his own vines on the western shore of Seneca Lake in 1976; his first ‘estate’ bottling was 1979. At that time, the majority of Finger Lakes wines were centered on American lambrusca grapes, including Concord, Catawba, and Delaware. In the face of received wisdom, and often to the ridicule of his colleagues in the trade, Hermann never wavered in his commitment to the success of European vinifera grapes in the often frigid Finger Lakes region – signal among them, Riesling, but also Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. Over the course of decades, he was proved right. Today, Riesling is known around the world as the Finger Lakes’ calling card; and Hermann is very much to thank for the change.
Hermann’s longtime assistant, the talented Fred Merwarth, officially took over full winemaking responsibilities 10 years ago, in 2003; Hermann himself retired in 2007, but still consults part-time at the winery. Fred has steadily introduced his own innovations, including a short range of single-vineyard, terroir-driven bottlings, which have had a tremendous impact on other winemakers on the lakes; as each year passes, more and more estates, such as Boundary Breaks, Ravines, and others, are crafting stellar single-vineyard wines. The particular taste of the Finger Lakes terroir is now being revealed with greater clarity now than ever before.
The influence reaches even farther. Hermann, like his father before him, was a nursery man first, a specialist in rootstocks, clones, and grafting. Currently, an important parcel of the Wiemer lands are home to one of the finest rootstock nurseries in America, where one can acquire and plant dozens of rootstocks, including Riesling, Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Syrah, and plant them oneself… Making the Wiemer estate a real agricultural trust for the further quality of winemaking in the Finger Lakes and beyond.
The only real way to gauge the importance of Wiemer’s contribution to American quality wine is to taste a range of them together. As we move into the holiday season, we’re very excited to share a short-term glass pour flight of a few of their most significant bottlings. Enjoy!
Wiemer 2006 Sparkling Brut $12 gls • $6 tst • $54 btl
This new disgorgement (Nov. 2012) of Wiemer’s artisanal Chardonnay-based, Champagne-method sparkling wine is the finest of its kind on the East Coast, and one of the best in America. The mousse is lean and fine, not too yeasty, and the fascinating flavors include sassafrass, quinine, asian pear, and more.
Wiemer 2011 Cabernet Franc $9 gls • $4.50 tst • $38 btl
This is a terrific opportunity to taste why some claim that Cabernet Franc will prove to be the most successful red varietal in the Finger Lakes; it’s more succulent and generous than its Loire Valley cousins, yes, but the purity of fruit and latency of spice are terrifically poised; delicate tannin highlights a long finish.
Wiemer 2012 Gewurztraminer, Dry $10 gls • $5 tst • $42 btl
Gentle aromas of lavender, citron, coconut and lychee set this Gewurztraminer apart from other, more brazen and perfumed, domestic examples; the midpalate shows a rich, palate-coating array of orchard fruits, yet the finish is strikingly dry and clean. A great food pair with a host of plates, and great for the season.
Wiemer 2012 Riesling, Semi-Dry $9 gls • $4.50 tst • $38 btl
All of Wiemer’s wines are world-class, yet it’s their Rieslings which remain their – and the Finger Lakes’ – global ambassador. One taste of their new vintage of ‘semi-dry’ will convince you of why; its combination of bright nectarine, hint of fresh meringue, and clean stonefruit combine with a succulent sense of sweetness.
Hermann J. Wiemer Flight (a two-ounce tasting of each of the above) $20
Sommelier, Jeremy Quinn