Sunday, July 22, 2012

a night of Flat Rock - the rieslings




2008 Flat Rock Cellars Riesling | VQA Twenty Mile Bench


2008 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja's Vineyard Riesling | VQA Twenty Mile Bench

So we got together at a friend's place last week to taste some Flat Rock wines I've been holding onto for a few years. It's always the best time when you hang out and eat-drink with people you like - I said it before, but I'll say again: I'm too old, I'm too tired, to be wasting time hanging out with people I don't enjoy. Raging over. Flat Rock has always bottled under screwcap, and this was my first opportunity to see how they did with some bottle age. Would they develop? Or would they be stuck in time? OR . . . was there nothing much to develop in the first place??

2008 was a special year for me. I graduated from university in the spring, with a (useless) degree in Economics, and promptly took a long trip out to visit family in Tokyo and Shanghai. It was all reality once I got back . . . crushing, depressing reality. I didn't have a job, I had a shitload of student loans to repay, and I got dumped by a girl. A trifecta of doom. So I moped around for a few months, aimless, picking up work where I could. Of course, I eventually found a job that made me happy in the fall, but those 6 months were ball-achingly painful. So 2008 Niagara wines hold a special place in my heart.

I had picked up both wines in late 2009, holding onto a few bottles until now. It was hot outside, I wanted to taste them all together, and best of all, my friend was cooking. Flat Rock is special. It was the first Niagara winery I ever visited, and a source of happy, honest wines. Chilled on ice, we started with the two rieslings first. The first one, the estate level riesling, is always a good introduction to the Niagara style of riesling. That ripe citrus, the lanolin cream aromas, the great acidity on the palate. Some extract too. Bottle age has rounded it all out, and it's drinking beautifully right now - all open and friendly, perfectly balanced with a slight sweetness.

The Nadja's Vineyard refers to a small parcel of Flat Rock's vineyards, which provides the grapes for this wine. We need to be careful about these single vineyard bottlings - not that they're misleading, but rather these vineyards are far too young for any meaningful distinction to be made. For example . . . the great vineyards of Burgundy were slowly mapped out over hundreds and hundreds of years, taking generations of hard work and diligence. Of course, things move much faster now, but it's become all too common in the New World to slap the name of a single vineyard on the label and charge a premium for it.

This bottle, the Nadja's Vineyard riesling, doesn't show so much a difference in vineyard qualities than in winemaking styles; and a big reason why is because no one knows if there is a distinct difference to start with. Maybe in a few decades, but for now, this wine is a function of the winemaking. Leaner and drier than the first riesling, great tension. Aromatic, with good length on the finish.

What a great start to dinner. If pressed, I'd go with the estate level riesling. But of course, that's a personal thing. I have a serious thing for Mosel wines, so of course I'd go for the riesling with a touch of sweetness. Both are delicious, and both show that even for simple, humble wines, patience will be rewarded.


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