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Published on Jun 30, 2016 

What do you like about Riesling?


Hosts Leah and David discuss the qualities and attributes of the most popular varietal in the Finger Lakes - Riesling. Plus, we get to taste one of the newest wine labels in the region - Agness Wine Cellars 2015 Finger Lakes Semi-Dry Riesling.

There're over 200 Riesling Labels in the Finger Lakes and Agness Wine Cellars Semi-Dry Rielsing was selected for this Wine Forecaster Video Blog through

WHAM 1180 AM Food & Wine Show - Talking about Finger Lakes Rieslings
00:00 / 00:00
WHAM 1180 AM Food & Wine Show
Talking about Finger Lakes Riesling
Original Air-Date: 12-31-16
Host: Paul Guglielmo
Interview: Wine Columnist Randy Agness
WSYR 1040 AM The Grapevine
Talking Agness Riesling Reviews & Ratings 
Original Air-Date 02-19-17
Host: Michael Warren Thomas
Innterview: Finger Lakes Winemaker Randy Agness
WSYR 1040 AM The Grapevine - Talking Agness Riesling Reviews & Ratings 
00:00 / 00:00
Original Air-Date 06-20-16
Host: Brother Weise
Interview: Finger Lakes Winemaker Randy Agness
WNVE 95.1 FM The Brother Weise Show
Talking Agness Riesling & Finger Lakes Wine

Three Cheers for Dry Riesling

George M. Taber

        My favorite white wine is probably Riesling. I also enjoy Chardonnay, another popular white, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer. Riesling, though, is usually my go-to white wine. I first started learning about it many years ago, while working in Germany for a summer after graduate school. But unfortunately every once in a while, I am surprised and disappointed when I happen to get a Riesling that is a little sweet. There may be the same varietal name on the label, but the taste was not what I had expected. So a Riesling may be a Riesling or may not be a Riesling. I won’t pour a sweet Riesling down the drain, but I am disappointed.

        A few weeks ago, I got an email from Randy Agness, a winemaker who makes wine  in the Finger Lakes region of New York, which is one of the better growing areas for Riesling grapes. We had met at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester. He said that he had recently been making Riesling and wondered if I would swap a bottle of his wine for a copy of my book Judgment of Paris, which recounts the story of a famous 1976 wine tasting in Paris, when unknown California wines beat the best of France in both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay competition. That put California on the world wine map.

        I’m always looking for new wine, so I agreed. A few days later, the bottle arrived on my doorstep. The name of the wine was Agness Cellars. It was the 2015 vintage. The surprising thing was the term Semi-Dry Riesling on the label. I immediately thought that meant it was a semi-sweet wine. But when I poured it from a beautiful green bottle, I was surprised that I was wrong. It was dry. That means the wine had zero-to-one percent sweetness. That to me is a dry wine. Then I tasted it.

        Wow! It was delightful. Soft, fruity, fresh. A perfect wine to go with the chicken pot pie that my wife had made for dinner. The was not sweet at least to my palate. It was a perfect match for the pot pie. I wasn’t surprised that it had won a double-gold award at the famous Indy Indianapolis Wine Competition.

A few days later, I called Randy to talk about his wine. He told me that he is a new winemaker and this was his first vintage. He does not yet own a vineyard, but buys grapes from growers near where he lives, and Riesling is their top product. Randy said he had made only 100 cases, which he soon sold in shops around the area where he lived. The price was in the range of $15 a bottle. He’s looking forward to making a larger production this fall, and he is going to stick to Semi-Dry Riesling. I think he’s got a winner, and a good plan for success.

George M. Taber - Author Judgment of Paris California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine

Mike Veseth

2015 Agness Semi-Dry Riesling ... Fresh.  Perfectly Balanced. Delicious! Paired the wine with Alsatian Tarte Flambée Glorious!

Separately he continued ... This was a real pleasure.  You did a great job balancing everything - that was my number one take impression.  and it went really well with food. Congratulations!

Mike Veseth - Author 'wine wars' and The Wine Economist (a leading wine blog) - an authority on global wine markets

Douglas Hillstrom's Finger Lakes Wines

July 2016

Agness Semi-Dry Riesling 2015: $16 Fair+ to Good

        To my recollection, I’ve never put a “semi-dry” wine in the “dry and medium dry" category.  Semi-dry wines are nearly always sweet.  But the Agness Wine Cellars Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, NY) 2015 $16 [Fair+ to Good] is relatively dry, and its sharp stony mineral notes add to the perception of dryness. This wine was a bit of a puzzle, not showing well on day one.  It improved somewhat in the refrigerator after being open a day, exhibiting more apricot fruit, so perhaps it just needs cellar time to come into its own.

Medium lemon in color, with green tints, there are sweet & soft aromas of apple, pear, apricot, honey, and anise, touched by a bit of citrus and a sharp mineral note.  Light bodied, medium dry, with a soft and silky mouth feel, balance is OK.  Flavors run strongly to the savory side — stony, herbal, and bitter — with fruit (apple, white peach, honey) relegated to the rear.  The finish is somewhat bitter, ungainly, with so-so length. 

Honest and objective tasting notes are based on a full bottle of wine over a two day evaluation

Lenn Thompson

"By the way .. tasted the wine (Agness Wine Cellars 2015 Finger Lakes Semi-Dry Riesling). I liked it. Nice, classic FLX flavors ... it's not lacking acid by any means. A great first riesling release."

Lenn Thompson - New York Cork Report Editor

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