Magdalena Vineyard dry Rieslings, paired with radish-top soup

On a beautiful day in late September, our husband and I opted to take an unplanned road trip through the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Even though we were desperate for an escape from our constantly chaotic schedules, the truth is that I had a motive behind the trip: I was looking forward to tasting wines.

Four wineries made my list, including Hermann J. Wiemer, among the best. Several weeks before, we had tried the Magdalena Vineyard Dry Riesling at the famous Terroir Wine Bar in Tribeca (New York). My notes about the wine were: “Wiemer. You must purchase.”

Instead of picking up the phone, however, we decided to hop into the car.

We also met Evan Dawson, the managing editor at The New York Cork Report, who had been following me on Twitter. Evan writes an insightful and enthralling column on Finger Lakes wines for the famous online publication.

“Come to Wiemer whenever you like!” The man sent me an email that was sent out early on Sunday. “I’ll be arriving at Wiemer somewhere around 11:00 this morning to help them sort grapes… I never cease to learn when my hands are stained with grapes.”

We walked into the parking lot of Wiemer’s around midday. Evan welcomed us with the exuberant smile of someone in his joy. Within a couple of minutes, there was a tasting space with him as well as Oskar Byrne who is Wiemer’s estate manager as well as marketing director. We stayed for three hours, sampling more than 12 wines, each one better than the one before.

This is when I realized the reason I had been drawn to Wiemer. Our glasses were not only with wine, but also with art. The tale of the vines and the winemaker was told each drink. A tale of strength and expertise, of vision as well as fervor of hands stained by grapes.

Prior to our trip in Wiemer, Evan had written me: “I must, must request you to do this one thing during your travels If you visit Wiemer go to Wiemer and taste two wines together. They are the HJW Riesling and the Magdalena Riesling. They are from vineyards that are 10 miles apart, yet they’re such different wines. The distinction is intriguing, and interesting, andto me, at least it is the definitive answer to questions about whether or not terroir could occur in Finger Lakes.”

In the beginning, none of us had any idea that we’d end up tasting the two wines in the same glass. It was a thrilling experience for everyone. When we left after saying goodbye, I was certain I would shortly blog about two Rieslings Evan so eagerly requested I taste together. First, I was looking to come up with the perfect unique food pairing and be a fitting tribute to the wines that winemaker Fred M. Merwarth makes with so much skill and enthusiasm.

The recipe I created for the two Rieslings from Wiemer occurred in a flash. It’s a silky smooth radish-top soup with a hint of spice served with roasted radish fennel.

From the first drink and spoonful, I realized it was a perfect combination.

HJW Dry Riesling 2008

Producer: Hermann J. Wiemer

Region: Finger Lakes

Grape: 100% Riesling

Alc: 11.5%

You can view the HJW vineyard directly in the room where you can taste it. It is amidst some old Riesling vineyards of the Finger Lakes in shallow sandy soil. HJW is also the coolest of the Wiemer vineyards. The result is a wine that is brimming with minerality and a crispness. The two ingredients are what make the HJW the perfect wine for food.

The nose detected exotic citrus fruits, as well as floral scents. On the palate, the freshness and freshness of this wine, its delicious minerals and weight have made every tastebud be glued to the table, waiting to savor the wonderful flavor of lemons that were zesty and passion fruit, which came in. The lengthy finish made me slow down to take in the whole experience.

Magdalena Vineyard Dry Riesling 2008

Producer: Hermann J. Wiemer

Region: Finger Lakes

Grape: 100% Riesling

Alc: 12.3%

Price: $36

When Oskar Byrne was pouring the wine at the tasting, there was a tiny sparkle within his eyes. I asked him numerous questions about the winery, the location, and how it’s different from that of the HJW site. While Magdalena is the most northern of three Wiemer wineries, it’s also the closest to Lake Seneca. Oskar said that the lake regulates the climate, which makes it one of the warmest locations throughout the entire region. In addition, he stated that the area is blessed with a variety of soil types, ranging from a deep Honeoye silt loam to erosion-prone gravel that is a hillside. Additionally, the vineyard’s location protects it from the brutal winter weather elements. It was clear that this was the bling within Wiemer’s crown.

While the nose was like the HJW but a bit more intense, the flavors were astonishingly distinct. A creamy, sweet citrus peel and pears that were ripe, along with exotic fruits and a touch of tarragon, merged in an exquisite smooth mouth-feel. The word that came to the forefront as I tried it was lavish. This wine is rich, round, complex, and sweet; in other words, it’s a dream!

The HJW and Magdalena Rieslings perfectly matched the top of the radish soup. The lemony flavors in the two wines accentuated the subtle flavors that lemon-infused oil added to the soup. They also amplified the creamy soup to make it more velvety on the palate.

Each wine is served with various elements of the soup.

The Magdalena blended well with the mild, sweet radishes that were roasted root. The tarragon-like notes in the wine paired perfectly together with the fennel flavor of the dish. It kept me taking a sip between each teaspoon.

The minerality of the HJW, however is an excellent counterpoint to the soft, yet minerals-yet-tasting cooked tops of radish. The spice also accentuated the flavor in the broth.

One winemaker, one grape and two vineyards led of two unique, distinctive and exquisite wines. Each was a reflection about the land, the climate and the expertise that Fred Merwarth had. Every one was an absolute pleasure to drink and sip – and delicious when served with the soup with radish top.

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