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Finger Lakes: FLXcursion 2021 International Riesling Expo

Finger Lakes Riesling from New York was on show alongside top Rieslings from Germany, Australia and beyond at FLXcursion 2021, one of the first large-scale wine events held since the start of the pandemic.

New York’s Finger Lakes region was one of the first to hold a large-scale wine event as the world wrestles with easing out of the pandemic.

The Finger Lakes, known locally as FLX, hosted the International Riesling Expo between 17 and 20 July. The grape is a focus here, given the region’s shale soils and cool climate.

It was the second edition of the expo – FLXcursion for short – which saw Riesling authorities from around the globe flying in to join local producers, as well as those from Washington State, Oregon, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

More than 160 wine professionals and 300 consumers attended the four-day event, which featured eight seminars, several wine dinners and an evening tasting entitled the Riesling Crawl.

Riesling expert Stuart Pigott led a discussion of the effects of global warming, with appearances from Jim Barry of South Australia’s Clare Valley, iconic Mosel producer Ernie Loosen, and others.

The seminar ‘Terroir and the age of the internet’, moderated by local writer Maiah Johnson Dunn, featured appearances (and wines) from Mosel producer Johannes Selbach and Pfalz winemaker Andreas Hütwohl of Von Winning, as well as an online cameo by UK critic Jancis Robinson MW.

Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson delivered the keynote address.

Riesling rescue

FLXcursion grew out of participation by Finger Lakes producers at both Washington State’s Riesling Rendezvous, organised by Chateau Ste Michelle, and the International Riesling Symposium, led by the VDP (a group of Germany’s top producers) at Kloster Eberbach.

With these events postponed due to Covid-19, Finger Lakes producers Kelby Russell of Red Newt Vineyards and Oskar Bynke at Hermann Wiemer stepped into the breach to put on the 2021 expo.

Winemaking in the Finger Lakes, a five-hour drive northeast of New York City, is almost ready to celebrate its bicentennial. Yet it is only now coming to prominence for high-quality vinifera wines. Riesling is dominant, accounting for at least a quarter of all vineyards.

One danger of the present FLXcursion format is to focus exclusively on Riesling. This would exclude the other delicious wines of the Finger Lakes, which include top-quality sparkling wine, Cabernet Franc (in both red and dry rosé styles), and cold-hardy varieties such as Saperavi, Rkatsiteli and Blaufränkisch.

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