Oak. It’s not just for reds and Chardonnays anymore!
Winemakers have been using oak barrels as a way to ferment, age, and store wine for centuries. Depending on the type of oak, they can lend different characteristics to the wine like spicy, vanilla, or coconut notes, or just create a smoother mouthfeel. Traditionally, oak is used on red wines and Chardonnays, while other wines are ages in stainless steel. However, that’s beginning to change as winemakers experiment with oak fermenting and aging a range of wine. One of the best examples of this is Billsboro Winery’s Barrel Fermented Riesling.
Billsboro Winery is located on the west side of Seneca Lake, and has an adorable tasting room located in a red barn. They also have a tasting room in a historic building at Rose Hill Manor on the northeast side of Seneca if you’re venturing out that way. The winery was started in 2007 by Vinny and Kim Aliperti, and they’ve focused on making dry red and white wines (although they do have off-dry and a dessert option for those who like it a little sweeter). The wine they produce has the distinctive notes of the Finger Lakes, and honestly, everything they produce is delicious.
When people say that the Finger Lakes don’t have great dry or red wines, I use Billsboro as my example to prove them wrong. Need more proof of their awesomeness? New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last summer that Billsboro Winery won the 2016 Governor’s Cup competition at the 31st New York Wine & Food Classic for their 2013 Syrah. That’s right- a dry red wine from the Finger Lakes won the best wine in the state, and OMG, its amazing.
But today we’re opening a 2015 Barrel Fermented Dry Riesling, fermented in neutral French oak barrels for 8 months, and released in May 2016. It maintains the awesome citrus and brightness of a Riesling, but has an unexpected smoothness from the oak.
Also, fun note- was tasting this while eating manchego cheese and rosemary olive oil bread (from Wegmans, gotta love Wegmans!), and the two went together really well!
See: Green gold color, highly reflective
Smell: Lime curd, pear, slate, and a hint of tropical fruit.
Sip: The lime and slate is really prevalent when drinking it, and there is a nice balance between the smoothness and weight that the oak imparts on the wine and the bracing acidity that cleanses your palate and makes you go back for another sip.
Winery: Billsboro Winery
Region/Sub-Region: Finger Lakes/Seneca Lake
Wine: Barrel Fermented Dry Riesling
Varietal: 100% Riesling