Finger Lakes Winery Introduces Barrel Aged, Full Malolactic Fermentation Riesling to Unique Wine Series

“I’m obsessed with texture,” winemaker Chris Missick says, as he pours the latest wine in the series of wines by Bellangelo called Bench at a tasting in the winery’s new library tasting room. Short for bench-trial, Bench is a limited run series that allows the Bellangelo winemaking team to seek out experimental, textural expressions of the wines it crafts each vintage. The newest wine in the lineup is an exciting 2015 Riesling.

Bench emerged from a collection of barrel projects that started at the winery many years ago. The line-up of current releases includes the 2013 Fifty 50, a one half white Pinot Noir and one half Chardonnay blend that was aged in neutral oak for two years, and three separate 2014 skin fermented white wines from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Seyval Blanc. The new release, coming April 2017, will be a very different take on Riesling.

The 2015 Bench Riesling was uninoculated for its primary fermentation, aged in neutral barrels, and permitted to go through malolactic fermentation. The results are delicious, but a striking change for the person familiar with Finger Lakes Rieslings. Combining citrus with a softer acidity than is typical for the region, and perhaps closer in line with a cold climate Chardonnay than a typical cold climate Riesling, the 2015 Bench Riesling offers an exciting curiosity to the 2015 line-up of Rieslings produced from Bellangelo. “Having 6 distinct bottlings of Riesling in 2015, the 2015 Bench Riesling is another fascinating look at just how unique the Riesling grape is,” said winemaker, Chris Missick.

The 2016 Bench wine, still in barrel, is composed of Gewurztraminer that underwent a carbonic maceration and a late harvest cluster select Gewurztraminer fermented to dryness. Look for it in 2018.

Bench is one of the fascinating and creative outlets for Bellangelo to explore the boundaries of texture in wine. Meanwhile, Bellangelo’s primary portfolio of wines continues to garner acclaim, most recently at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, earning Gold for their 2015 Dry Riesling and Double Gold for their 2015 Gibson Vineyard Riesling. “We don’t enter many competitions,” said Matthew Missick, “but the San Francisco Chronicle competition is among the most prestigious and rigorous competitions in the entire country. This recognition for our delicious cold climate wines feels very good.”

Bellangelo is a family owned winery beautifully situated in the Finger Lakes on the West side of Seneca Lake, one mile south of the Herman J. Wiemer Winery. Bellangelo wines are distributed in New York State and throughout the country by Monsieur Touton Selections. The Missick family operates Finger Lakes wine country lifestyle boutiques for wine and foods as Branch, currently located in DestinyUSA in Syracuse, NY and Geneva, NY.