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A stellar riesling and 4 other wines to help you start the new year right

A stellar riesling and 4 other wines to help you start the new year right

We start the new year with five outstanding wines that highlight the diversity and excitement of the bottles we have to choose from. These include two from a producer on a small island in the Bay of Naples, examples from the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux that punch above their price, and a delightful riesling from one of the pioneers of the Finger Lakes.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi-Dry Riesling 2017

Two-and-a-half stars

Finger Lakes, New York, $18

Konstantin Frank was a pioneer in growing European vinifera grape varieties in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The winery is now owned by his grandson, Fred Frank, and continues to set a high standard in what is now a crowded field. This riesling is just sweet enough to give it fruity lushness to match a wide variety of foods, including spicy dishes; its acidity keeps it balanced. Finger Lakes semi-dry riesling reminds me of Sprite with a kick. That’s a simplification, of course, but the lemon-lime citrus flavors are apparent here. ABV: 12%.

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After World War II, there was a growing interest in drier, European-style wines in the United States, but no such grapes were grown in the Finger Lakes until Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian viticulturist, relocated to Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station in 1953 and began planting European varieties. Dr. Frank had written his PhD thesis on cold-climate growing techniques of Vitis vinifera and ultimately proved that common grapes could be grown in the region with proper grafting and care.

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