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Tasting Swedish Hill Wines in Saratoga Springs, New York

Swedish 5These days there are boutique wineries popping up everywhere, microbreweries in every other garage and a general influx of new entries into the wine, beer and spirits industry.  It has become a really cool thing to do.  So you never know when you’ll run into something new.

We were recently in Saratoga Springs, New York for a few hours and stumbled upon the tasting room for Swedish Hill Winery.  Now Swedish Hill is not in Saratoga per se, they actually live and produce wine in the Finger Lakes Region.  Their winery is in Romulus, to be exact, between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake.  This is a region known for quality whites and sometimes amazingly good reds, so we expected good things.  We were blown away a few years ago with the quality of Steve Shaw’s red wines from the Finger Lakes (read more about that here).   Riesling is a staple of the region, as you might expect given the climate.  Swedish Hill had three Rieslings on their tasting list, so I would have to try Swedish 9them all.

The sign outside said “World Class Wines”.  Located on a bust stretch of the main street in Saratoga this store see a lot of foot traffic.  From a marketing perspective it makes a lot of sense.  Let’s take a look at what we found.

Inside the space is long and narrow.  A quite lengthy tasting table takes up the left side, with racks of wine for sale occupying the right.  When we walked in the table was packed with about twenty tasters.  We Swedish 6managed to find some room at the far end as a group finished up.  They are clearly making some money just on tasting fees.  It is essentially a dollar a tasted here, with the basic six wines for six dollars option allowing you to add more for a buck a piece.  The list is all over the place as well, with ‘dry’ whites, ‘semi-dry’ whites, ‘dry’ to ‘semi-dry’ reds and then sweet wines and dessert Swedish 10wines.  They also have a sparkler and fruit wines.  Clearly this is one of those wineries that makes a lot of varieties as well as varietals.   Swedish Hill uses the definition of ‘dry’ being less than 2% residual sugar, ‘semi-dry’ being 2-4% and sweet above that.  Most wine lovers I know would not refer to a wine with 3.2% residual sugar as ‘semi-dry’.  Maybe semi-sweet, as there is noticeable sweetness.  Still, what matters is in the bottle.

Here’s what we tried:

Swedish 42013 Dry Riesling – this wine carries apple, pear and honeydew aromas.  There is a hint of sweetness as well.  It’s an OK wine, but really could use more acid to keep it fresh.  $16

2013 Riesling – Humphrey’s Vineyard – this single vineyard Riesling is more like a Swedish 3classic German varietal on the nose.  The petroleum marker is distinct.  It has some texture and is an overall pleasing wine, but could also use more acid.  $22

2013 Riesling – at 2.4% residual sugar this is noticeably sweet, although the winery would term it ‘semi-dry’.  it has peach and pear aromas and flavors.  This is another wine that really needs some acid.  The balance is just off on these Rieslings.

Swedish 1Viking Red –a blend of six different red grapes, some of which see oak aging, this wine is surprisingly complex.  On the palate red fruits and some spice come through.  It is rich with nice length and soft tannins.  This is quite good and a great value at $10.

2012 Cabernet Franc –the wine is a beautiful red color. Rasberry and other red fruits hit you on the nose.  There’s a little tannin and decent length.  Again, here we have a decent wine, but nothing to get excited about.  $18

2012 Optimus Meritage – this is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The wine sees 16 months in French oak.  There’s some spice, some tannin and unfortunately a lack of depth.  This was disappointing at $26.

2014 Marechal Foch – while we have had many wines from this grape made in New England, and they are Swedish 8almost always fruity wines perfect for a summer picnic, this is not one of them.  It was thin and finished with a bitterness we did not like.

Overall we had mixed feelings about the wines from Swedish Hill.  The Rieslings were disappointing, as that is where I would expect a winery from the Finger Lakes to shine.  Cheri agreed.  On the red side the Viking Red was very good and a really good value at $10.  The Cab Franc and Meritage were good, but just that.  I would personally not use the ‘world class wine’ descriptor here.

Still, it is fun to have a winery tasting room in downtown Saratoga, and we always enjoy trying new wines.  The winery itself looks like a fun place to visit.  Based on their collection of awards we probably didn’t catch their best vintage.  If you’re in the Saratoga we suggest you stop in and form your own opinion.

Again, the winery itself is in Romulus – the particulars:

Swedish Hill Winery – website: http://swedishhill.com/

4565 State Route 414
Romulus, NY 14541

Phone: 1-888-549-WINE

A votre santé!

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