Grape 23: Riesling

The Best Grape
There, I’ve said it. Riesling is just the best grape that exists. Maybe it’s my love for bone-crushing acidity. Maybe it’s that favorite jacket you have that pairs well with everything and manages to be classy without trying. Maybe it’s that thrill of walking to the airport to buy your ticket to somewhere you haven’t decided yet. Because it’s only Riesling that can bring you suck-your-teeth dry and rot-your teeth sweet. All grapes have a range in which they sing and you start to recognize their voices among the Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and that Cabernet Bass.

Opera Star
Riesling though is a category unto itself. It’s SATB performed by a love child of Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland. The wine soars in the right hands and has a range unmatched by any other wine. It can age for over a decade (crazy rare for a white), makes dessert wines equal to any of the greatest dessert wines in the world (Auslese) and CAN command prices into the thousands of dollars. Of course, Riesling can also command prices of $10 and it’s easy to find great bottles at $10 and really excellent bottles for $15.

Remember the Riesling!
Personally, Riesling has always been a food and friends wine. Eat one and devour the other – it’s a simple recipe but Remember the Riesling. It’s easy to find too since Germany and Austria no longer have a stranglehold on the grape. Australia, New Zealand and the US (especially Finger Lakes, NY!) all produce wines that melt in your mouth or stab you with lime – up to you to figure out which is which. South Africa too seems to be entering the fray, and South America has started late to the game but has started its experimenting. Rather than just carpeting the world too, Riesling producers have managed to produce wines that smack you across the face with their true gravel. If you enjoy S&M diversity in your wine, you just found your grape.

This wine is one of many styles that Chateau Ste Michelle makes (one of which is called Eroica – sweet and worth the search; it’s two of the world’s best producers teaming up on Riesling). This particular Riesling shown above is the regular “everyday” Riesling that Chateau Ste Michelle make and I think it cost about $10 (which is what it costs at Jericho Wines, who get the h/t for the photo). Here’s what my tongue dictated to my fingers: Kinda fizzy, tart like green apples but with peach taste. Light wine. Very green apples and something fizzy extra.

Detail Up!
Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2009

Random Googles
* Famed Riesling Maker Leo Buring (correctly) stated: “Winemaking isn’t a matter of life or death – it’s much more important than that!” The one wine I tried by him convinced me that my mid-life crisis will occur in Adelaide, Australia.
* Riesling regions to seek out: Clare, Eden and West Australia (Australia); Mosel, Alsace, and Wachau (Europe); Finger Lakes, Michigan and Washington (US); and Nelson (NZ)
* There’s a Red Riesling in Germany. Nobody’s quite sure if it’s the father or the son of Riesling Riesling.

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  1. Mark Katerberg’s avatar

    There was a great podcast focused entirely on Riesling a couple weeks ago, and one of the 30 minute interviews was with Chateau Ste Michelle. Definitely recommend!



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