A Tantalizing Sparkling Riesling from British Columbia

Posted on: July 19th, 2013 by

ThoughtsCannot quibble over getting invited to attend an outdoor Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle on a picture-perfect day. Located in the town of Woodinville, not far from Seattle, I knew while at this event I’d taste all manner of Rieslings from the corners of the globe. Special recognition must go to the Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Natural Brut 2010, hailing from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. (The “natural” part refers to not adding any dosage wine before the cork and cage are put on a sparkling wine. Dosage is a sweetener that can tame some of a sparkling wine’s bracing acidity.) A lively sparkler, the Tantalus also exhibited a nice touch of richness and complexity to go along with significant refreshment; a most distinct and pleasant surprise in a field (lawn?) full of classy, classic, and curious Rieslings. (And if you need a British Colubmia Wine 101, check out my interview with Luke Whittall from the invaluable site, Wine Country BC.)

Among the non-British Columbia Rieslings I tried, here are some highlights that begin to hint at the diversity of the grape within North America and around the globe.

  • Anew: A, uh, new Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle. It’s a blend of 88% Riesling, 10% Gewurztraminer, and 2% Muscat Canelli, and is a definite summertime porch-pounder with noticeable but not overbearing sweetness. And though it is marketed towards women, this 40-something dude enjoyed not only the flavor but the “slender and elegant” bottle with the “stylized floral label” as well.
  •  All the Rieslings from Chehalem in Oregon. (Great labels, too.)
  • Mitchell Wines: From the Clare Valley region north of Victoria in South Australia, their 2005 Watervale Riesling and 2006 McNichol Riesling both demonstrated how well dry Rieslings from this part of the world can age. Each bottle has a few decades of life ahead of it.

These wines should inspire you to make this season a Summer of Riesling. It’s already in full swing.

 

Chateau Ste. Michelle riesling rendezvous

Visual evidence that the weather at Chateau Ste. Michelle was dialed in for Riesling Rendezvous. That’s some mighty fine work, CSM.

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6 Responses

  1. That must have been fun! I’m not a big fan of sparkling wines, I really don’t like Champagne and Cava even. But the weirdest thing is that I do enjoy British sparkling wine, the sparkle is just very different, no doubt because of the process. A Chapel down rose sparkling wine is really delightful and has a fresh taste of green apples.
    I’m baking a low sugar cherry and almond meal cake now and thinking of pairing it with an Italian red Lambrusco…

    • Jameson says:

      Regula,

      It breaks my heart a bit that you’re not keen on Champagne nor Cava, but I’m glad you have some love for British sparkling wines. ;) I’ve never tried one and not sure how many get to the States but I’m sure curious.

      Thank you for your nice comment and the cake and Lambrusco sound like a lovely duo.

      Best,

      Jameson

      • I’m sure that the reason for me not liking champagne and cava is because I don’t ever drink fizzy drinks. I was brought up without them, I got one bottle of coca cola or sprite a year at christmas and I would drink from it for two weeks. I suspect your body has to learn how to drink fizzy drinks, as I have never learned it from a young age, and didn’t start drinking it when I was a teen or even now, it doesn’t feel very pleasant. Some Prosecco I like, as the bubble is less harsh in those. Even in beer, I don’t enjoy sparkle, but a very mild – I don’t know how to call it – tinkle is okay for me. I also find that a lot of sparkle takes away from the flavour.
        I’m sure you will love English Sparkling wine, I wish I could send you a bottle. They aren’t cheap at 30£ a bottle so I save them for special occasions. Do let me know if you ever plan a trip to England, I can tell you the best vineyards to visit. The one I spoke of before, Chapel Down, even brews a beer from the most of the sparkling wines… a delight.

        • Jameson says:

          Regula,

          I’d love to visit sparkling wine producers of England. I’ll have to do a little digging about it. At least see if I can get a bottle sent my way. I can see why you like Lambrusco since it’s more frizzante than full-on sparkling.

          Best,

          Jameson

          • I would love to read what you think about English sparkling wine! They have red, rose and white too. Very lovely rose wine, again a distinct apple flavour, as well as in the white which is fruity but dry too. The red is more like a young beaujolais, with a faint red color and not a lot of herby flavour because of the colder climate. But still pleasant.
            If you like I can get some of the best names of vineyards over to you, there are quite a few but if you’re planning a trip East Sussex/ Kent is a region (close to London) where a few of the best are.

          • Jameson says:

            Regula,

            Yes, please send me a message with some of your favorite wineries and I’ll start doing some research. Always curious to learn more, especially when it comes to sparkling wine.

            Cheers,

            Jameson

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