Cannot 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.