Riesling is one of those grape types that people either love or hate. Generally, it’s the sweetness that turns people either on or off.
The problem — not all Rieslings are sweet.
So when you voted last week via e-newsletter and Facebook and Riesling won, narrowly defeating Sauvignon Blanc, we decided it’d be a great learning experience and a chance to show the greatly differing styles of Germany’s most famous white wine. We got things started with the true home of Riesling — Mosel, Germany. Then we jumped totally around the world for one from Western Australia, then up to Columbia Valley, Washington, before wrapping things up back in Mosel.
Von Schleinitz Estate Dry Riesling (Mosel)
Von Schleinitz is one of the most popular producers we have in the store. We carry a number of different bottlings of theirs, from the dry one we offered over the weekend to their Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The winery calls this wine an excellent aperitif, saying it’s “a delicate, yet fruit-driven white, sporting peach and apple notes backed by lively acidity.” All of the above is true, but what those notes don’t convey is just how dry the wine really is. We had customer after customer say to us, “Oh, well I don’t like sweet wines.” So I’d pour them a taste of this one, and they’d reply with something along the lines of, “Wow! That’s not at all what I thought it would be.” If you like unoaked Chardonnay, this is a great alternative.
$14.99 / 750 ml
Diddley Bow Riesling (Western Australia)
This is the last holdout of the famed “Southern Gothic Series” from R Wines and importer The Grateful Palate. The rest of the series included Southern Belle Shiraz and Poor Thing Grenache, both of which were huge hits and flew off the shelves. Sadly, due to some financial difficulties on the part of the importer, it looks like none of these wines will be available again. But while the reds may be long gone, we still have a couple cases of the Riesling left. Jay Miller, writing in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, scored it 90 points, saying it’s “light straw-colored, it gives up an enticing aromatic array of spring flowers, baking spices, lemon-lime, and melon. Just off-dry in a Kabinett style, it has lively acidity and the balance to evolve for 2-3 years. It should drink well through 2017.” You can take away from that description the fact that this one does have just a touch of sweetness to it, at least more than the VS. The citrusy notes on this wine were beautiful, and the nose is classic Riesling.
$19.99 / 750 ml
Maryhill Winery Riesling (Columbia Valley)
And now we come to what I called the sweet summer porch-sipper. Maryhill Winery’s Riesling is definitely a sweeter one, but not so cloyingly sweet as to leave your palate feeling sugar-coated. The winery describes it as exhibiting “an enticing nose of spring flowers, lemon, and mineral… It will pair well with spicy Asian cuisine.” They are smart to point out one of the best pairings for all Rieslings — spicy Asian cuisine. Think of a good Thai or Indian dish with curry or some fresh sushi with wasabe.
$7.99 / 750 ml
Monchhof Estate Riesling (Mosel)
We wrapped things up back where we started, Mosel, Germany. We served the Monchhof Estate Riesling last because it has the highest amount of residual sugar of the group, though it impressed us with its balance. Despite the high sugar content, it didn’t come across as sweet as the Maryhill, due to the bright acidity and minerality which left your tongue tingling and wanting more. The Wine Spectator described it by saying it tasted “like passion fruit and apricot jelly, this Riesling is vibrant and focused, with herbs and mineral lurking beneath the surface, followed by a mouthwatering finish.”
$16.99 / 750 ml
If you didn’t get a chance to come by for these wines, you should definitely try to stop in this upcoming Friday and Saturday as we’ll be trying a fun white blend, a Viognier and a couple of bold Zinfandels.