Take another look at the white that's storming the West
We tasted about 50 Rieslings in the course of researching thisstory ― more than we knew at the outset were being madehere.
Amity Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $17). Delicatehoneysuckle belies intense orange zest, mango flavors, and a rich,gravelly finish.
Amity "Wedding Dance" Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley;$17). The wedding bouquet in a bottle ― a lovely sweeterversion, with ripe stone fruit, honeysuckle, and the perfect herbalbalance.
Anam Cara Nicholas Estate Riesling 2006 (Willamette Valley;$21). Off-dry, with an exuberant mix of ripe nectarines, spices,and citrus blossoms that gives way to mouth-filling tangerine andmango (complete with that haunting diesel fuel quality that mangoeshave). It's almost Viognier-like, with honeysuckle along with thetangerine.
Anne Amie Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $25). A rich,off-dry Riesling, with golden fruit ― apricots and pineapple― with good acidity and minerality.
Argyle Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $25). Very barelyoff-dry, with fresh white peaches, honeyed apricots, and a delicateedge of mineral aromas over tart nectarine, grapefruit, andorange-zest flavors through a long finish. In fact, tartness isalmost a texture in this wine.
Belle Pente Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $18). A softminerality wrapped in floral aromas gives way to pleasantly bitterorange flavors on a rich, dry palate.
Bergström "Dr. Bergström" Riesling 2005(Willamette Valley; $20). Steeliness and petrol qualities mix withwhite peach blossoms for the adventurous. There's sweetness here,but it comes along with tart green apples, lemon-lime flavors, andenough of a bitter edge to keep the wine alive and intense.
Brooks "Ara" Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $25). Thisone's not about fruit: The minerals on the nose have a floralbackdrop, with just a hint of citrus. Its flavors have astraight-arrow focus of peaches and herbs. The final effect is abalance between something you know is a good food wine but is a funsipper as well.
Brooks Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $18). Dry andsteely, with that characteristic hint of fossil fuel, then tartapricots, citrus zest, and pineapple.
Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen "Eroica" Riesling2005 (Columbia Valley; $22). The partnership betweenWashington's second-largest winery and one of Germany's mostprominent Riesling producers resulted in this prototype of whatRiesling can be ― every year ― in the West: complex andsteely yet beautiful, with white peaches and apricots over floraland mineral qualities through a long, long finish.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling 2006(Columbia Valley; $14). An intense, off-dry version from one of thefew old-vine Riesling vineyards in the West. Apricot nectar overwet stones.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2006 (Columbia Valley;$12). This Washington giant has been making a dry Riesling for 15years but only releasing it to its wine club and within theNorthwest. This year is the first time the rest of the country willhave a crack at this steely Riesling, reminiscent of the firstapricots in June, with a hint of minerals softened by honeysuckle.The palate is classic ― intense apricots, mango, andpleasantly bitter orange zest.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2006 (Columbia Valley; $10).A great-value Riesling in a slightly off-dry style, with a nicebalance of acidity. White peaches, honeysuckle, and a prettyminerality.
Chehalem Corral Creek Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley;$24). There's creamy lemon and just the right hit of classic petroland wet stones on the nose here. The citrus on the palate headstoward tangerine and mandarin, with hints of almond blossoms.
Chehalem Reserve Dry Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $21).A hint of orange blossoms, a whisper of sweetness, a layer of whitepeaches, pulled together with good acidity in the footprint of limezest.
Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling 2005 (Central Coast;$18). Fresh peach and almond orchards lurk on the nose. The tiniestbit of residual sugar lifts the aromatics and turns the peaches tohoney; minerals and citrus zest keep things lively on thefinish.
Clos du Bois Riesling 2006 (California; $12). This is thefirst year Clos du Bois has released a Riesling, but it makes sense― head winemaker Erik Olsen put Riesling on the West's winemap up at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington. This one is slightlyoff-dry but well balanced, with good minerality, prettyhoneysuckle, and fresh citrus, apple, pear, and tangerine.
Columbia Winery "Cellarmaster's" Riesling 2006 (ColumbiaValley; $12). Another good value on the sweet side of Riesling.Rich, mouth-filling fruit and flowers (nectarines and roses) meldwith classic minerality and petroleum, with enough good acidity andcitrus zest to keep the wine from being cloying.
Elk Cove Estate Riesling 2005 (Willamette Valley; $18). Ifyou can imagine the promise of wet paint in your house, this is it― followed by delicate peaches and apricots and a teensy bitof sweetness, with ethereal minerality through a long, lightfinish.
Esterlina Off-Dry Riesling 2005 (Cole Ranch, Mendocino;$19). A tiny bit off-dry, with a beautiful mix of white peaches,juicy apples, fresh limes, and limestone.