Take another look at the white that's storming the West

Sara Schneider

The rise ofRiesling

Food we lovewith Riesling

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.

Gainey Riesling 2005 (Santa Ynez Valley; $14). A minerally,peachy nose gives way to a tart, zippy, close-to-dry palate(there's a little spritz here), with a distinct bitter-citrus edgeto rich apricot flavors.

Greenwood Ridge White Riesling 2005 (Mendocino; $16). Arich, interesting Riesling with a little sweetness to it. Apricotand pineapple end in beautiful citrus zest.

Handley White Riesling 2005 (Cole Ranch, Mendocino; $17).Creamy peaches, minerals, and hints of flowers on the nose arepackaged with a little spritz. The fruit on the (long) palate runsthe gamut of grapefruit and apricot to mango.

Lazy Creek Riesling 2005 (Anderson Valley; $23). Bone-drybut sumptuous, with mandarin orange flavors and a black-teaminerality.

Lazy River Private Lumpkin Riesling 2006 (Yamhill-CarltonDistrict; $18). Elegant, with the barest hint of sweetness andperfect balance between fresh peach and faint diesel on the nose;green apple and zippy citrus on the palate.

Naches Heights Riesling 2005 (Columbia Valley; $16). ClassicRiesling character: pear, apple, and other green fruit, with goodminerality. A fair amount of sweetness is balanced by good acidity,and golden fruit kicks in on the palate ― apricot, mango,pineapple, and lemon zest.

Navarro White Riesling 2004 (Anderson Valley; $16). Apleasant balance of tart and creamy fruit ― peaches andapricots ― is set off by classic (but faint) diesel fuel andlime zest, with a tad of residual sugar.

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling (Columbia Valley, WA, andMosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany; $11). With distinct diesel but delicatestone fruit aromas, this Riesling's not quite bone-dry, but it'scrisp, with tart apricot, tangerine, and lime flavors, in thatorder. A steal!

Paraiso Riesling 2004 (Santa Lucia Highlands; $14). Three Pson the nose ― petrol, petals, and faint white peaches ―then more beautiful peaches edged with minerals and citrus on anoff-dry but refreshing palate.

Penner-Ash White Riesling 2006 (Willamette Valley; $22). Abeautiful nose, with those classic wet stones out in front, overdelicate peach and exotic blossoms. Tart, dry citrus flavors and aslightly steely herbal quality follows. This would be a great winewith vegetables.

Poet's Leap Riesling 2005 (Columbia Valley; $20). You cansmell your gas stove sparking on (in a surprisingly pleasant way)in this slightly off-dry wine. Then green fruit ― apple,white peach, and a little lime ― lead into rich, full-onmandarin orange notes.

Seven Hills Riesling 2005 (Columbia Valley; $12). A juicyfruit cocktail of a Riesling (including the maraschino cherries)― golden apricots, mango, and more, with just enough acidityto pull it off.

Snoqualmie "Naked" Riesling 2005 (Columbia Valley; $12). Awell-balanced off-dry Riesling, with fresh, creamy hints of peachesand minerals on the nose and a touch of pineapple and mandarin onthe pleasantly steely palate.

Trefethen Dry Riesling 2005 (Oak Knoll District of NapaValley; $20). Crisp and light, with the barest hint of sweetnessbalanced by lively citrus and beautiful white peach flavors.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2006 (WillametteValley; $12). A sweeter-style Riesling, with enough acidity to makeit a great sipper. Beautiful aromas of green apple, apricot, and alittle granite, with flavors that run to peach and mandarinorchards, then tropical fruits.

Read more aboutwine »

You May Like

May picks
Great Zins from $9-$18
Top Cabs under $15
Our picks
April picks