By Bruce Cochran
This week we’ll look at one of my favorite summertime wines, something for us seafood lovers. For many of us, it was the first wine we loved, and the grape that inspired us to further explore the wonderful world of wine. I’m leaving for Italy in a couple of days, so there won’t be an E Wine lesson next week. We’ll resume the week after next.
I had an excellent dinner at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock last week, that emphasized Arkansas products. Here’s a link to their web site www.capitalhotel.com.
Try a new wine this week!
Riesling Revival: A refreshing warm weather wine
It’s good to see the revival of the Riesling grape, one of the fastest growing categories of the U.S. wine market. A generation ago this was one of the most popular wines in America. Robert Mondavi Winery even grew it in Napa Valley.
Some people say that all Rieslings are sweet. That’s not true in the Alsace region of France, and even some German Rieslings are dry. They’re labeled “trocken,” which is the German word for dry. Still, the crisp, appley flavors of this superb, food-friendly wine are often best when the wine is nearly dry, as opposed to “bone dry.”
What makes Riesling different is those crisp, tart fruit acids. They balance sugar and make it taste less sweet than it really is. Few wines are more refreshing in warm weather.
Riesling is originally and still probably at its best, in Germany, but its quality and newly revived popularity are causing people to establish new vineyards in other areas. It does best in cooler areas, so you’re more likely to see it in New Zealand than in Australia, and in Washington State rather than in California. Not that California Riesling can’t be really good, but it just seems a little softer in acid. My favorite California Rieslings have been the really sweet dessert wines.
Washington State’s cold nights seem to be very good for their Rieslings. I remember when Washington wines first became popular nationally, and it was Riesling that first made their reputation. Style-wise they tend to fall between Germany and California, with more fruit than the former, yet crisper and livelier than the latter. Off-dry, balanced, crisp and appley, great with mild cheeses, Asian dishes, seafood, or just for a glass of wine during warm weather. It’s also great for crowds that include new wine drinkers.
I distribute a good Riesling from Ron Bunnell, named River Aerie for his Columbia Valley estate, that retails in the $15-$20 dollar range.