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Tag Archives: riesling

Wine of the week: Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2012

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Wine of the week: Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2012Long before the sweet wine craze and even before grocery-store rieslings like Chateau Ste. Michelle, there was Pacific Rim. It was part of the Randall Grahm empire, and offered affordable, mostly well-made riesling for those of us who were feeling adventurous. Because, of course, no was supposed to drink riesling in those long ago days.

Much has changed since then. Graham sold Pacific Rim to the Banfi family, and riesling and sweet wine have become au courant — so much so that the wine companies that looked askance at the varietal five years ago are making as much riesling as they can, sweetness be damned.

Through all of this, Washington state’s Pacific Rim ($10, purchased, 13.5%) has been a touchstone for what’s going on with riesling that most of us can find and afford to buy. Sometimes, to be honest, it isn’t all that interesting, more sweet than it should be, and without much more than sweetness going for it. In other words, professionally made, but not all that different from Chateau Ste. Michelle. Sometimes, like this vintage and the 2011, it showed what can be done with riesling in the Pacific Northwest — zingy lime fruit, tell-tale riesling oiliness, a finish that has some minerality, and the correct amount of sweetness for a dry riesling.

The wine made the $10 Hall of Fame this year, a trend that I hope continues for the forseeable future. When it’s right, the Pacific Rim is a wonderful introduction to riesling, a grape that not enough of us know about but should. Because, when it’s sweltering in July and August, a riesling, dry or off-dry, is an alternative worth drinking.

Mini-reviews 56: Uncensored, Martin Codax, Jordan, Fess Parker

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Mini-reviews 56: Uncensored, Martin Codax, Jordan, Fess ParkerReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Geyser Peak Uncensored White 2012 ($10, sample, 13%): Disappointing California sweet white blend, featuring some unripe fruit, some ripe fruit, and a mix of banana and lemon pith flavors. Why so many producers insist on selling such poorly made wine is beyond me, other than that they figure anyone who likes sweet wine won’t know the difference.

Martín Códax Albariño 2012 ($15, sample, 12.5%): A professionally made, as always, Spanish white with lemon fruit, though softer and without the almost salty sea air tang of other albarinos. Price, as always, is $3 more than it should be.

Jordan Chardonnay 2011 ($30, sample, 13.5%): The archetype for California Russian River Valley chardonnay, with green apple fruit, oak more or less in balance, and a rich mouth feel. Needs food, and especially classic chardonnay dishes made with cream sauces.

Fess Parker Riesling 2012 ($15, sample, 12.5%): A very pleasant surprise — California off-dry riesling that was more than just sweet. Look for apricot and melon, and even a little honey. Very well done, and highly recommended.

Image courtesy of Talk-A-Vino, using a Creative Commons license

Wine review: Spy Valley Riesling 2011

One of the themes on the blog for the past couple of weeks has been value — does a wine offer more to the consumer than it costs? In this, value is not about price, because not all cheap wine delivers value. Sometimes, it’s just cheap.

It’s also worth noting that a wine doesn’t have to be cheap to offer value. Yes, it’s more difficult for an expensive wine to do this, given that too many expensive wines are expensive because their reason for being is to be expensive. But it is certainly possible, and it happens more often than I acknowledge here.

One producer who consistently does this is New Zealand’s Spy Valley, which as been making $15 and $20 wines that taste like they cost much more for as long as I have been writing about wine. I had one of those sublime, geeky wine experiences with the sauvignon blanc last year, and it’s not even my favorite Spy Valley wine.

That would be the riesling ($18, purchased, 12.5%), which is as enjoyable as it is difficult to find. I only see it in Dallas every couple of years, given the vagaries of the three-tier system, so when I do see it, I buy it, even if it’s a previous vintage. The producer is good enough so that doesn’t matter.

The 2011 didn’t let me down. It’s not riesling like most consumers know it — no sweet tea-like sugar or fruit flavors that taste like they came out of a can. Instead, it’s a dry riesling, complex with layers of flavor that range from petrol on the nose (a classic riesling characteristic) to citrus and tropical in the front and middle. It’s still fresh and almost aggressive after almost two years in bottle, which is a sign that it’s only going to get better with age.

Serve this to someone who doesn’t think they like riesling, and see if they change their mind. Highly recommended, and well worth the money.

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