By ERIC DEGERMAN AND ANDY PERDUE
Arguably, Riesling is the most important white wine in the world. And starting Sunday, many of the world’s top Riesling winemakers will descend on Washington to celebrate the noble grape.
The annual Riesling Rendezvous begins Sunday at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville with a grand tasting of Rieslings from around the world. Wines from Washington, Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey and Michigan, as well as Germany, France, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, Slovakia and Australia will be on display.
In addition, the Idaho wine industry is a regional sponsor, which will help put the wines of the Snake River Valley in the global spotlight.
On Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of wine experts will gather at Bell Harbor on the Seattle waterfront to explore, taste and discuss global Riesling.
All of this is sponsored by Chateau Ste. Michelle, which makes more Riesling than any other winery in the world, along with Dr. Loosen, one of Germany’s top Riesling producers.
Even if you can’t make it to the Riesling Rendezvous, here are five Washington Rieslings we’ve tasted in recent weeks that are delicious and perfect for summer sipping.
Find them at your favorite grocery store or wine shop or contact the wineries directly.
— Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Destiny Ridge Vineyards Riesling, Horse Heaven Hills, $14: This is a delicious white from Alexandria Nicole (tasting rooms in Prosser and Woodinville) that opens with classic aromas of baked apple, lemon, jasmine and clove. On the palate, it reveals flavors of lime, pear and apple, all backed with bright acidity that leads to a finish that just won’t quit. Enjoy this with zippy Indian, Thai, Tex-Mex or Vietnamese dishes.
— Poet’s Leap 2012 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: This label for Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla is a collaboration between former Ste. Michelle Wine Estates boss Allen Shoup and famed German winemaker Armin Diel. They came together a decade ago to craft a Washington Riesling with an international perspective. This is the latest version, and it is superb. It starts with aromas of lemon, lime and slate, followed by flavors of Granny Smith apple and minerality. It’s a rich, round wine without being sweet.
— Anew 2012 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $11: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ newest label is a national brand that debuted in June and focuses entirely on Riesling. Alluring aromas of apple, pear, fresh-cut celery, slate and spice are followed by flavors loaded with jasmine, pineapple, pear and apple. It is perfectly balanced with bright acidity that provides a lengthy and memorable finish.
— Mercer Canyons 2011 Riesling, Yakima Valley, $13: The Mercer family has been farming in Washington for more than a century and has been in the wine business since the early 1970s. Now that it has a namesake winery in the Yakima Valley, it is able to take full advantage of its legacy and expertise. From a cool vintage, this was picked late in the season yet still managed to maintain bright acidity.
It begins with aromas of fresh-squeezed lemon, yellow grapefruit, slate, pear and Golden Delicious apple. It’s beautiful on the entry, with crisp acidity rounded on the corners with just under 2 percent residual sugar. Flavors of lemon, lime, peach and apricot lead to a stunning finish. Buy this one by the case and enjoy for the rest of the summer.
— Willow Crest Winery 2011 Estate Riesling, Yakima Valley, $12: David Minick launched Willow Crest in the mid-1990s and has been making superb wines since using estate grapes from north of Prosser. Minick also oversees vineyard operations for Precept Wine in Seattle, which now partners with him at Willow Crest.
This is a classic Yakima Valley Riesling and one of the best you’re likely to taste in Washington. This opens with aromas of honeysuckle, apricot glacée and orange marmalade. On the palate, it unveils mouthwatering flavors of Limeade, apple and pear, all backed with bright acidity and no perceptible sweetness.
— Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.