The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2017

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40  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2017 VARIETALS R iesling is having something of a renaissance in the U.S. wine market these days as more and more consumers are discovering the charms of this noble variety. Actually, according to a number of authorities, it is the noblest white wine variety of all. Unfortunately, many people overlook Riesling, assuming it's going to be cloy- ingly sweet, which is simply not true. You just have to find the right Riesling for what you're eating. Dry Rieslings are made from grapes picked early in the growing season so the sugars barely began to develop. They're great with dinners suitable for other dry white wines. On German wines, look for the word "Trocken" on the bottle. Semi-sweet Riesling is very adaptable as well, perfect for those who love the taste of white wine but shy away from super-tart varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc. Sweet Riesling grapes are picked later in the season after they've developed more sugar content. They are beautiful wines to start off a dinner party with or to serve with dessert. Of the nearly 200 Rieslings I've tasted in the last 18 months, here is a selection of 15 that represent how good this amazing variety can be. They are listed from dry to sweet. DRY Weingut Karl Schaefer 2014 Riesling Trocken Herrenberg, Pfalz, Germany ($67) From the glowing red Terra Rossa soils of this special microcliate comes racy citrus with bright, clean, lively flavors and a fresh, pure finish. 92 VALCKENBERG INTERNATIONAL Wittmann 2015 Riesling Morstein Großes Gewächs, Rheinhessen, Germany ($92) A German Grand Cru. Lush peach nose; smooth, dry and elegant with bright peach fruit and rich minerals; ripe and complex with finesse and fine length. Biodynamic. 95 LOOSEN BROS. USA OFF-DRY Fritz Haag 2015 Riesling, Mosel, Germany ($22) A pace-setting Mosel producer. Silky and lush with sweet stone fruit and citrus; minerals and spice; bright and juicy with crisp acidity. 92 LOOSEN BROS. USA Pflüger 2015 Biodynamite Riesling, Pfalz, Germany ($27) A biodynamic pioneer in the Pfalz. Tangy, juicy and refined; racy, lively and long. 91 VALCKENBERG INTERNATIONAL Robert Weil 2015 Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau, Germany ($30) An all-Riesling estate now owned by Suntory. Tangy peach, minerals and a touch of sweet- ness; fresh, racy and long. 92 LOOSEN BROS. USA Poet's Leap 2015 Riesling, Columbia Valley ($20) Made by Armin Diel, one of Germany's most acclaimed Riesling producers. Spice, peach, lime and lovely depth; racy, complex and long. 91 LONG SHADOW VINTNERS Carrick Wines 2015 Bannockburn Riesling, Central Otago, New Zealand ($21) A charmer from New Zealand's cool South Island. Juicy, rich and off-dry with peach, apricot and citrus; fresh and balanced. 91 PACIFIC PRIME WINES SWEET Schloss Vollrads 2015 Estate Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau, Germany ($31) A classic late-harvest Riesling without botrytis. Keen peach notes over racy acidity; pure and nicely balanced; lovely tension between sweetness and crisp acidity. 94 SCHMITT SÖHNE USA Dr. Loosen 2015 Riesling Spätlese Ürziger Würzgarten, Mosel, Germany ($34) A producer and a vineyard both synonymous with great Riesling. Silky and bright with elegant sweet peach fruit; pure and refined. 93 LOOSEN BROS. USA Schloss Saarstein 2015 Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany ($42) Christian Ebert's credo at Schloss Saarstein on the Saar: "Every vine should be able to see the river." Racy and fresh with juicy acidity and some sweetness. 93 VALCKENBERG INTERNATIONAL Weingut Johannishof 2015 Riesling Spätlese Johannisberger Klaus, Rheingau, Germany ($42) From a ten- generation producer in the Rheingau's most famous village, Johannisberg. Smooth and lush with bright, sweet, fresh citrus; rich, tangy and long. 92 MW IMPORTS (MIONETTO USA) Maximin Grünhäuser 2015 Riesling Spätlese Abtsberg, Mosel, Germany ($45) From one of three contiguous vineyards on the von Schubert family's estate. Intense and creamy with ripe, sweet peach fruit; rich, long, elegant and generous. 94 LOOSEN BROS. VERY SWEET Koenig Vineyards 2014 Botrytis Single Berry Select Late Harvest Riesling, Snake River Valley, Idaho ($30/375 ml.) Watch out for Idaho. Rich botrytis and apricot nose; creamy and smooth with juicy, sweet style; silky, fresh and show- ing candied apricot. 92 Navarro Vineyards 2014 Cluster Select Late Harvest Riesling, Anderson Valley ($35/375 ml.) A top domestic effort from Mendocino. Golden color; creamy and rich with sweet, intense flavors; deep, silky and showing a core of crisp acidity. 93 Cave Spring Cellars 2014 Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula, Canada ($50/375 ml.) Canada's trademark dessert wine is a stunner in this version. Golden amber color; candied apricot nose; silky texture and juicy, burnished fruit; tangy acidity and lovely balance. 94 MGZ ASSOCIATES Riesling Round-Up IT MIGHT JUST BE THE NOBLEST WHITE GRAPE OF ALL by Anthony Dias Blue PHOTO: PATRIK STEDRAK VIA THINKSTOCK The "twisty" icon indicates wines sealed with a screwcap closure.

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