The Versatility of Riesling

refreshing and fun tastiness of Dry Rieslings
The refreshing and fun tastiness of Dry Rieslings

As a long-time wine drinker, I must admit that I did not discover the wonderful world of Riesling wines until late in the game. In 2011 we took a trip to the Alsace Region of France. In 2015 we explored the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York. We love Riesling wines, especially the dry ones, for their aromatics, lively fruit and crisp flavors. There is also something about the Riesling wine bottle. The long and slender shape invites the wine drinker to a special place.

Riesling wine is versatile because the Riesling grape lends itself to styles of bone-dry to dessert wines. The Riesling grape is king in Germany. They have the most Riesling vineyard acres in the world and strict labeling laws. The Germans like their Rieslings with lots of fruity notes and very low alcohol, as in 8.5%.

We also find Riesling wines in Austria, Australia, California, Oregon, and Washington. The wine shops seem to carry few Riesling wines compared to the other popular categories of white wines. New York wines are, in particular, hard to come by in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Over the last two weeks, the Vintage Wine Tasters tasted several Rieslings Here is what we can recommend. 

Domaine Allimant-Laugner 2017

The Domaine Allimant-Laugner is a beautiful representative of the Riesling wines of Alsace. The wine is bone dry, and very crisp and zesty. You will love the citrus and freshness of the wine. It is at Whole Foods for $17.99

Empire Estate Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2017

The Empire Estate Dry Riesling is a real standout of the Finger Lakes region. It has similarities to the Allimant-Laugner, but it has more intense flavors and a fantastic finish. The wine has high accolades from several wine critics. It is also at Whole Foods and sells for $18.99.

Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain 2014

Vintage Taster Bruce found two California Rieslings at Weimax Wines. The Smith-Madrone Riesling is an old standby. The Riesling is from vineyards in the Napa Valley AVA of Spring Mountain. This Riesling is trendy and sells out quickly—$29 at Weimax.

Stirm Kick-On Vineyard Santa Barbara Riesling 2016

Stirm is a winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The fruit, however, for their Riesling is sourced from a vineyard in Santa Barbara. Bruce says, “This wine is full of vim and vigor. I like the intensity of the wine and favor it over the Smith-Madrone, just a tad. Plus, it is $19.99 at Weimax.”

Domaines Schlumberg Riesling Les Princes Abbés Grand Cru Alsace, France 2016

Jim ordered wine from BevMo, and they shipped this wine mistaking it for the $12 bottle of wine he ordered. The wine is a Grand Cru Riesling, the highest vineyard designation in France. “It is an outstanding wine.” Plenty of critics love this wine and for a good reason. The price is $37 at BevMo.

Havemeyer Reisling Spatlese 2018

Joe F on the Havemeyer: “This is a delicious, slightly sweet Riesling from the Piesport region of the Mosel. It is light and refreshing, and not dry. It is a very flexible wine; it can be served with fowl or ham, or an aperitif or after-dinner drink. I would give this 94 points for the type of wine that it is. 8.5% alcohol. $19.99 at Bacchus Wine and spirits in Millbrae.

Bernhard Auslese Trocken 2017

Ray says, “It is a floral wine that is very dry with a pleasant after-taste. 88 points. I purchased this Riesling at the Table Wine Merchant in Pacifica for $17.99.” If you live in the Pacifica area, please support the Table Wine Merchant. It is a terrific neighborhood wine store.

Schieferkopf Lieu-dit Berg Riesling 2012

Mike: Single vineyard “Berg.” Schieferkopf means “slate-topped” because the site is on blue slate soils. They are in the village of Reichfeld north of Colmar. The 14% alcohol translates to ripe Riesling and dry. This wine is a project by Michel Chapoutier, the famous Rhone winemaker. I purchased it at the Grocery Outlet in Redwood City for $12.99. Original retail was $69.99. What a fantastic deal. Don’t be afraid of an older vintage in Rieslings. They age!

What is your favorite Riesling?

There you go, plenty of Riesling wines for you to try for the warm summer days ahead. Remember, our early Fall days can be hot all through October. Now tell us about your favorite Riesling wines. Thanks and happy Riesling tasting!

Riesling harvest in Alsace

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