Recommended Rieslings from Washington state

August 30, 2011

Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling 2009/2010

***

Columbia Valley, Wash., $21

This joint venture between Chateau Ste. Michelle and famed Mosel producer Ernst Loosen has helped spark a Riesling revival in the United States and has solidified Washington’s Columbia Valley as the country’s premier Riesling region (despite strong challenges from New York’s Finger Lakes and Oregon’s Willamette Valley). Although it technically is an off-dry Riesling, the Eroica tastes dry because of the impeccable balance of sweetness and acidity. RNDC: Widely available.


(Matt McClain/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Poet’s Leap Riesling 2009

***

Columbia Valley, $23

It’s a bit fleshier than the Eroica, ripe and full of apricot and quince flavors, with lively acidity and a focused, long finish. Bravo!

Monument Fine Wines in the District and in Maryland; Kysela in Virginia. Available in Virginia at the Apple House in Linden, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Timeless Wines in Winchester, Vino Volo at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Efeste Evergreen Riesling 2010

** 1/2

Columbia Valley, $18

Laser-sharp acidity makes you sit up and take notice at the first sip of this energetic wine, from one of Washington state’s best sites for Riesling. After that initial jab of acidity, the wine expands to feature lush apricot and peach flavors.

Free Run Wine Merchants: Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Ashburn Wine Shop in Ashburn, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Planet Wine in Alexandria, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview, Vienna Vintner in Vienna.

Charles Smith Wines Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2010

** 1/2

Columbia Valley, $15

This wine has taken the market by storm, and not just because of its funny name and clever labeling. It hails from Evergreen Vineyard and is skillfully made by Charles Smith, one of Washington state’s most iconoclastic winemakers. Bursting with orchard fruit flavors, it is a great ambassador for Columbia Valley Riesling.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, De Vinos, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market locations at P Street and Glover Park. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Geste Wine & Food in Bethesda, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, King Farm Beer & Wine in Rockville, Rodman’s locations in Wheaton and White Flint, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop locations in Chevy Chase and National Harbor. Available in Virginia at Red, White & Bleu in Falls Church; the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop and Wine Cabinet in Reston; Total Wine & More locations in Alexandria, Chantilly, McLean and Reston; Unwined in Alexandria; various Wegmans locations.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2010

**

Columbia Valley, $9

Consider this an endorsement of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s basic line of Rieslings, all of which are excellent values and cover the range from dry to sweet. I like the dry Riesling best because its acidity gives it extra focus, but the additional sweetness in the Riesling and the Harvest Select Riesling will appeal to many consumers and will pair well with spicy Asian foods. (The sweetness levels are helpfully noted on the back label.) RNDC: Widely available.

Pacific Rim Riesling 2010

* 1/2

Columbia Valley, $13

Frequently sold at a discount, this is another nice introduction to Washington state Rieslings. The label was originally founded by Bonny Doon eminence gris Randall Grahm and was recently sold to Banfi Vintners.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, D’Vines; on the list at Cafe of India. Available in Virginia at most Total Wine & More locations; on the list at Chadwick’s of Alexandria, Sea Pearl in Fairfax.

Recommendations

***Exceptional  **Excellent *Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Rieslings, which range from dry to sweet, are widely available in area supermarkets and wine stores. The Eroica might not be so easy to find, but finer wine stores and several restaurants should have it. Many Washington Rieslings helpfully feature the International Riesling Federation’s sweetness scale on the label, so consumers know what to expect when buying a bottle. High-end Rieslings tend not to use the scale; however, they tend toward the dry style. All of these wines are Great Values.

— D.M.

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