The age of riesling

This article was originally published in June 2014

A lovely wine for warmer days, this beloved white varietal is well suited not just to Washington’s agricultural climate but also to our palates.

Riesling could be the ideal expression of what white wine can be: the best are delicate, but still remarkably complex, with bright fruit, soft flowers and a long, minerally finish. This delicacy makes them a natural companion to the most beloved flavors of our northwestern summers, like fresh herbs, shellfish and stone fruits.

Part of the fun of drinking riesling is discovering the vast range of flavors, depending on where the grapes were grown. Cooler climates, including much of Germany and Washington, lead to charming apple and apricot flavors; heading south, to Austria, California or even Australia, you’ll taste citrus and peach flavors, as a very general rule. There can also be a very broad range of sugars, from quite dry (an ideal balancing point for Vietnamese food) to lushly sweet (the way a perfect peach is sweet, but complex).

Washington has developed a particular expertise in riesling, with more than 5,000 acres of it growing in different regions around the state. You’ll find that many rieslings provide useful labels identifying their percentage of residual sugar: a dry wine might be as low as 1 percent, while a sweeter option will be close to 7 percent. It’s a simple thing to check for if you’re not familiar with a particular brand.


Naches Heights Vineyard Riesling

Crisp apple flavors ally with ripe stone fruit, while notes of wild brush and a whiff of evergreen lend an unmistakable Washington accent. An amazing value.

Forty Days Riesling

You just can’t beat this generously fruity but deliciously dry PCC exclusive made by our friends at Dusted Valley. Juicy, ripe, crisp and nicely balanced.

August Kesseler “R” Riesling Kabinett

This is classic Rheingau riesling, with ripe peach and crisp apple laced with minerality. A thoroughly refreshing wine, made for serious sipping.

Gilbert Cellars Riesling

Riesling finds incredible expression in the Columbia Valley, as this wine testifies. Intensely focused Granny Smith, wrapped in clover honey, with a kiss of raw almond.

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