By Chuck Hill
Wines of the Week Archive
Riesling and Crab
Riesling's homeland of Germany has strict conventions defining use of
place names and classifications on labels. Wines are graded on the
ripeness of grapes in sugar content. The premise is that the more sugar
in the grapes, the better the wine should be (ripeness in grapes equals
more character??). It is an imperfect system but one that served
the German wine industry well for over 200 years, with several major
revisions along the way. The complexity of U.S. growing regions and
un-enforceability of such wine classifications have kept American
Riesling mostly unregulated as a specific grape type.
Washington wine pioneer Allen Shoup founded Long Shadows to produce ultra premium wines created by acclaimed winemakers from major wine regions of the world. Armin Diel, proprietor of Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe region of Germany, produced this off-dry Riesling showing aromas of pear, mineral and bright floral notes. The palate offers crisp acidity highlighting flavors of pear and orange blossom with a finish of lemon and grapefruit - very food friendly and a winner with crab.
Vale Wine Company
Amity founder Myron Redford has always had a fond spot in his heart for Riesling and winemaker Darcy Pendergrass now crafts bottlings in up to three styles in each vintage. Wedding Dance Riesling is off dry with plenty of acidity to balance 3.6% residual sugar. It is an excellent pairing with Asian cuisine as well as spicy crab cakes. Look for bright aromas and flavors of lemon and lime with notes of earthy mineral, rose petal and a hint of Riesling petrol.
This time of year Washington's Lake Chelan is a haven for sun lovers
from the wet side of the Cascade Mountains. Taking time out from
sunbathing and water skiing, visitors now have over a dozen winery stops
to choose from, none better than Tsillan Cellars on the lake's south
shore. The Tuscan themed estate and 3,000-square-foot tasting room
are elegantly appointed to enhance the visitor's experience. The 2008
Dry Riesling shows aromas and flavors of apples and stone fruits with
notes of resin and mineral. It is a very tasty accompaniment to
fresh crab and crab cakes.
Mercer Estates is a family-owned winery through a partnership of the
Mercer and Hogue families, long-admired names in Washington viticulture
and winemaking. Bringing a quarter-century of Columbia Valley
experience to the winemaking is David Forsyth, who crafted this
delicious Riesling. Look for fresh aromas of apricot, peach and
citrus with hints of floral perfume. The palate is delicate with
flavors of peach and lemon/lime, finishing with floral and spicy notes.
Serve with fresh cracked crab.
Alan Yanagimachi was inspired to enter the winemaking profession after a dinner with Robert Mondavi in 1983. He subsequently studied at U.C. Davis and received his degree in Fermentation Science/Enology. He has worked for wineries in Washington and California as well as an 18-month stint in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. This crisp and refreshing Riesling offers aromas and flavors of apple, pear and vanilla with hints of citrus on the finish.
Jimi Brooks founded this winery in 1998 and guided its evolution until
his untimely death of a heart attack in 2004. The winery is now
run by Brooks' son Pascal and his sister Janie Brooks Heuck.
Specializing in Riesling, the winery produces dry and off dry table
wines as well as late-harvest bottlings (see below). A previous
vintage of this wine was served at Barack Obama's first White House
State dinner in 2006. The essence of varietal Riesling shows in
every aspect of this wine: aromas and flavors of citrus, apple, mineral,
rose petal, herbs and spices...even notes of petrol and resin. It
is superb with crab cakes.
Bridgeview Vineyards was the first Northwest winery to begin using blue
glass bottles, inaugurating the innovation with their Riesling wine.
This luscious wine is a perennial best buy and a favorite throughout the
country. Aromas and flavors of ripe apples, white peach and
grapefruit dance with honeysuckle, mineral and spice. It is a very
tasty partner to crab cakes.
The best attribute of a dessert-style wine is balance. Excessive
sweetness without compensating acidity makes a wine taste heavy and
cloying. The high alcohol of fortified dessert wines is often not
popular with many modern wine lovers. Montinore's Sweet Reserve has a
moderate alcohol content of just nine percent and ample acidity to
balance the wine's residual sugar. Aromas and flavors of Asian pear,
tropical fruits, honey, floral notes and citrus lead to a finish of
vanilla and orange zest - excellent with brie cheese and light cookies.
The somewhat confusing naming of this wine might lead one to expect it
is sweeter than it is. While it boasts about five percent residual
sugar, it has ample acidity to keep it in harmony and, in fact, is an
excellent food wine. Pair it with spicy crab cakes or Asian
cuisine and enjoy aromas and flavors of sweet orchard blossom, white
peach, mineral and lime.
Some late harvest wines need a little breathing time - perhaps as long
as an hour or two - to bring themselves together and present the best
possible aromas and flavors. Tethys is the Titan Goddess and Ice Moon of
Saturn, a frozen liquid that the winery translates to this wine as
"Liquid Gold." Rich and amber in color, the nose offers intense
floral notes, apricot and bright perfume. The palate is balanced
with acidity and flavors of stone fruits, honey and pears.
Here is another case of a wine that consumers might not try because of a
misleading name. Perfectly at home with savory fare, this
sweet-on-the-palate-but-balanced-with-acidity wine is a great foil for
spicy fare of all stripes. Aromas and flavors of tart apple,
pears, honey, peach and apricot make it a delightful sip with chicken,
fish or light pastas.
"High above Germany's Mosel River, Blüfeld Vineyards boast a unique blue slate terroir that reflects the sun, warming the vines and allowing grapes to ripen to the perfect point of sweetness." Sounds like a romantic place. On this side of the big pond, I can only taste the wine. On the nose: ripe peaches, citrus and floral perfume. On the palate: crisp and well balanced, mineral, stone fruits, citrus and a creamy sweetness on the finish.
From the far side of Australia comes this bright, fresh and tasty
Riesling offering aromas of mineral, herbs, citrus and floral notes.
The palate is off dry with flavors of citrus and stone fruits with
finishing notes of resin and spice. Some tasters would have liked
more acidity, but don't forget those who prefer the softer side of white
wine. It is a very enjoyable companion to crab.
Fetzer is a leader in sustainable winemaking in California, reducing
their waste to landfill by over 95% since 1990... and they still make
excellent wine! Aromas and flavors of earthy mineral, pear, dried
apricot, honey and floral notes are fresh and crisp, pairing very well
with both fresh crab and crab cakes. The wine is also soft enough
to be enjoyed as an aperitif.
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