By Chuck Hill
Wines of the Week Archive
Riesling and Crab - Part Three
We have found many wines from the west coast that are good examples and offer degrees of varietal character. There is some disagreement among tasters as to whether some aspects of Riesling's character should be rewarded. Notes of petrol, resin and piney scents are considered flaws in most wines, yet with Riesling it is part of the package and moves the wine scores higher rather than lower. Is this proper? Purists think so.
Anyhow, crack your crabs and griddle the cakes for another round of Riesling fun:
Seven Hills Winery
Winemaker Casey McClellan sourced fruit for this top-scoring Riesling from several vineyards in the Columbia and Yakima valleys. Seven Hills continues to craft their food-friendly Riesling in an off-dry style that complements Asian cuisine, seafood and almost any lighter meal. Delicate aromas of green apple, tropical fruits, mineral and honeysuckle lead to clean flavors of apple, pear and citrus. Stop by the winery in downtown Walla Walla for a visit, and have a great dinner at Whitehouse Crawford Restaurant next door.
Bob and Roger Gamache have been growing grapes in their vineyard near White Bluffs - northwest of the Tri-Cities along the Columbia River - since 1982. Seeing the success that other wineries were having making award-winning wines from their grapes, they took the plunge in 2002 and made a line of wines under the Gamache Vintners label. Look for aromas of stone fruits, ripe apple and sweet grapefruit leading to a palate with bright apricot and pear flavors. It is a tasty accompaniment to crab cakes and Asian cuisine.
Winemaker Bill Owen and retired banker/entrepreneur Rob Sullivan joined forces in 1997 to give their shot at producing the finest Northwest wines. They have been much lauded throughout the years for their varietal bottlings and creative blends, most crafted from fruit obtained from Washington's most respected vineyards. In fact, this delicious Riesling hails from Champoux Vineyard (formerly Mercer Ranch) where the average age of the Riesling plantings is 31 years old. Older vines make a difference: look for ripe aromas of apricot, fragrant Muscat, tea leaf and citrus. The palate adds flavors of mineral and vanilla to the above - great with crab cakes.
Like last week's Riesling selection from Amity Vineyards, this wine was crafted by winemaker Darcy Pendergrass from grapes grown at the Amity Vineyards estate near McMinnville, Oregon. This wine has plenty of acidity and just a hint of residual sugar, making it a superb food wine for the widest possible range of lighter fare - including crab cakes and all manner of Northwest seafood. The wine was carefully cold fermented and handled in such a way to preserve bright aromas and flavors of floral perfume, tangerine, lime zest, Granny Smith apple and mineral.
Cave B Winery
Cave B Estate occupies one of the most stunning pieces of real estate in Eastern Washington, overlooking the spectacular upper Columbia Gorge northwest of Vantage, and bearing witness to the results of millennia of geologic forces in action. This Riesling showed very well in our tastings with crab cakes, with aromas of apple and pear with notes of orchard blossom and mineral. The palate is off dry with forward flavors of ripe pear, honey and vanilla, and finishing with a touch of caramel.
Butch and Jerry Milbrandt have done more than almost anyone to advance Washington viticulture on the Wahluke Slope. Their multiple vineyard plantings are frequently named sources on the labels of award-winning wines, and their winemaker Gordon Hill now crafts award winners under the Milbrandt label. To quote Gordie, "Our 2009 Traditions Riesling offers an exotic mélange of fruit and floral aromas featuring Elberta peaches, ripe apricots, lychee, spice, sandalwood, honey, tree flowers and Granny Smith apples." It is a very tasty sip with crab, as well.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
Speaking of famous Washington vineyards, Kristina Mielke van Loben Sels crafted her 2010 Riesling from grapes grown at Dionysus Vineyard north of Pasco, a 38-year-old planting that is among the most respected in Washington. The wine is slightly sweet to balance the natural acidity and create a food-friendly pairing with a wide variety of lighter meals. Look for aromas and flavors of ripe apricot, peach, spicy tropical fruits, honey and orange blossom.
This unique property just east of Newberg, Oregon is home not only to August Cellars, but to five other small wineries as well. Economies of shared space and equipment benefit Artisanal Wine Cellars, Crowely Wines, Et Fille, Laura Volkman Cellars and Toluca Lane. This is a unique opportunity to stop by and discover several new brands. August Cellars Riesling is crafted from Washington grapes and offers ripe aromas and flavors of stone fruits, pear, mineral and a hint of petrol. It is a fine complement to our chosen pairing of crab cakes.
Pontin del Roza
The Pontin family has been farming the same land in the central Yakima Valley since 1954. Crops, ranging from wheat, mint, potatoes and sugar beets to Concord grapes and now wine grapes, have kept the farm busy for over a half century. Son of founders Nesto and Delores Pontin, Scott Pontin has made wine for more than 25 years at the small family winery on the farm. His 2010 White Riesling shows aromas of earthy pear, orchard blossom, vanilla and light notes of pine resin. The palate is off dry featuring flavors of pear, vanilla and mineral.
Genesis wines are crafted by The Hogue Cellars in Prosser, Washington as a reserve-style line showcasing the most superb fruit available to the winery from each vintage. The 2009 Riesling offers aromas of apricot, pear, tangerine, honey and vanilla. The palate is rich with these same fruit flavors, adding notes of mineral and petrol to the Riesling varietal palette. Serve with any lighter summer fare.
Wines from other areas:
This family-owned winery in the Sacramento Delta crafts a wide variety
Little Black Dress
You bought the wine for the cute label and clever marketing, but little