Monday, February 16, 2009

Fabulous Washington State Riesling

This is a cross-post for a Riesling that received an 89-point rating from one of the major wine magazines. I think it's very good QPR.

This year, one of my goals is to learn more about Washington wine. I'm starting my journey this month, and decided to take my first steps with a white wine.

Washington may be better known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, but it makes white wine, too. The climate seems especially well-suited to Rhone varietals and Riesling. It's been a while since I had a Riesling, so I picked the latter.

The 2006 Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling was a very good QPR choice. ($20, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman; available elsewhere for $17-$24) While higher in price than many domestic Rieslings, it has character and finesse. It comes from fruit grown in the Columbia Valley, which is Washington state's largest appellation. It includes within it six other smaller AVAs, and the most plentifully planted grapes are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Syrah and Riesling are also planted there in what qualifies (for Washington, anyway) as a "desert" climate of less rain and damp maritime influence.

This excellent domestic Riesling had aromas of seaspray, apples, peaches, and a hint of petrol--kind of like driving through an oceanside fruit orchard in a beat-up pickup truck. There was a slight spritz on the palate, along with flavors of melon, peach, and apple. The wine's aftertaste was juicy and a touch off-dry. This wine receives consistently high reviews from wine critics, and sells out quickly (both the 2007 and 2006 bottles are already sold out at the winery) so if you see some, nab it.

An aromatic, fruity, and flavorful wine such as this one is perfect with spicy Asian food. I made a doubtless inauthentic but extremely good stirfry of chicken, Chinese eggplant, oyster sauce, chiles, onion, garlic, and basil and it was delicious with the wine. The bottle's slight sweetness meant there was no acidic clash between the spices in the food and the fruitiness of the wine.

I'm off to a good start with my Washington wine lessons. Next month--a red.

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